Archaeological finds have shown contacts with Mesopotamian river cultures from Neolithic times. On the island of Faylaka, there are remains of temples, homes and tombs with stamped seals from the 21st century BC. found. Of the influence of later cultures, the remains of a Hellenistic (Seleukidic) temple, likewise at Faylaka, constitute tangible evidence. From the 20th century AD obeyed the area mainly during Sasanid Iran.
The area that later became Kuwait was Islamized early and came under the Abbasid caliphate (749-1258) based in Baghdad, Mongol Empire and from the mid-1500s Ottoman Empire. Kuwait was then still an insignificant fishing village with a fort built by Portuguese in the 16th century. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Kuwait.
In 1710, Bedouins from the Arabian Peninsula arrived in search of water and took control of the area. In 1756 the Bedouin tribe split between the Al Khalifa families, who went to Bahrain and became its ruler, and Al Sabah, who founded the emirate of Kuwait and who still governs it. At that time, the form of government that was still in principle was formulated (see State Condition and Policy above). Kuwait acknowledged the Ottoman supremacy nominally and paid taxes but was left in practice in peace. Trade and fishing, especially pearls, were important industries.
The need for a powerful protector has characterized Kuwait’s politics, as well as its ability to play one superpower against the other. The Emir thus sought British protection in 1897 against the Ottoman Baghdad Governor’s pursuit of control over Kuwait, but only after Kuwait threatened to enter Russia was an agreement signed with the British in 1899: Kuwait received 15,000 rupees a year against relinquishing any part of the emirate to other powers.
In 1914, Kuwait became British protectorate, and in a treaty in 1922, Kuwait’s borders were drawn up. Both the newly established Iraqi monarchy and Saudi leader Ibn Saud demanded Kuwait, which was forced to relinquish territories to a neutral zone against the future Saudi Arabia. The border with Iraq was also laid down. In 1937, Iraq demanded for the first time Kuwait’s incorporation into Iraq.
Kuwait became independent in 1961. Iraq then again claimed Kuwait with reference to the fact that during the Ottoman period the area was included in the province of Basra, which since 1922 has been part of Iraq. The crisis was resolved by sending British troops to Kuwait; it was replaced in 1963 by an Arab force within the framework of the Arab League. That same year, a new regime took power in Baghdad, which recognized Kuwait’s independence. However, a new crisis arose in 1973, when Iraq demanded access to two Kuwaiti islands.
Thanks to the oil, which began to be mined in 1946, Kuwait developed into one of the richest countries in the world and to a Western-oriented merchant and consumer society, by Arabic measures relatively free and open with often outspoken criticism of the patriarchal regime, which concentrated all power on the Al Sabah family. However, its legitimacy has not been questioned, but elements of autocracy and Islamic puritanism have led to tensions in Kuwait, especially after the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-88. As a result, Parliament, the only one elected on the Arabian Peninsula, dissolved and the press was censored.
After the crisis in connection with Iraq’s claim to Kuwait in 1961, Kuwait’s diplomacy has been to seek, through large loans and grants, a certain degree of stability and security. An example of this was the support for Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war. The same principle has been applied at home, where Kuwait’s citizens enjoy all the benefits of a developed welfare society without any consideration. The majority of the country’s population, the so-called non-Kuwaiti citizens, do not enjoy all these benefits.
In August 1990, Iraq invaded, occupied and annexed Kuwait, which was still considered part of Iraq. The aggression was preceded by demands on two Kuwaiti islands and threats against Kuwait, which were accused of undermining Iraq’s economy. Iraq’s action was met with demands from the UN for immediate retreat, and a United Nations military alliance with the United States at the head of the war began in January 1991 war on Iraq. Kuwait was liberated in February of the same year (see further Kuwait War). Emir Sheik Jabir al-Ahmad as-Sabah was able to return from exile to a devastated Kuwait.
The reconstruction began immediately, but the democratization that was previously promised was set for the future. However, elections to Parliament took place in the fall of 1992. The opposition made great successes. One of the goals was to greatly reduce the dependence on foreign labor in Kuwait. Already during the war, most of Kuwait’s more than 300,000 Palestinians had been forced to leave the country. Defense agreements with the US and the UK were signed to guarantee Kuwait’s security. History had learned that Kuwait was too rich to be left in peace and too weak to defend itself. The border with Iraq was monitored by UN observers after the war, and a new border was set in the fall of 1992. It was not approved by Iraq, which renewed its claims on Kuwait. Following the liberation of Kuwait, the population has decreased in number due in part to the expulsion of many Palestinians,
During the years immediately following the liberation, the proportion of guest workers was significantly lower than before. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, their share has increased again and now constitutes just over half of the population.