A Look at the Past
Most people did not know much about Kuwait until this century. Archeologists have found sites along the Persian Gulf, which date as far back as 5000 B.C. Throughout history many great empires conquered the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, and established a presence in Kuwait. The Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Muslims all settled in Kuwait. Islamic influences from western Arabia left a lasting impression on Kuwaiti life and culture.
Most Kuwaitis trace their heritage to the Utubs, a group of extended families who migrated into Kuwait from the Nejd region of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Sabah family controlled the area that is now the city of Kuwait. In 1756, Sabah bin Jabir was selected to be the first Amir, or leader, of the Utub people and his descendants have ruled Kuwait ever since.
Did you know?

The name Kuwait is derived from the word Kut, an Arabic word meaning fort.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire maintained an alliance with the Sabah to control Kuwait. When it threatened to take direct control of Kuwait in 1899, the Sabah rulers sought and received protectorate status from Great Britain. Kuwait remained a British protectorate until it became fully independent in 1961.

Crude oil was discovered in Kuwait in 1938. The revenues generated from the sale of oil provided the means for the modernization of Kuwaiti society and raised the country's standard of living to the highest in the world. Foreign workers were brought in and now they make up the majority of the population. Kuwaiti citizens today are a privileged minority.

The Gulf War of 1990 and its aftermath has had a significant impact on Kuwaiti life. Many foreigners who settled in Kuwait before the war have been dislocated. The rebuilding of Kuwait was completed in record time, but the trauma of war is still felt. Its consequences continue to be worked out.
Did you know?

During the aftermath of the Gulf War virtually all of Kuwait's 732 oil wells were set ablaze by the fleeing Iraqi army. It took seven months to douse the oil blazes.