Qatar is a small state occupying the peninsula on the north-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and has only one land border: with Saudi Arabia to the south. The rest of its territory is surrounded by the Arabian Gulf waters. Qatar's northwest coast is fewer than 30 km from the main islands of Bahrain.
Qatar was a British protectorate from the early 20th century until 1971, when it gained independence. It has since been ruled by the House of Al-Thani as a hereditary monarchy. Its legal system is a mixture of civil and shari’a law.
Qatar has the world’s third-largest natural-gas reserves and the highest per capita income in the world. In 2001, Qatar co-founded with Iran and Russia the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), the OPEC-equivalent for gas exporting countries.
Qatar is a member of the Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council, Muslim World League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the World Trade Organization. In addition, Qatar hosts the Headquarters of United States Air Forces Central Command at the Al-Udeid Air Base.