Bahrain, which means “two seas,” is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The islands for the most part are level expanses of sand and rock. A causeway connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.
Anciently known as Dilmun, the island was known to the Greeks as Tylos. Ruled by Portugal (16th cent.) and Persia (intermittently from 1603, and long claimed by Iran), Bahrain became a sheikhdom in 1783 and a British-protected state in 1861. Independence was declared in 1971. A constitution, adopted in 1973, limited the sheikh's powers and established an elected national assembly, but in 1975 the sheikh suspended the constitution and dissolved the national assembly.
Although oil was discovered in Bahrain in the 1930s, it was relatively little compared to other Gulf states, and the wells are expected to be the first in the region to dry up. Sheik Isa ibn Sulman al-Khalifah, who became emir in 1961, was determined to diversify his country's economy, and he set about establishing Bahrain as a major financial center. The country provides its people with free medical care, education, and old-age pensions.
Bahrain has been an important Western ally, serving as a Western air base during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003. It continues to serve as the base of the United States' Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Gulf.
Bahrain is mainly made up of the native Bahraini Arabs, who account for 63% of the population. While the remaining population consists of 13% of South and Southeast Asians, 10% of Arabs, 8% of Iranians and 6% of western Europeans and Americans. The society is relatively open and liberal and women usually outnumber men in terms of education.
Arts, Culture and Music of Bahrain
Arts include ceremonial dances accompanied by drums, readings of the Quran (Koran, or Islamic scripture), and storytelling. The poets of Bahraini are famous for their poetic verses and carry on established traditions while also exploring new themes. Births and marriages call for wide-scale celebrations in Bahrain, which often are a pleasure to take part in. Apart from this, the people of Bahrain are also known for their artistic skills, the boats used for fishing and pearling, being an example of this craftsmanship. The traditional jewelry also speaks volumes about the intricate designs that the people of Bahrain can come up with.
Flag of Bahrain
The economy of the country is mainly defined by oil production and refining but depletion of Bahrain's limited oil reserves has prompted the government to develop other industries as well. For example, in 1970, the government established Aluminum Bahrain (ALBA), an aluminum smelting industry which still remains an important industry. In a further effort at diversification, the government has also promoted tourism.
The government controls the oil and gas industry, most heavy manufacturing, and the bulk of the transportation and communications sectors, but it has undertaken efforts to privatize the economy, thus transferring banking, light manufacturing, and commerce into private hands.