The State of Qatar is a sovereign and independent state in the Middle East, occupying a peninsula that juts into the Persian Gulf. Since its complete independence from Britain in the 20th century, Qatar has emerged as one of the world's most important producers of oil and gas. It is an Islamic State whose laws and customs following the Islamic tradition. Since 1995, the country has been governed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the eighth Emir from the Al-Thani family.
There are approximately 2 million people living in Qatar. More than half of the population lives in the capital city of Doha. Three-quarters of the Qatari population are Muslim, while the remaining population practices a variety of other religions. The official language is Arabic, though English is commonly spoken. The thriving economy has attracted a large number of expatriates, particularly from neighboring Arabic states.
Since the mid-1800s, Qatar has grown from a poor British protectorate known for pearling into one of the world's most important oil and gas producing countries. While there is increasing investment in non-energy sectors, oil and gas still account for more than half of the Gross Domestic Product. Due to oil and gas, the country now has one of the highest incomes per capita in the world.
Qatar occupies a peninsula that is approximately 100 kilometers wide and extends 200 kilometers into the Persian Gulf. It also includes several gulf islands. Qatar shares its southern border with Saudi Arabia and a maritime border Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Most of the country is flat plain, covered in sand and gravel. As a result, most development is along the coast.