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They also share a common history of development since the 1950s, including a vast oil-revenue-induced boom between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s, military events that led to the presence of foreign troops on Saudi Arabian soil in the 1990s, and the process of "globalization" at the end of the twentieth century. The population in 1992 was about 16,900,000 and was increasing at a rate of 3.3 percent annually.

A population of twenty million was projected for the year 2000, almost triple the roughly seven million enumerated in the early 1970s.

More than half the citizens were less than 20 years old. Arabic is the language of all Saudi Arabian citizens and about half the immigrants. The national flag is green, the color of Islam, and bears a white inscription that translates as, "There is No God but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." A white saber, the sword of Islam, was added in 1906 and symbolizes the military successes of Islam and of Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, the founder of the contemporary state.

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Saudi Arabia has a hot desert climate with high humidity on the coastal fringes.

Rainfall is scarce except in the area of Asir, where it is sufficient for agriculture on terraced farms and upper slopes and alluvial planes.

A narrow coastal plane known as Tihama is predominant in the south, while a mountain chain with a steep western escarpment runs through these areas.

Hijaz has strong and ancient urban traditions and is the location of Mecca (Makkah) and Medina (al-Madinah).

The king, leading princes, and government ministers often are seen on television performing their culturally prescribed roles.

The state and people engage in the creation of a national cultural heritage through the preservation or reconstruction of elements from the past that are seen as embodying the traditional culture.

Examples are the preservation of old houses and mosques, the use of traditional motifs in new buildings, the holding of camel races, and the setting up in museums and hotels of tents with rugs and paraphernalia typical of traditional Bedouin tented households.

The national culture also embraces the new and the modern: a national airline (Saudia), oil industry and petrochemical installations, wheat growing in the irrigated desert, skyscrapers, shopping malls with artificial waterfalls and ice-skating rinks, and supermodern highways, ports, and airports.

The contemporary consumer culture includes automobiles, pickup trucks, videocassette recorders, multi-channel televisions, and telephones as well as computers and mobile phones.

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