country profile - QATAR
Background: Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, overthrew the father in a bloodless coup in 1995. In short order, HAMAD oversaw the creation of the pan-Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera and Qatar's pursuit of a leadership role in mediating regional conflicts. In the 2000s, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar has not experienced domestic unrest or violence like that seen in other Near Eastern and North African countries in 2010-11, due in part to its immense wealth. Since the outbreak of regional unrest, however, Doha has prided itself on its support for many of these popular revolutions, particularly in Libya and Syria. In mid-2013, HAMAD transferred power to his 33 year-old son, the current Amir TAMIM bin Hamad - a peaceful abdication rare in the history of Arab Gulf states. TAMIM has prioritized improving the domestic welfare of Qataris, including establishing advanced healthcare and education systems and expanding the country's infrastructure in anticipation of Doha's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
geography  
Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Area: total: 11,586 sq km
land: 11,586 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 87 km
border countries (1): Saudi Arabia 87 km
Coastline: 563 km
Climate: arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish
people  
Population: 2,194,817 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 12.52% (male 139,353/female 135,514)
15-24 years: 12.96% (male 207,493/female 76,879)
25-54 years: 70.23% (male 1,278,442/female 263,051)
55-64 years: 3.39% (male 57,581/female 16,886)
65 years and over: 0.89% (male 12,365/female 7,253) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 32.8 years
male: 33.9 years
female: 28.1 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.07% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 9.84 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 1.53 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate 22.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 2.7 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 4.86 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 3.41 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.71 male(s)/female
total population: 3.39 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Qatari(s)
adjective: Qatari
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions: Muslim 77.5%, Christian 8.5%, other 14% (2004 census)
Languages: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 97.4%
female: 96.8% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: State of Qatar
conventional short form: Qatar
local long form: Dawlat Qatar
local short form: Qatar
note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar
Government type: emirate
Capital: name: Doha
geographic coordinates: 25 17 N, 51 32 E
time difference: UTC+3
Administrative divisions: 7 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Khawr wa adh Dhakhirah, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Ash Shamal, Az Za'ayin, Umm Salal
Independence: 3 September 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: National Day, 18 December (1878), anniversary of Al Thani family accession to the throne; Independence Day, 3 September (1971)
Legal system: mixed legal system of civil law and Islamic law (in family and personal matters)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Amir TAMIM bin Hamad Al Thani (since 25 June 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Nasir bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 26 June 2013); Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdallah al-MAHMUD (since 20 September 2011)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the amir
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the amir
Legislative branch: unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (15 seats; members appointed by the monarch); note - the 2003 constitutional referendum called for the election of 30 members, however, the first election scheduled for 2013 was postponed
note: the Advisory Council has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Amir has final say on all matters; Qatar's first legislative elections were expected to be held in 2013, but HAMAD postponed them in a final legislative act prior to handing over power to TAMIM; in principle the public would elect 30 members and the Amir would appoint 15; the Advisory Council would have authority to approve the national budget, hold ministers accountable through no-confidence votes, and propose legislation; the 29-member Central Municipal Council - first elected in 1999 - has limited consultative authority aimed at improving municipal services; members elected for 4-year terms; next election scheduled for May 2015
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (consists of the court president and several judges); Supreme Constitutional Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 members); note - the Supreme Constitutional Court was established in 1999, but has not been fully implemented
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the Supreme Judiciary Council, a 9-member independent body consisting of judiciary heads appointed by the Amir; judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms; Supreme Constitutional Court members nominated by the Supreme Judicial Supreme Council and appointed by the monarch; term of appointment NA
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; Sharia Courts; Courts of Justice; Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center, established in 2009, provides dispute services for institutions and bodies in Qatar, as well as internationally
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CD, CICA (observer), EITI (implementing country), FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag description: maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 420,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 3.3 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 156 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system centered in Doha
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership exceeds 130 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 974; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the US; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and the UAE; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat (2011)
Broadcast media: TV and radio broadcast licensing and access to local media markets are state controlled; home of the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera, which was originally owned and financed by the Qatari government, but has evolved to independent corporate status; Al-Jazeera claims editorial independence in broadcasting; local radio transmissions include state, private, and international broadcasters on FM frequencies in Doha; in August 2013, Qatar's satellite company Es'hailSat launched its first communications satellite Es'hail 1 (manufactured in the US), which entered commercial service in December 2013 to provide improved television broadcasting capability and expand availability of voice and internet; Es'hailSat released a request for proposals in March 2014 for its second satellite to launch in 2016 (2014)
Internet country code: .qa
Internet hosts: 897 (2012)
Internet users: total: 2.1 million
percent of population: 96.7% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 6 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2013)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Pipelines: condensate 288 km; condensate/gas 221 km; gas 2,383 km; liquid petroleum gas 90 km; oil 745 km; refined products 103 km (2013)
Roadways: total: 9,830 km (2010)
Merchant marine: total: 28
by type: bulk carrier 3, chemical tanker 2, container 13, liquefied gas 6, petroleum tanker 4
foreign-owned: 6 (Kuwait 6)
registered in other countries: 35 (Liberia 5, Marshall Islands 29, Panama 1) (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Doha, Mesaieed (Umaieed), Ra's Laffan
LNG terminal(s) (export): Ras Laffan
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: none
Refugees and internally displaced persons: stateless persons: 1,200 (2014)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Qatar is a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution; the predominantly foreign workforce migrates to Qatar legally but often experiences situations of forced labor, including debt bondage, delayed or nonpayment of salaries, confiscation of passports, abuse, hazardous working conditions, and squalid living arrangements; foreign female domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to trafficking because of their isolation in private homes and lack of protection under Qatari labor laws; some women who migrate for work are also forced into prostitution
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Qatar does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2013, the government took action to prevent human trafficking by convicting individuals for visa selling, doubling the number of labor inspectors, closing some recruitment firms, and implementing anti-trafficking awareness campaigns; authorities identified some trafficking victims and provided them with shelter and other protection services; the government did not reform the exploitive sponsorship system, prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders, or rigorously enforce laws prohibiting employers from wage and passport withholding (2014)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/qa.html