Natural Resources

Kuwait has few natural resources other than oil, a gigantic natural harbour, fisheries, and a few sparse water supplies. Oil is Kuwait's prime natural resource on which its economy depends. The country is reckoned to have reserves of 94.8 billion barrels, about 9.6% of the world's total. This ranks it third in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq. At current levels of production, Kuwait has enough oil to last for more than 100 years.

Kuwait bay is a generously sized natural harbour and has always been a prime access point for trade entering and leaving the hinterland of northeast Arabia and Iraq. Before oil was discovered, it was the country's most valuable natural resource and today, as the location of Kuwait's main commercial port, its economic importance continues.

Fifty years ago Kuwait was self-sufficient in marine foods and, despite a 20 fold increase in population, fishing still provides 50% of the country's seafood requirement. But stocks are being depleted through over fishing and the breeding grounds are being polluted by increased sediment due to marsh-draining in southern Iraq.

Kuwait's only reserves of pure drinking water are in northern areas [Kuwait map] of Ar-Rawdatain and Umm Al-Aish. The rest of its naturally occurring water, which is found in Sulaibiya, Shigaya, Abdali, Wafra and Umm Qdair, is brackish and can only be used, in its natural state, for irrigation.