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Bahrain's earliest history was likely as the Ancient Dilmun community, and later became part of the Persian Empire by the 6th century BC, controlled by the Parthian dynasty and then the Sassanid empire. By 628 AD, however, the country was converted to Islam by missionaries. Bahrain was controlled by one sect, the Qamatians in 899 AD, who sought to create a utopian society on the island, but they were overtaken by the Uyunid dynasty. The Uyunid dynasty fell in 1253, with the rise of the Bedouin Usfurids.
However, when oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1931, Bahrain became even more important to Britain and ties grew stronger. Iran held claims to Bahrain as part of its territory, but as Britain began to define the boundaries in the region, Iran and Britain allowed the UN to intervene. The UN surveyed the people of Bahrain, and found that they desired independence, and soon granted the country sovereignty in 1971. Since independence, Bahrain experienced a boost in its economy thanks to the oil boom in the 1970s, the bust that followed, and an attempted coup by a Shia Islamic revolution. The latter caused civil unrest and conflict between religious groups. The National Action Charter in 2001 modernized the political system of Bahrain, allowing for elections and the rights of women to vote, renaming the country the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Bahrain's neighboring countries are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Qatar.
- Manama (capital)
- Isla Town
Bahrain is an archipelago made up of 84 islands in the Persian Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Historically, Bahrain's territory included 33 islands, however with land reclamation techniques, there are now around 84. The main islands of Bahrain are Bahrain Island, the largest, Muharraq Island, Umm an Nasan, and Sitrah.
A causeway is planned to link Bahrain to Qatar, which would be the longest marine causeway worldwide if it were to be completed, but it has suffered from various setbacks and has not yet.
The terrain of Bahrain is mainly flat desert plains, with its highest point at Mountain of Smoke, which stands 134 meters (440 feet) above sea level. Deserts cover over 90% of the land, with arable land making up less than 3% of the country. Bahrain has no rivers but has some wadis or dry river beds.
Points of Interest
Bahrain has several forts of interest, including the Qala'at al-Bahrain in the north near Manama, as well as Abu Mahir Fort, Arad Fort, Sheikh Salman bin Ahmad Al Fateh Fort. Several museums can be found in Bahrain, like the Al Oraifi Museum that features ancient Dilmun civilization artifacts, the National Museum and Oil Museum, and the Islamic museum, Beit al Quran.
The Tree of Life is an interesting attraction in Bahrain. Situated by itself in the vast sandy desert, the 400-year-old Tree of Life is the only tree in the area, and has become something of a pilgrimage destination, with visitors carving damaging graffiti into the tree.
Those interested in archeology will enjoy the Dilmun civilizaiton artifacts found near the tree, or may also enjoy a visit to the country's prehistoric burial mounds, particularly A'ali, the world's largest prehistoric cemetery.
Bahrain's main airport is located outside of Muharraq and called Bahrain International Airport. This airport serves regional destinations as well as flights to Britain. Another nearby airport includes Sharjah Airport in the United Arab Emirates, which can be an option for getting close to the country and taking other forms of transportation onto the islands.
A causeway between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain allows car traffic, so bus, limo, or taxi service can be used to get into Bahrain. Ferry is sometimes an option from Iran. To get around the country, the best option is taxi or car rental, the former can be difficult for foreigners in fear of scams, while the latter will allow more freedom.
Last Updated On : December 12, 2013
Major Religion74.6% Christianity 4.8% other 20.6% none/ unspecified
Form of GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
PresidentHamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa (The King of Bahrain)
Vice PresidentSalman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (Crown Prince)
Prime MinisterKhalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
CurrencyBahraini dinar (BHD)
GDP$31.101 billion 2011 estimate
Time ZoneAST (UTC+3)