Bahrain is a small island national in the Middle East. Ruled by the Al Khalifa family, Bahrain is one of the countries in the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago comprising 33 islands, the largest of which is called Bahrain. The country has a total area of 750 sq km (290 sq mi) and a population of 1.2 million people.
House in Manama, Bahrain
Author: Jayson De Leon (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
The capital and biggest city in Bahrain is Manama. In 2009, the country has a nominal GDP of $20.6 million, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $19,817. The per capital GDP by purchasing power parity is $27,214. The official currency of Bahrain is the Bahraini dinar. The phone IDD number is +973. The electricity is 220V 50Hz using the British standard BS-1363 outlets. Traffic is on the right side of the road in Bahrain.
The best time to visit Bahrain is between November to March, when it is coolest. After that, the weather becomes very hot and humid.
The name Bahrain means “two seas”. It refers to the freshwater springs in the country that is surrounded by the sea. Bahrain has been inhabited since ancient times, and has been ruled by different powers including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Arabs, who introduced Islam to the country.
Bahrain was part of the Persian Empire from the 6th to the 3rd century BC. The Qarmatians, a sect of Shia Islam, conquered Bahrain in AD 899. They were defeated in AD 976 by the Abbasids. During the late Middle Ages, Bahrain included land on the eastern province of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Portuguese invaded Bahrain in 1521, ruling it for 80 years before being ousted by the Safavid dynasty of Iran, who made Shiism the official religion of Bahrain. The Iranians were to rule Bahrain for the next two hundred years.
In 1783, Bahrain was lost to the Bani Utbah tribe in battle. With the end of Persian rule, Arab clans moved to settle in Bahrain. The Al Khalifa family moved to Bahrain in 1797, and in 1820, they took control of ruling Bahrain. This was reenforced when they signed a treaty with the British recognizing them as the legitimate ruler of the island. By 1861 however, Bahrain was forced under British rule, with complete dominance over it in 1892.
By the mid-19th century, Bahrain had moved away from its traditional industry based on pearl diving, to become an emporium for the Persian Gulf, overtaking Basra,
Kuwait and Muscat for that role. Prosperity and peace brought a wave of nationalism, and in 1911 a group of Bahraini merchants demanded greater autonomy from the British. Instead they were arrested and exiled to India.
Between 1926 to 1957, Bahrain was under the de facto rule of Charles Belgrave, the British advisor to the Emir of Bahrain. He was sent to Bahrain over British concern that Iran was again trying to claim the island. Meanwhile, petroleum was discovered in Bahrain in 1932, and this ushered rapid modernization to the country.
Al-Fateh Grand Mosque, Bahrain
Author: omar_chatriwala (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
In November of 1957, Iran passed a bill announcing Bahrain as one of its fourteen provinces. The action strained relations with the United Nations, Britain, Saudi Arabia and a number of Arab countries. To “deiranize” Bahrain, Britain brought in large numbers of Arabs to work on the island. Iran pushed for a referendum with the Bahraini people, to determine the destiny of Bahrain, a move opposed by Britain and the Government of Bahrain. Nonetheless the Plebiscite was held under United Nations supervision on 30 March, 1970. The result, as conveyed to the Governments of Iran and Britain, is that the people of Bahrain want their territory to be recognized as an indepedent country.
Today Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy headed with a king and a prime minister. It benefited greatly from petroleum. As with many of the Gulf states, Bahrain is home to a growing number of skyscrapers, among them the Bahrain World Trade Center and Bahrain Financial Harbour. On the drawing board is the supertall Murjan Tower, expected to be 1.02 km (3,353 ft) in height.
Since February 2011, Bahrain has experienced a number of anti-government protest plunging it into political crisis. Until the situation improves, tourists are cautioned against making unnecessary visits.
Street café in Manama
Author: Andrew Griffith (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Visa upon arrival for 14-day visits costing BD 5 / US$13 is available to citizens of
Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China (Mainland, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Republic of China Taiwan), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland (3 months), Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom (3 months), United States, Uzbekistan and the Vatican City. You can also apply for eVisa at BD 7.
Bahrain International Airport (BAH) in Muharraq, to the east of Manama, is the main gateway to Bahrain, and home base for Gulf Air. It receives numerous flights connecting it with London and other major destinations in Europe.
Major Towns in Bahrain
- Manama – capital
- Hamad Town
- Isa Town
- Jidd Hafs
Places of Interest in Bahrain
- Hawar Islands
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bahrain
- Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun