Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait /kuːˈweɪt/ (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwayt ), is an Arab country in Western Asia. Situated in the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. The name "Kuwait" is the diminutive of Arabic كوت kūt, meaning "fortress". The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 square miles) and according to CIA has a population of 2.6 million as of 2012.In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kuwait was a successful center of trade and commerce. Kuwait rivaled Basra as an entrepôt for trade between India and the Middle East. In the early 20th century, Kuwait declined in regional economic importance and by 1934, Kuwait had lost its prominence in long-distance trade. Kuwait's economy was devastated by several trade blockades; before these blockades Kuwait was prosperous.During World War I, the British Empire imposed a trade blockade against Kuwait because Kuwait's ruler supported the Ottoman Empire. Following the Kuwait–Najd War of 1919-1920, Ibn Saud imposed a tight trade blockade against Kuwait for 14 years from 1923 until 1937. After World War I, Kuwait emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's oil fields were discovered in 1937. Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. The seven month-long Iraqi occupation came to an end after direct military intervention by United States-led forces. Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt.Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Kuwait City serves as the country's political and economic capital. Kuwait is often described as the most liberal country in the region. The country has the world's fifth largest oil reserves. Kuwait is the eighth richest country in the world per capita. Kuwait is classified as a high income economy by the World Bank and is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.