A virtual guide to Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, an island nation in the Middle East. The archipelago consists of the main island Al Bahrayn and some smaller islands and islets. The island state is situated in the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf), east of Saudi Arabia, north of Qatar. Bahrain is connected to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway. The kingdom shares maritime borders with Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain covers an area of 741 km², making it slightly larger than Singapore (699 km²), or 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC.
The country's population counts 1,23 million, including 666,000 non-nationals (2010 Census).
Capital and largest city is Manama. Spoken language is Arabic. Bahrain is a country with a predominantly Muslim population, with 70% Shi'a and 30% Sunni muslims.
Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. The new amir, installed in 1999, has pushed economic and political reforms and has worked to improve relations with the Shi'a community. In February 2001, Bahraini voters approved a referendum on the National Action Charter – the centerpiece of the amir's political liberalization program. In February 2002, Amir HAMAD bin Isa Al Khalifa proclaimed himself king. In October 2002, Bahrainis elected members of the lower house of Bahrain's reconstituted bicameral legislature, the National Assembly.
In 2001, the
International Court of Justice awarded the Hawar Islands, long disputed with Qatar, to Bahrain.