Friday, June 02, 2006

History of Oman

History of Oman. This is a brief essay on the history of the Asian nation of Oman.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "The Omanis are predominantly Arab and tribal in organization. There are also many migrant workers from South Asia and eastern Africa who reside there. Languages: Arabic (official), others. Religions: Islam (official); also Hinduism, Christianity. Currency: Omani rial. Oman is a hot, arid country with high humidity along the coast. The Hajar Mountains parallel the shore of the Gulf of Oman, reaching an elevation of more than 10,000 ft (3,000 m). A broad expanse of sandy desert covers much of the country. Oman has a developing mixed economy, and the production and export of petroleum is its largest sector. It is a hereditary monarchy, with an advisory council; its head of state and government is the sultan."

From the site:

Oman adopted Islam in the seventh century A.D., during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. Ibadhism, a form of Islam distinct from Shiaism and the "Orthodox" schools of Sunnism, became the dominant religious sect in Oman by the eighth century A.D. Oman is the only country in the Islamic world with a majority Ibadhi population. Ibadhism is known for its "moderate conservatism." One distinguishing feature of Ibadhism is the choice of ruler by communal consensus and consent.

Contact with Europe was established in 1508, when the Portuguese conquered parts of Oman's coastal region. Portugal's influence predominated for more than a century, with only a short interruption by the Turks. Fortifications built during the Portuguese occupation can still be seen at Muscat.

Except for a period when Iran conquered Oman, Oman has basically been an independent nation. After the Portuguese were expelled in 1650 and while resisting Persian attempts to establish hegemony, the Sultan of Oman extended his conquests to Zanzibar, other parts of the eastern coast of Africa, and portions of the southern Arabian Peninsula. During this period, political leadership shifted from the Ibadhi imams, who were elected religious leaders, to hereditary sultans who established their capital in Muscat. The Muscat rulers established trading posts on the Persian coast and also exercised a measure of control over the Makran coast (now Pakistan). By the early 19th century, Oman was the most powerful state in Arabia and on the East African coast.

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