The Sultanate of Oman is located on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. The Hajar mountain range, which runs parallel to the coast, divides the more developed coastal area from the rural interior. About 75 percent of the people are Ibadhi Muslims, with the other 25 percent including Sunni Muslims, Shi'a Muslims, and Hindus. Until the 1971 revolution, when the present sultan came to power, Oman was considered one of the most isolated and backward countries in the Middle East. Since the revolution, the country has experienced rapid growth and modernization, though Oman's oil income is moderate compared to that of countries like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. As in many developing countries, modernization is making serious inroads on the cultural and religious life of the people. As an independent state, Oman is a monarchy under the absolute rule of the sultan, who administers the state through a council of ministers and the National Development Council.
Oil wealth and the rapid development it brought to the Arabian Gulf region led to the importation of many thousands of foreign workers. Many of these are Christians from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Europe, Africa, and America. A third of the population in Bahrain is foreign, and 18 percent of the Omani population is foreign.