Saudi Arabia <<SAW dee uh RAY bee uh>> is a large country in Southwest Asia, in the area known as the Middle East. It is bordered by Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. It lies along the Red Sea in the southwest and along the Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf, in the northeast. Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s leading producers of petroleum. Petroleum is often called oil. Petroleum is a thick, yellowish-black oil found below the ground. It is an important source of energy. Petroleum is mainly used to make such products as gasoline and heating oil. Because oil is worth so much money, some people call it “black gold.” Much of Saudi Arabia is desert. Few people live in the deserts, and very little grows there. But beneath the sand and rock of Saudi Arabia and under its waters off the shore in the Persian Gulf lie the largest supplies of petroleum in the world.
Most of Saudi Arabia is dry and has little plant life. Mountains rise along much of the western border near the Red Sea coast. The southwest region has the country’s richest soil. Small farm villages are scattered throughout this area.
Rocky deserts cover much of central Saudi Arabia. In some places, there are oases. Oases are areas in the desert where underground water comes to the surface and plants can grow. At some of the oases, there are small farm settlements. The capital city of Riyadh is the largest city in this region.
The Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter, is a huge sandy desert in southern Saudi Arabia. Very few people live there.
The lowlands along the Persian Gulf have the world’s largest known supplies of petroleum. Sand and gravel cover most of the inland region, but some oases support large farm settlements.
Many other people who live in Saudi Arabia came there because wealth from the oil industry created many jobs. About half of these workers came from other nearby countries. The rest came from such countries as Britain, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.
Before the development of the oil industry, most people in what is now Saudi Arabia lived as farmers in small villages or as nomads who moved from place to place with their camels, goats, and sheep. Today, most Saudis live in cities. The rest are mostly farmers, although a few are still nomads.
Resources and products
Saudi Arabia sells more oil than any other nation. Its income from oil has made the nation a leading power in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia also has small supplies of copper, gold, iron ore, silver, and other minerals. Chemicals are the main product made in Saudi Arabia’s factories. Other important products include cement, fertilizer, and steel.
Saudi Arabia has worked to increase the amount of food grown by its farmers. But only a small amount of the land can be farmed. Saudi farmers still cannot produce all the food the country needs, and Saudi Arabia must buy food from other countries.
Since the 1960′s, the government has worked to develop new businesses in Saudi Arabia. The nation will need such industries when the oil has been used up.
For hundreds of years, the land that is now Saudi Arabia was divided among many warring groups. In the early 1900′s, these groups were joined together under the leadership of the Saud family. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was started in 1932. Saudi Arabia remained a poor, old-fashioned nation until the mid-1900′s, when income from the oil business allowed the country to become more modern.