Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands in the Persian Gulf. It is located near the shores of the Arabian Peninsula and is surrounded by an inlet of the Persian Gulf known as the Gulf of Bahrain.
Landscape and Climate
Bahrain is covered with low-lying plains arid the desert dotted with hills, ravines, and cliffs. There is a narrow fertile strip of 3 miles on the northern part of the country. The sea off the northern and eastern part of Bahrain is interspersed with coral reefs. Bahrain's strategic location in the Persian Gulf makes it the inevitable point of transit for petroleum from the Arab world. It has a number of ports well equipped with logistics to facilitate trade with northern, northeastern, inner and middle Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Eastern Europe, and Pakistan. Mina Salman, Mina Muharraq, Khalifa bin Salman, Sitrah, and Hidd are the prominent ports of Bahrain. Bahrain does not have any mountains. The highest among the low rising hills is the Jabal-ad-Dukhan or Mountain of Smoke. The tip of this hill is often covered with mists which gives the hill its name. It is just 134 m above sea level. The areas close to Jabal-ad-Dukhan are surrounded by salt marshes and are the sites of oil wells in the country. Wadi al-Batin, Umm Al Guwaifa, and Um Al Sami are the well known dry river valleys in Bahrain. Dammam (Alat and Khober), Rus Umm Er Radhuma, and Alwasea aquifers are the four principal aquifers supporting agricultural, industrial, and domestic water needs in Bahrain. The artificially built Lawzi Lake is the largest inland wetland in Bahrain.
Bahrain has extensively concentrated on widening and expanding the network of roads since the discovery of oil and development of trade relations with Gulf countries. Bahrain has roadways of 2,392 miles out of which 1,9 39 miles is paved and the rest is unpaved. All the major islands, important cities, and towns are well connected by roads. Manama is connected by three causeways to Muharraq Island namely; Shaikh Hamad Bridge, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Bridge, and Shaikh Isa bin Salman Causeway. The 15 mile long King Fahd Causeway links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Another causeway under construction is the 28 mile long Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge which is expected to be completed by 2015. Bahrain has no network of railways. Plans are, however, underway to develop a system of railways to link Bahrain with all the countries of the Persian Gulf.
Flora and Fauna
Bahrain is predominantly covered with desert and has only a narrow strip of arable land. The desert landscape despite its apparent barrenness supports a large variety of flora and fauna. It is also the home of several species of plants and animals on the verge of extinction. The sea grass meadows are protected as they serve as feeding grounds for commercially significant species of sea cows, green turtle, pearl oyster, and shrimps.Bahrain's Tubli Bay, Maqaba, and Hawar Islands are wintering grounds for over 330 species of birds during spring and autumn. The prominent among them are sooty falcon, white-checked tern, western reef heron, lesser crested tern, osprey, Socotra cormorant, and Caspian tern. The 3 sq mile large Al-Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve is used to preserve endangered species such as white-cheeked bulbul, spiny tailed lizards, Gazelles, and Arabian Oryx. There are 21 species of butterflies and 20 species of reptiles inventoried in Bahrain. The country has 357 varieties of halophytic (salt resistant) and Xerophytic (desert plants) plants and 34 species of algae. The endangered species of mangroves called Avicennia marina occur around the Tubli Bay. The wetlands are also the home of reeds called Phragmites. The 3 mile fertile strip on the northern part is conducive for the cultivation of dates, pomegranates, figs, citrus fruits, and almonds.
Land and People
The population of Bahrain according to 2011 estimate is 1,325,000.Of the total population, 88.5% live in urban centers and only 11.5% in rural areas. About 92.6% of population of Bahrain is literate. The country has a large population of non-Bahrainis (54%). They are immigrants from Iran, India, Pakistan, Britain, Palestinians, Omanis, or Saudis and the United States. Arabic is the official language of Bahrain. Persian is widely spoken along with English. The latter is the compulsory second language of the country. Other languages spoken in the region are Kerinci, Korean, Malayalam, Northern Kurdish, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Majority of the population follow the Shia sect of Islam. The ruling class and many of the dignitaries are, however, Sunnis. This is the precise reason for dissatisfaction among the masses leading to frequentcivil unrests in Bahrain. Other religious communities are Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Baha'is. Bahrain has along history of conquests and dominations. The history is reflected in the handicrafts and way of life of the people. Natives build dhows (wooden boats) following ancient old process with the use of age old tools like hammer, chisel, adze, saw etc. One can have a glimpse of ancient Dilmun pottery in A'ali village where the basic methods have not changed with the passage of time. Basket making and cloth weaving are major pastimes of people in rural areas. Specimens of these arts are housed in the Handicraft Center located at Al Jasra village.
Last Updated:25th July 2012