OFFICIAL NAME: State of Bahrain
CAPITAL: Al Manamah
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Absolute Monarchy
AREA: 678 Sq Km (262 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 585,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Bahrain is a group of islands in
the Persian Gulf midway between the tip of the Qatar Peninsula
and the Saudi Arabian mainland. The island group includes
six primary islands which are Bahrain, Muharraq, Sitrah,
Umm al Nassan, Jidda and Nabi Salih. Bahrain has a desert
topography except for a narrow strip of land along the northern
coast. In the interior the land rises gradually towards
a central range of hills. Most of the other islands are
flat and sandy. A number of fresh water springs or artesian
wells are located along the northern coast of the Bahrain.
In general, the soil is poor and saline, supporting little
or no vegetation. Major Cities (pop. est.); Al Manamah 140,400,
Ar Rifa 46,000, Al Muharraq 45,300, Madinat Isa 34,500 (1991).
Land Use; pastures 6%, agricultural-cultivated 3%, other
including deserts and marshes 91% (1993).
CLIMATE: Bahrain has an arid desert climate characterized by
very hot summers with high humidity while winters are relatively cooler.
Average annual precipitation is only 76 mm (3 inches). Various winds influence
the temperatures and include the Bara from the north, which is a cool wind
that sometimes reduces the temperature in June, the Shamal from the northeast
which is a moist wind that dominates all year round and the Quss from the
south or southwest, which is a hot dry sand laden wind. Average temperature
ranges on Bahrain are from 14 to 20 degrees Celsius (67 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit)
in January to 29 to 38 degrees Celsius (84 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in
PEOPLE: Between 73% and 75% of the population are indigenous
Arabs with diversity among the ethnic minorities. Around 14% of the population
are Saudi Arabian and Omanis while 9% are Iranians with the remainder divided
among the Asians, Baluchis, Pakistanis, Indians and British Europeans.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 745 persons per sq km
(1,930 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 83.0% urban, 17.0% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 58.0% male, 42.0% female (1988). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 65.0 years male, 68.4 years female (1986). Age Breakdown; 35%
under 15, 26% 15 to 29, 26% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 3% 60 and over (1988).
Birth Rate; 26.5 per 1,000 (1988). Death Rate; 3.2 per 1,000 (1988). Increase
Rate; 23.3 per 1,000 (1988). Infant Mortality Rate; 23.5 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with 51% of the population
Shiite Muslims while 34% are Sunni Muslims. Some Christian and Jewish communities
do exist, although they are definitely minorities.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Arabic which is spoken in
its Gulf dialect. English is also widely understood and taught in secondary
EDUCATION: Aged 10 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
27.2%, some reading/writing skills 26.3%, primary 24.9%, secondary 13.3%,
higher 8.3% (1981). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 77.4%
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: During 1861 to 1971 the islands
were under British protection. In 1971 Bahrain became fully independent
and in 1968 as well as 1979 Iran pressed its longstanding claim over Bahrain.
In 1981 Bahrain became threatened by Iran's claims of sovereignty over
the islands through a failed coup which was believed to be linked to Iran
and resulted in 73 arrests. In the same year and in response, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar joined with Bahrain to
form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In 1990 Bahrain expanded its military
bases following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and Britain's defense secretary,
Tom King, announced that three British minesweepers as well as a squadron
of Tornado fighter jets would be based in Bahrain as a form of self-defense.
In Aug. 1991 a territorial dispute with Qatar over the Hawar Islands flared
when gunboats exchanged fire. On June 20, 1992 Bahrain became the first
Arab Gulf nation to urge better relations with Iraq since the end to the
Gulf War. On July 3, 1992 the Hawar Islands dispute between Qatar and Bahrain
entered a new phase, with Qatar rejecting Bahrain's demand for a joint
petition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and continuing with
its own unilateral bid to recover the islands. In July 1992, Crown Prince
Sheik Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah announced his desire to establish closer
ties with Iran. Following the death of the Shiite divine Grand Ayatollah
Abolqassemm al-Khoei on August 8, 1992 there were massive processions for
five days. On Dec. 16, 1992 the emir announced the establishment of a consultative
council to allow greater citizen participation in the country affairs.
On Jan. 16, 1993 the council met for the first time, following which the
emir granted an amnesty to eight political prisoners and pardons to eleven
exiles in an attempt at healing the rift between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
In April 1993 Bahrain asserted its claim to the Hawar Islands by announcing
a territorial waters claim of 12 nautical miles and its right to exercise
its sovereignty over the area.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dinar (BD) which is divided
into 1000 Fils.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $4,283,000,000 (1993). National
Debt; USD $1,810,000,000 (1991). Imports; BD 1,559,000,000 (1992). Exports;
BD 1,285,000,000 (1992). Tourism Receipts; USD $177,000,000 (1992). Balance
of Trade; BD 33,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 226,400
or 44.6% of total population (1991). Unemployed; 6.3% (1991).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
the UAE, Japan, India, Canada, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Crude Oil, Dates, Eggs, Fish, Livestock,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Air Conditioning, Aluminum Smelting and Refining,
Crude Oil Production and Refining, Flour Milling, Fish Processing, Natural
Gas, Oil Well Equipment, Petrochemicals, Plastics, Ship Building and Repairs.
MAIN EXPORTS: Crude Oil, Fish, Petroleum Products.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 2,614 km (1,624 mi)
(1988). Vehicles; cars 90,000 (1989), trucks and buses 8,000 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 87 (1990), deadweight tonnage 49,371 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 1,549,000,000 (963,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km
44,300,000 (30,341,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 3 with a total circulation
of 43,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 320,000 (1994). Television; receivers
270,000 (1994). Telephones; units 124,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 10,700 (1995) total active duty personnel with 79.4%
army, 6.5% navy and 14.1% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 5.5% (1994) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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