About Bahrain

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National Institutions
King of Bahrain
Kingdom Bahrain
Ministry of water and electricity authority

Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of State for Cabinet Affairs
Ministry of Social Development
Research and investigations Center
Ministry of finance
Ministry of Finance & National Economy
Ministry of Works and Housing
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Minsitry of Education
Ministry of Shura Council & Representative Council Affairs
Ministry of Housing and Agriculture
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Labor MInistry
Ministry of Health
Bahrain News Agency
Bahrain Defense Force
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Civil Service Bureau
National Bank of Bahrain
Ministry of Industry
Ministry of Information
Bahrain Defence Force (BDF)
Ministry of Transportation and Communications
General Organization for Youth and Sports
Central Bank of Bahrain
Central Informatics Organization
Political parties
Al Asalah Movement
Democratic Progressive Tribune
Al Wefaq National Islamic Society
Bahrain Freedom Movement
Movement of Liberties and Democratic
Islamic Action Society
National Democratic Action
National Justice Movement
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Bahrain -- Geography --

Official name: Kingdom of Bahrain
Capital: Manama
Government type: constitutional monarchy Languages:: Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu
Currency (code): Bahraini dinar (BHD)
Religions: Muslim
Land Area: 665 sq km
Administrative divisions: 5 governorates; Asamah, Janubiyah, Muharraq, Shamaliyah, Wasat note: each governorate administered by an appointed governor

Bahrain -- History --

Bahrain's strategic location in the Persian Gulf has brought rule and influence from the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and the Arabs, under whom the island became Islamic. Bahrain is associated with Dilmun which is mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations. During its history it was called by different names such as Awal, then Mishmahig, when it was a part of the Persian Empire. From the 3rd to 6th century BC, Bahrain was included in Persian Empire by Achaemenians, an Iranian dynasty. From the 3rd century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD, Bahrain was controlled by two other Iranian dynasties of Parthians and Sassanids. By about 250 BC, Parthian dynasty brought the Persian Gulf under their control and extended their influence as far as Oman. Because they needed to control the Persian Gulf trade route, the Parthians established garrisons in the southern coast of Persian Gulf. In the 3rd century AD, the Sasanids succeeded the Parthians and held the area until the rise of Islam four centuries later. Ardashir, the first ruler of Iranian Sassanians Dynasty marched forward Oman and Bahrain, and defeated Sanatruq. At this time, Bahrain incorporated in the southern Sassanid province covering over the Persian Gulf's southern shore plus the archipelago of Bahrain. The southern province of Sasanids was subdivided into three districts of Haggar (now al-Hafuf province, Saudi Arabia), Batan Ardashir (now al-Qatif province, Saudi Arabia), and Msihmahig (In Middle-Persian/Pahlavi means "ewe-fish"). Until Bahrain adopted Islam in 629 AD, it was a center of Nestorian Christianity. Early Islamic sources describe it as being inhabited by members of the Abdul Qays, Tamim, and Bakr tribes, worshiping the idol Awal.

Bahrain -- Economy --

In a region experiencing an oil boom, Bahrain has the fastest growing economy in the Arab world, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia found in January 2006. Bahrain also has the freest economy in the Middle East according to the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal, and is twenty-fifth freest overall in the world. In 2008, Bahrain was named the worlds fastest growing financial center by the City of Londons Global Financial Centres Index. Bahrain's banking and financial services sector, particularly Islamic banking, have benefited from the regional boom. In Bahrain, petroleum production and processing account for about 60% of export receipts, 60% of government revenues, and 30% of GDP. Economic conditions have fluctuated with the changing fortunes of oil since 1985, for example, during and following the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. With its highly developed communication and transport facilities, Bahrain is home to multinational firms. A large share of exports consists of petroleum products made from imported crude oil. Construction proceeds on several major industrial projects. In 2004, Bahrain signed the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which will reduce certain barriers to trade between the two nations. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of both oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems. In 2008, the jobless figure was a 3.8%, but women are over represented at 85% of the total. Bahrain in 2007 became the first Arab country to institute unemployment benefits as part of a series of labour reforms instigated under Minister of Labour, Dr. Majeed Al Alawi.

