Geography

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located in south-western Asia, occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is bounded on the north by Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait; on the east by the Persian Gulf and Qatar; on the south-east by the United Arab Emirates and Oman; on the south by the Republic of Yemen; and on the west by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Saudi Arabia has an area of 2 149 690 km2.

Highlands border the Red Sea. The northern part of the region is called Hejaz and the southern part is called Asir. Along much of the Hejaz coast, low, rocky mountains rise up sharply from the sea. The highest peaks in Asir rise more than 2 700 m above sea level. The highest point in Saudi Arabia, Jabal Sawdâ' (3207 m), is located in the south-western portion of the country. In parts of Hejaz and in Asir, a narrow coastal plain called the Tihamah separates the sea from a ridge of rugged mountain peaks. The mountains of Hejaz and Asir slope eastward toward a plateau called the Najd. Most of the region has little vegetation.

Considerably more than half the area of Saudi Arabia is desert. Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter) extends over much of the south-east and beyond the southern frontier. An extension of the Syrian Desert projects into northern Saudi Arabia, and extending south-east from this region is An Nafûd, an upland desert of red sand. Ad Dhanâ', a narrow extension of this desert, links An Nafûd and Rub al Khali. A central plateau region, broken in the east by a series of uplifts, extends south from An Nafûd. Several wadis (watercourses), dry except in the rainy season, traverse the plateau region.

In the east, lowlands known as Hasa lie along the Persian Gulf. Salt flats extend along parts of the shallow coastline. Sand and gravel cover most of the inland plain.

Extreme heat and aridity are characteristic of most of Saudi Arabia. The average temperature range in January is 8° to 21° C in Riyadh and 19° to 29° C in Jiddah. The average range in July is 26° to 42° C in Riyadh and 26° to 37° C in Jiddah. The Arabian Peninsula is one of the few places in the world where summer temperatures above 48° C are common, while in winter frost or snow can occur in the interior and the higher mountains. Precipitation is sparse throughout the country. Annual rainfall in Riyadh averages 81 mm and falls almost exclusively between January and May; the average in Jiddah is 61 mm and occurs between November and January. Saudi Arabia has no permanent rivers or lakes.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

last updated:  Monday, May 28, 2012