Bahrain

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 29, 2011
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Introduction

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In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. In addition, the Sunni-led government has struggled to manage relations with its approximately 70% Shia-majority population. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Shia activists mounted a low-intensity uprising to demand that the Sunni-led government stop systemic economic, social, and political discrimination against Shia Bahrainis. King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa, after succeeding his late father in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms in part to improve relations with the Shia community. After boycotting the country's first round of democratic elections under the newly-promulgated constitution in 2002, Shia political societies participated in 2006 and 2010 in legislative and municipal elections and Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest bloc of seats in the elected lower-house of the legislature both times. Nevertheless, Shia discontent persisted, often manifesting itself in street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.
In early 2011, Bahrain's fractious opposition sought to ride a rising tide of popular Arab protests to petition for the redress of popular grievances. In mid-February, a vanguard of hardline activists - who reject the legitimacy of the Al Khalifa regime and have sometimes instigated low-level violence - organized demonstrations in Shia neighborhoods demanding a new constitution, release of hundreds of Shia prisoners, and an end to discriminations in all sectors of society. Cycles of protestor deaths, funerals, and clashes with security forces ensued, escalating domestic tensions. The government's offers of modest political and economic concessions went nowhere as did the king's "national dialogue" with the opposition. In mid-March 2011, with the backing of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) capitals - especially Riyadh and Abu Dhabi - King HAMAD put an end to the mass public gatherings and increasingly disruptive demonstrations by declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the military to take all measures to "protect the safety of the country and its citizens." Manama also welcomed a contingent of mostly Saudi and Emirati forces as part of a GCC deployment intended to help Bahraini security forces maintain order. By mid-April security forces had largely relegated demonstrations to outlying Shia neighborhoods and villages, and negotiations between the government and opposition reached a stalemate. Manama exacted retribution against opposition groups and their supporters through mass firings, arrests, and sectarian incitement. In March, the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged $20 billion in financial aid to Bahrain and Oman over a 10-year period to assist the two nations in their struggle with Arab protests. In June, in an effort to salvage Bahrain's image and economy, King HAMAD lifted the state of emergency, offered to renew talks with opposition leaders, and formed an independent commission of experts from the legal community to investigate abuses during the February and March protests. The government held a byelection in September 2011 to fill 18 seats that were vacated earlier in the year when Wifaq withdrew from the National Assembly.
 
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Geography

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Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
 
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26 00 N, 50 33 E
 
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total: 760 sq km
country comparison to the world: 188
land: 760 sq km
water: 0 sq km
 
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3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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161 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: extending to boundaries to be determined
 
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arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
 
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mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment
 
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lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal ad Dukhan 122 m
 
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oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls
 
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arable land: 2.82%
permanent crops: 5.63%
other: 91.55% (2005)
 
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40 sq km (2008)
 
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0.1 cu km (1997)
 
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total: 0.3 cu km/yr (40%/3%/57%)
per capita: 411 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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periodic droughts; dust storms
 
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desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land, periods of drought, and dust storms; coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, and distribution stations; lack of freshwater resources (groundwater and seawater are the only sources for all water needs)
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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close to primary Middle Eastern petroleum sources; strategic location in Persian Gulf, through which much of the Western world's petroleum must transit to reach open ocean
 
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People and Society

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noun: Bahraini(s)
adjective: Bahraini
 
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Bahraini 62.4%, non-Bahraini 37.6% (2001 census)
 
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Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu
 
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Muslim (Shia and Sunni) 81.2%, Christian 9%, other 9.8% (2001 census)
 
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1,214,705
country comparison to the world: 157
note: includes 235,108 non-nationals (July 2011 est.)
 
