Qatar is a country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with neighbouring 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 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. In terms of income, the country has the third-highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world, and the sixth-highest GNI per capita (Atlas method). Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development, having the third-highest HDI in the Arab world after United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Qatar is a World Bank high-income economy, backed by the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British in 1868 that recognised its separate status. Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour. In the 21st century, Qatar emerged as a significant power in the Arab world both through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network, and reportedly supporting several rebel groups financially during the Arab Spring. For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power.