What's the only country whose name begins with the letter O?

And the answer: Oman.

Photo credit: Ivan Pavlov/

Located on the Arabian peninsula where the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea meet, the country of Oman is the only one out of nearly 200 countries in the world that starts with the letter O.

Sometimes known as the "last bastion of unspoiled Arabia," Oman is a traditional cultural center amidst its quickly modernizing United Arab Emirates neighbors. In the nation's two most populous cities, Salalah and capital city Muscat, a harmonious beige color decorates traditional-style homes, mosques and city centers, while colorful cultural life sets the tone for this Arabian nation.

For most Omani people, one may identify three distinguishing factors: their tribe, their faith, and, for some, their maritime merchant background. There are two large tribes in the nation, the Hinawi and Ghafiri, while the predominant religion of Ibadi Islam is practiced widely. This sect of Islam claims to predate Sunni and Shia, and is nearly exclusively practiced in Oman.

While Oman is classified as an absolute monarchy, the late Sultan was generally liked by Omani people. As the son of a tyrant that did far more harm than good, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said was far more tolerant of religious freedom (even going so far as to sponsor several Catholic and Protestant churches), and would often act as a mediator or middle ground for other Middle Eastern nations. At one point, the Sultan even met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Unfortunately, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said passed away in January. At the time of his death, the Sultan was longest-serving leader in the Middle East and Arab world.

To learn more about this ancient country, check out this BBC article.

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