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Saudi Arabia

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Jordan on the northwest, Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south, with the Persian Gulf to its northeast and the Red Sea to its west. It is called "the land of the two holy mosques", a reference to Mecca and Medina, Islam's two holiest places.

The kingdom occupies eighty percent of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the country's boundaries with the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen are undefined, so the exact size of the country remains unknown. The Saudi government's estimate is 2,217,949 square kilometers (856,356 sq mi). Other reputable estimates vary between 2,149,690 square kilometers (830,000 sq mi) and 2,240,000 square kilometers (864,869 sq mi).

The climate is dry and hot. Dry desert with great extremes of temperature and the terrain is mostly uninhabited, sandy desert. In most parts of the country, vegetation is limited to weeds, xerophytic herbs and shrubs. Animals include the ibex, wildcats, baboons, wolves, and hyenas in the highlands. Small birds are found in the oases. The coastal area of the Red Sea, especially the coral reefs, have a rich marine fauna. Saudi Arabia has a coastline of 2,640 kilometers (1,640 mi).

Saudi Arabia consists mostly of semi-desert and desert with oases. Almost half of the total country is uninhabitable desert with annual precipitation up to 100 millimetres (4 in) in most regions. The western regions are plateau and the east is lowland. The southwest region has mountains as high as 3,000 metres (9,840 ft), and is an area known for the greenest and freshest climate in all of the country. The capital, Riyadh, which is to the center-east has an average temperature in July of 42 C (108F) and 14 C (57 F) in January. In contrast, Jeddah on the western coast has 31 C (88 F) in July and 23 C (73 F) in January.

Less than 2 % of the total area is suitable for cultivation, and in the early 1990s, population distribution varied greatly among the towns of the eastern and western coastal areas, the densely populated interior oases, and the vast, almost empty deserts, such as the Rub' al Khali (desert), the Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands. There are no permanent rivers or lakes in Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Arabia is a developing country with both First- and Third-World aspects to health.

The Kingdom has a wide-reaching national health-care system. The services provided by this program are quite basic.

Private hospitals are often run with the participation of foreign partners. These facilities range from fairly rudimentary to very advanced and very expensive. Pharmacies are widely available and prescriptions are not required for most medications. Psychoactive medications are tightly controlled and available only through government pharmacies.

The public health situation in Saudi Arabia also ranges from one extreme to another. While a modern infrastructure is in place. Cleanliness in the preparation of food in commercial establishments can be substandard.

Tap water is generally NOT safe to drink. Bottled water is easily available, and as they say, is more expensive than gasoline (which in July, 2006, costs $0.6 per gallon)

An aggressive program of inoculations is recommended to persons traveling to Saudi Arabia.