About 35,000 Americans live in Saudi Arabia. Most are employed in the lucrative oil industry, but many also work in the construction and financial sectors.

Like other Westerners in the kingdom, the Americans earn tax-free salaries and live in housing compounds with luxurious amenities, such as swimming pools and tennis courts.

The compounds, such as those attacked late Monday in the capital, Riyadh (search), are sealed off from surrounding neighborhoods by high walls and gates. These afford the residents some security and privacy from the country's strict Islamic code (search) on matters of dress and social mixing.

The biggest American communities are in Riyadh, the headquarters of most multinational corporations in the kingdom, and in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah (search), a major commercial center. There are also sizable American communities in the eastern cities of Dammam, Khobar and Dhahran, serving the local oil fields.

Saudi Arabia is home as well to some 5,000 U.S. military personnel. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week that most of them would be withdrawn by the end of the summer.