United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fukairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umn al-Quwain. The UAE was established on December 2, 1971 when the states gained their independence from the United Kingdom. Each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch, and together they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the monarchs is selected as the President. The UAE's oil reserves are the seventh largest in the world and drive a portion if the UAE's economy. In order to not let the oil industry have control over the economy, the UAE has also invested in healthcare, education, and and infrastructure. Though traditionally conservative, the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated. Politically it remains authoritarian, however. Relations with neighbouring Iran have been tense because of an ongoing territorial dispute over Gulf islands. The UAE was one of only three countries to recognise Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Before oil was discovered in the 1950s the UAE's economy was dependent on fishing and a declining pearl industry. But since oil exports began in 1962, the country's society and economy have been transformed. The UAE has diversified and has become a regional trading and tourism hub. UAE firms have invested heavily abroad.