Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Possessing minimal oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining, and has transformed itself into an international banking center. The new amir, installed in 1999, has pushed economic and political reforms, and has worked to improve relations with the Shi'a community. In February 2001, Bahraini voters approved a referendum on the National Action Charter - the centerpiece of the amir's political liberalization program. In February 2002, Amir HAMAD bin Isa Al Khalifa proclaimed himself king. In local elections held in May 2002, Bahraini women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time.
Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
26 00 N, 50 33 E
Total: 665 sq Km; water: 0 sq km; land: 665 sq km
Contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial seas: 12 NM
continental shelves: extending to boundaries to be determined
Arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu
note: includes 228,424 non-nationals (July 2002 est.)
19.53 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.43 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.29 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Conventional long form: Kingdom of Bahrain
conventional short form: Bahrain
local short form: Al Bahrayn
local long form: Mamlakat al Bahrayn
Constitutional hereditary monarchy
12 municipalities (manatiq, singular - mintaqah); Al Hadd, Al Manamah, Al Mintaqah al Gharbiyah, Al Mintaqah al Wusta, Al Mintaqah ash Shamaliyah, Al Muharraq, Ar Rifa' wa al Mintaqah al Janubiyah, Jidd Hafs, Madinat Hamad, Madinat 'Isa, Juzur Hawar, Sitrah
all municipalities administered from Manama
15 August 1971 (from UK)
Adopted late December 2000; Bahrani voters approved on 13-14 February 2001 a referendum on legislative changes (revised constitution calls for a partially elected legislature, a constitutional monarchy, and an independent judiciary)
chief of state: King HAMAD bin Isa Al Khalifa (since 6 March 1999); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SALMAN bin Hamad (son of the monarch, born 21 October 1969)
head of government: Prime Minister KHALIFA bin Salman Al Khalifa (since NA 1971)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
High Civil Appeals Court
Political parties and leaders:
Political parties prohibited but politically oriented nongovernmental organizations are allowed
In Bahrain, petroleum production and refining account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP. With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. Bahrain is dependent on Saudi Arabia for oil revenue granted as aid. A large share of exports consists of petroleum products made from refining imported crude. Construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems.
Telephones - main lines in use:
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
total: 3,164 km
paved: 2,433 km
unpaved: 731 km
note: a paved causeway links Bahrain and Saudi Arabia
crude oil 56 km; petroleum products 16 km; natural gas 32 km
History Bahrain has not always been an island. Up until around 6000 BC, Bahrain was part of the Arabian Peninsula before it began drifting away, drawn by the forces of nature. It would not be until 1986 that modern technology would rejoin the island with the mainland by way of the 25-kilometre King Fahad Causeway link to Saudi Arabia but that, as they say, is another story.
The islands first became known as Bahrain in the early Islamic era, when the name was used for the entire region stretching from Basra (Iraq) in the north to Oman in the south. By the early 1500's, the Portuguese saw Bahrain as a key point to protect their trade routes between India, Africa and Europe.
They invaded the island and set up military base at the Bahrain Fort. The fort, which ironically had been used by the people of Bahrain to defend themselves against the Portuguese, was strengthened and new stone towers erected. Right up until today, the Bahrain Fort is widely known as the Portuguese Fort.
The Portuguese were however unable to protect the islands, which fell to the Persians in 1603. Then came a long period of turmoil, with Bahrain changing hands between the warring Persians and Arabs until it was finally conquered in 1783 by Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa. Better known as Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Fateh, the conqueror, he was to usher in a start of a new and important era.
is the state religion, and Islam represents 82% of the population. Christianity has 8,5%
of the population, while other religions has 9,5% of the population (all figures as f1991).
Even if the leadership of Bahrain isSunnis
, the majority (60%) of the population areShi'is
. Sunnis are dominating Bahrain politically and economically.
The Sunnis are living in the cities, where they often make up the majority, Shi'is are almost totally dominating the rural areas. The Shi'is form small communities, called ma'atam, where most important events of life are centered, and to which the Shi'is owe their allegiance.
1/3 of the population is foreigners, where Indians, Iranians, Pakistanis, as well as Europeans and Americans all make up considerable groups.
Taken From: http://www.bahrain.gov.bh