Regions of Saudi Arabia

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Updates: 

Update 15 to the GEC, the successor to the FIPS standard, is dated 2014-03-31. It changes the names of three regions to variant names that are listed here under Other names of subdivisions.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. For Saudi Arabia, the only change is to the sort order of region names.

FIPS PUB 10-4 is the U.S. Federal standard for administrative divisions of countries. Change 1 to FIPS PUB 10-4 was dated 1998-12-01. One of the changes was a result of the 1993 union of Al Qurayyat and Al Jawf regions. The FIPS code for Al Jawf was altered from SA03 to SA20.

Country overview: 

Short nameSAUDI ARABIA
ISO codeSA
FIPS codeSA
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+3
CapitalRiyadh

 

In 1900, Arabia occupied the interior and south coast of the Arabian peninsula. It consisted of the regions of Jebel Shammar (El Shammar), Hadramaut, and Nejd. The eastern and western shores of the peninsula belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The western shore included the vilayets (districts) of Hejaz, Asir, and Yemen; the eastern shore was El Hasa. The borders of these regions were ill-defined, running through deserts. King Abdul-Aziz ibn Sa`ud, King of Nejd, conquered El Hasa, Jebel Shammar, Hejaz, and Asir successively between 1913 and 1926. He proclaimed the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd in 1927, and renamed it to Sa`udi Arabia effective 1932-09-23. Two lozenge-shaped neutral zones were created on the northern border in 1922, one with Iraq and the other with Kuwait, but both have been partitioned and annexed since then.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: al-Mamlaka al-`Arabiya as-Sa`udiya (formal)
  2. Danish: Saudi-Arabien
  3. Dutch: Saoedi-Arabië, Koninkrijk Saoedi-Arabië (formal), Saudi-Arabië
  4. English: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (formal)
  5. Finnish: Saudi-Arabia
  6. French: Arabie f saoudite
  7. German: Saudi-Arabien n
  8. Icelandic: Sádi-Arabía
  9. Italian: Arabia f Saudita
  10. Norwegian: Saudi-Arabia, Kongeriket Saudi-Arabia (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Arábia Saudita, Reino m da Arábia f Saudita (formal)
  12. Russian: Королевство Саудовская Аравия (formal)
  13. Spanish: Arabia Saudí, Arabia Saudita (variant), Reino m de Arabia f Saudita (formal)
  14. Swedish: Saudiarabien
  15. Turkish: Suudi Arabistan Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

named by ibn Sa`ud (~1880-1953) for himself or his family. Arabia means land of the Arabs; Arab comes from a Semitic word for desert.

Primary subdivisions: 

Saudi Arabia is divided into thirteen manaţiq (sing. minţaqah: regions or emirates).

RegionHASCISOFIPSPCPop-2010Pop-2004Pop-1992Area(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
Al BāhahSA.BA11SA026406,724377,900332,1579,9213,831Baha
Al Ḥudūd ash ShamāliyahSA.HS08SA157311,473279,971229,060111,79743,165Ar'ar
Al JawfSA.JF12SA207428,266361,738268,228100,21238,692Sakaka
Al MadīnahSA.MD03SA0541,694,7491,512,7241,084,947151,99058,684Medina
Al QaṣīmSA.QS05SA0851,184,3651,015,972750,97958,04622,412Buraidah
Ar RiyāḍSA.RI01SA1016,505,5095,458,2733,834,986404,240156,078Riyadh
Ash SharqīyahSA.SH04SA0633,799,7733,360,0312,575,820672,522259,662Dammam
`AsīrSA.AS14SA1161,897,2361,687,9391,340,16876,69329,611Abha
Ḥā'ilSA.HA06SA135593,308526,882411,284103,88740,111Ha'il
JīzanSA.JZ09SA1781,332,2621,187,587865,96111,6714,506Jizan
MakkahSA.MK02SA1426,662,5975,797,1844,467,670153,12859,123Mecca
NajrānSA.NJ10SA166496,613420,345300,994149,51157,727Najran
TabūkSA.TB07SA194777,680691,716486,134146,07256,399Tabuk
13 regions26,090,55522,678,26216,948,3882,149,690830,000
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Region codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a
    global context, prefix "SA-" to the code (ex: SA-02 represents Makkah).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • PC: Postal code prefix (see below).
  • Pop-2010: 2010-04-27 census.
  • Pop-2004: 2004-09-15 census.
  • Pop-1992: 1992-09-27 census.
  • Capital: Not official capitals, but emirs (governors) have their offices there.

Postal codes: 

Saudi Arabia has five-digit postal codes. The first digit is determined by the region. See source [4] for details.

