|Official Name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Capital City: Riyadh
Official Currency: Saudi Riyal
Land Area: 2,149,690 sq km (829,995 sq miles)
Highest Point: Jabal Sawda' (3,133 meters)
Description: The largest country in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is 95% desert, including the Rub' Al Khali, the biggest mass of sand on the planet. The country is the world's largest producer and exporter of oil, and still uses much of the profits from that industry to improve the infrastructure of the country and the lives of its people. With an overall lack of rain and fresh water, it successfully constructed the world's largest desalination plant on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It's a strictly Muslim land and home to both Medina and Mecca, Islam's holiest cities.
Almost all of Saudi Arabia consists of
semi-desert and desert with oases, where half of the total surface is uninhabitable
desert. All over the country there is very little rain. Most of the western
parts of Saudi Arabia is plateau, the east is lowland, with very hot climate.
The southwest has mountains as high as 3000 metres. This area also has
the greenest and freshest climate in the entire country. Likewise, the
climate is dry and hot. Riyadh, the capital, has an average temperature
in July of 42ºC and in January of 14ºC, while Jedda on the coast
has 31ºC and 23ºC. Annual precipitation both places is below
100 mm. There are no permanent rivers and lakes in Saudi Arabia. Vegetation
is scant, consisting mostly of xerophytic herbs and shrubs. Animal life
includes ibex, wildcats, baboons, wolves, and hyenas in the highlands.
Small birds are found in the oases. Saudi Arabia is a fairly rich country,
but one where a large part of the wealth is distributed between a small
elite in the society. There is minimal political freedom, and the royal
family that effectively owns the country, is facing opposition groups that
work on overthrowing them.