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BACKGROUND NOTES. 1988 Mar; 1-8.The Republic of Kuwait occupies an area of 6,880 square miles at the head of the Persian Gulf, bounded on the north and west by Iraq and on the south by Saudi Arabia. 1.7 million people live in Kuwait, of whom 680,000 are Kuwaitis; the rest are expatriate Arabs, Iranians, and Indians. The annual growth rate of Kuwaitis is 3.8%. The Kuwaitis are 70% Sunni and 30% Shi'a Muslims. Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Kuwait is a highly developed welfare state with a free market economy. Education is free and compulsory, and literacy is 71%. Infant mortality among Kuwaitis is 26.1/1000, and life expectancy is 70 years. Medical care is free. Kuwait was first settled by Arab tribes from Qatar. In 1899 the ruler, Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah, whose descendents still rule Kuwait, signed a treaty with Britain; and Kuwait remained a British protectorate until it became independent in 1961. A constitution was promulgated in 1962, and a National Assembly was elected by adult male suffrage in 1963. However, the Assembly has since been suspended due to internal friction. Kuwait and Iraq have been disputing Kuwait's northern border since 1913, and the southern border includes a Divided Zone, where sovereignty is disputed by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Despite the fall in oil prices in 1982 and the loss of trade due to the Iran-Iraq war, Kuwait is one of the world's wealthiest countries with a per capita gross domestic product of $10,175. Oil accounts for 85% of Kuwait's exports, which total $7.42 billion; income from foreign investments (about $60 billion) makes up most of the balance. All petroleum-related activities are managed by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), which includes the nationalized Kuwait Oil Company, petrochemical industries, the 22-vessel tanker fleet, and refineries and service stations in Europe, where Kuwaiti oil is marketed under the brand name Q8. Kuwait has more than 66 billion barrels of recoverable oil but limits production to 999,000 barrels per day. Other industrial products include ammonia, chemical fertilizers, fishing and water desalinization (215 million gallons a day). Kuwait imports machinery, manufactured goods, and food. Nevertheless exports exceed imports by $2 billion, and the Kuwaiti dinar is a strong currency (1 KD=US$3.57). About $75 billion is kept in 2 reserve funds: the Fund for Future Generations and the General Reserve Fund. In addition to domestic expenditures and imports, Kuwait has extended $5 billion worth of loans to developing countries, made through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Kuwait has been engaged in continuing border disputes with Iraq since 1961, but the most immediate threat to Kuwait has been the Iran-Iraq war. Kuwait lent Iraq $6 billion, in retaliation for which Iran bombed a Kuwaiti oil depot, and Shi'a Muslim terrorists bombed the French and US embassies and hijacked a Kuwaiti airliner in 1984. Iran also attacked Kuwaiti tankers. In 1987 the US reflagged 11 Kuwaiti tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. Kuwait has been modernizing its own military forces as well as purchasing sophisticated weapons from the UK, the US, France, and the USSR. In 1981 Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman formed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for mutual defense, and in 1987 Kuwait was elected chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Kuwait has diplomatic relations with the USSR and the People's Republic of China, as well as with the US, which has supplied Kuwait with $1.5 billion of sophisticated weaponry from foreign military sales (FMC). The US is Kuwait's largest supplier (after Japan), and Kuwait is the 5th largest market in the Middle East for US goods, despite the disincentives brought about by the Arab boycott of Israel.
BACKGROUND NOTES. 1988 Feb; 1-7.The Republic of Djibouti, an area of 9,000 square miles on the Horn of Africa, is bounded on 3 sides by Ethiopia and Somalia and on the 4th by the Gulf of Aden, where the capital city, Djibouti, with its good natural harbor, is located. The population of 387,000, growing at 5.1% a year, is divided between the majority Somalis (of the Issa, Ishaak and Gadaboursi tribes) and the Afars and Danakils. All are Cushite-speaking, although the official language is French. Almost all of the people are Muslim. The country became independent of France in 1977; it had been the French Territory of Afars and Issas from 1966-77 and French Somaliland from 1884 to 1966. During the Second World War, Djibouti was governed from Vichy until 1942, when the country joined the Free French, and a Djibouti battalion participated in the liberation of France. The country is governed by a president (Mr. Hassan Gouled Aptidon), a prime minister (Mr. Barkat Gourad Hammadou), and a 65-member parliament, elected by universal suffrage. There is only 1 permitted political party, the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (RPP), which is dominated by the Issas. There are no women in high government positions, but the status of women is somewhat higher than in most Islamic countries. Djibouti has a small army, navy, and air force, supplemented by 4000 French troops. The level of socioeconomic development is not good. The economy is stagnant, and the country is afflicted with recurring drought. Only 20% of the people are literate; infant mortality is 114/1000, and life expectancy is 50 years. Per capita income is $450. Malaria is prevalent; there is only 1 hospital; and drinking water is unsafe. There are no natural resources, no industry, and very little agriculture. Most of the country's gross domestic product of $339 million is derived from servicing the port's facilities for container shipment and transshipment and maintaining the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad. The unit of currency is the Djibouti franc, and the official exchange rate is 177 DF to US$1. Djibouti's imports amount to $230 million, most of which are consumed in the country and paid for by French economic assistance and $3 million a year from the US. Djibouti is a member of the UN, the Organization of African Unity, the Arab League, the Nonaligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the Intergovernmental Authority for Drought and Development (IGADD).
