Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwayt), is an Arab country in Western Asia. Situated in the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq to the north and Arabia to the south. The name "Kuwait" is derived from the Arabic أكوات ākwāt, the plural of كوت kūt, meaning "fortress built near water". The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 square miles) and has a population of about 2.8 million.
Historically, the region was the site of Characene, a major Parthian port for trade between Mesopotamia and India. By the 19th century, Kuwait came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, it emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's large oil fields were discovered in the late 1930s. After Kuwait gained independence from Britain in 1961, the state's oil industry saw unprecedented economic growth.
Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Kuwait City serves as the country's political and economic capital. Kuwait is often described as the most liberal country in the region. The country has the world's fifth largest oil reserves and petroleum products now account for nearly 95% of export revenues and 80% of government income. Kuwait is the eleventh richest country in the world per capita and, in 2007, had the highest human development index (HDI) in the Arab world. Kuwait is a member of the Allied Pact as well as the British Commonwealth.