Bahrain is located to the west of the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago of 33 islands. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain is now a densely populated country with 88.5% urban population residing in major cities.
Manama is the capital and the largest city of Bahrain. It supports a population 155,000 people. The city finds mention in the Islamic texts of 1345. It is believed to be the site of the ancient port Dilmun which was a major trading center between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley Civilization. Manama falls within the Capital Governorate of Bahrain. After the decline of crude oil resources Manama has been the center of major industries and a prime hub for offshore banking in the Gulf. The Bahrain International Airport is located in Manama. The 15 mile long King Fahd causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia begins at Manama. The Qal'at al-Bahrain in Manama is believed to have been occupied since 2300 BC and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005. In Manama, the Al-Khamis mosque is famous for being the first mosque in the country. The city houses the Bahrain Synagogue and also the National Museum of Bahrain.
Riffa is the second largest city of Bahrain. It is located at a distance of about 30 km from Manama and has a population of 121,526 people. Located in the Central Governorate it is divided into two parts, namely East Riffa and West Riffa. Bahrain's premier golf and leisure destination the Royal Golf Club is located in Riffa. Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmad Al Fateh Fort is prime tourist attraction in East Riffa. It was commissioned by the Safavid rulers and served as the residence of the Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed in eighteenth century. West Riffa is the neighborhood where the dignitaries of Bahrain live. The King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa reside in West Riffa.
Muharraq is the third largest city of Bahrain situated at a small distance of 3 miles from Manama. It is in the Muharraq Governorate and holds a population of 189,114 people. Muharraq is the site of the ancient city of Tylos reknowned for its pearl trade. It was a prominent trading hub of the Greek-Seleucid kingdom. During the 5th century AD Muharraq was an important center of Neostorian Church, geographically the largest Christian Church of the world. Muharraq is the headquarters of Gulf Air. The city houses the Beit Sheikh Isa, the residence of the former king of Bahrain. The landmark is an example of exquisite Gulf Islamic architecture. Connoisseurs of modern art would find the installation of Saleh Sultan Salman Bakeet particularly interesting. It is made of found objects like racquets, lights, balls etc. The man-made island of Juzur Amwaj is located adjacent to Muharraq. Being located in the suburbs, the city is often considered to be a part of the capital city Manama.
It is located on the suburbs of Manama at a distance of about 3 miles. Large parts of the city has been built on lands reclaimed from the Gulf of Bahrain. The city is part of the Capital Governorate and has a population of 70,000. Formerly, Juffair had been a village inhabited by Shia Muslims. The city has been the site of rapid infrastructural development over the past few years. The city is the site of major administrative departments such as the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Central Informatics Organization, and Bahrain Society of Engineers. The leading daily of Bahrain, the Bahrain Tribune, has its seat in Juffair. Bahrain's largest mosque, the Al Fateh Mosque, is located in the city. Juffair allows for an active nightlife in terms of newly developed pubs, grills, restaurants, and shopping malls featuring all major international brands.
Madinat Hamad is popularly known as Hamad Town. The city was established in 1984. It is located at a distance of 13 miles from Manama and houses a population of 166,824 persons. It served as an asylum for the gulf war immigrants from Kuwait in 1990. The Biggest Formula One circuit of the Middle East, the Bahrain International Circuit is situated adjacent to the city. Madinat Hamad is just 13 miles away from the Bahrain International Airport.
Other less prominent cities of Bahrain are :
A'ali: famous for historical burial grounds. There are more than 170,000 graves in the site.
Isa Town: The city is named after King Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifah. The renowned souq of the city promotes indigenous arts and crafts.
Sitra: The town located in Central Governorate is the site for the Sitra incident in antiquity. The 1990 uprisings against the Bahraini Al Khalifa administration first sparked off in Sitra.
Budaiya: The town with 33,200 people is located in the Northern Governorate. It is situated on the fertile strip of north Bahrain and contains many farms and retreats.