Demographics of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the second largest state in the Arab world, with a reported population of 33,413,660 as of 2018.[5] A significant percentage of the nation's inhabitants are immigrants seeking economic opportunity, making up 37% of the total Saudi population.[6] Saudi Arabia has experienced a population explosion in the last 40 years,[7] and continues to grow at a rate of 1.63% per year.[6]

Demographics of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia 2010 estimated population density.
Density15.322 people per sq. km of land (2017)[1]
Growth rate1.49% (2019 [2]
Birth rate15.6 births/1,000 population (2018) [3]
Death rate3.3 deaths/1,000 population [3]
Life expectancy75.7 years
  male74.2 years
  female77.3 years
Fertility rate2.04 children born/woman (2018) [3]
Net migration rate590,000 (2017)[4]
NationalitySaudi Arabia
Major ethnicSaudis

Until the 1960s, most of the population was nomadic or seminomadic; due to rapid economic and urban growth, more than 95% of the population is now settled. 80% of Saudis live in ten major urban centers—Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Hofuf, Ta'if, Khobar, Yanbu, Dhahran, Dammam. [8] Some cities and oases have densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer (2,600/mile²). Saudi Arabia's population is characterized by rapid growth, far more men than women, and a large cohort of youths.

Saudi Arabia hosts one of the pillars of Islam, which obliges all Muslims to make the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once during their lifetime if they are able to do so. The cultural environment in Saudi Arabia is highly conservative; the country adheres to the interpretation of Islamic religious law (Sharia). Cultural presentations must conform to narrowly defined standards of ethics.

Most Saudis are ethnically Arabs, the majority of whom are tribal Bedouins. According to a random survey, most would-be Saudis come from the Subcontinent and Arab countries.[9] Many Arabs from nearby countries are employed in the kingdom, particularly Egypt,[10] As the Egyptian community developed from the 1950s onwards.[11] There also are significant numbers of Asian expatriates, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, and recently refugees from Syria and Yemen. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was also a significant community of South Korean migrant labourers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but due rapid economic growth and development, most have since returned home; the South Korean government's statistics showed only 1,200 of their nationals living in the kingdom (most of them being professionals and business personnels) as of 2005.[12][13] There are more than 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in private compounds in the major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Dhahran. The government prohibits non-Muslims from entering the cities of Mecca and Medinah.


Historical population

As of 2018 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is estimated to have a population of 33,413,660 .[5]


The following data have been retrieved from the CIA World Factbook as of 2018.

Population Age Distribution

0–14 years: 26.58%

15–24 years: 14.74%

25–54 years: 49.88%

55–64 years: 5.48%

65 years and over: 3.32%

Sex Ratios

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0–14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female (male 4,348,227 /female 4,170,944)

15–24 years: 1.15 male(s)/female

25–54 years: 1.31 male(s)/female

55–64 years: 1.21 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female

According to the CIA World Factbook the population of Saudi Arabia has a large young population ages 0–19 years and an increasing middle-age population ages 20–35 years.[6] With a growing population reaching adulthood, global economists and the Saudi government have become concerned that there are more Saudis seeking jobs than are available.[15] The nation has also seen a rise in its older population as life expectancy has risen throughout the last 40 years.[15]

Life Expectancy At Birth

The following data has been retrieved from the CIA World Factbook as of 2018.

total population:

male: 74.2 years

female: 77.3 years

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950–1955 41.9 1985–1990 67.9
1955–1960 44.4 1990–1995 70.0
1960–1965 47.0 1995–2000 71.8
1965–1970 50.2 2000–2005 72.9


Population Density: 15.322 people per km2 of land (2017)[1]


Population Growth Rate: 1.49%

Vital Statistics

The following data have been retrieved from the CIA World Factbook as of 2018.

  • Birth rate: 18.51 births/1,000 population [16]
  • Death rate: 3.3 deaths/1,000 population
  • Maternal mortality rate: 12 deaths/100,000 live births
  • Infant mortality rate:
    • male: 13 deaths/1,000 live births
    • female: 11.1 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Total fertility rate: 2.17 children born/woman[16]

Saudi Arabia is ranked 111th in comparison to the world with a birth rate of 18.51 births per 1,000 people in 2019.[16] The nation's death rate is raked 220th worldwide with 3.3 deaths per 1,000 people.[6] Although birth rates have decreased in the last two decades, rates of decline fail to match the significant decline in death rates.[17] Because of this, Saudi Arabia has experienced a population explosion in the last 40 years,[7] and continues to grow at a rate of 1.63% per year.[6] Saudi Arabia's population growth continues to be 0.295% higher than population growth rates in the Middle East and North Africa.[18] Infant mortality rates have declined dramatically in the past twenty years from 25.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1995 to 6.3 deaths in 2017, according to the World Bank.[19] Saudi Arabia has a substantially lower infant mortality rate in comparison to the Middle East and North Africa region, which continues to face a high of 19.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births as of 2017. This significant reduction can be attributed to rising access to modern healthcare across the country, ranking 26th worldwide for healthcare system quality.[20] The construction of new hospitals and primary healthcare centers across the Kingdom, as well as healthcare during pregnancy and increased use of vaccinations account for a decline in infant mortality and increased life expectancy.[21]

