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Bahrain, an archipelago in the Persian Gulf, is a cluster of 33 islands under the monarchy of King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
Bahrain primarily relies on crude oil processing to support its economy. Since pre-historic era it has been a major entrepot for marine trade. Its strategic location has enabled Bahrain to open up its port to foreign naval fleets.
Bahrain is home to about 1,248,348 people out of whom 88.5% constitute the urban population in cities like Manama, Al Muharraq, and Ar Rifa. In Bahrain about 94.6% of the population is literate and this includes 91.6% of the female population. It is a conservative nation and upholds rigid religious, spiritual, ethical, and patriotic values.
Bahrain has a rich history beginning with the Sumerian Civilization. The country is said to be the site of Dilmun, the ancient trade center between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization. During the reign of Alexander the Great it was called Tylos and served as the center for pearl trading. It remained under Achaemenid control from the 6th century BC to the 3rd century BC. The Parthians followed and the last governor was defeated by Ardashir, the first ruler of the Sassanids. After the 7th century AD, Bahrain was ruled by Al-Ala'a Al- Hadhrami, a representative of Prophet Mohammed. The Islamic cultural conquest of Bahrain was accomplished with the construction of Al-Khamees mosque commissioned by Caliph Umar II.
Bahrain fell into the hands of the Qarmatians during the Revolution of Al-Qaramita headed by Abu Sa'id al-Hasan al-Janaby. The Qaramatians were vanquished by a series of revolts under the leadership of Abul-Bahlul al-Awwam and Abul- Walid Muslim. This led to the rise of Uyunids who ruled from 1076 to 1235. This period was followed by an era of political instability which was contained with the initiation of Athna ashariyyah by the Sunni rulers.
The Portuguese general, Antonio Correia, defeated King Muqrin in 1521 and laid the foundation of Portuguese dominion which lasted for 80 years to be cut followed by Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I. The Safavids were followed by Omani rulers till Bahrain was recaptured by Nadir Shah of Persia in 1730 with the aid of British and Dutch. The following years are marked with bloody political strife till the Al-Khalifas were formally declared the rulers of Bahrain by the British. Oil was discovered by the Bahrain Petroleum Company in 1932 which fuelled rapid progress. Bahrain participated in World War II and sided with the Allies. It finally became independent in August 15, 1971 entering into new friendship treaties with the United Kingdom.
Bahrain is the tenth freest economy in the world. The country, however, tops the chart in Middle East and North Africa region. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia has termed it as the fastest growing economy of the Middle East. Bahrain has a GDP of $30.8 billion and a real growth rate of 1.5%. Despite having a high per capita income of $27,300, 10.8% of the labor force is unemployed.
Petroleum and natural gas contribute 60% to the annual export revenues and add 30% to GDP. The resources are, however, scarce as compared to other gulf nations. Bahrain, in collaboration with Kuwait, United States, and Saudi Arabia also engages in crude oil processing and gas liquefaction processes. The smelter Aluminum Bahrain is largest in the world. After oil alunimum is the second biggest export product of the country.
Bahrain is a prime hub of Islamic finance. The nation has taken up privatization of utilities like telecommunications, financial services, and banks to aid the diversification process after signing the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement. In the last decade tourism has grown by 156% in terms of revenue in Bahrain with the country witnessing an 81% increase of foreign tourists.
Travel and Tourism
Bahrain is largely focusing on tourism sector as a part of the diversification process. The country is establishing itself as a favored tourist destination among foreign visitors. About two million people are estimated to visit Bahrain each year and the country has seen a boom of 156% in tourism revenues. The country offers the best in Arabic culture in terms of ambience and hospitality. It offers a liberal social set-up marked with all modern amenities and a variety of shopping options. The travel restrictions are almost negligible as compared to its other Arab counterparts. Bahrain's Ministry of Culture has recently spent $100 million to instate the country as the cultural capital of the Gulf.
Art and Culture
The population of Bahrain is mostly Islamic, with over 80% Shi'as living in the country. The Bahraini culture is tolerant and allows all sorts of modest dressing. Dastangoi, Quran reading, and folk dances are the backbone of the culture of Bahrain. Family is the fundamental block of the society and family functions are of great importance. Khaleeji form of folk music is largely popular. The families of male pearl divers perform the Fidjeri songs. The descendents of East African settlers specialize in Liwa music. The men's sword dance, Ardha, is staged along with traditional instruments like the Oud and Rebaba. People here celebrate all major Islamic festivals based on the Islamic calendar. Bahraini cuisine sports delectable names like Machboos, Muhammar, Shamboosa, Khubz, and Qoozi. Doner kebabs called Shawarmas are now international favorites.
Last Updated On : April 23, 2013
Area295.5 sq mi.
CurrencyBahraini dinar (BHD)
KingHamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Crown PrinceSalman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Prime MinisterKhalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa