Religious Affiliations: Sunni (59.5%), Shiite (25.5%), other (15%)
Ethnic Groups: Kuwaiti (Arab) 45%, other (55%)
Remarks: Previously a component of the Ottoman Wilayat of Basra, Kuwait was made an independent province by the British in order to limit Iraq's naval access to the Persian Gulf. Kuwait was granted independence in 1961. The Iraqi annexation of Kuwait in 1990, and subsequent liberation by an American-led coalition liberation in early 1991, continue to define its politics, culture, and landscape. Even Kuwait's national monument, the Kuwait Towers, incorporates crudely labeled photographs of the Iraqi vandalism of the monument as its most prominent interior decoration.
Kuwait and Iraq continue to have periodic naval disputes. In January of 2011, a Kuwait Coast Guard patrol intercepted an Iraqi fishing boat in Kuwaiti territorial waters. In the subsequent standoff and firefight, a Kuwaiti lance corporal was killed.[K1][K2][K3] Kuwait is also building the Mubarak al Kabir port on the northern Bubiyan Island, a project whose obvious purpose is to further restrict Iraq's limited maritime access.[K4] Kuwait and Iraq are still engaged in diplomatic efforts of varying sincerity, focused largely on reparations and settlement for the events of 1990/'91.[K5][K6][K7][K8][K9][K10]
In Spring of 2011, Kuwait disrupted an Iranian spy network that had infiltrated the Kuwaiti military. Three Kuwaiti soldiers, including an Iranian national, were sentenced to death, with several others either detained or deported.[K11][K12][K13] Another spy ring was allegedly broken up later that year[K14], and there was also concern about Syrian intelligence activities in the Gulf[K15]; Syria is a close ally of Iran, and Syrians integrate more easily in the Arab Gulf states than Iranians. There was also concern that Kuwait's loose immigration restrictions made it an ideal transit point for the movement of spies.[K16][K17]
In addition to these external security threats, Kuwait suffers from two internal threats. The first and most prominent of these is political turmoil among Kuwaiti citizens relating to the Arab Spring. The second and less publicized is repeated protests by the Biduns, a disfranchised subset of the Kuwaiti population who do not hold citizenship because they failed to sign up for it back in 1961.
[K1] BBC: Kuwaiti soldier killed in clash with Iraqi fishermen
[K2] Arab Times: Kuwaiti coast guard killed in shootout with Iraqi boat
[K3] Khaleej Times: Kuwaiti soldier killed in clash with Iraqi sailors
[K4] Wikipedia: Kuwait Mubarak al Kabir Port project
[K5] Arab Times: Iraq keen to close files of missing Kuwaitis, property
[K6] Kuwait Times: Amir asks govt to iron out pending issues with Iraq
[K7] Arab Times: ‘Need to forget Iraq former regime acts’
[K8] Arab Times: ‘All factors’ exist for good ties with Kuwait: Talabani
[K9] Kuwait Times: Kuwait-Iraq relations move in right direction – Forget the past, look into bright future
[K10] Kuwait Times: Talabani: All factors for good Kuwait ties present – Iraqi president hopes ’90 invasion water under the bridge
[K11] AFP: Kuwait condemns three to death in Iran spy ring
[K12] UPI: Kuwait: Iran involved in spy ring
[K13] Al Jazeera: Iran rejects Kuwait spy cell allegation
[K14] Arab Times: Kuwait Said To Bust Spy Ring
[K15] Arab Times: Govt should monitor Syrian intel activities
[K16] Arab Times: Lot Of Spy Networks Using Kuwait As A Transit Point
[K17] Arab Times: 'Security, stability of Kuwait at risk' - 'Foreign hands at work'