Saudi Arabia History

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History[edit | edit source]

Most of the terrain of Saudi Arabia consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world. The territory that now constitutes Saudi Arabia was the site of several ancient cultures and civilizations. The prehistory of Saudi Arabia shows some of the earliest traces of human activity in the world.

The world's second-largest religion, Islam, emerged in modern-day Saudi Arabia. In the early 7th century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad united the population of Arabia and created a single Islamic religious polity. Following his death in 632, his followers rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim rule beyond Arabia, conquering huge and unprecedented swathes of territory from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to modern day Pakistan in the East in a matter of decades.

The area of modern-day Saudi Arabia formerly consisted of mainly four distinct regions: Hejaz, Najd and parts of Eastern Arabia and Southern Arabia beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia has since been an absolute monarchy, effectively a hereditary dictatorship governed along Islamist lines. The ultraconservative Wahhabi religious movement within Sunni Islam has been called "the predominant feature of Saudi culture", with its global spread largely financed by the oil and gas trade. Saudi Arabia is sometimes called the Land of the Two Holy Mosques in reference to Mecca) and in Medina, the two holiest places in Islam. The state's official language is Arabic.

Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world's second largest oil producer, behind the U.S. and the world's largest largest oil exporter, controlling the world's second largest oil reserves and the sixth largest gas reserves. The kingdom is categorized as a World Bank high-income economy with a high Human Development Index and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies. The state has attracted criticism for its treatment of women and use of capital punishment. An autocratic monarchy, the kingdom has the world's third-highest military expenditure and, was the world's second largest arms importer from 2010 to 2014.
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Timeline[edit | edit source]

1744 - The first Saudi state established in the area around Riyadh, rapidly expanded and briefly controlled most of the present-day territory of Saudi Arabia, sacking Karbala in 1802 and capturing Mecca in 1803
1932 - The two kingdoms of the Hejaz and Nejd were united as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
1938 - Vast reserves of oil were discovered in the Al-Ahsa region along the coast of the Persian Gulf, and full-scale development of the oil fields began in 1941 under the US-controlled Arabian American Oil Company