Page last modified 20 August 2023

 

Saudi Arabia

Community

Area 2,149,690 square kilometres (land area 2,149,690 square kilometres)

Population,


3,500,000 (1940)

3,600,000 (1950) +2.9%

4,090,000 (1960) +13.6%

5,840,000 (1970) +42.8%

9,740,000 (1980) +66.8%

16,325,000(1990) +67.6%

20,765,000 (2000) +27.2%

27,425,000 (2010) +32.1%

34,800,000 (2020) +26.9%


Slave population

As recently as 1960 there were an estimated 300,000 slaves within Saudi Arabia. Slavery was officially abolished in 1962.

Ethnicity and Religion, %, Saudi Arabia is a theocracy and practice of any other religion than Islam is very strongly discouraged, even in private homes. Nevertheless there are an estimated 1 million (2010) foreign workers in Saudi Arabia who are Buddhist, Christian or Hindu by faith. Non-belief is also strongly opposed in the country.

 

Arab

Hindu

Muslim

All

Muslim

Sunni1

Muslim

Shia

1910

 

 

 

 

 

1970

99.0

 

99.0

 

 

1990

 

 

100.0

92.0

8.0

2001

 

1.0

 

 

 

2009

90.0

 

 

 

 

2013

90.0

 

100.0

86.0

14.0

1Mainly Wahhabi

Birth and death rates Below replacement rate = 2.1

 

Fertility Rate

Birth

Rate

Infant

Mortality

Death

Rate

% Aged

Under 15

% Aged

Over

65

% Urban

1950

 

49.0 (+23.0)

200.0

26.0

42.0

3.3

9.5

1960

7.2

49.0 (+28.7)

 

20.3

43.1

3.6

31.3

1970

7.3

48.0 (+32.9)

118.0

15.1

44.2

3.4

48.7

1980

7.2

44.0 (+35.6)

70.5

8.4

43.6

3.0

65.9

1990

5.9

36.0 (+31.0)

35.8

5.0

42.0

2.8

76.6

2000

4.0

27.0 (+23.3)

18.8

3.7

38.2

3.0

79.8

2010

3.0

22.0 (+18.4)

10.4

3.6

29.8

3.0

82.1

2015

2.5

19.9 (+16.4)

7.3

3.5

26.0

3.1

83.1

2017

2.4

18.3 (+14.7)

6.4

3.6

 

 

 

2018

 

 

6.0

 

25.0

3.3

83.8

Life expectancy,


39.9 (1952); 39.0 (M), 41.0 (F)

45.7 (1960); 43.7 (M), 47.8 (F)

52.7 (1970), 50.8 (M), 54.8 (F)

63.1 (1980); 61.3 (M), 65.0 (F)

69.2 (1990); 67.5 (M), 70.9 (F)

72.6 (2000); 70.9 (M), 74.3 (F)

73.7 (2010); 72.3 (M), 75.2 (F)

75.2 (2020); 74.0 (M), 76.9 (F)


Population of principal cities, 1,000s

 

Damman

Jeddah

Mecca

Medina

RIYADH1

Taif

1860

 

 

40

16

7.5

 

1900

 

 

50

 

 

 

1918

 

 

 

 

18

 

1940

 

30

120

30

60

 

1956

 

100

 

40

100

30

1960

 

148

159

 

169

 

1970

 

255

215

100

300

 

1974

128

561

367

198

667

205

1984

 

 

 

 

1,308

 

1991

350

 

618

400

2,600

410

1995

 

1,490

770

 

3,108

 

2004

740

2,800

1,290

920

4,090

520

2009

902

3,234

1,600

1,180

4,465

1,200

2013

1,034

3,900

 

 

5,900

 

2016

 

 

 

 

6,506

 

1Chosen as the capital city by the Al Saud clan in 1932

Wealth; Gross Domestic Product (nominal values)

 

GDP,

US$ million

Total GDP,

% of USA

GDP per capita,

US$

GDP per capita

% of USA

1958

850

0.24

 

 

1966

 

 

240

5.79

1970

5,400

0.52

1,071

20.41

1975

46,700

2.86

4,434

56.70

1980

149,260

5.34

15,319

121.60

1985

104,000

2.47

7,223

39.54

1990

117,000

2.02

6,865

28.66

1995

143,000

1.93

7,600

25.28

2000

171,380

1.72

9,164

25.14

2005

309,800

2.37

13,740

31.01

2010

528,000

3.53

19,260

39.81

2015

654,000

3.63

20,730

36.88

2016

646,000

3.48

20,030

34.85


GDP by primary sector

 

