Governorates1. Capital Region ()محافظة العاصمة2. Central Region ()المحافظة الوسطى3. Muharrag ()محافظة المحرق4. Northern Region ()المحافظة الشمالية5. Southern Region ()المحافظة الجنوبية
History• Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf.• Bahrain Island is 55 km long by 18 km wide. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway. Iran lies 200 km to the north of Bahrain, across the Gulf. Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. The planned Qatar Bahrain Causeway will link Bahrain and Qatar and become the worlds longest marine causeway.• Bahrain is believed to be the site of the ancient land of the Dilmun civilization. Bahrain came under the rule of successive Persian empires, the Parthians and Sassanids empires respectively.• Bahrain was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam in 628 AD. Following a successive period of Arab rule, the country was occupied by the Portuguese in 1521. The Portuguese were later expelled, in 1602, by Shah Abbas I of the Safavid empire.• In 1783, the Bani Utbah tribe captured Bahrain from the Persians and was ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family since, with Ahmed al Fateh being the first hakim of Bahrain.• In the late 1800s, following successive treaties with the British, Bahrain became a protectorate of the United Kingdom. Following the withdrawal of the British from the region in the late 1960s, Bahrain declared independence in 1971.• Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002. Since early 2011, the country has experienced sustained protests and unrest inspired by the regional Arab Spring.
History• Bahrain today has a very high Human Development Index (42nd highest in the world) and the World Bank identified it as a high income economy.• Bahrain is a member of the 1. United Nations, 2. World Trade Organization, 3. The Arab League, 4. The Non-Aligned Movement, 5. The Organization of the Islamic Conference as well as 6. Being a founding member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.• Bahrain was also designated as a major non-NATO ally by the George W. Bush administration in 2001.• Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1932 (the first in the Arabian side of the Gulf). In recent decades, Bahrain has sought to diversify its economy and be less dependent on oil by investing in the banking sector and tourism. The countrys capital, Manama, is home to many large financial structures, including the Bahrain World Trade Center and the Bahrain Financial Harbor. The Qalat al-Bahrain (the harbor and capital of the ancient land of Dilmun) and the Bahrain pearling trail were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005 and 2012, respectively. The Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit.
EconomyBasic Economy• Only 1 percent of the land is arable, and so the country is unable to produce enough food for its population and relies almost entirely on imports.• The primary employers are industry, commerce, and services (79 percent of workers are in these fields) and government (20 percent); the remaining 1 percent of the people are farmers.• A large number of jobs are held by foreigners, and employment is an ongoing problem, particularly among young people. Three-fifths of the workforce is foreign-born.• The economy is based largely on petroleum production and processing, which account for 60 percent of exports and 30 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).• Bahrain also has well-developed communications and transportation, which has allowed it to become a center for banking and finance, and is the headquarters for a number of multinational firms that do business in the Persian Gulf area.Commercial ActivitiesThe country produces fruits and vegetables, poultry, dairy products, shrimp, and fish that are sold inthe souks, along with locally produced handicrafts. Tourism is a growing business, accounting for 9percent of the GDP. A good deal of international banking is conducted in Bahrain.
EconomyMajor IndustriesThe main industry is petroleum production,processing, and refining. Others industries arealuminum smelting, offshore banking, shiprepairing, and tourism. The country also producescement blocks, plastics, asphalt, paper products,and soft drinks.TradeImports and exports are roughly equal in value.Petroleum accounts for 60 percent of exports,and aluminum for 7 percent. These are exportssent mainly to India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, SouthKorea, and the United Arab Emirates. Forty-onepercent of imports consist of crude oil, which thecountry processes. Imports, which also includemachinery, transportation equipment, and food,come from Saudi Arabia, the United States, theUnited Kingdom, Japan, and Germany.Division of LaborSeventy-nine percent of the workforce is inindustry, commerce, and services; 20 percent is inthe government; and 1 percent in agriculture.Many jobs are held by foreign temporary workers,who account for over 60 percent of the laborforce. Expatriates work in every field from manuallabor to investment banking.
Demographics• In 2010, Bahrains population grew to 1.2 million, of which 568,399 were Bahraini and 666,172 were non-nationals.• It had risen from 1.05 million (517,368 non-nationals) in 2007, the year when Bahrains population crossed the one million mark.• Though a majority of the population is ethnically Arab, a sizeable number of people from South Asia live in the country. In 2008, approximately 290,000 Indian nationals lived in Bahrain, making them the single largest expatriate community in the country.• Much of this population is concentrated in the north of the country with the Southern Governorate being the least densely populated part.• The official religion of Bahrain is Islam and 99.8% of Bahraini citizens are Muslim.• There are no official figures for the proportion of Shia and Sunni among the Muslims of Bahrain, but approximately 66-70% percent of Bahraini Muslims are Shias due to an influx of immigrants and guest workers from non-Muslim countries, such as India, Philippines and Sri Lanka, the overall percentage of Muslims in the country has declined in recent years.• According to the 2001, 81.2% of Bahrains population was Muslim, 9% were Christian, and 9.8% practiced Hinduism or other religions.• The 2010 census records that the Muslim proportion had fallen to 70.2% (the 2010 census did not differentiate between the non-Muslim religions).• Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used.
Political LifeGovernmentBahrain is a traditional monarchy in which the king is the chief of state. He appoints a primeminister, who serves as the head of government, and a cabinet. The cabinet has legislative powerswith the assistance of an advisory (or Shura ) council, which was established in 1992, whosemembers are appointed by the monarch. There is no suffrage, as the monarchy is hereditary,passed down to the oldest son.Leadership and Political OfficialsPolitical parties are prohibited, but there are several small underground leftist and Islamicfundamentalist groups. The main opposition consists of Shia Muslim groups that have been activesince 1994, protesting unemployment and the dissolution in 1975 of the National Assembly, anelected legislative body.Social Problems and ControlThe legal system is based on a combination of Islamic law and English common law. Most potentiallaws are discussed by the Shura council before being put into in effect.Military ActivityThe military consists of a ground force, navy, air force, coast guard, and police
Geography & Climate• Bahrain had a total area of 665 km2 but due to land reclamation, the area increased to 767 km2 , which is slightly larger than the Isle of Man.• The highest point is 134 m which id the Mountain of Smoke (Jabal ad Dukhan).• As an archipelago of thirty-three islands, Bahrain does not share a land boundary with another country but does have a 161 km coastline.• The country also claims a further 22 km of territorial sea and a 44 km contiguous zone.• Bahrains largest islands are Bahrain Island, Muharraq Island, Umm an Nasan, and Sitrah.• Bahrain has mild winters and very hot, humid summers. The countrys natural resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as fish in the offshore waters. Arable land constitutes only 2.82% of the total area.• Environmental issues facing Bahrain include desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land, coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, and illegal land reclamation at places such as Tubli Bay.
Food• The best-known dish, machbous, consists of fish or meat served with rice.• A dessert called muhammar is made of brown rice and sugar or dates.• Halwa is another traditional sweet, a green, sticky dessert filled with spices and nuts.• Snacks known as sambousas are also popular.
EtiquetteGreetings are generally lengthy and involve asking about each others health and family,although a man does not ask about another mans wife.Everyone stands when someone enters the room, and that person then makes the rounds,shaking hands. After shaking, one touches the hand to the heart in a gesture of affection.Women and men can shake hands, but only if it is initiated by the woman.It is traditional upon visiting someone to be served coffee or tea. This custom includes visitsto shops or offices. Failure to make such an offer or to accept it is considered rude.
Biodiversity• More than 330 species of birds were recorded in the Bahrain archipelago, 26 species of which breed in the country. Millions of migratory birds pass through the Gulf region in the winter and autumn months.• Only 18 species of mammals are found in Bahrain, animals such as Gazelles, desert rabbits and hedgehogs are common in the wild but the Arabian Oryx was hunted to extinction on the island.• 25 species of amphibians and reptiles were recorded as well as 21 species of butterflies and 307 species of flora.• The marine biotopes are diverse and include extensive sea grass beds and mudflats, patchy coral reefs as well as offshore islands. Sea grass beds are important foraging grounds for some threatened species such as dugongs and the green turtle. In 2003, Bahrain banned the capture of sea cows, marine turtles and dolphins within its territorial waters.• Bahrain has five designated protected areas, four of which are marine environments. They are: • Hawar Islands • Mashtan Island, off the coast of Bahrain. • Arad bay, in Muharraq. • Tubli Bay Phalacrocorax • Al Areen Wildlife Park, which is a zoo and a breeding centre for endangered animals, is the only protected area on land and also the only protected area which is managed on a day-to-day basis.
TourismAs a tourist destination, Bahrain received over eight million visitors in 2008 though the exact number variesyearly. Most of these are from the surrounding Arab states although an increasing number hail from outside theregion due to growing awareness of the kingdoms heritage and its higher profile.The kingdom combines modern Arab culture and the archaeological legacy of five thousand years of civilization.The island is home to forts including : • Qalat Al Bahrain which has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. • The Bahrain National Museum has artifacts from the countrys history dating back to the islands first human inhabitants some 9000 years ago and • The Beit Al Quran (Arabic: بيت القرآن,meaning: the House of Quran) is a museum that holds Islamic artefacts of the Quran • Al Khamis Mosque, which is the one of the oldest mosques in the region, the Arad fort in Muharraq, • Barbar temple, which is an ancient temple from the Dilmunite period of Bahrain, as well as • The Aali Burial Mounds and the Saar temple. • The Tree of Life, a 400 year-old tree that grows in the Sakhir desert with no nearby water, is also a popular tourist attraction.
