Official name :
Sultanate of Oman
Area: About 212,460 sq. km. (about the size of Kansas). It is bordered on the north by the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), on the northwest by Saudi Arabia, and on the southwest by the Republic of Yemen. The Omani coastline stretches 2,092 km.
Cities : Capital--Muscat. Other cities--Salalah Nizwa, Sohar, Sur.
Terrain : Mountains, plains, and arid plateau.
Climate : Hot, humid along the coast; hot, dry in the interior; summer monsoon in far south.
Nationality: Noun--Oman. Adjective--Omani.
Population: (2003 census figures.) 2.33 million.
Annual growth rate ( 2003 est.): 1.9%.
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, East African (Zanzabari), South Asian (Indian, Pakistani Bangladeshi).
Religions : Ibadhi; Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Hindu, Christian.
Languages : Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Swahili, Hindi and Indian dialects.
Education : Literacy--approx. 80% (total population).
GDP (2004): $21.58 billion (8.3 billion Omani rials).
Per capita GDP: $ 9,261.
Natural resources: Oil, natural gas, copper, marble, limestone, gypsum, chromium.
Agriculture and fisheries : (2.1% of GDP).
Agriculture : Products--dates, limes, bananas, mangoes, alfalfa, other fruits and vegetables. Fisheries--Kingfish, tuna, other fish, shrimp, lobster, abalone.
Industry : Types--crude petroleum (not including gas liquids) about 800,000 barrels per day; construction, petroleum refinery, copper mines and smelter, cement and various light industries.
Trade (2002): Exports--$11.7 billion. Major markets--Japan (22.1%), China (15.2%), Thailand (12.6%), South Korea (19.9%), U.A.E. (9.4%). Imports--$5.7 billion: machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants. Major suppliers--U.A.E. 27.6%, Japan 16.7%, U.K. 7.4%, U.S. 6.9%, Germany 5%.
About 55% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 215,000 live in the Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz. Some 560,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from South Asia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Philippines.
Since 1970, the government has given high priority to education to develop a domestic work force, which the government considers a vital factor in the country's economic and social progress. In 1986, Oman's first university, Sultan Qaboos University, opened. Other post secondary institutions include a law school, technical college, banking institute, teachers training college, and health sciences institute. Some 200 scholarships are awarded each year for study abroad.
Nine private colleges exist, providing 2-year post secondary diplomas. Since 1999, the government has embarked on reforms in higher education designed to meet the needs of a growing population, only a small percentage of which are currently admitted to higher education institutions. Under the reformed system, four public regional universities will be created, and incentives are provided by the government to promote the upgrading of the existing nine private colleges and the creation of other degree-granting private colleges.