Oman

Driving Directions Oman

OMAN, or the Sultanate of Oman, is an oil-rich state in the southern Arabian Peninsula. It has a new enclave at the northern tip of the Musandam Peninsula, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates.

Oman is a small country in two parts. It comprises a small mountainous area overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, which controls the Gulf’s entrance, and the central part of the country, consisting of barren hills rising sharply behind a narrow coastal plain. Inland, the hills extend into the unexplored Rub al Khali (The Empty Quarter) in Saudi Arabia.

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Oman has sweltering, dry summers and mild winters, but there is high humidity along the coast. Some rainfall occurs during the winter months, but amounts vary according to location.

Natural vegetation, including the historically essential frankincense trees in Dhofar, can grow in the non-desert regions. Wildlife species include a wide variety of birds and reptiles.

As a result of the extremely arid environment, less than one percent of the country cultivated the primary produce dates and limes for export. The economy is almost entirely dependent on oil, which provides 90 percent of its exports, although there are deposits of asbestos, copper, marble, and a smelter at Sohar.

Foreign workers make up over 40 percent of the resident population. There are no political parties in Oman, and the judicial system is centered on Islam’s law.

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Oman has a diverse topography with several different regions and subregions. The major regions are the narrow Al Bātinah coastal plain to the north, bordering the Gulf of Oman; the Al Hajar mountain range that stretches southeastward paralleling the northern coast; an interior plateau that stretches southwestward toward the desert; the Rub‘al Khālī desert, which Oman shares with Saudi Arabia and Yemen; the barren plain of Jalaan, which borders the Arabian Sea on the east; and the southern Dhofar region, which includes both mountainous highlands and a fertile coastal strip that constitutes the southernmost part of Oman. Besides, Oman encompasses an isolated strip of land at the tip of the Musandem Peninsula.

Oman borders the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from the rest of the Middle East. Inlets (khors) in the Al Bātinah plain often have stands of mangroves. An extremely rugged area exists where two inlets, the Elphinstone and Malcom, cut into the coastline south of the Strait of Hormuz.

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