Kuwait City

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Kuwait City

 

(also al-Kuwayt), the capital of Kuwait. Located on the southern shore of Kuwait Bay, an inlet of the Persian Gulf. Population, approximately 750,000 (1977, including suburbs). The climate is dry and tropical, with an average January temperature of 11°C and an average July temperature of 34°C. Precipitation totals less than 100 mm annually.

Kuwait City is the main trade, transportation, and distribution center of the country. It is a port, primarily for imports. The city is connected by highway with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, and it also has an airport. Industry includes food processing, the manufacture of building materials, water distilling, and the assembly of automobiles, refrigerators, and televisions.

The first mention of Kuwait City in historical sources dates from the early 18th century. The city was the center of the sheikhdom of Kuwait, which became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century and a British protectorate in 1899. Since 1961 it has been the capital of the independent State of Kuwait.

The old city was once crowded with flat-roofed mud-brick houses. It was enclosed by a pisé wall (since destroyed) and contained more than 40 mosques. The city has been rebuilt in accordance with a plan drawn up in 1957 by an architectural team headed by Minoprio and consists mainly of modern buildings. The main network of streets is laid out radially. Small neighborhood districts with community centers, schools, and stores are taking shape around the city, which has zones designated for industry (in the western suburb of Shuwaikh), schools, and health facilities (along the coastal road to the city of al-Jahrah).

Educational institutions in Kuwait City include Kuwait University (founded 1962, inaugurated 1966), with 4,000 students as of the 1975–76 academic year; the Kuwait Central Library (95,000 volumes in 1975); the Kuwait University Libraries (210,000 volumes); the Kuwait Museum, which includes ethnographic and archaeological collections; and the Science and Natural History Museum.