Further subdivisions:

See the Governorates of Saudi Arabia page.

There is a division into four provinces, on a historical basis. Their boundaries do not necessarily coincide with region boundaries. The regions are subdivided into governorates.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Ash Sharqīyah contains all of Saudi Arabia's islands in the Persian Gulf: Al `Arabiyah, Abu `Ali, Al Batinah, Tarut, Harqus, Karan, Kurayn, Al Jurayd, and others.
  2. Jīzan includes the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea.
  3. Makkah includes Qishran, Sirrayn, Abu Latt, and other Red Sea islands.
  4. Tabūk includes the islands of Tiran, Sanafir, Al Hasani, Shaybara, Mashabih, and others along the Red Sea coast.

Origins of names: 

  1. Al Madīnah: Arabic for city; full name is al-Madinat an-Nabi: the city of the prophet
  2. Ar Riyāḍ: Arabic for the gardens
  3. `Asīr: = inaccessible
  4. Hejaz: = boundary (between `Asīr and Nejd)
  5. Nejd: = plateau

Change history: 

  1. 1914: El Hasa conquered by Nejd.
  2. 1921: Jebel Shammar conquered by Nejd and merged with Nejd region.
  3. 1922: By the Al Uqair Convention, two lozenge-shaped neutral zones were created: Iraq-Saudi Arabia (~7,000 sq. km.) and Kuwait-Saudi Arabia (5,790 sq. km.).
  4. 1924: Hejaz conquered by Nejd.
  5. 1926: Asir conquered by Nejd.
  6. 1927: Name of Nejd and its possessions changed to the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd.
  7. 1932-09-23: Name of country changed to Sa`udi Arabia. Provinces were now as follows:
ProvinceCapitalArea(km.²)Alt. name
AsirAbha103,936Southern
El HasaDammam106,731Eastern
HejazMecca348,614Western
NejdRiyadh1,685,527Central
4 provinces2,244,808
  1. 1969-12: Saudi Arabia-Kuwait neutral zone divided between its two neighbors.
  2. ~1980: Northern province formed from parts of Western and Central.
  3. 1991-02: Iraq-Saudi Arabia neutral zone (ISO=NT/FIPS=NT) divided between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
  4. 1993-11: Al Qurayyāt (ISO=SA-13/FIPS=SA09, capital Qurayat) merged with Al Jawf.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Al Bahah: Baha (variant)
  2. Al Ḥudūd ash Shamāliyah: Frontière Nord (French); Northern, Northern Border, Northern Frontier (variant)
  3. Al Jawf: Al Joaf, Al-Jouf, Jowf (variant)
  4. Al Madīnah: Al-Madinah Al-Monawarah, Al Madinah al Munawwarah, Madinah Monwarah, Medina (variant); Médine (French)
  5. Al Qasim: Al Qasseem, Gasim, Qaseem (variant)
  6. Ar Riyāḍ: Riad (German, Spanish); Riyadh (variant)
  7. Ash Sharqiyah: Eastern (variant)
  8. `Asir: Aseer, Assyear (variant)
  9. El Hasa: Al Hasa, El Hassa, Hasa (variant)
  10. Hejaz: Al Hijaz (variant); Hedjaz (Swedish, variant); Hedjas (German); Hedsjas (Norwegian); Héyaz (Spanish); Higiaz (Italian, Portuguese)
  11. Jīzan: Jazan, Qīzān (variant)
  12. Makkah: La Meca (Spanish); La Mecca (Italian); La Mecque (French); Makka, Makkah al-Mukarramah, Mecca (variant); Meca (Portuguese); Mecka (Swedish); Mekka (German, Norwegian)
  13. Nejd: Najd, Nedjed (variant); Nedjd (German); Negged (Italian); Néyed (Spanish)
  14. Tabuk: Tabouk (variant)

Sources: 

  1. [1] Central Department of Statistics & Information, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Highlights: Population & Housing Census 1425H (2004) , p. 31 of pdf (retrieved 2011-03-21).
  2. [2] 2000 Demographic Survey, Ministry of Economy and Planning website at http://www.planning.gov.sa/docs/st2e.htm (dead link, retrieved 2005-04-21).
  3. [3] Statistical yearbook: 35th issue, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of Planning, Central Department of Statistics, 1999.
  4. [4] The New Addressing: Postal Address , on the Saudi Post website, explains postal codes (retrieved 2012-10-18).
  5. [5] "Population and Household Census, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2010 : Facts and Figures," by Asharaf Abdul Salam, in International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 3, No. 16, 2013-08, p. 258 (retrieved 2014-02-26). The article says that its Table 1 contains "Final results" of the 2010 census.
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