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Kingdom of Bahrain

Manama
Bahraini capital, Manama. Photo: MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH / AFP

Located on the southwestern coast of the Arab/Persian Gulf, Bahrain (officially Kingdom of Bahrain) is a small Arab country to the east of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is an archipelago consisting of Bahrain Island and about 30 small islands. The name of this country is derived from the Arabic term “two seas”.

Bahrain is located in one of the major oil-producing regions of the world, having only small oil stores. Its economy has long relied on processing the crude oil of the neighboring countries. The recent growth of the financial services, trade and communications sectors have been significant. The same applies to tourism.

Located at the northeastern part of Bahrain Island, Manama is the capital of the country, in addition to being the main city and port.

Manama is a modern and stunning city, let alone that it is a favorite destination for visitors from the neighboring Saudi Arabia. The people of Bahrain are mostly conservative in their ordinary lives. This feeling is enshrined in the country’s constitution. According to the constitution “family is the cornerstone of society. Its strength resides in religion, morals, and patriotism.”

Bahrain is famous for its green palm groves. Since ancient times, Bahrain has been a trade hub and a source of natural resources for the surrounding region. It is widely believed that the island of Bahrain is the place where the ancient Kingdom of Dilmun has been founded. This kingdom was a commercial center that has been historically associated to the ancient Sumerian civilization. Various groups colonized and settled in Bahrain, including Al Khalifa family, which is an indigenous Arab dynasty that rules Bahrain since the late eighteenth century. Realizing the strategic importance of the islands, Al Khalifa has opened Bahrain port facilities to the fleets of foreign countries, including the United States.

Bahrain Country File - Map Bahrain
Bahrain

The total area of Bahrain is slightly larger than that of Singapore. Saudi Arabia lies to the west while Qatar Peninsula lies to the east. The 15-mile long King Fahd Bridge connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.

A dispute with Qatar over the sovereignty of some islands was resolved in 2001. At that time, the decision of the International Court of Justice was in favor of Bahrain.

Bahrain has an area of 779.95 square kilometers. In 2020, the population of Bahrain amounted to 1.5 million people. 55% of the population are expatriates. Arabic is the official language. However, English is used as an official language in the business sector. Other languages, such as Persian and Urdu, are also used.

About 73.7% of the total population of Bahrain are Muslims. The majority of these Muslims are Shiite. Christians make up 9.3%, while Jews do not exceed 0.1%. Other beliefs constitute 16.9% of the population.

After a holding public referendum on the National Action Charter, the governance system in Bahrain was transformed in 2002 from an emirate to a constitutional kingdom.

The local currency is the Bahraini Dinar which is officially linked to the US dollar. Oil and natural gas sector plays a dominant role in Bahrain’s economy. Oil still accounts for 85% of Bahrain’s budget revenues. After oil and gas, aluminum production is the second largest exporting sector in Bahrain. The country continues to search for new supplies of natural gas as feedstock to support the expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries.

The Bahraini Defense Force consists of the Royal Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Air Defense Forces, the National Guard and the Royal Guard. Bahrain is ranked 98 out of 137 among the countries included in the 2019 Global Firepower Report.

Several daily and weekly newspapers are issued in Bahrain under the supervision of the Information Affairs Authority, which in turn operates state-owned radio and television services. Most media are published in Arabic, although there are media in English and Malayalam. All major newspapers in Bahrain are owned by the private sector.

However, the government has strong influence on this sector and effectively appoints the boards of directors for several major publications. Al-Wasat is the only newspaper that operates partially outside the control of the state. The two major English-language newspapers publish content specifically made for the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom, namely the expatriates originating from the Indian subcontinent.

The prominent Bahraini faces list includes Sheikh Ali Salman, who is a prominent Bahraini dissident, and liberal Esraa Al-Shafei.

Football is the most popular game in Bahrain. Other sports are also represented although they do not enjoy the same popularity of football. The list includes handball, squash, basketball and weightlifting. Bahrain also participates in the Olympic Games of all kinds.

The climatic nature of Bahrain is relatively stable. Weather is hot and humid in summer (average temperature is 36 °). In winter, the weather is cold or moderate while being accompanied with monsoon rains (average temperature 10 ° -20 °). Bahrain enjoys a warm weather with moderate wind gusts in two periods: from March to May and from October to November (average temperature 20°-30°). The mountain of Smoke “Jabal Ad Dukhan” is the highest point in the Kingdom with an altitude of 135 meters.

Most of the Bahraini land is a low-lying desert plain that gently rises to form a low central cliff. The list of the most important tourist places includes the Museum of the House of the Qur’an, which is one of the most famous Islamic museums in the world. There is also Bab Al Bahrain, which is the main entrance to the Manama market. In addition, the list includes Bahrain Fort in Manama and Amwaj Islands.

In a similar way to the rest of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, vehicle driving in Bahrain is right sided. The time zone of the Kingdom is (GMT +3) while the international calling code is (+973).

Further Reading

Page with a chronological overview of the country file articles published on the Chronicle website.
Bahrain joined the Gulf Cooperation Council in May 1981, which also includes Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. At the end of 1981, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, led by Shi’a cler...
Facts and Figures of Bahrain
Fanack provides an overview of Bahrain's geography describing its state borders, local climate, and natural resources.
Bahrain’s political structure resembles that of the other Gulf Cooperation Council states in some key ways. Members of the ruling family control the sovereign ministries (Defence, Interior, Finance, and Foreign affairs), and oth...
The concept of human rights has become a well-known and widely accepted term to use. An overview of human rights in Bahrain.
In addition to addressing its current fiscal woes, Bahraini authorities face the long-term challenge of boosting Bahrain’s regional competitiveness — especially regarding industry, finance, and tourism — and reconciling reve...
An overview of Bahrain's population, including a description of its ethnicities and other demographics.
The traditional character, history and culture of Bahrain’s originally Bedouin society are often diregarded
Faces of Bahrain have names, we hear about them but do not get the entire picture. Get to know these influential people in Fanack’s ‘Faces’ section.

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