Part of the Ottoman empire from the late 16th century, Kuwait became a principality under the al-Sabahs in 1756. British influence grew in the region such that in 1899, Kuwait was made a British protectorate. After World War II, Kuwait's vast oil reserves helped transform it into a wealthy state indeed with citizens receiving all services at no cost (they also pay no taxes!) Kuwait won its independence in 1961. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait touching off a crisis that culminated in the Gulf War. A coalition of forces successfully defeated Iraq, though Iraq did destroy much of the country's infrastructure.

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