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Nationality: Noun and adjective-- Kuwaiti(s).
Population (2003 est.): 2.42 million, including about 1.5 million non-Kuwaiti citizens.
Annual growth rate: 4.8%.
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 38%, other Arab 22%, non-Arab (primarily Asian) 36%, stateless 5%. Religion: Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi’a 30% among Kuwaitis), with small Hindu, Christian and Sikh communities.
Languages: Arabic (official), English is widely spoken.
Education: Compulsory from ages 6-14; free at all levels for Kuwaitis, including higher education. Adult Literacy (age 15 and over) -- 83.5% for the overall population (male 85.1%, female 81.7%), 91.2% for Kuwaitis (male 91.4%, female 90.8%).
Health: Infant mortality rate --11 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy--75 yrs. male, 77 yrs. female.
Work force (2002 actual): 1.364 million (of which about 19% are Kuwaiti nationals. 62.7% male; 37.3% female).
People of Kuwait
Over 90% of the population lives within a 500-square kilometer area surrounding Kuwait City and its harbor. Although the majority of people residing in the State of Kuwait are of Arab origin, less than half are originally from the Arabian Peninsula. The discovery of oil in 1938 drew many Arabs from nearby states. Following the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991, the Kuwaiti Government undertook a serious effort to reduce the expatriate population by specifically limiting the entry of workers from nations whose leaders had supported Iraq during the Gulf War. Kuwait later abandoned this policy, and it currently has a sizable foreign labor force (over 60% of the total population).
The national census does not distinguish between Sunni and Shi’a adherents, but an estimated 1.6 million residents, including the ruling family and 600,000 Kuwaiti nationals, belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. An estimated 400,000 Muslims are Shi’a including about 300,000 Kuwaitis. Estimates of the Christian population range from 250,000-500,000 residents, including about 200 citizens. There also are communities of Hindus (estimated at 100,000) and Sikhs (estimated at 10,000).
Kuwait’s 83% literacy rate, one of the Arab world's highest, is the result of extensive government support for the education system. Public school education, including Kuwait University, is free, but access is restricted for foreign residents. The government sponsors the foreign study of qualified students abroad for degrees not offered at Kuwait University. About 3,000 Kuwaitis are currently enrolled in U.S. universities.