Bahrain, officially, Kingdom of Bahrain, a small island nation of southwestern Asia. It is situated in the Persian Gulf about midway between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The country consists of a main island, called Bahrain, and a number of smaller ones, including Muharraq, Sitrah, and the Hawar Islands. Muharraq, Sitrah, and the country of Saudi Arabia are linked by causeway to Bahrain. The entire country has an area of only 257 square miles (665 km 2).
Much of the island of Bahrain is low and flat, but toward the interior the land rises gradually to about 400 feet (122 m) above sea level. Rainfall averages less than 5 inches (127 mm) annually; high temperatures and high humidity prevail most of the year.
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain. Arabic is the language used by most Bahrainis. English, Farsi ans Urdu are also spoken. Most of the people are Arabs and followers of the Islamic faith. Bahrain's literacy rate is about 90 per cent. Schooling is free for all children.
|Facts in brief about Bahrain|
|Official language: Arabic.|
|Official name: Kingdom of Bahrain.|
|Form of government: Constitutional monarchy. Head of state—King.|
|Area: 268 mi2 (694 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 50 mi (80 km); east-west, 26 mi (42 km). Coastline—78 mi (126 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Jabal ad Dukhan, 443 ft (135 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—722,000; density, 2,694 per mi2 (1,040 per km2); distribution, 97 percent urban, 3 percent rural. 2001 census—650,604.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—dates, tomatoes. Fishing—shrimp, crab, rabbit fish, perch, sea bream, grouper. Manufacturing—aluminum and aluminum products, ammonia, iron, liquid natural gas, methanol, refined petroleum products. Mining—natural gas, petroleum.|
|Flag: On the flag of Bahrain, a red field covers about three-fourths of the flag and adjoins the jagged edge of a vertical white stripe, which consists of five triangles. The five triangles represent the five pillars of Islam.|
|Money: Basic unit—Bahraini dinar. One thousand fils equal one dinar.|
Bahrain's economy depends heavily on the production, refining, and shipment of oil. Production and reserves, however, are relatively small. An undersea pipeline from Saudi Arabia brings in additional oil, which with local production supplies a large refinery on Sitrah. Part of the refinery's output goes back to Saudi Arabia; the rest is exported to all parts of the world.
Because of the oil industry, Bahrain is a relatively prosperous country. As part of a government plan to broaden the economy, an aluminum-manufacturing plant was built to process imported alumina, and natural gas fields are being developed. Shipping and international banking are becoming increasingly important. Fishing also contributes to the economy. Bahrain's basic currency unit is the Bahrain dinar.
Due to a reform voted on in 2001, Bahrain was changed from an emirate to a constitutional monarchy in 2002. The king is the chief of state. Bahrain has a bicameral parliament; the members of one house of parliament are elected by the people, and the members of the other are elected by the king.