BACKGROUND NOTES. 1988 Mar; 1-8.Zimbabwe is a land-locked plateau country of 151,000 square miles, divided into 8 provinces, in Southeastern Africa, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. Its population consists of 8.8 million blacks, divided between the Shona-speaking Mashona (80%) and the Sindebele-speaking Matabele (19%), 100,000 whites, 20,000 coloreds, and 10,000 Asians. Many of the blacks are Christians. More than 1/2 the whites migrated to Zimbabwe after the Second World War at a rate of about 1000 a year until the mid-1970s; since then 12,000 whites have left the country. The official language is English, and education is free. Most African children 5-19 years old attend school, and literacy is between 40% and 50%. The University of Zimbabwe is located in Harare, the capital, and there are several technical institutes and teacher-training colleges. Zimbabwe has been inhabited since the stone age, and evidence of a high indigenous civilization remains in the "Great Zimbabwe Ruins" near Masvingo. The present black population is descended from later migrations of Bantu people from central Africa. Cecil Rhodes was granted concessions for mineral rights in the area in 1888, and the territory, which administered by the British South Africa Company, was called Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing entity within the British Empire in 1913. In 1953 Southern Rhodesia was joined with the British protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the Central African Federation, but this dissolved in 1963, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent as Zambia and Malawi in 1964. Independence was withheld from Rhodesia because Prime Minister Ian Smith refused to give Britain assurances that the country would move toward majority rule. In 1965 Smith issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the UK. In 1966 the UN Security Council imposed mandatory economic sanctions on Rhodesia. Within Rhodesia the major African nationalist groups -- the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) united into the "Patriotic Front" and began to engage in guerrilla warfare against the minority government. Finally, in 1979, Rhodesia returned briefly to colonial status, during which time a new constitution was written, implementing majority rule; the UN Security Council called off economic sanctions; and elections were held. Robert Mugabe, leader of the victorious ZANU Party, was asked to form Zimbabwe's 1st government. The British Government formally granted independence to Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980. THe new government was to consist of a President (Mr. Mugabe), elected by universal suffrage, and a bicameral parliament. Zimbabwe has followed a policy of national reconciliation at home and "active nonalignment" abroad. In 1982, Zimbabwe was chosen by the Organization of African Unity to hold one of the nonpermanent seats in the UN Security Council, and in 1986, Zimbabwe was the site of the Nonaligned Movement summit meeting, and Mr. Mugabe became chairman of that organization. The years of sanctions, guerrilla warfare, and white emigration, combined with a foreign exchange crisis (the Zimbabwe dillar = US$.60), and the drought of 1987 took their toll on the Zimbabwean economy. Gross domestic product declined between 1974 and 1979, although by 1986, it was $4.7 billion, with per capita income $275. Zimbabwe is rich in natural resources, especially coal and chrome; and industry, which accounts for 69% of the gross domestic product, was forced by the sanctions to diversify. Plentiful coal deposits make the country less dependent on imported oil for an energy source. Agriculture, which constitutes 15% of the gross domestic product, is the backbone of the economy, with corn as the largest crop and tobacco as the largest export crop; both were hurt by the 1987 drought. Another drain on the economy was the money diverted to pay for training and equipping the armed forces. The British Military Assistance Training Team has been the largest source of training, but jet fighters had to be bought from China and helicopters from Italy. The United States, which broke off relations after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, has contributed $380 million in loans and grants to Zimbabwe in the years between 1981 and 1986.