Country Listing

Kuwait Table of Contents


Transportation and Telecommunications

Kuwait has a modern, well-maintained transportation system. The entire system suffered extensive damage in the Persian Gulf War, but by 1993 repairs had brought most facilities back to their prewar condition. The highway system comprised more than 3,900 kilometers of road in 1993. About 3,000 kilometers are paved, and the rest are gravel or graded earth. Expressways extend south and west from the city of Kuwait to neighboring cities. Paved highways link Kuwait with Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the west and south. Despite the excellent network of roads in populated areas, traffic congestion is a growing problem. Plans to build a causeway across Kuwait Bay were delayed by the Iraqi invasion in 1990.

Three ports handle all commercial shipping and petroleum exports. The principal port for nonpetroleum products in 1993 was Ash Shuwaykh, several kilometers west of the downtown section of the city of Kuwait. Built in 1960, Ash Shuwaykh is one of the busiest ports in the Middle East, with twenty-one deepwater berths. In 1988 more than 1,100 vessels carried 3.7 million tons of cargo through Ash Shuwaykh. Ash Shuaybah was built in 1967, fifty kilometers south of the city of Kuwait, to develop the Ash Shuaybah Industrial Zone. By 1988, however, it rivaled Ash Shuwaykh in size and traffic with twenty berths and 3.5 million tons of cargo transported. Mina al Ahmadi, just north of Ash Shuaybah, handles most of Kuwait's petroleum exports. Twelve offshore berths can load more than 2 million bpd of oil and can accommodate the largest oil tankers.

Kuwait International Airport, sixteen kilometers south of the city of Kuwait, handles all international flights. The latest expansion to the airport, a new terminal, was completed in 1979. Kuwait Airways, the national carrier, has regularly scheduled service to more than twenty-four cities worldwide.

Like its transportation system, Kuwait's modern telecommunications system was heavily damaged during the Iraqi occupation. The government has made strides at reconstruction, but in 1993 work remained to restore the system to its prewar level of excellence. In 1989 there were 285,000 telephones, or fourteen telephones per 100 inhabitants. High-capacity coaxial cables and radio-relay systems linked Kuwait with its neighbors. In 1993, however, the coaxial cable to Iraq was still inoperable. Before the war, the country had four ground satellite stations working with the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) and the Arab Satellite Communication Organization (Arabsat) system. All four stations were destroyed in the war, however, and smaller mobile satellite ground stations currently handle international telephone calls, data transmission, and live television broadcasts. The city of Kuwait has three AM radio stations, three FM radio stations, three television transmitters, and a powerful shortwave transmitter for international service.

Data as of January 1993