Bahrain is the smallest of the Persian Gulf’s sovereign nations, and it has often had to walk a diplomatic tightrope over its bigger neighbors. Although the country has little oil reserves, it has developed itself as a refinery center and a banking center, as well as establishing a social-liberal monarchy.
Despite their proximity to Qatar, the Hawar Islands are now part of Bahrain as a result of a long-running sovereignty dispute between the two nations.
Bahrain attracted more than eight million tourists as a tourism destination in 2008, but the precise amount fluctuates year to year. The majority of them are from nearby Arab nations, but they are increasingly arriving from beyond the area, as there is a rising awareness of the Kingdom’s history, which the Bahrain International Circuit F1 is promoting.
The kingdom blends contemporary Arab culture with a five-thousand-year-old civilization’s archaeological legacy. The island is home to fortifications like Qalat Al Bahrain, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bahrain National Museum has items from the country’s history, going back to the island’s earliest human settlers approximately 9,000 years ago, and the Beit Al Quran (Arabic:, meaning “home of the Koran”) is a museum where Islamic artifacts include the Koran. The Al-Khamis Mosque, one of the region’s oldest mosques, the Arad Fort near Muharraq, the Barbar Temple, which is also an ancient temple from Bahrain’s Dilmunite period, as well as the burial mounds of A’ali and the temple of Saar, are among the most famous historical tourist sites. A famous tourist attraction is the Tree of Life, a 400-year-old tree that thrives in the Sakhir desert with no water nearby.
In Bahrain, popular tourist activities include bird viewing (particularly on the Hawar Islands), diving, and horseback riding. Many visitors from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the area come to Manama primarily to shop at the capital’s retail malls, such as the Bahrain City Center and the Seef shopping center in the Seef neighborhood of Manama. The Manama souk and the gold souk in Manama’s ancient district are also popular with visitors.
Since 2005, Bahrain has had an annual “Spring of Culture” event in March, during which internationally renowned singers and artists perform at concerts. The Arab League designated Manama Arab Capital of Culture in 2012 and Arab Capital of Tourism in 2013. Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias, and other artists performed during the 2012 event.
Bahrain is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia, that is mostly flat and arid. It comprises of a flat desert plain that gradually climbs on a low center embankment, with a 134 m high mountain smoke as its highest point (Jabal ad Dukhan). Bahrain was originally 665 km2 (257 square miles), but owing to the land reclamation zone, it has grown to 765 km2 (295 square miles), making it somewhat bigger than Hamburg or the Isle of Man.
Previously known as an archipelago of 33 islands, significant land reclamation operations have expanded the number of islands and archipelagos to 84 in August 2008. Bahrain does not have a physical boundary with any nation, although it does have a 161-kilometer coastline. A 22-kilometer (12-nautical-mile) territorial sea and a 44-kilometer contiguous zone are also claimed by the nation (24 nmi). Bahrain has five major islands: Bahrain, the Hawar Islands, Muharraq, Umm a Nasan, and Sitra. Summers in Bahrain are hot and humid, with moderate winters. Large quantities of oil and natural gas, as well as fish in coastal seas, are among the country’s natural resources. Only 2.82 percent of the total land area is used for farming.
Despite the fact that Bahrain is 92 percent desert, with droughts and dust storms on a regular basis, the greatest natural hazards for Bahrain are. Desertification due to the degradation of limited arable land, coastal damage (damage to coasts, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) as a result of oil spills and other large oil discharges, oil refineries, distribution centers, and the recovery of illegal land in places like Bay Tubli are among Bahrain’s environmental problems. The agricultural and household sectors’ overuse of Bahrain’s major aquifer, the Dammam Aquifer, has resulted in salinization of nearby brackish and salt water bodies. The sites of groundwater salinity sources were discovered and their regions of impact were defined in a hydrochemical investigation. The research found that when groundwater flows from the northwestern region of Bahrain, where the aquifer is supplied with water through lateral overflow from eastern Saudi Arabia in the south and southeast, the water quality of the aquifer is significantly altered. Brackish water rises from brackish water areas in the north-central, western, and eastern regions; seawater penetration in the eastern region; Sabkha water penetration in the southwest region; and irrigation reflux in a local area in the western region are the four types of aquifer salinization identified. In addition to the usage of groundwater in the zone, four options for managing groundwater quality are discussed at the disposal of Bahrain’s water authority, and priority regions are suggested, depending on the type and size of any Versalzungsquelle.
The Zagros Mountains in Iran, which stretch over the Persian Gulf, are producing low winds in Bahrain. Dust storms in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, carried by northwesterly winds known as Shamalwind, cause decreased visibility in the months of June and July.
Summers are very hot. In the summer, the waters surrounding Bahrain are shallow and warm rapidly, resulting in considerable humidity, particularly at night. Under ideal circumstances, summer temperatures may exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Bahrain’s rain is light and sporadic. Rainfall is most common in the winter, with a maximum of 71.8 mm (2.83 inches).
In the Bahrain archipelago, more than 330 bird species have been documented, with 26 species breeding in the nation. During the winter and autumn months, millions of migrating birds pass across the Persian Gulf. Chlamydotis undulata, a globally endangered species, is a frequent autumn migrant. Bahrain’s many islands and shallow waters are ideal nesting grounds for the Socotra Cormorant; the Hawar Islands have been home to up to 100,000 pairs of these birds.
Only 18 mammal species can be found in Bahrain; although gazelles, rabbits, and desert hedgehogs are abundant in the wild, the Arabian Oryx was formerly thought to be extinct on the island. There were 25 amphibian and reptile species, as well as 21 butterfly species and 307 plant species. Extensive seagrass meadows and mudflats, speckled coral reefs, and islands along the shore are all examples of marine biotopes. Some endangered species, such as dugongs and green turtles, rely on seagrass meadows for food. Manatees, sea turtles, and dolphins were all prohibited from Bahrain’s territorial seas in 2003.
The Hawar Islands Sanctuary is an important breeding and rearing ground for a wide range of marine birds. It is a well-known bird-protection area throughout the world. The Socotra Cormorant breeding colony in the Hawar Islands is the world’s biggest, and the dugong gathered in the archipelago is Australia’s second-largest dugong collection.
Five protected areas have been declared in Bahrain, four of which are maritime areas.
Bahrain’s population increased to 1.2 million people in 2010, with 568,399 Bahrainis and 666,172 foreigners. Bahrain’s population grew from 1.05 million in 2007 to over one million in 2007. (517,368 foreign citizens). Although the bulk of the population is from the Middle East, the nation also has a sizable South Asian community. In 2008, over 290,000 Indians resided in Bahrain, making it the country’s biggest expatriate population. With a population density of 1,646 persons per km2 in 2010, Bahrain is the world’s fourth most densely inhabited sovereign state. City-states are the only sovereign and highly populated states. The majority of the country’s population is located in the north, with the southern governorate region being the least densely inhabited. The north of the nation is so densely populated that it is referred to be a major city by some.
Bahrain’s population is ethnically varied. Baharna and Ajam are the two ethnic groups that make up the Shia Shia. The Baharna ethnic group makes up the bulk of Bahá’ Shiites. The Ajam are Shiite Persians by ethnicity. Shiite Persians live in significant numbers in Manama and Muharraq. Ethnic Hasawis from Al-Hasa make up a tiny minority of Bahraini Shiites.
Sunnis in Bahrain are mostly split into two ethnic groups: Arab (Arabic) and Huwala. Sunni Arabs are Bahrain’s most powerful ethnic group; they hold the majority of government posts, and the Bahraini monarchy is Sunni Arab. Traditional Sunni Arab settlements include Zallaq, Muharraq, Riffa, and Hawar. The Huwala are Sunni Iranian descendants, with some Sunni Persians and some Sunni Arabs among them. Sunnis of Baluchi origin exist as well. The bulk of Bahraini Africans are from East Africa and have resided in Muharraq and Riffa for generations.
The official religion of Bahrain is Islam, and the majority of Bahrain’s people are Muslims. Although there are no official statistics on the percentage of Shiites and Sunnis among Muslims in Bahrain, Shiites account for 65-75 percent of the population.
Bahrain has a significant Christian population. After the 2010 census, there were 367,683 non-Muslim inhabitants in Bahrain, the majority of them are Christians. The majority of Christians in Bahrain are expats, but Bahraini Christian Christians (who have Bahraini citizenship) make up a smaller group. Alees Samaan, a native Christian from Bahrain, served as Bahrain’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. Bahrain also boasts a local Jewish population of 37 Bahrainis. According to different estimates, Bahrain’s Jewish population numbers between 36 and 50 individuals.
The overall involvement of Muslims has dropped in recent years as a result of the inflow of immigrants and guest workers from South Asian nations such as India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. According to the 2001 census, the population of Bahrain was 81.2 percent Muslim, 10% Christian, and 9.8% Hindu or other faiths. According to the 2010 census, Muslims made up 70.2 percent of the population (the 2010 census did not distinguish between non-Muslim religions). Officials from Bahrain’s administration have denied allegations from the opposition that the government is attempting to alter the country’s demographic development by naturalizing Sunni Syrians. Bahá’s account for approximately 1% of Bahrain’s overall population.
Bahrain has the fastest expanding economy in the Arab world, according to a United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia study from January 2006. According to the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East and is the 12th freest in the world.
The Global Index of Financial Centers in the City of London declared Bahrain the fastest growing financial center in the world in 2008. Bahrain’s banking and financial services industry, especially Islamic banking, has benefitted from the oil-driven regional boom. Bahrain’s largest exported product is oil extraction and processing, which accounts for 60% of export profits, 70% of government income, and 11% of GDP. The second largest exported product is aluminum, followed by finance and building materials.
Since 1985, economic circumstances have varied with shifting oil prices, such as during and after the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990-91. Bahrain is home to many international businesses, and work on several major industrial projects is underway thanks to the country’s well-developed communication and transportation infrastructure. Petroleum products produced from imported crude oil make for a significant portion of exports, accounting for 51% of the country’s imports in 2007. Bahrain is largely reliant on food imports to sustain its expanding population; it imports 75 percent of its entire fruit consumption requirements and primarily relies on Australian meat imports. Agriculture provides 0.5 percent of Bahrain’s GDP due to the fact that just 2.9 percent of the country’s land is arable. Bahrain signed the United States-Bahrain Free Commercial Agreement in 2004, which would lower some trade obstacles between the two countries. The growth rate fell to 2.2 percent as a result of a combination of the global financial crisis and recent instability, the lowest percentage since 1994.
The major long-term economic issues include unemployment, particularly among young people, and the loss of oil and groundwater resources. In 2008, the unemployment rate was 4%, with over-represented women accounting for 85 percent of the total. As part of a series of labor reforms spearheaded by Bahrain’s Minister of Labor, Dr. Majeed Al Alawi, Bahrain became the first Arab nation to implement unemployment compensation in 2007.