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A country situated on the eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula.


Oman has a coast on the Arabian Sea, and inland it borders on Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Mountains rise steeply from a narrow coastal plain to a plateau which merges into the desert of the ‘empty quarter’ or Rub al-Khali.


Crude oil and natural gas are important exports and sources of government revenue. The manufacturing base includes oil-refining, copper-smelting, and the manufacture of cement and motor vehicles. The coastal plain is fertile.


Oman was a trading outpost of Mesopotamia, settled by Arabs in the 1st century ad. It was conquered for Islam in the 7th century. Expelling Portuguese incursions by 1650, the Omanis created a maritime empire with possessions as distant as Mombasa and the island of Zanzibar in East Africa and trade contacts with south-east Asia. By 1754 Ahmad ibn Said had expelled Turkish invaders and founded the sultanate that still rules Oman. Under Said ibn Sultan Sayyid Oman was the most powerful state in Arabia in the early 19th century, controlling Zanzibar and the coastal regions of Iran and Baluchistan (now mainly in Pakistan). Tension frequently erupted between the sultan of Oman and the interior tribes. Oil, now the country's major product, began to be exported in 1967. In 1970 the present ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said (1940– ), deposed his father Said bin Taimur in a palace coup. An uprising by left-wing guerrillas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman, was defeated in 1975. A member of the Arab League, Oman managed to remain largely unaffected by both the Iran–Iraq War and the Gulf War. In 1996 Sultan Qaboos decreed Oman to be a hereditary absolute monarchy. However, the State Advisory Council was elected by universal suffrage in 2003.

Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)




300,000 sq km (120,000 sq miles)


2,409,000 (2005)


1 Omani rial = 1000 baiza


Muslim 87.4%; Hindu 5.7%; Christian 4.9%

Ethnic Groups:

Omani Arab 48.1%; Indo-Pakistani 31.7%; Bengali 4.4%


Arabic (official); minority languages

International Organizations:

UN; Arab League; GCC; Non-Aligned Movement; WTO

Subjects: World History.

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