Kuwait’s Expatriate Population in 2019

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Kuwait's Expatriate Population in 2019

Kuwait’s Expatriate Population in 2019

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is an Arab country at the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula. The country has 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 square miles) of land with a 2019 population estimated at 4.25 million, which includes over one million Kuwaiti’s and more than two million expatriates.

The previous official census recording the population of Kuwait occurred in 2005 and showed 2,213,403 million people living in the country with a population density of 200.2 people per square kilometer (518.4 people per square mile). In 2019, the population was estimated at 4.25 million, which ranks 129th in the world. The 2011 census recorded 3,065,850 in the general population.

Non-National Population

Expatriates account for about 70% of Kuwait’s population, including 1.1 million Arab expatriates and 1.4 million Asian expatriates. The Kuwait government rarely grants citizenship to foreigners to maintain status quo. Kuwait’s population is difficult to estimate given the number of non-nationals, and preliminary results of the 2011 census showed the population at 3.1 million, including 1.1 million citizens and 2.0 million non-nationals.

Kuwait considers its high level of non-nationals a problem and has announced plans to reduce this number. Meanwhile, the presence of the Bidoon, a stateless people numbering over 100,000, is also viewed as an issue. This group is classified as illegal residents who are attempting to claim Kuwait citizenship. It’s believed these people are Arabs who migrated from Saudi ArabiaSyria and Iraq and these other states do not consider them nationals, either. A law was passed in 2013 to grant citizenship to 4,000 of this population to resolve the problem, although the government has stated that only a third of the Bidoon people would even qualify for naturalization as it believes the rest do indeed hold other nationalities but have destroyed their documents.

In 2007, Kuwait had the third highest net migration rate in the world at 16.01, which was in part due to the discovery of oil and increased living standards in the country, which led to a large and growing immigrant population.

Kuwait Demographics

While 70% of the country’s population is comprised of expatriates, about 60% of the total population is Arab, which includes expatriates. The largest expat communities in the country are Indians and Egyptians. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of native Kuwaitis increased only 3.3% while the number of foreigners increased 6.7%.

The government and people of Kuwait view the high level of non-national workers in the country as a serious problem, which led to an announcement in 2013 that Kuwait would attempt to reduce the number of expatriates in the country by 100,000 per year over the next decade.

There are a number of native groups in Kuwait, including Arabs from Najd, Iraq, Bahrain and eastern Arabia, as well as ethnic Persians. The Baharna ethnic group is the indigenous people of the Bahrain and Eastern Province and Saudi Arabia, while the Najrdis are Sunni Arabs from Najd in central Arabia. 

Estimates from 2013 break down the ethnic groups as:

  • Kuwait 31.3%
  • other Arab 27.9%
  • South Asian 37.8%
  • African 1.9%
  • other 1.1%

The number of Indians in Kuwait totals 825,000, which includes Indian expatriates and Kuwaiti citizens of Indian origin or descent. Indians represent the largest community, many of whom work in business and service fields.

The Indian population alone is seen as an extension of Kuwaiti heritage in India, and their large population is not viewed as a problem. Egyptians are the largest Arab community in Kuwait with a population of over 500,000.

The non-national population of Kuwait is estimated as follows:

  • Indians, 825,000
  • Egyptians, 517,973
  • Bangladeshis, 181,265
  • Syrians, 140,000
  • Pakistanis, 126,000
  • Filipinos, 185,788
  • Sri Lankans, 130,000
  • Ethiopians, 74,000
  • Jordanian and Palestinian, 10,000
  • Nepalians, 62,000
  • Iranians, 50,000
  • Lebanese, 42,000
  • Indonesians, 8,887
  • Iraqis, 16,000
  • Afghans, 15,000
  • Americans, 13,000 (30,000 including armed forces)
  • Yemeni, 11,000

25.32% of Kuwait’s population is under the age of 15; 15.21% are between the age of 15 and 24; 52.32% are between 25 and 54; 4.82% are between 55 and 64 and just 2.33% of the population is 65 and older. The median age in Kuwait is currently 29 years. The population pyramid of Kuwait shows an unbalanced structure for working-age groups due to high immigration rates and a large reliance on foreign labor.

Components of Population Change

One birth every 8 minutes
One death every 42 minutes
One net migrant every 28 minutes
Net gain of one person every 7 minutes