Similar to much of the Middle East, Oman is a highly urbanised nation, with around 85 per cent of inhabitants residing in cities. The majority are clustered around the capital, Muscat (home to a million-and-a-half citizens), and near the Al Hagar mountains to the northeast of country, running along the Gulf of Oman coastline, which now incorporates the historic port of Muttrah.
Between 1508 and 1650, the city was a Portuguese-run port, and the modern city features numerous Lusophone motifs, as well as Arab, Persian, Indian and African influences.
A second urban cluster can be found to the far south, around the city of Salalah, on the edge of the Arabian Sea. Noted for its prosperity by Marco Polo, Salalah grew wealthy independently thanks to the export of frankincense, but was eventually absorbed by Oman in the 1800s.
Much of the rest of the country is sparsely populated, consisting of remote towns and villages.