Saudi Arabia is a nation of tribes that can trace their roots back to the
earliest civilizations of the Arabian peninsula. The ancestors of modern day Saudis lived on ancient and important trade routes and
much of their income was realized by raiding parties. Divided into regions and ruled by
independent tribal chiefs, the various warring
tribes were unified under one religion, Islam, led by the Prophet
Mohammed, in the 7th century. Before the Prophet died at age 63,
most of Arabia was Muslim.
The ancestors of the present rulers of Saudi Arabia reigned over
much of Arabia during the 19th century. After losing most of Saudi
territory to the Turks, they were driven from Riyadh and sought refuge
in Kuwait. King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, father of the present day King,
returned to Riyadh and fought to regain the country. He succeeded
and founded modern Saudi Arabia in 1932.
Oil was discovered in 1938 and Saudi Arabia began a rapid climb as
one of the world's wealthiest and most influential nations.