Aluminum is Bahrain's second major export after oil. Other major segments of Bahrain's economy are the financial and construction sectors. Bahrain is focused on Islamic banking and is competing on an international scale with Malaysia as a worldwide banking center. Bahrain is actively pursuing the diversification and privatization of its economy to reduce the country's dependence on oil. As part of this effort, in August 2006 Bahrain and the US implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).Other major segments of Bahrain's economy are the financial and construction sectors. Bahrain is focused on Islamic banking and is competing on an international scale with Malaysia as a worldwide banking center. Bahrain is actively pursuing the diversification and privatization of its economy to reduce the country's dependence on oil. As part of this effort, in August 2006 Bahrain and the US implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. Continued strong growth hinges on Bahrain's ability to acquire new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of oil and underground water resources are long-term economic problems.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $24.01 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $19.66 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 6.7% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $33,900 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.3%
Industry: 43.6%
Services: 56% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 437,000
note: 44% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 1%
Industry: 79%
Services: 20% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA% highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.3% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 22.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $5.418 billion expenditures: $4.968 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 31.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: fruit, vegetables; poultry, dairy products; shrimp, fish
Industries: petroleum processing and refining, aluminum smelting, iron pelletization, fertilizers, Islamic and offshore banking, insurance, ship repairing, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 5.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 8.187 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 7.614 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 184,300 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption: 31,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 235,500 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 216,300 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 118.6 million bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production: 10.27 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 10.27 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 88.26 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $2.907 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $13.79 billion (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, aluminum, textiles
Exports - partners: Saudi Arabia 3.5%, US 2.5%, UAE 2.5% (2007)
Imports: $10.93 billion (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: crude oil, machinery, chemicals
Imports - partners: Saudi Arabia 37.9%, Japan 7.2%, US 6.3%, Germany 4.7%, UK 4.5%, UAE 4.3%, China 4.1% (2007)
Oil was discovered in 1932 and brought rapid modernization to Bahrain. This discovery made relations with the United Kingdom closer, as evidenced by the British establishing more bases there. British influence would continue to grow as the country developed, culminating with the appointment of Charles Belgrave as an advisor; Belgrave established modern education systems in Bahrain. After World War II, increasing anti-British sentiment spread throughout the Arab World and led to riots in Bahrain. The riots focused on the Jewish community, which counted among its members distinguished writers and singers, accountants, engineers and middle managers working for the Oil Company, textile merchants with business all over the peninsula, and free professionals. Following the events of 1947, most members of Bahrain's Jewish community abandoned their properties and evacuated to Bombay, later settling in Palestine (later Israel - Tel Aviv's Pardes Chana neighborhood) and the United Kingdom. As of 2007, 36 Jews remained in the country.
Banking: The dinar is the currency of Bahrain. The ISO 4217 currency code is BHD. It is divided into 1000 fils. The name dinar derives from the Roman denarius. The dinar was introduced in 1965, replacing the Gulf rupee at a rate of 10 rupees = 1 dinar. The Bahraini dinar is abbreviated BD (Latin). It is usually represented with three decimal places denoting the fils. In 1965, The Bahrain Currency Board introduced notes in denominations of 100 fils, ?, ?, 1, 5 and 10 dinar. In 1973, the Bahrain Monetary Agency took over production of paper money, issuing notes for ?, 1, 5, 10 and 20 dinar. In 2006, the Monetary Agency was renamed the Central Bank. On March 2, 2008, the Central Bank of Bahrain has released pictures of the new notes bearing its name in the local newspapers. The Central Bank stated that the new notes will be released shortly. The new notes will be used hand in hand with the old ones. The new notes also feature new images reflecting Bahrain's heritage as well as its modern development. In December 1980, the dinar was officially pegged to the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In practice, it is fixed at 1 U.S. dollar = BD .376, which translates to approximately 1 dinar = 2.65957 dollars[1] and, consequently, 10 Saudi Arabian Riyals. This rate was made official in 2001. Before Malta's adoption of the euro on 1 January 2008, it was the third highest valued currency unit after the Kuwaiti dinar and Maltese lira. Now it is the second highest.

