Country in the Middle East, bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman. July 1999 estimates say that out of a total population of 2,344,402, as many as 1,576,589 are non-nationals, and less than 20% of the total population are actually citizens of the country. This probably explains that richest in the world per capita income figure. The territory became independent from the United Kingdom in 1971. Claims some islands in the Persian Gulf which are occupied by Iran.

In 1820, Great Britain destroyed the pirate fleets of seven small emirates (city-states, really) on the south coast of the Persian Gulf, and bound them together by truces: These formed a British protectorate called the Trucial States or Trucial Oman. In 1967 Trucial Oman joined OPEC. In 1971, the Emirates adopted a provisional constitution, and renamed themselves the "United Arab Emirates".

Up until 1996, the Emirates were considered as seven independent countries (by the United States, at least). I remember looking up trade figures for various countries and seeing trading partners I had never heard of -- until I found out they were part of the UAE.

In 1996, the UAE adopted a new constitution placing a permanent capital at Abu Dhabi.
Sources:
http://www.britishempire.co.uk/maproom/trucialoman.htm
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/uae.html
http://www.cultural.org.ae

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