The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located in Western Asia, making up a bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. The country is the Middle East’s largest sovereign state, the fifth largest in Asia, and the second largest in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia is the only country to share a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast border. It has the largest economy, population, and size in the Middle East.
Islam, which is the world's second-largest religion, was founded in Saudi Arabia. Modern-day Saudi Arabia was previously broken up into four regions, Hejaz, Najd and parts of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa) and Southern Arabia ('Asir). The founder of the country, Ibn Saud, had unified these four regions by 1932. Since this time, the country has ruled as an absolute monarchy.
Petroleum was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938. Since this time it has become the second largest exporter of oil in the world, after the US. It maintains hold of the second largest oil reserves and sixth largest gas reserves in the world today. The country is an acting member in OPEC, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the GCC.
Although Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia requires the King to abide by Sharia. The Quran and the Sunnah are considered to serve as the country’s constitution. Political parties and national elections aren’t permitted in Saudi Arabia. Outside of the royal family and the Al-Saud, influence in politics and government is extremely limited in the country.
The primary source of law in Saudi Arabia is Islamic Sharia. The Sharia isn’t codified, nor is there a system of judicial precedent in the country. Judges are allowed to use independent reasoning in levying legal interpretations and decisions. Royal decrees are another main source of law in the country, and supplement the Sharia in labor, commercial and corporate law. The death penalty is still in place, for crimes including drug use, witchcraft, sorcery, armed robbery, rape, and murder, among others.
Saudi Arabia is a member of the UN, a founding member of Arab League, the Muslim World League, Gulf Cooperation Council, and plays a significant role in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund . Saudi Arabia and the United States are strategic allies, although relations have strained during the Obama Administration.
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