Author(s): United States Department of
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Abstract PIP: Focus in this discussion of Oman is on the following: geography; the people; history; government; political conditions; the economy; and relations between Oman and the US. The population is estimated at 1.3 million; the annual growth rate is 3\%. The infant mortality rate is estimated to be 50/1000 with a life expectancy of 48 years. Oman is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Its land borders with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates remain undefined, and the border with the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen is in dispute. About 1/3 of the population live in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; more than 1/2 live in small towns, primarily in the interior. Ethnic groups include Arab, Baluchi, Zanzibari, and Indian. At least 200,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom (180,000) are guest workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, as well as from Egypt, Jordan, and the Philippines. Except for a brief period of Persian rule, the Omanis have remained independent since 1650. The sultanate has no constitution, legislature, or legal political parties. The judicial system is based mainly on the Koranic laws and the oral teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In November 1981, the sultan formed the Consultative Council for the State in an effort to increase public participation in the government. When Oman declined as an entrepot for arms and slaves in the mid-19th century, much of its former prosperity was lost, and the economy relied almost exclusively on agriculture, camel and goat herding, fishing, and traditional handicrafts. Oil was first discovered in the interior in 1964. With the fall in oil prices in the early 1980s, revenue declined slightly before resuming an upward trend based on additions to production from the new fields. By late 1985, production rose to just over 500,000 barrels/day. The government is undertaking many development projects to modernize the economy and further improve the standard of living. Increases in agriculture and fishing are believed possible with the application of modern technology.
This article was published in Backgr Notes Ser
and referenced in Arts and Social Sciences Journal