TourismBird watching (primarily in the Hawar Islands), scuba diving and horse riding are popular touristactivities in Bahrain. Many tourists from nearby Saudi Arabia and across the region visit Manamaprimarily for the shopping malls in the capital Manama, such as the Bahrain City Centre and Seef Mall inthe Seef district of Manama. The Manama Souq and Gold Souq in the old district of Manama are alsopopular with tourists.Since 2005, Bahrain annually hosts a festival in March, titled Spring of Culture, which featuresinternationally renowned musicians and artists performing in concerts. Manama was named the ArabCapital of Culture for 2012 and Capital of Arab Tourism for 2013 by the Arab League. The 2012 festivalfeatured concerts starring Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias and other musicians. Bahrain has one main international airport, the Bahrain International Airport (BIA) which is located on the island of Muharraq, in the north-east. The airport handled more than 100,000 flights and more than 8 million passengers in 2010.Bahrains national carrier, Gulf Air operates and bases itself in the BIA. Bahrain Air, a privately owned Bahraini airline, also operates from the same airport.
Education• Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14. Education is free for Bahraini citizens in public schools, with the Bahraini Ministry of Education providing free textbooks. Coeducation is not used in public schools, with boys and girls segregated into separate schools.• At the beginning of the 20th century, Quranic schools (Kuttab) were the only form of education in Bahrain. They were traditional schools aimed at teaching children and youth the reading of the Quran.• After World War I, Bahrain became open to western influences, and a demand for modern educational institutions appeared.• 1919 marked the beginning of modern public school system in Bahrain when the Al-Hidaya Al-Khalifia School for boys opened in Muharraq• The University of Bahrain was established for standard undergraduate and graduate study, and the King Abdulaziz University College of Health Sciences, operating under the direction of the Ministry of Health, trains physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and paramedics.• The Royal University for Women (RUW), established in 2005, was the first private, purpose-built, international University in Bahrain dedicated solely to educating women.
HealthBahrain has a universal health care system, dating back to 1960. Government-provided health care is freeto Bahraini citizens and heavily subsidized for non-Bahrainis.Healthcare expenditure accounted for 4.5% of Bahrains GDP, according to the World Health Organization.Bahraini physicians and nurses form a majority of the countrys workforce in the health sector, unlikeneighboring Gulf states.
Culture Bahrain is sometimes described as "Middle East lite“ due to its combination of modern infrastructure with a Persian Gulf identity. While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis are known for their tolerance towards the practice of other faiths. Rules regarding female attire are generally relaxed compared to regional neighbors; the traditional attire of women usually include the hijab or the abaya. Although the traditional male attire is the thobe which also includes traditional headdresses such as the Keffiyeh, Ghutra and Agal, western clothing is common in the country. Another facet of the new openness is Bahrains status as the most prolific book publisher in the Arab world, with 132 books published in 2005 for a population of 700,000. In comparison, the 2005 average for the entire Arab world was seven books published per one million people, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Men partake in the traditional past-time of coffee-drinking in the Gulf Hotel in Manama. The scarf that covers a mans head is called a gutra . Males are eligible for service at age fifteen. The country spends roughly 5.2 percent of its GDP on the military.
MusicThe music style in Bahrain is similar tothat of its neighbors. The Khaliji style ofmusic, which is folk music, is popular inthe country.The sawt style of music, which involves acomplex form of urban music,performed by an Oud (plucked lute), aviolin and mirwas (a drum), is alsopopular in Bahrain.Ali Bahar was one of the most famoussingers in Bahrain. He performed hismusic with his Band Al-Ekhwa (TheBrothers). Bahrain was also the site ofthe first recording studio amongst theGulf states.
Sports• Association football is the most popular sport in Bahrain.• Bahrains national football team has competed multiple times at the Asian Cup, Arab Nations Cup and played in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, though it has never qualified for the World Cup.• Bahrain has its own top-tier domestic professional football league, the Bahraini Premier League.• Basketball, Rugby and horse riding are also widely popular in the country.• Bahrain has competed in six Summer Olympics, debuting in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.• Bahrain has only won one Olympic medal in its history, that being a bronze medal won by Maryam Yusuf Jamal in the womens 1500 meters race at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Jamal is the first woman from any Gulf nation to win an Olympic medal.• Bahrain has a Formula One race-track, which hosted the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on 4 April 2004, the first in an Arab country. This was followed by the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2005.• Both the above races were won by Fernando Alonso of Renault.
Money & costsEconomy• Recognizing the pitfalls of relying on income from oil revenues alone, the government took early steps to diversify the economy and Bahrain is now an important offshore banking centre, a growing industrial and commercial hub, and a major destination for international investment.• Heavy industry is evident along the eastern seaboard of the island, and the interior is crisscrossed by gas and oil pipelines.• International tourism was adversely affected by the onset of hostilities in Iraq although regional tourism, from Saudi Arabia in particular, continued unabated.• Large-scale projects, like the new Bahrain Financial Harbour in Manama and the resort complex on the southern tip of the island, are visible expressions of the island’s continuing prosperity.Money: Country Unit Bahraini dinarExchange ratesThe dinar is pegged to the US dollar and rarely fluctuates.Euro€1=BD0.51Japan¥100=BD0.32KuwaitKD1=BD1.30QatarQR1=BD0.10Saudi ArabiaSR1=BD0.10UAEDh1=BD0.10UKUK£1=BD0.75USAUS$1=BD0.38