country profile - OMAN
Background: The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al-Said overthrew his father, and has since ruled as sultan, but he has never designated a successor. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries. Inspired by the popular uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa beginning in January 2011, some Omanis began staging marches, demonstrations, and sit-ins calling mostly for more jobs and economic benefits and an end to corruption. In response to those protester demands, QABOOS in 2011 pledged to implement economic and political reforms, such as granting legislative and regulatory powers to the Majlis al-Shura and introducing unemployment benefits. Additionally, in August 2012, the Sultan announced a royal directive mandating the speedy implementation of a national job creation plan for thousands of public and private sector jobs. As part of the government's efforts to decentralize authority and allow greater citizen participation in local governance, Oman successfully conducted its first municipal council elections in December 2012. Announced by the Sultan in 2011, the municipal councils will have the power to advise the Royal Court on the needs of local districts across Oman's 11 governorates. The Sultan returned to Oman in March 2015 after eight months in Germany, where he received medical treatment.
geography  
Location: Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Area: total: 309,500 sq km
land: 309,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 1,561 km
border countries (3): Saudi Arabia 658 km, UAE 609 km, Yemen 294 km
Coastline: 2,092 km
Climate: dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
Natural resources: petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
people  
Population: 3,286,936
note: immigrants make up just over 30% of the total population, according to UN data (2013) (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.23% (male 509,465/female 484,068)
15-24 years: 19.51% (male 336,286/female 304,994)
25-54 years: 43% (male 822,302/female 590,937)
55-64 years: 3.9% (male 68,460/female 59,756)
65 years and over: 3.37% (male 55,081/female 55,587) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 25.1 years
male: 26.3 years
female: 23.7 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.07% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 24.44 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 3.36 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -0.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.39 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 1.2 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Religions: Muslim (official; majority are Ibadhi, lesser numbers of Sunni and Shia)) 85.9%, Christian 6.5%, Hindu 5.5%, Buddhist 0.8%, Jewish <.1, other 1%, unaffiliated 0.2%
note: approximately 75% of Omani citizens, who compose almost 70% of the country's total population, are Ibadhi Muslims; the Omani government does not keep statistics on religious affiliation (2013) (2010 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.1%
male: 93.6%
female: 85.6% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
conventional short form: Oman
local long form: Saltanat Uman
local short form: Uman
former: Muscat and Oman
Government type: monarchy
Capital: name: Muscat
geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 11 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat); Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Buraymi, Al Wusta, Az Zahirah, Janub al Batinah (Al Batinah South), Janub ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah South), Masqat (Muscat), Musandam, Shamal al Batinah (Al Batinah North), Shamal ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah North), Zufar (Dhofar)
Independence: 1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
National holiday: Birthday of Sultan QABOOS, 18 November (1940)
Legal system: mixed legal system of Anglo-Saxon law and Islamic law
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces are not allowed to vote
Executive branch: chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the Ruling Family Council determines a successor from the sultan's extended family; if the Council cannot form a consensus within 3 days of the sultan's death or incapacitation, the Defense Council will relay a predetermined heir as chosen by the sultan
Legislative branch: bicameral Council of Oman or Majlis Oman consists of the Council of State or Majlis al-Dawla (83 seats; members appointed by the sultan from among former government officials and prominent educators, businessmen, and citizens) and the Consultative Assembly or Majlis al-Shura (84 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - following political reforms in 2011, legislation from the Consultative Assembly is submitted to the Council of State for passage and amendments
elections: (Majlis al-Shura) last held on 15 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; note - three prominent figures from the Arab Spring 2011 protests won seats; one woman also won a seat
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 5 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the 9-member Supreme Judicial Council (chaired by the monarch) and appointed by the monarch; judge tenure NA
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; sharia courts; magistrates' courts
Political parties and leaders: political parties are illegal
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag description: three horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 380,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 6.2 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 192 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable; domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing with fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems
international: country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat (2008)
Broadcast media: 1 state-run TV broadcaster; TV stations transmitting from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen available via satellite TV; state-run radio operates multiple stations; first private radio station began operating in 2007 and 2 additional stations now operating (2007)
Internet country code: .om
Internet hosts: 14,531 (2012)
Internet users: total: 2.1 million
percent of population: 65.8% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 132 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 13
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 119
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 51
914 to 1,523 m: 33
under 914 m: 26 (2013)
Heliports: 3 (2013)
Pipelines: condensate 106 km; gas 4,224 km; oil 3,558 km; oil/gas/water 33 km; refined products 264 km (2013)
Roadways: total: 60,230 km
paved: 29,685 km (includes 1,943 km of expressways)
unpaved: 30,545 km (2012)
Merchant marine: total: 5
by type: chemical tanker 1, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 3
registered in other countries: 15 (Malta 5, Panama 10) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Mina' Qabus, Salalah, Suhar
container port(s) (TEUs): Salalah (3,200,000)
LNG terminal(s) (export): Qalhat
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: boundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 5,000 (Yemen) (2015)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html