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Light Anthropology: Earth Image of the Week September 21, 2012
Astronaut photo of Kuwait at night.
Kuwait is currently the eleventh-richest country in the world per capita, and has attained the highest human development index in the Arab world.
The glistening wealth of oil-rich Persian Gulf cities shines brilliantly at night when seen from space.

The various glows of Kuwait City's night lights were captured in the image to the right on August 9, 2012.

The photograph was taken by a NASA astronaut orbiting aboard the International Space Station.

The city stands out in contrast against the darkness of the surrounding Persian Gulf and Kuwait Bay, with the various ring roads clearly visible in bands extending farther and farther from the city center.

They were constructed in succession southward over the past half-century as the now constitutional emirate developed with its increasing petroleum wealth.

The newest Seventh Ring Road still lies outside the main built-up area of the capital.

The differences in the color lights illuminating the city give clues to its urban geography. NASA points out that areas with lighting of a yellow-green tinge are among the newest residential districts.

The town of Al Ahmadi, seen in the lower right and known for its verdant vegetation, was built in 1946 when oil was discovered; it stands out with a characteristic blue-white glow.

Kuwait International Airport is particularly bright due to the high concentration of mainly yellow lights, which also illuminate most of the city's main roadways.

By contrast, the low residential density of the Emir’s palace grounds—which also host Kuwaiti government offices and a large mosque—stand out as dark areas within the city.

Kuwait Highway 80, stretching eastward and eventually northward out of the capital, was dubbed the "Highway of Death" following the first Gulf War.

Retreating Iraqi military personnel escaping Kuwait were attacked on the desert highway by American aircraft and ground forces on the night of February 26–27, 1991. This resulted in the destruction of hundreds of vehicles and the deaths of many of their occupants.

The scenes of devastation on Highway 80 are some of the most memorable images of the war.

Full story and image: NASA