Qatar is a small peninsula into the Gulf with a population of 580,000 and an area of less than 4,500 sq miles (11,700 sq km).
The principality is especially important for the collecting and storage of oil for its three off-shore oil fields.
Topographically, much of the surface is a flatland of sand dunes and less than 1 percent of the land is arable.
Underground water is salty and unsuitable for drinking. Distillation and desalinization of seawater provides half of the country’s water supply. Oil and natural gas provide 85 percent of the country’s revenues, and the per capita income is nearly $16,000 a year, one of the highest in die Gulf region. The government owns all the agricultural land. Vegetables and fruits are grown, enough for domestic needs; most other food crops must be imported. Fishing is an important economic activity.
Currently, oil production is less than 1 percent of the world’s total output, and the proven reserves are limited. The prospect of declining reserves makes natural gas reserves, which are more abundant, most likely to afford the long term basis for the Qatari economy. The administration has been trying to diversify the economy and set up a fertilizer plant, a steel mill, and a petrochemical plant.
Eighty percent of the country’s labor force consists of non-Qataris while the short-term workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka make up a third of the labor force; Iranians, non-Qatari Arabs (Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians) and Africans make up the remaining two-thirds of the labor force. A 65-mile (105 km) paved highway goes from the capital city, Doha (population: 250,000) to the Saudi border. While there is no railroad, Doha has an international airport linking the country with the rest of the world.