Al-Mamlaka al-‘Arabiyya as-Su‘udiyya
Area: 2,238,341 sq. km.
Neighbouring countries: Iraq and Kuwait to the North, Jordan to the North-west, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the East, Oman to the South-east, Yemen to the South
Capital city: Riyadh
Other cities: Jeddah, Mecca
Ethnic groups: Saudis, other Arabs, Westerners (20% of the population is of foreign extraction)
Languages: Arabic (official), English
Member of: CCG (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf), Arab League, OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference), UN and OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
Currency: Saudi Riyal
(Main Sources: De Agostini, Jan. 2008)
Modern Saudi Arabia was founded by King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, with the unification of the kingdoms of Nejd and Hejaz, and of the Emirates of Asir, Najran and Al-Hasa. The present form of government is an Absolute Monarchy. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is fully Islamic and holds the Quran as the only Constitution of the country, and the Sharia as the basis of Law.
The population is about 25 million inhabitants (UN Statistics 2008). According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2008, there are about a million Catholics (among the foreign workers).
Relations with the Holy See
Till now, Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. On the 6th November 2007, King Abdullah made the first ever official visit of a Saudi monarch to the Vatican.
SPEECHES OF BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF CELRA – CONFERENCE OF LATIN BISHOPS OF THE ARAB REGION: Nevertheless, it is essential to give firm support and encouragement to those who choose to remain faithful to their homeland in order to prevent it from becoming an archaeological site deprived of ecclesial life