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Saudi Arabia
1. Geography
2. Political situation
3. Economy
a. Figures
4. Health
5. Education
a. Universities
6. Media
7. Demographics
8. Religions
a. Freedom
9. Peoples
10. Languages
11. History
12. Cities and Towns

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Open map of Saudi ArabiaFlag of Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia /

It is believed that Arabia is the homeland of the Semites, to which many peoples of the Middle East belong, with Arabs and Hebrews as the most known.
1st millenium BCE: Minean kingdom in southwestern Arabia. Mineans economy was based upon nomadic lifestyles and trade of incense.
4th century BCE: Nabatean kingdom established to the north of the Minean. The eastern parts of Arabia was dominated by Dilmun, covering parts of the mainland and the island of Bahrain.
5th century CE: Mecca becomes the leading city of the region.
570: Birth of Muhammad who would become the Prophet of Islam.
630: Mecca is conquered by Muhammad's men, and strong expansion is started towards first the Arab peninsula, later beyond in northern direction. Mecca soon loses its political, and even theological importance.
1269: The region is subverted by the Mamlukes of Egypt.
15th century: Saud dynasty founded in the region around today's Riyadh.
1517: Control passes over to the Ottomans, when they conquer Egypt, but they hold only parts of the region under direct control.
Mid 18th century: Time of Abu l-Wahhab, a religious leader establishing a sect, the Muwahhiduns, that was supported by the Saudis. This movement soon established a national state in Najd, the centre of Arabia.
1802: Mecca is conquered by the Wahhabis.
1812: Wahhabis driven out of Mecca by the local population.
1818: Wahhabis and Saudis found their capital in Riyadh. Slow reconquering starts from here.
1865: Civil war, the dynasty falls apart, and Arabia became divided between different clans and the Ottomans.
1902: Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud retakes Riyadh.
1906: The Saudis have once again control over Najd.
1913: Conquering of al-Hasa, the region east of Najd.
1921: Conquering of Jabal Shammar, the region northwest of Najd.
1923: Britain stops transferring money to both Abdul Aziz and the Hashimite king of Hijaz, the Sharif. This tilts the power balance in favour of Abdul Aziz.
1924: The Sharif declares himself Caliph.
October 13: Mecca is conquered bloodlessly, and Abdul Aziz declares himself guardian of the Holy Places.
1925: Madina is conquered.
1926: The emirate of Asir to the south comes under control. Abdul Aziz declares himself king of Hijaz. Abdul Aziz orders the Hijazi tribes to desist from exploiting pilgrims.
1932 September 23: The conquered territories are unified, and named Saudi Arabia. Abdul Aziz takes the name king of Saudi Arabia. The years from 1924 saw that Abdul Aziz broke with the Wahhabis, and allowed the introduction of modern inventions, things that the Wahhabis looked upon as non-Islamic.
1938: Oil is discovered at Dhahran.
1939: Oil exploitation starts, allowing King Ibn Saud to begin a large-scale modernizing program.
1940-45: Saudi Arabia is on the allied side during World War II, giving room for an US air base in Dhahran.
1951: A new agreement with Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company), gives Saudi Arabia 50% of all earnings from the oil, as Aramco starts paying tax to Saudi Arabia instead of to the US government.
1953 November 9: King Abdul Aziz dies. He is succeeded by his son Saud.
1956: Loan of US$10 million is given to Egypt after their assets are frozen in connection with the Suez situation. After the British, French and Israeli attack on Egypt in October and November, Saudi Arabia reduced its economic and political relationship to both countries.
1957: As a result of a visit by King Saud to USA, relations with USA are enhanced. This especially involved increase in Saudi buys of US military equipment. Later this year Saudi Arabia declared that the Gulf of Aqaba was Saudi territory.
1958 Change in the constitutional construction, where the kings absolute power was reduced, and legislative and executive powers were transferred to the prime minister. A couple of months later a cabinet system was introduced.
1960: Saudi Arabia participates in the construction of OPEC in Baghdad, in order to help sustain international oil prices.
1962 October: King Saud is forced to transfer effective power to his brother, Faisal. The background for this is Saud's total lack of control over economy. Faisal introduces a system of official institutions handling economic functions.
— Relations with Egypt are severed after Egypt and Saudi Arabia support each their part in the Yemeni revolution — Saudi Arabia supports the imam of Yemen. This conflict escalated to a level where Egypt went on to bomb Saudi towns.
1963: Saudi Arabia mobilized its army after the deteriorated relations with Egypt.
1964: Prince Faisal replaces Saud as king. The political system of Faisal is the system that has been used up to our times.
1967: With the foreplay to the Six-Day War in 1967 Saudi Arabia expresses support for Egypt, and even sends 20,000 soldiers to help in the war. When Egypt later that year withdrew from Yemen, Saudi Arabia gave extensive help to Egypt.
1970: Saudi Arabia recognizes the government of Yemen, that now is controlled by the party that was supported by Egypt.
1973: Saudi Arabia plays a leading role in a oil boycott against those Western countries that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War. This resulted in oil prices four times higher than earlier.
1974: Saudi Arabia takes over more of the control over Aramco, and revenues increases greatly.
1975: King Faisal is murdered. Khalid becomes new king, but his weak health makes his half brother Fahd the true exercising power.
1979: With the signing of the Camp David agreement, Saudi Arabia cuts off its financial aid to Egypt.
November 20: On this day, the first day in the Muslim calendar's year 1400, a group of Sunni Muslims barricades themselves inside the Holy Mosque of Mecca. They claimed that the promised Mahdi was among them. They held out in 15 days (until December 4) and as much as 200 seems to have been killed. The true identity of the rebels is still not fully known.
1980: Saudi Arabia takes full control over Aramco.
1982: King Khalid dies. He is succeeded by Fahd.
1987 July 31: 400 Iranian pilgrims are killed after clashes with Saudi security forces in Mecca.
1990 July: 1,400 pilgrims dies after a bridge and tunnel accident.
August 2: The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was dramatic to Saudi politics and security. Saudi Arabia allowed hundreds of thousands of foreign troops (mainly US) to be stationed on their own soil.
1992: Constitutional changes where a consultative council, shura, is established, along with a bill of rights and clear rules for succession for the king.
— Relations with Jordan deteriorates, as Jordan questions Saudi supremacy as protector of the Holy places.
1993: USA asks Saudi Arabia to pay for the Gulf War, that costed USA alone US$51 billion. This came in a time when the Saudi economy was facing severe problems, with budget deficits.
1994 May 23: Another incident of killed pilgrims in Mecca, this time 270 dead after a stampede. This gave new force to international criticism of Saudi Arabia's role in protecting pilgrims.
1995 November: As King Fahd suffers from stroke, his powers are passed over to Crown Prince Abdullah.
2003 May 12: Almost 100 people are killed in several terrorist attacks on residential areas of Riyadh, possibly by extremist Islamists.

By Tore Kjeilen