The sultanate of Oman is located on the eastern coast of the arabian peninsula. The sultanate came to power in the mid 1500s, overthrowing the portugese for control of the land, and becoming a powerful force in world affairs in the process. The sultanate once exerted influence across parts of Asia and Africa, and while that power slowly dwindled, the sultanate has remained. Oman is an absolute monarchy, with a sultan acting as head of the legislative, judiciary, and executive branches of government. Laws are issued by decree. The country is routinely criticized for a lack of human rights, and no criticism of the regime is tolerated. The country is mostly a desert, with scorching temperatures and minimal rainfall.