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Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Arabian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic أكوات ākwāt, the plural of كوت kūt, meaning a fortress built near water. The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 sq mi) and has a population of about 3.5 million.
Kuwait 's early beginnings go as far back as the early 17th century, known at the time as al-Qurain. It appeared in a Dutch map dated in the mid-17th century, the earliest known map showing present-day Kuwait as al-Qurain. At the time, it was under the control of the house of Khaled, who dominated the eastern part of the Arabian peninsula.
The name Kuwait, which is derived from Kout (fort), came about when the sheik of the house of Khaled, Barrak, built a fort in al-Qurain in the latter part of the 17th century as a summer house In the early 18th century, several clans from the Al Aniza tribe migrated to the northern shore of the Gulf from the Najd, their famine-stricken homeland in central Arabia, and settled in Kuwait, a small village at the time.
With the rule of the house of Khaled weakening, the Al Sabah emerged as the dominant clan, and were formally established as rulers of Kuwait in 1752. These new settlers combined to create an oligarchic merchant principality, whose economic prosperity was based on fishing, pearling, and trade.
On June 19, 1961 Kuwait gained full independence from Britain. Iraq initially refused to accept Kuwait's independence and threatened to annex its neighbor, falsely alleging that Kuwait had once been part of Iraq. Iraq's military threats resulted in a deployment of British troops, which were soon replaced by an Arab League force, and the crisis subsided. In 1963 Kuwait became a member of the United Nations, and later that year Iraq agreed to abandon its threats and recognize Kuwait's independence and borders in a treaty signed by both governments.
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