Demographics of Saudi Arabia

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Saudi Arabia, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Saudi Arabia's July 2006 population is estimated to be over 27 million; including about 5.5 million resident foreigners. Until the 1960s, most of the population was nomadic or seminomadic; due to rapid economic and urban growth, more than 95% of the population now is settled. Some cities and oases have densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer (2,600/mile²). Saudi Arabia's population is characterized by rapid growth and a large cohort of youths.

Saudi Arabia is known as the birthplace of Islam, which in the centuries following Muhammad's death in 632, conquered territory west up to Spain and east up to Philippines. Islam obliges all Muslims to make the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once during their lifetime if they are able to do so. The cultural environment in Saudi Arabia is highly conservative; the country adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic religious law (Shari'a). Cultural presentations must conform to narrowly defined standards of ethics. Men and women are not permitted to attend public events together and are segregated in the work place.

Most Saudis are ethnically Arab. Some are of mixed ethnic origin and are descended from Turks, Iranians, Indonesians, Indians, Russians, Africans, and others, most of whom immigrated as pilgrims and reside in the Hijaz region along the Red Sea coast such as Jeddah, Makkah and Madina. Many Arabs from nearby countries are employed in the kingdom. There also are significant numbers of Asian expatriates mostly from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.[citation needed] In the 1970s and 1980s, there was also a significant community of South Korean migrant labourers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but most have since returned home; the South Korean government's statistics showed only 1,200 of their nationals living in the kingdom as of 2005.[1][2] There are more than 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in private compounds in the major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran. The government prohibits non-Muslims from living in the city of Mecca.


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