Bahrain



Bahrain (/bɑːˈreɪn/; Arabic: ‏البحرين‎ About this sound al-Baḥrayn; Persian: ‏بحرین‎ Bahreyn), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic: مملكة البحرين‎ About this sound Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn) is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago with Bahrain Island, the largest land mass, at 55 km (34 mi) long by 18 km (11 mi) wide. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway while Iran lies 200 km (124 mi) to the north across the Persian Gulf. The peninsula of Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. The population in 2010 stood at 1,234,571, including 666,172 non-nationals.Bahrain is believed to be the site of the ancient land of the Dilmun civilization and later came under the rule of successive Parthian and Sassanid Persian empires. The country was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam in 628 AD. Following a period of Arab rule, Bahrain was occupied by the Portuguese in 1521, who in turn were expelled in 1602 by Shah Abbas I of the Safavid empire. In 1783, the Bani Utbah tribe captured Bahrain from the Qajars and has since been ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family, with Ahmed al Fateh 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 a state, Bahrain was declared a "Kingdom" in 2002. Since early 2011, the country has experienced sustained protests and unrest inspired by the regional Arab Spring, particularly by the majority Shia population. Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1932, the first such find on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf.Bahrain has the first "post-oil" economy in the Persian Gulf because the Bahraini economy does not rely on oil. Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has heavily invested in the banking and tourism sectors. The country's capital, Manama is home to many large financial structures. Bahrain has a high Human Development Index (ranked 48th in the world) and was recognised by the World Bank as a high income economy. Bahrain was designated a major non-NATO ally by the George W. Bush administration in 2001.