UN estimates

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR1 CDR1 NC1 TFR1 IMR1
1950–1955 158 000 81 000 78 000 47.9 24.3 23.5 7.18 204.3
1955–1960 180 000 83 000 98 000 47.6 21.9 25.7 7.18 183.1
1960–1965 210 000 86 000 124 000 47.6 19.6 28.1 7.26 162.6
1965–1970 248 000 88 000 159 000 46.9 16.7 30.2 7.26 139.2
1970–1975 304 000 88 000 216 000 46.4 13.4 33.0 7.30 106.6
1975–1980 378 000 86 000 292 000 44.1 10.0 34.1 7.28 78.2
1980–1985 491 000 86 000 405 000 42.7 7.5 35.2 7.02 57.0
1985–1990 562 000 86 000 476 000 38.3 5.8 32.4 6.22 42.3
1990–1995 579 000 85 000 495 000 33.5 4.9 28.6 5.45 30.2
1995–2000 573 000 87 000 486 000 29.7 4.5 25.2 4.51 22.2
2000–2005 545 000 91 000 454 000 24.7 4.1 20.6 3.54 19.4
2005–2010 569 000 98 000 470 000 22.1 3.8 18.3 3.03 18.5
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births[22]

Nationality and Ethnicity


noun: Saudi(s)
adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian


Ethnic groups in Saudi Arabia[23]
Ethnic groups

The ethnic composition of Saudi citizens is 90% Arab and 10% Afro-Asian.[23]


The following data has been retrieved from the CIA World Factbook

urban population: 83.8% of total population (2018)

rate of urbanization: 2.17% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Historically, the population of Saudi Arabia followed a nomadic lifestyle. Following the discovery of oil in the 1930s, the Kingdom became far more settled as people moved to centers of high economic activity.[6] Significant population growth can be seen in the rise of urbanization throughout Saudi Arabia, which has grown 2 percent in the past ten years.[24] The largest Saudi cities have become flooded with new residents as more people move to urban cities to find better employment opportunities, and overcrowding has become a major issue across the nation.[24]


Migration is a significant part of Saudi Arabia's society and culture, as the nation's thriving oil economy attracts large numbers of foreign workers from an assortment of countries throughout Asia and the Arab world.[25] Following economic diversification in response to the oil boom of the 1970s, the Saudi government encouraged skilled and semi-skilled workers to enter the Kingdom as the demand for infrastructure and development intensified.[26] Saudi Arabia is among the top five immigrant destination countries around the world, currently hosting 5.3 million international migrants in its borders. In 2017 non-native residents accounted for 37% of the Kingdom's total population, more than twice that of the United States whose immigrants make up 15% of the nation's total population.[27] The majority of Saudi Arabia's foreign born population are males between the ages of 25 and 45. These immigrants make up a larger percentage of the total population in this age group compared to native-born Saudis ages 25–45, according to the United Nations 2013 report.[28] 26.3% of the total migrant population in Saudi Arabia are from India, followed by Pakistan (24.2%), Bangladesh (19.5%), Egypt (19.3%), and finally the Philippines (15.3%).[28] Most immigrants of the Kingdom are skilled, unskilled, and service industry foreign workers. Although the living and working conditions immigrant workers are harsh in Saudi Arabia, economic opportunity tends to be much greater than in their homelands.[25] There are around five million illegal immigrants in Saudi Arabia, most of which come from Africa and Asia. These immigrants are planned to be deported within the next few years.[29][30] There are around 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in compounds or gated communities.

People from other immigration jurisdictions

Myanmar500,000 (Rohingya)[35][36]
Sri Lanka350,000


Religions of Saudi Arabia (2012 )[23]
Religions percent
Sunni Islam
Shia Islam

The government does not conduct census on religion, but estimates put the percentage of the majority Sunnis at 85–90% while Shiites, who comprise the largest Muslim minority, at 10–15% of the population.[38] Shiites (Twelvers) are primarily concentrated in the Eastern Province, where they constitute over two-third of the population. Other smaller communities (Ismailis and Zaidis) reside in the south, with Ismailis constituting around half of the population of the province of Nejran, and a small percentage of the Holy Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina. There is also a Christian population of uncertain size. According to Gallup atheists account for 5% of the population with a total non-religious population of 19%.[39][40][41]


The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic. Saudi Sign Language is the principal language of the deaf community. The large expatriate communities also speak their own languages, the most numerous of which are Hindi (1,000,000), Indonesian (850,000), Filipino/Tagalog (700,000), Malayalam (447,000), Rohingya (400,000), Urdu (380,000), and Egyptian Arabic (300,000).[42][43][44]


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