Qatar officially the State of Qatar is a country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Whether the sovereign state should be regarded as a constitutional monarchy or an absolute monarchy is disputed. Its sole land border is with neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) monarchy Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. The Gulf of Bahrain, an inlet of the Persian Gulf, separates Qatar from the nearby Bahrain.
In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. Islam is the official religion of Qatar. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is widely regarded as the most advanced Arab state for human development. Qatar is a high-income economy, backed by the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. A report prepared by local governors of Ottoman Empire in 1892 states that total income from pearl hunting in 1892 is 2,450,000 kran. After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar’s pearling industry crashed. Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, in Dukhan Field.The discovery transformed the state’s economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living for its legal citizens. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world. The unemployment rate in June 2013 was 0.1%. Corporate law mandates that Qatari nationals must hold 51% of any venture in the Emirate.
As of 2016, Qatar has the fourth highest GDP per capita in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. It relies heavily on foreign labor to grow its economy, to the extent that migrant workers compose 86% of the population and 94% of the workforce. Qatar has been criticized by the International Trade Union Confederation. The economic growth of Qatar has been almost exclusively based on its petroleum and natural gas industries, which began in 1940. Qatar is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas. In 2012, it was estimated that Qatar would invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years. The country was a member state of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), having joined in 1961, and having left in January 2019.
In 2012, Qatar retained its title of richest country in the world (according to per capita income) for the third time in a row, having first overtaken Luxembourg in 2010. According to the study published by the Washington-based Institute of International Finance, Qatar’s per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) was $106,000 (QR387,000) in 2012, helping the country retain its ranking as the world’s wealthiest nation. Luxembourg came a distant second with nearly $80,000 and Singapore third with per capita income of about $61,000. The research put Qatar’s GDP at $182bn in 2012 and said it had climbed to an all-time high due to soaring gas exports and high oil prices. Its population stood at 1.8 million in 2012. The same study published that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with assets of $115bn, was ranked 12th among the richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.
The number of people in Qatar fluctuates considerably depending on the season, since the country relies heavily on migrant labour. In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million, with non-Arab foreigners making up a vast majority of Qatar’s population. Only 313,000 of the population (12%) were Qatari citizens, while the remaining 2.3 million (88%) were expatriates.
The combined number of South Asians (from the countries of the Indian subcontinent including Sri Lanka) by themselves represent over 1.5 million people (60%) of Qatar’s population. Among these, Indians are the largest community, numbering 650,000 in 2017, followed by 350,000 Nepalis, 280,000 Bangladeshis, 145,000 Sri Lankans, and 125,000 Pakistanis. The contingent of expatriates which are not of South Asian origin represent around 28% of Qatar’s population, of which the largest group is 260,000 Filipinos and 200,000 Egyptians, plus many other nationalities (including nationals of other Arab countries, Europeans, etc.).
Qatar’s first demographic records date back to 1892, and were conducted by Ottoman governors in the region. Based on this census, which includes only the residents in cities, the total population in 1892 was 9,830. The 2010 census recorded the total population at 1,699,435. In January 2013, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the country’s population at 1,903,447, of which 1,405,164 were males and 498,283 females. At the time of the first census, held in 1970, the population was 111,133. The population has tripled in the decade to 2011, up from just over 600,000 people in 2001, leaving Qatari nationals as less than 15% of the total population. The influx of male labourers has skewed the gender balance, and women are now just one-quarter of the population.
Projections released by Qatar Statistical Authority indicates that the total population of Qatar could reach 2.8 million by 2020. Qatar’s National Development Strategy (2011–16) had estimated that the country’s population would reach 1.78m in 2013, 1.81m in 2014, 1.84m in 2015 and 1.86m in 2016 – the yearly growth rate being merely 2.1%. But the country’s population has soared to 1.83 million by the end of 2012, showing 7.5% growth over the previous year. Qatar’s total population hit a record high of 2.46 million in November 2015, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year, far exceeding official projections.