The relief is not very rugged. The center-east of the country is occupied by a limestone plateau, while the west coast has several hills of about 40 m of altitude. The northeast is a region of cliffs. The south is very dry and is dominated by dunes and shifting sands. In general, the soil is stony, with dune deserts and arid plains.
Of the many coral islands that belong to Qatar, the most important is Halul, which stores crude from three oil rigs located in Gulf waters.
There is not a single river. A few Oases with springs, scattered in a desert landscape, underline the hostility of the territory to human settlements.
In summer, the climate is hot and humid, with temperatures reaching 40 ° C and a humidity of 85%. Winters are mild, with sharp drops in temperature at night. Rainfall never exceeds 100 mm per year and sometimes it has not rained for several years in a row.
Thanks to new irrigation techniques and high income from oil exports, some areas, where vegetation was practically non-existent, have been made suitable for cultivation.
Animal life is represented by sand rats, gerbils, hares, hedgehogs, and reptiles and amphibians, as well as the hissing dragon.
In ancient times, Qatar was populated by nomadic tribes from the interior of the Arabian Peninsula and was Islamized in the 7th century, at the time of the Caliphate of Baghdad.
Today, immigrant workers make up the majority of the population of this country. The native population represents only 20%. The majority group is made up of Asians, followed by the Arab group, and the Iranian group. The rest is made up of groups of diverse origin. Most of the population is concentrated in urban centers.
According to Countryaah, Arabic is the official language and English is used as a second language. The most widely practiced religion is Muslim, with 92.4% faithful. The Catholic and Crypto-Christian minorities are numerically unimportant. However, the country’s non-Muslim population enjoys greater freedoms than other Arab countries, and religious leaders are generally less involved in public affairs than in other states in the region.
The protests of religious personalities did not prevent, for example, the introduction of television in the country. However, traditional conservatism has prevailed at times, such as in the early 1980s, when a law was passed that prohibited women from driving. In addition, it is difficult to see wives outside the home and when they go out they not only wear the typical black veil, but sometimes wear a mask.
Economic needs and the influx of foreign workers have allowed women to enjoy greater freedom than in other Arab nations. Doha, the capital of Qatar, absorbs two thirds of the country’s population.
Oil has contributed to the rapid development of two Buenos Aires cities, Musay, on the east coast, and Zikrit on the west coast.
Qatar’s economy is based exclusively on the exploitation and export of oil and natural gas. According to OPEC statistics, in 1988 the emirate’s oil reserves stood at 4.5 billion barrels. Two oil refineries and a petrochemical plant operate in Musay’id. Industry, commerce and services employ 70% of the workforce. Within the manufacturing industry, petroleum derivatives, cement plants and flour, plastics, steel factories and the manufacture of fertilizers stand out.
Gas production has undergone great development and today Qatar is one of the most important producers in the world. With the completion of the works on the North Field field, the natural gas refining factory was put into operation.
Likewise, the construction of an aluminum plant will allow Qatar to become the first producer of this metal from 1992, surpassing the production of Bahrain.
Only 1% of the soils are usable. Vegetable, legume, fruit, date and forage crops stand out. The emirate is practically self-sufficient in vegetable production. Statistics for 1990 indicate that 60% of dairy production, 80% of fisheries and 8% of cereal production are destined for domestic consumption.
Livestock is also important. In 1986, 17.2% of livestock production was destined for export. The country’s energy needs are satisfied with oil, but it is intended that it be progressively replaced by natural gas. Also, the emirate is beginning to develop solar energy.
The main suppliers are Japan (which is also its best buyer), Great Britain, Germany and Italy. Qatar imports machinery, food, textiles, chemicals, clothing and animals from these countries. Exports are almost exclusively limited to oil, which accounts for 90% of these. The fall in the price of crude oil and its periodic fluctuations have highlighted the need to prepare an economy less dependent on so-called black gold. In this sense, the government has offered incentives to companies to achieve a greater participation of the private sector in the restructuring of the economy through greater investments in small and medium industries.
Thanks to the large fortunes created by oil and the few restrictions on banking activities, Qatar has become a major financial center.
Qatar is a member of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), OPAEC (Organization of the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), the Arab Monetary Fund and the Islamic Development Bank.
The emirate has 1,080 km of roads that link the capital with the Dujan and Um Said oil centers, in the north of the peninsula. The pipelines allow the transportation of oil and natural gas, from the wells to the distillation plants. Ports are very important, due to their strategic relevance. The ports of Doha and Um Said stand out for their activity. The emirate has an international airport in Doha.