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0-14 years: 20.5% (male 126,313/female 122,359)
15-64 years: 77% (male 595,244/female 339,635)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 14,791/female 16,363) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 30.9 years
male: 32.2 years
female: 28.1 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.814% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
 
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14.64 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
 
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2.61 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 221
 
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16.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
 
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urban population: 89% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.8% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MANAMA (capital) 163,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.028 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.33 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.13 male(s)/female
total population: 1.24 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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19 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 127
 
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total: 10.43 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 146
male: 11.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 78.15 years
country comparison to the world: 53
male: 76.03 years
female: 80.33 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.88 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
 
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4.5% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 149
 
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1.442 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
 
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1.9 beds/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 105
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2008)
 
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0.2% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
 
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fewer than 600 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
 
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fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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2.9% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.5%
male: 88.6%
female: 83.6% (2001 census)
 
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total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
 
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total: 20.1%
country comparison to the world: 55
male: 17.2%
female: 27% (2001)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Kingdom of Bahrain
conventional short form: Bahrain
local long form: Mamlakat al Bahrayn
local short form: Al Bahrayn
former: Dilmun, State of Bahrain
 
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constitutional monarchy
 
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name: Manama
geographic coordinates: 26 14 N, 50 34 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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5 governorates; Asamah, Janubiyah, Muharraq, Shamaliyah, Wasat
note: each governorate administered by an appointed governor
 
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15 August 1971 (from the UK)
 
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National Day, 16 December (1971); note - 15 August 1971 was the date of independence from the UK, 16 December 1971 was the date of independence from British protection
 
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adopted 14 February 2002
 
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mixed legal system of Islamic law and English common law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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20 years of age; universal; note - Bahraini Cabinet in May 2011 endorsed a draft law lowering eligibility to 18 years
 
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chief of state: King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa (since 6 March 1999); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SALMAN bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (son of the monarch, born 21 October 1969)
head of government: Prime Minister KHALIFA bin Salman Al-Khalifa (since 1971); Deputy Prime Ministers ALI bin Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, MUHAMMAD bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Jawad bin Salim al-ARAIDH
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
 
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bicameral legislature consists of the Consultative Council (40 members appointed by the King) and the Council of Representatives or Chamber of Deputies (40 seats; members directly elected to serve four-year terms)
elections: Council of Representatives - last held in two rounds on 23 and 30 October 2010 (next election to be held in 2014)
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by society - NA; seats by society - Wifaq (Shia) 18, Asala (Sunni Salafi) 3, Minbar (Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) 2, independents 17
 
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High Civil Appeals Court
 
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political parties prohibited but political societies were legalized per a July 2005 law
 
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Shia activists; Sunni Islamist legislators
other: several small leftist and other groups are active
 
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ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CICA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Huda Azra Ibrahim NUNU
chancery: 3502 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 342-1111
FAX: [1] (202) 362-2192
consulate(s) general: New York
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas C. KRAJESKI
embassy: Building #979, Road 3119 (next to Al-Ahli Sports Club), Block 331, Zinj District, Manama
mailing address: PSC 451, Box 660, FPO AE 09834-5100; international mail: American Embassy, Box 26431, Manama
telephone: [973] 1724-2700
FAX: [973] 1727-0547
 
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red, the traditional color for flags of Persian Gulf states, with a white serrated band (five white points) on the hoist side; the five points represent the five pillars of Islam
note: until 2002 the flag had eight white points, but this was reduced to five to avoid confusion with the Qatari flag
 
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name: "Bahrainona" (Our Bahrain)
lyrics/music: unknown
note: adopted 1971; although Mohamed Sudqi AYYASH wrote the original lyrics, they were changed in 2002 following the transformation of Bahrain from an emirate to a kingdom
 
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Economy

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Bahrain is one of the most diversified economies in the Persian Gulf. Highly developed communication and transport facilities make Bahrain home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. Bahrain's economy, however, continues to depend heavily on oil. Petroleum production and refining account for more than 60% of Bahrain's export receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP (exclusive of allied industries). Other major economic activities are production of aluminum - Bahrain's second biggest export after oil - finance, and construction. Bahrain competes with Malaysia as a worldwide center for Islamic banking and continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries. Unemployment, especially among the young, is a long-term economic problem Bahrain struggles to address. In 2009, to help lower unemployment among Bahraini nationals, Bahrain reduced sponsorship for expatriate workers, increasing the costs of employing foreign labor. The global financial crisis caused funding for many non-oil projects to dry up and resulted in slower economic growth for Bahrain. Other challenges facing Bahrain include the slow growth of government debt as a result of a large subsidy program, the financing of large government projects, and debt restructuring, such as the bailout of state-owned Gulf Air.
 
