At this same time the pearl industry was beginning to collapse, but oil was discovered
in the late 1930s, shifting the economy forever. Due to the oil, during World War
II the British took control of the region to prevent
the Axis powers from gaining the oil and in order to maintain a steady stream of
oil for the war.
In 1961 the United Kingdom granted
Kuwait full independence. This immediately led to threats from
Iraq of invasion, but with British and Saudi Arabian
support the attacks never happened, although it established poor relations between
the two countries that would last for years.
In the 1980s when Iraq and Iran went to
war, Kuwait feared Iran more than Iraq, which led to the
support of Iraq. In retaliation, Iran attacked the oil industry in Kuwait, leading
to intervention from the United States
on Kuwait's request. However, by 1990 the larger threat was from Iraq as they
invaded the country to gain their oil supply and a deep water port on the Persian
In just six days the Iraqis had taken the country of
Kuwait as numerous people were killed. However with this invasion,
Saudi Arabia and the United States
moved in to defend Kuwait. Although it took them nearly six months to get involved,
it only took them four days to remove the Iraqis from the country.
After the war Kuwait essentially cut off political ties to
Iraq and has since maintained focusing on economic development.
The country's huge oil industry has encouraged numerous foreigners to find temporary
work in the country as today just under half the population actually holds citizenship.