The total population of Kuwait is of 3.8 million (2015) and a population density of 218 people per square kilometer.[1] Expatriates made up around 68% of Kuwait's total population in 2013.[3] Almost 98% of the population is urban, and about 83% of the total population live in its capital, Kuwait City.[2] The high immigration rates and great dependence on foreign labor have swung the population pyramid of Kuwait in favor of the working-age groups. Consequently, 75.7% of Kuwait's population in 2015 is between 15 and 64 years old, a rate that has been similarly high in 2000.[1] Kuwait has a high life expectancy of 74.5years in 2015 and low maternal and infant mortality rates of 4 per 100,000 and 7.3 per 1000, respectively. The total fertility rate is 2.07 births per woman in 2015.[1]

The Government of Kuwait has been largely investing in education. In 2015, adult literacy rate reached 96.2%.[6] The gross primary enrollment rate was 104.2% in 2013 with a gender parity achieved at the primary level. At the tertiary level, gross enrollment increased from 23.9% in 2000 to 27% in 2013, close to the enrollment average in the Arab region of 28.1%. Similar to other GCC countries, Kuwait has successfully eliminated gender disparities at the tertiary level with a Gender Parity of 1.6 in 2013.[5]

Kuwait’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) significantly increased from Int$ 143 billion to Int$ 261 billion between 2000 and 2015, with Gross National Income (GNI) per capita reaching Int$ 79,970 in 2015.[5] The inflation rate averaged 3.0% over the last 4 years. The contribution of the oil sector made up 43% of the country’s GDP in2015.[7] The growth pattern of the Kuwaiti economy and its public finances reflect its vulnerability to fluctuation in oil prices. With the decline in international oil prices from 111.6 USD/bbl in 2012 down to 52 USD/bbl in 2015,[8] the GDP growth rate (constant 2005 prices) dropped from 7.7% in 2012 to 0.9% in 2015[9][9]. Oil revenues made up 77.2% of total government revenues in 2015, decreasing from 88.6% in 201 2.[7] At the same time, public debt, as a percentage of GDP, remained as low as 10.6% of GDP in2015.[7] In 2015, the impacts of the decline in oil were evident in the country’s public finances. The government net lending/borrowing, as a percentage of GDP, declined to 1.24%, down from 26.3% in 2014.[9]

Although small in size, Kuwait was in 2009 the world’s 30th largest exporter and 47th largest importer of merchandise.[4] Trade has always had a significant weight in Kuwait’s economy, with international trade-to-GDP ratio moderately increasing over the last fifteen years from 86.6% in 2000 to 99% in 2014.[5] 

As is the case in oil producing countries, Kuwait’s foreign trade is dominated by oil and is, therefore, vulnerable to developments in the international economy. While the country has continued to exert efforts to diversify its economy, oil and other mineral fuels still accounted for 94% of total exports in 2014.[3]

Kuwait’s main imports consist of machinery and transport equipment. The main sources of Kuwait’s imports are the European Union, the United States of America, the GCC (of which major supplier is Saudi Arabia), China, Japan, India and the Republic of Korea. These countries supply around 68% of Kuwait’s total imports.[4]


Kuwait has entered into many regional trading agreements, with its GCC partners and with Arab countries in general under the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). In 2008, the GCC has concluded with Singapore a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) that entered into force in 2013. Besides, a Free Trade Agreement signed in 2009 between the GCC and the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) entered into force in 2014.[4]

Labor and employment dynamics in Kuwait reflect the structure of an oil-dependent economy that is home to a large emigrant community. In 2012, 1.88 million persons out of 2.27 million employed were non-Kuwaiti, which accounted for 83% of the total employed persons. The expatriates constitute a large part of the private-sector workforce, where 1.4 million non-Kuwaitis worked in the private sector in 2014 compared to only 61.7 thousand Kuwaitis. The employed Kuwaitis continue to prefer working for the public sector; in 2013, 245.7 thousand Kuwaiti were employed by the governmental sector compared to 91.5 thousand non-Kuwaiti, a phenomenon that the government is trying to reverse by encouraging the Kuwaiti nationals to work for the private sector and by promoting a policy ‘Kuwaitisation’ of the labor market away from a reliance on foreign labor.[3]

Total unemployment in Kuwait was at its lowest point in 2000 at 0.8%, and it increased to 3.5% in 2015.[10] Unemployment is especially high among youth with a significant increase over the last 15 years from 4.6% in 2000 to 17.3% in 2015.[10] Another important challenge facing Kuwait is the employment of women, where despite their high education levels, only 28.7% of women were employed compared to 71.3% of men in 2012.[11]

Kuwait is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and one of the world's top producers of petroleum and other oil liquids. Its strategic location around Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran and its huge oil reserves make it one of the world's richest countries per capita. 

In 2014, Kuwait's crude oil production was approximately 1 billion barrels, a significant increase from 726.3 million barrels in 2000. Similarly, natural gas production increased over the last years from 380.6 billion cubic feet in 2000 to 530.6 billion cubic feet in 2014. Kuwait exports of crude oil registered 728.1 million barrels in 2014, making Kuwait one of the top exporters of crude oil among OPEC producers. Kuwait consumes a relatively small portion of its total petroleum production. The country consumed a total of 14.4 million barrels in 2014, leaving most of its production available for exports.[3]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  3. Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) – Kuwait
  4. World Trade Organization, Trade Policy Review, The State of Kuwait, 2012, WT/TPR/G/258
  5. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  6. UNESCO Institute for Statistics
  7. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from the Central Statistics Bureau (CSB)
  8. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
  9. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  10. KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)
  11. Central Statistical Bureau (CSB)

Kuwait Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • Trade has always had a significant weight in Kuwait’s economy, with international trade-to-GDP ratio moderately increasing over the last fifteen years from 86.6% in 2000 to 95% in 2016.

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