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$29.71 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
$28.55 billion (2009 est.)
$27.69 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$22.66 billion (2010 est.)
 
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4.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
3.1% (2009 est.)
6.3% (2008 est.)
 
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$40,300 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
$39,200 (2009 est.)
$38,500 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 0.5%
industry: 58%
services: 41.5% (2010 est.)
 
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654,900
country comparison to the world: 151
note: 44% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2010 est.)
 
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agriculture: 1%
industry: 79%
services: 20% (1997 est.)
 
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15% (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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23.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
 
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revenues: $5.786 billion
expenditures: $7.009 billion (2010 est.)
 
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25.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
 
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-5.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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60.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
42.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
2.8% (2009 est.)
 
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0.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
0.5% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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7.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 129
7.9% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$6.127 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$5.74 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$20.92 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
$18.93 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$17.26 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$16.34 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$20.43 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 62
$16.93 billion (31 December 2009)
$21.18 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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fruit, vegetables; poultry, dairy products; shrimp, fish
 
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petroleum processing and refining, aluminum smelting, iron pelletization, fertilizers, Islamic and offshore banking, insurance, ship repairing, tourism
 
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1.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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11.22 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
 
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10.48 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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46,430 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
 
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47,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
 
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239,900 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
 
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213,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
 
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124.6 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
 
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12.58 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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12.58 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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92.03 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
 
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$239.5 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
$559.9 million (2009 est.)
 
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$13.83 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
$12.05 billion (2009 est.)
 
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petroleum and petroleum products, aluminum, textiles
 
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Saudi Arabia 2.9%, Japan 2%, UAE 1.9%, India 1.9% (2010)
 
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$11.19 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$9.613 billion (2009 est.)
 
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crude oil, machinery, chemicals
 
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Saudi Arabia 24.7%, US 12.2%, China 7.8%, Brazil 6%, Japan 5.8%, France 5% (2010)
 
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$4.789 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$3.54 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$14.58 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
$10.55 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$15.15 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$15 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$7.883 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$7.549 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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Bahraini dinars (BHD) per US dollar -
0.376 (2010)
0.376 (2009)
0.376 (2008)
0.376 (2007)
0.376 (2006)
 
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Communications

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228,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 124
 
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1.567 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 143
 
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general assessment: modern system
domestic: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones
international: country code - 973; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and US; tropospheric scatter to Qatar and UAE; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth station - 1 (2007)
 
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state-run broadcast media; Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC) operates 5 terrestrial TV networks; satellite TV systems provide access to international broadcasts; state-run BRTC broadcasts over several radio stations; 1 private FM station directs broadcasts to Indian listeners; radio and TV broadcasts from countries in the region are available (2007)
 
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.bh
 
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53,944 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 86
 
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419,500 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 122
 
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Transportation

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4 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 189
 
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total: 4
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2010)
 
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1 (2010)
 
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gas 20 km; oil 29 km (2010)
 
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total: 3,851 km
country comparison to the world: 158
paved: 3,121 km
unpaved: 730 km (2007)
 
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total: 7
country comparison to the world: 125
by type: bulk carrier 2, container 4, petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: 5 (Kuwait 5)
registered in other countries: 6 (Honduras 5, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1) (2010)
 
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Mina' Salman, Sitrah
 
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Military

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Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF): Ground Force, Royal Bahraini Navy (RBN), Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF), Royal Bahraini Air Defense Force (RBADF) (2011)
 
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17 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for NCOs, technicians, and cadets; no conscription (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 508,863
females age 16-49: 290,801 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 423,757
females age 16-49: 245,302 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 8,988
female: 8,117 (2010 est.)
 
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4.5% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 20
 
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Transnational Issues

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none
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