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In 1993, an official census was conducted for the first time in Oman. Currently (2017), 4,613,7241 people live in Oman. About 45% of them are foreigners; guest workers, Europeans and immigrants. About 15 people live per square kilometre, making Oman one of the least populated countries in the world. Due to the high population growth rate, Oman's population will double every 20 years.

The most densely populated areas are Muscat and its surroundings, the fertile Batinah plain, in the south Salalah and the coastal towns. The largest cities are: Muscat (85,000 inhabitants; the entire urban region over 1.5 million), Suhar, Sur, Nizwa and Rustaq.

Most Omanis are descended from Arab tribes, the Azd and the Nizary. The Azd come from Yemen and the Nizary from the Nejd region of Saudi Arabia. The traditional tribal structure has been preserved throughout history and it was only under Sultan Qabous that the people were united. Many more tribes have emerged over the centuries, but the majority in Oman now belong to the Bani Hinawi tribe (coastal people) and the Bani Ghafiri tribe (Bedouins).

There are several other ethnic groups living in Oman. The so-called Zanzibaris are descendants of Omanis who once migrated to Zanzibar. Since 1970, many have returned. In addition to Arabic, they also speak Swahili. Guest workers come mainly from Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka and mainly work in the service sector. Most Europeans, especially British, work in banks or in other highly skilled jobs. In southern Dhofar, Arabs from Yemen include nomadic Jebalis and various mountain tribes, while Musandam is home to the Shihuh with Persian and Arab ancestry.

The oldest and most authentic population group are the Bedouins (Bedu), originally nomadic, but nowadays mostly semi-nomadic or even sedentary. At present, less than 10% of the population leads a semi-nomadic existence due to the changing modern living conditions. The Bedouins mainly live in the desert areas south and west of the capital Muscat.

Oman has a very young population. The number of inhabitants between the ages of 0 and 14 is 30% and the number of people over the age of 65 is only 3.5% of the population. The average annual population growth rate is 2.03%. The average life expectancy for Omanis is 75.7 years.


Callan, L. / Oman & United Arab Emirates
Lonely Planet

Foster, L.M. / Oman
Children’s Press

Medani Elsayed, M. / Reishandboek Oman en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten

Van Deuren, G. / Oman, Verenigde Arabische Emiraten

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info