Geography of Oman
The climate is dry and hot in the interior desert, hot and humid in summer in the coastal area, and moderate in winter. There is a strong south-west summer monsoon or kharif (May to September) in the southern area around Dhofar.
Oman’s maritime claims are: territorial sea twelve nautical miles, contiguous zone 24 nautical miles, and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles.
Geography and Climate
The eastern range extends to the sea at the easternmost cape of the Arabian Peninsula, leaving only a small strip of land for habitation. Scattered along the indented beaches and natural bays are many fishing ports and villages. In the valleys and on high plateaus in the mountains, villages and settlements are located in places where water is available. More oases can be found between the mountain foothills and on the fringes of the desert. Riverbeds (wadis), which are dry for most of the year, intersect the plains.
Oman has a desert climate with an average annual rainfall of 100 millimetres, declining to 50 millimetres in the interior. In the mountains rainfall can rise to 350 millimetres. Summer winds in sandy desert areas can cause heavy sand and dust storms. There are periodic droughts and periods of heavy rainfall, which can cause temporary floods. Nomads in these areas breed livestock for a living.
The southern region of Dhofar is favoured by monsoon winds that bring a considerable amount of rain during the summer. The seasonally verdant mountains and plains allow for more intensive livestock breeding and agriculture. The regional capital, Salalah, lies on the coastal plain. Oman has a number of islands located in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, the biggest of which is Masira.
Today, however, oil and gas, which have been exploited since the 1960s, are the most important resources of national income. Among the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council Oman has one of the smallest proven oil reserves: 5,500 million barrels. More important are its gas reserves: 30,000 billion cubic feet (EIA, 2013). Other resources include copper, chromite, magnesium, gold, coal, industrial ores and raw materials for building materials such as sand, silica, marble, and limestone.
Agriculture is enhanced in inner Oman. Date palm gardens are traditionally irrigated by the falaj system in the oases. Water for irrigation is channelled through the falaj (plural: aflaj). This is an ancient network of man-made channels, partially underground, that links wells in the mountains or river beds with the oases and their gardens. Through an ingenuous use of siphons, water can be guided beneath dry river beds. The system dates back some two millennia and is probably of Persian origin. Five aflaj out of the 3,000 still in use, are on UNESCO‘s World Heritage List.
Around or outside the oases, larger farms (though most are less than ten hectares) are irrigated by pumped water. Crops include dates, mango, bananas, pomegranates, limes and other citrus fruits, and in the southern region also coconuts. The farms also produce a wide range of vegetables: carrots, aubergines, onions, and tomatoes, as well as tobacco, and alfalfa for feed. Most of these products are destined for the local and regional markets.
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