QatarQatar is a small country in southwestern Asia.

Qatar, or State of Qatar, an Arab emirate that occupies the Qatar Peninsula, which juts from the east coast of Arabia into the Persian Gulf. Qatar's area is about 4,415 square miles (11,437 km 2 ).

Facts in brief about Qatar
Capital: Doha.
Official language: Arabic.
Official name: The State of Qatar.
Area: 4,247 mi2 (11,000 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 115 mi (185 km); east-west, 55 mi (89 km). Coastline—235 mi (378 km).
Population: Current estimate—841,000; density, 198 per mi2 (76 per km2); distribution, 95 percent urban, 5 percent rural. 2004 census—744,029.
Chief products: Petroleum and petroleum products.
Flag: Qatar's flag is one-third white on the left and two-thirds maroon on the right. The border between the white and maroon is a jagged line.
Money: Basic unit--—Qatar riyal. One hundred dirhams equal one riyal.

Qatar's dry, rocky land permits little agriculture; nearly all food is imported. Crude petroleum and natural gas, produced in the Persian Gulf and between Dukhan and Umm Bab, provide most of the nation's income. Virtually all of the petroleum and much of the gas is exported. Manufacturing, including petroleum refining and the making of petrochemicals and liquid natural gas, is being developed. Commercial fishing is also being developed. Qatar has excellent roads. Doha, the capital, has a seaport and an international airport.

Most of Qatar's inhabitants live in and around Doha. About three-quarters of the people are immigrant workers, mostly Pakistanis and Iranians. Qatar's language is Arabic and Islam is the prevailing religion.

Qatar is a monarchy, ruled by an emir who holds virtually absolute power. The emir or prince appoints an 18-member Council of Ministers and a 35-member Advisory Council. The country has no political parties. in 2005, voters approved a new constitution that establishes a parliament. Under the constitution, the 45 members of parliament will include 30 people elected by the people and 15 appointed by the emir during the country's first parliamentary elections to be held in 2007.

Qatar was dominated by other Arab states before 1868 and by the Ottoman Empire from then until World War I. The sheikhdom came under the protection of Great Britain by a treaty of 1916. Qatar was economically poor until after World War II, when oil fields discovered in 1939 were tapped. Qatar ended its treaty arrangements with Britain in 1971, becoming an independent nation. In 1991 Qatar participated in the Persian Gulf War.

The son of the ruling emir assumed power in a bloodless coup in 1995. He then instituted a series of reforms, including democratic elections for local municipal councils. In 1999, the first of these elections were held.