Oman Country Guide
An indefinite line in the Rub al-Khali desert forms the border between Oman and the Arab countries that surround its territory. The country’s main wealth is oil.
According to diseaseslearning, Oman is a sultanate located in the southeast corner of Arabia. It is limited to the north by the Gulf of Oman, to the east and south by the Arabian Sea, to the southwest by Yemen, to the west by Saudi Arabia and to the northwest by the United Arab Emirates. The country also has a small territory in the northern part of the Mussandan peninsula, between the Gulfs of Oman and the Persian. Since 1967, Oman has administered the Kuria Muria Islands. The Omani territory has an approximate surface of 306,000km2 and its coast extends for more than 1,500km.
The relief of the country is flat and monotonous, with the exception of the northern region, where the Hajar mountain range extends, parallel to the coast of the Gulf of Oman, with more than 3,000 meters of altitude and whose culmination, the Djebel al-Akhdar, reaches 3,107m. The climate is arid and hot, of a desert type, with higher humidity in the mountains and coastal areas. The rainwater that falls in the mountains is carried to the oasis by underground currents. Date palm plantations abound and the fauna is represented by camels, donkeys and wild animals in the mountains.
Most of the population is of Arab origin, although important ethnic minorities are concentrated in the ports, consisting of Persians, Pakistanis, Baluchisis, Indians and blacks. The official language in the country is Arabic. The population is mainly concentrated in the fertile coastal strip, but many Omanis continue to practice nomadism. In addition to the capital, Muscat, other important cities are Nizua, Samail and Salala.
Oman’s main source of foreign exchange is oil, which began to be exploited in 1967 and the sultanate soon became one of the main exporters. The country that buys most of Oman’s oil is Japan. Until 1982, the country imported all oil products, but in November 1983 it opened a refinery in Mina al-Fahal to supply the domestic market.
The scarcity of water for irrigation hinders the development of agriculture, which has as its main product the date. The nomadic tribes in the countryside raise sheep, goats and camels. Fishing on the coast and in the Strait of Hormuz provides raw material for the canning industry, which exports dried fish and fish meal. Matra is the starting point for caravans entering the country, while communications with the outside take place mainly through the ports of Matra, Muscat, Sur, Suhar, Murbat and Salala and the capital’s airport.
In 536 BC, the territory of Oman fell into the hands of the Persians and was later occupied by Azerbaijani Azerbaijians from Yemen. The Azdites maintained their power until the 6th century of the Christian era, when the Persians returned to occupy the country. Around 630, the population converted to Islam, but the spread of the Idadhi heresy led to the election of the first imam (spiritual leader) of the sultanate, Julanda ibn Masud. The elected imams dominated until 1154, the year in which Banu Nabhan established a dynasty of kings that he dominated until 1428, when the old system of government was restored, with the return of the imams.
In 1507 a Portuguese armada, commanded by Afonso de Albuquerque, sacked Muscat and established dominion over the coast. In 1650 Sultan Ibn Said recovered Muscat, and in 1698 his son expelled the Portuguese from Mombasa. The Omani sultanate, established by Abu Said in the 18th century, became a vast empire that included Zanzibar (now integrated with Tanzania) and the establishments conquered by the Portuguese.
Throughout the 19th century the British intensified their political influence in the country. In 1822 the Treaty of Moresby, which limited the slave trade, dealt a severe blow to the Omani economy. In 1861, the sultanate was divided into the principalities of Zanzibar and Muscat and Oman.
In 1951 a friendship treaty with the United Kingdom recognized the sultanate’s complete independence. In 1964 the separatist tribes of Dofar rebelled, supported by the Soviet Union and the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen. Sultan Qabus ibn Said, who had dethroned his father in 1970, managed to win over the Dofar guerrillas in 1976 and carried out an economic and social development program. In 1982 Oman and other countries in the Persian Gulf established a common defense plan.
Oman has no written constitution. The sultan exercises absolute power and legislates by decree, assisted by a Council of Ministers. The country has no legislature, but it does have a Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura), created in 1991, with 59 members elected by the government and appointed by each of the administrative districts into which it divides the country.
Society and culture
The construction of schools and health centers were the priorities of the reform program carried out by Sultan Qabus in the 1970s and 1980s. The country’s main religion is Islamic, followed by a small minority of Hindus and Christians (Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants) . The strict observance of the Islamic faith limits the cultural life of Oman, which registered the greatest development since 1970. The most original manifestation of national art is the picturesque architecture of the old castles.