Independent sultanate on the southeast coast of Arabia. From 1508 to 1648, Oman was ruled by Portugal. The Portuguese were expelled in 1648, and the area was ruled by Persia until 1741, when the present dynasty assumed control. During the first half of the 19th century, Oman ruled an empire stretching from the coasts of Persia and India to Zanzibar, but its power declined until it came under British protection in the late 19th century. Rebellious tribesmen in the interior fought the central government in the 1950s but were suppressed with British support. Later uprisings were quelled by 1975, with Iranian help. In 1964, petroleum was discovered and has since become Oman's major export. In 1979, leftist guerrilla activities resumed in the southwestern portion of the country, supported by the South Yemen People's Republic. Accords signed with the United States in 1980 give American forces access to bases in Oman, which has become one of the cornerstones of U.S. military policy in the region. Since 1970, the regime has modernized the country and liberalized the government, but membership in the Shura Council, Oman's consultative body, while elective, remains subject to the sultan's approval. In June 1997, women were given the right to be elected to the Shura Council.
MUSCAT AND OMAN