Agriculture

% GDP

Agriculture

% employed

Industry

% GDP

inc. oil

Industry

% employed

Services

% GDP

Services

% employed

1960

 

 

 

10.0

 

19.0

1970

 

64.0

 

 

 

 

1980

2.0

61.0

6.0

14.0

 

25.0

1990

6.6

45.0

44.8

14.0

48.6

37.2

2000

5.2

12.0

48.0

12.0

45.0

63.0

2010

2.7

6.7

61.9

21.4

35.4

71.9

2016

2.7

 

43.4

 

54.0

 


Communications

Language Official; Arabic

Literacy, Saudi girls were first allowed to attend primary school from 1964.


3.0% (1960)

8.5% (1970); 15.0% (M), 2.0% (F)

24.6% (1980); 34.5% (M), 12.2% (F)

51.1% (1990); 71.1% (M), 30.8% (F)

77.1% (2000); 83.5% (M), 68.2% (F)

85.0% (2010); 89.1% (M), 79.4% (F)

94.7% (2015); 97.0% (M), 91.1% (F)


Physical communications � roads

 

Roads (km)

Surfaced (km)

Motor vehicles

Cars1

Commercial Vehicles

Railways

(km)2

1950

 

 

 

 

 

137

1958

 

 

 

 

 

573

1962

17,700

2,200

 

30,000

40,000

 

1964

 

 

80,800

 

 

 

1977

 

 

 

153,000

182,000

 

1979

 

20,134

 

 

 

 

1982

 

 

 

757,395

661,290

 

1984

63,000

28,000

 

 

 

 

1986

91,350

33,800

4,268,400

2,245,000

2,250,000

 

1994

 

 

 

 

 

1,400

2000

152,044

45,461

 

 

 

1,392

2002

 

 

 

3,414,000

4,866,100

 

2006

221,372

47,529

3,730,000

 

 

1,394

2010

246,951

 

4,870,000

 

 

 

2011

 

 

 

14,900,000

 

 

2012

 

 

 

15,900,000

 

 

2013

 

 

17,000,000

 

 

 

1Women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia until 2017

2First railway opened in 1908.This was the Hejaz Railway, from Damascus to Medina; built by the Ottoman Turks, it was destroyed by Lawrence of Arabia during World War One.

Urban metro systems, kilometres

Mecca, (opened 2010)

18.1 (2012)

188.0 (Projected 2019)

Riyadh (to open 2019)

176.0 (planned)

Electronic communications, TV broadcasting began 1955, as an English-language service for the personnel of USAF Dhahran Airfield. The Saudi Wahhabi cleric opposed a nationwide TV service because it would show images of people, which is forbidden under a strict interpretation of Islam. National TV broadcasting did begin in Saudi Arabia in 1965, precipitating civil unrest and attacks on the TV stations.

 

Telephones (landlines)

Mobile Telephones

Radios

Televisions

PCs

Internet Users

1950

 

 

10,000

 

 

 

1960

 

 

74,000

 

 

 

1961

 

 

 

8,700

 

 

1962

28,600

 

 

 

 

 

1971

 

 

87,000

18,000

 

 

1975

138,000

 

 

 

 

 

1980

319,600

 

 

 

 

 

1985

 

 

3,300,000

2,800,000

 

 

1990

1,234,000

14,851

4,655,000

3,950,000

380,000

 

1994

 

 

 

 

 

900,000

1995

 

16,000

5,500,000

4,700,000

650,000

 

2000

2,964,700

1,376,000

7,200,000

5,900,000

1,300,000

 

2003

3,502,000

7,238,000

 

 

 

1,500,000

2004

 

 

 

6,600,000

8,476,000

1,586,000

2005

 

13,300,000

 

 

 

2,000,000

2009

4,171,000

 

 

 

 

9,774,000

2010

 

 

 

 

 

10,500,000

2012

4,800,000

 

 

 

 

 

2016

3,637,442

47,932,500

 

 

 

20,770,000

Tourism: Visitors to Saudi Arabia,


2,000,000 (1984)

2,209,000 (1990)

3,325,000 (1995)

6,585,000 (2000)

8,037,000 (2005)

13,539,000 (2010)

17,994,000 (2015)