A quick primer on Qatar, the small Middle Eastern nation that on Thursday was awarded the right to host 2022 World Cup.
Population: The CIA fact book reports a population of 840,926 in July 2010, ranked 159th in the world with roughly 25,000 more residents than San Francisco.
Men make up two-thirds of the population, and 96 percent of the population lives in an urban setting. The median age is 30.8 years old.
Geographical size: The country stretches 4,416 square miles on the Qatar Peninsula, the 165th-biggest country in the world. Qatar is the smallest country to ever host the World Cup, and is roughly 1,100 square miles smaller than Connecticut. If Qatar were a US state, it would be the fourth-smallest in the nation, including the District of Columbia. Qatar boasts roughly 395 miles of coastline, about the same as Louisiana.
Capital: Approximately 80 percent of the country’s population lives in Doha, which played host to the 2006 Asian Games.
Time Zone: Qatar is eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Religion: The 2004 census reported that 77.5 percent of the population is Muslim, and 8.5 percent are Christian. Other religions make up 14 percent of the population.
Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is commonly used as a second language.
Climate: Qatar has an arid climate emblematic of the Middle East, boasting average daily temperatures in July as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit and lows in the mid-80s — numbers comparable to Las Vegas. The country receives an average of just 3.9 inches of rain per year, and 1.64 percent of the land is used for agricultural purposes.
Economy: The estimated gross domestic product in 2009 in Qatar was $100.8 billion, 67th-best in the world and better than countries like Serbia, Bulgaria and Costa Rica. The country’s rich natural gas and oil deposits, however, make Qatar the second-highest per-capita income country in the world, behind Lichtenstein. The average person in Qatar made $121,000 in 2009, while the average American made $46,000 the same year.
Qatar also boasts the world’s second fastest-growing national economy in the world, behind Macau. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 25 trillion cubic meters, about 14 percent of the world total and third-largest in the world. The nation is the fifth-largest exporter of natural gas in the world.
The unemployment rate in Qatar was just .5 percent in 2009, second-lowest in the world. The US, by comparison, had an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent last year.
Independence: Qatar gained its independence from England in 1971.
Travel: Qatar Airways is the only airline that offers direct flights from the United States, from Washington Dulles International to Doha International Airport. Doha is also serviced by a few European airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM. The cheapest flight from New York’s La Guardia Airport last June was $1,062, with stops in Montreal and Munich. There are four airports with paved runways in Qatar, and roughly 4,837 miles of roadway.
Soccer ranking: The Qatari national team is currently ranked 104th in the world, and was ranked as high as 51st in 1993. They have never played in a World Cup, but won seven of 14 games during qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. They also reached the quarterfinals of the 2000 Asian Cup in Lebanon.