The Sultanate (Kingdom) of Oman lies almost entirely outside the Persian Gulf, except for a tiny finger of its territory between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman at the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and thus it can control the route to the oil-rich region of the Persian Gulf.
Most of its 118,000 sq mile (306,000 sq km) territory is a desert that merges into the Rub-al-Khali of the Arabian Peninsula and remains undemarcated.
A mountain range that parallels the Gulf of Oman coast rises to about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).
Although less than 1 percent of the land is under cultivation, as a contrast to other states in the region, one-third of the labor force is engaged in agriculture. Dates, mangoes, bananas, melons, alfalfa, and onions are the major agricultural products. Goats, sheep, and cattle are raised in the Dofar region. Fishing is important in the Gulf of Oman and along the Arabian Sea coast.
Manufacturing accounts for 6 percent of the labor force, and consists mainly of the making of cement blocks, furniture, plastics, and fiberglass. The country has a tradition of maritime trade between the East and the West, and was a major base of Arab traders with East Africa. One-sixth of the labor force is still engaged in trading activities that account for over 16 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
The old trading patterns of pearls, incense, and silks, are changed now, but trade remains important. Major imports are manufactured goods, machinery, food grains, and chemicals. Oman is the least urbanized state in the Arabian Peninsula; only 13 percent of the population in the mid-1990s was listed as urban. Muscat (population: 52,000) located on the Tropic of Cancer is the capital and the nation’s major port.