Bahrain -- Culture --

Bahrain is sometimes described as the "Middle East lite" because it combines modern infrastructure with a Gulf identity and, unlike other countries in the region, its prosperity is not solely a reflection of the size of its oil wealth, but is also related to the creation of an indigenous middle class. This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Bahrain is generally more liberal than its neighbours. While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis have been known for their tolerance, and churches, Hindu temples, Sikh Gurdwara and a Jewish synagogue can be found alongside mosques. The country is home to several communities that have faced persecution elsewhere. It is too early to say whether political liberalisation under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has augmented or undermined Bahrain's traditional pluralism. The new political space for Shia and Sunni Islamists has meant that they are now more able to pursue programmes that often seek to directly confront this pluralism, yet political reforms have encouraged an opposite trend for society to become more self critical with more willingness to examine previous social taboos. It is now common to find public seminars on once unheard of subjects such as marital problems and sex and child abuse. Another facet of the new openness is Bahrain's status as the most prolific book publisher in the Arab world, with 132 books published in 2005 for a population of 700,000. In comparison, the average for the entire Arab world is seven books published per one million people in 2005, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Ali Bahar is the most famous singer in Bahrain. He performs his music with his Band Al-Ekhwa (The Brothers). On 20 October 2005, it was reported that Michael Jackson intended to leave the United States permanently in order to seek a new life in Bahrain. Jackson has reportedly told friends that he feels "increasingly Bahraini", after buying a former PM's mansion in Sanad, and is now seeking another property by the seashore. Jackson reportedly moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006. Other celebrities associated with the Kingdom include singer Shakira, and Grand Prix driver Jenson Button, who owns property there.
In Manama lies the new district of Juffair, predominantly built on reclaimed land. This is the location of the U.S. Naval Support Activity which hosts the headquarters for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet. The concentration of restaurants, bars and nightlife make this area a magnet for U.S. service members and Saudi weekend visitors.
Language and religion
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used. Another language spoken by some of the local inhabitants of Bahrain is a dialect of Persian which has been heavily influenced by Arabic. Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Tamil and Tagalog are occasionally spoken amongst the domestic workers, housemaids and construction workers. Bahrain's primary Religion is Islam, although many other religions are widely found.:
Bahrain is a popular tourist destination with over eight million tourists a year. Most of the visitors are from the surrounding Arab states but there is an increasing number of tourists from outside the region due to a growing awareness of the kingdoms heritage and its higher profile with regards to the Bahrain International F1 Circuit. The Lonely Planet describes Bahrain as "an excellent introduction to the Persian Gulf", because of its authentic Arab heritage and reputation as relatively liberal and modern. The kingdom combines Arab culture, Gulf glitz and the archaeological legacy of five thousand years of civilization. The island is home to castles including Qalat Al Bahrain which has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Bahrain National Museum has artifacts from the country's history dating back to the island's first human inhabitation 9000 years ago.

Bahrain -- Political system, law and government --

Bahrain is a kingdom.

Former: Dilmun
Government type: constitutional monarchy
name: Manama
Geographic coordinates: 26 14 N, 50 34 E
Time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 5 governorates; Asamah, Janubiyah, Muharraq, Shamaliyah, Wasat
note: each governorate administered by an appointed governor
Independence: 15 August 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: 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
Constitution: adopted 14 February 2002
Legal system: based on Islamic law and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: King HAMAD bin Isa al-Khalifa (since 6 March 1999); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SALMAN bin Hamad (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 al-ARAIDH
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
Elections: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch:
Legislative branch: 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 November-December 2006 (next election to be held in 2010)
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - al Wifaq (Shia) 17, al Asala (Sunni Salafi) 5, al Minbar (Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) 7, independents 11; note - seats by party as of February 2007 - al Wifaq 17, al Asala 8, al Minbar 7, al Mustaqbal (Moderate Sunni pro-government) 4, unassociated independents (all Sunni) 3, independent affiliated with al Wifaq (Sunni oppositionist) 1
Judicial branch:
High Civil Appeals Court
Political parties and leaders:
political parties prohibited but political societies were legalized per a July 2005 law
Political pressure groups and leaders: Shia activists; Sunni Islamist legislators
other: several small leftist and other groups are active
Political parties from the former Communist Left to the Islamist Right sit in parliament in Bahrain, but are known technically as Political Associations or Blocs. Unless a journalist or commentator is very specific with their use of language they are commonly referred to as Hizb, the Arabic word for party.
Al Asalah
Al Menbar
Al Wefaq
Bahrain Freedom Movement (based in London)
Haq movement
Islamic Action Party
Al Meethaq
Democratic Progressive Tribune - Bahrain (al-Minbar ad-Dimokrati at-Taqadumi - Bahrain)
Economists Bloc
National Democratic Action
National Justice Movement
Nationalist Democratic Rally Society (Jami'at al-Tajammu' al-Qawmi al-Dimuqrati)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Bahrain is a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; men and women from Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as laborers or domestic servants where some face conditions of involuntary servitude such as unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movements, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse; women from Thailand, Morocco, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia are trafficked to Bahrain for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Bahrain is on the Tier 2 Watch List for failing to show evidence of increased efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly efforts that enforce laws against trafficking in persons, and that prevent the punishment of victims of trafficking; during 2007, Bahrain passed a comprehensive law prohibiting all forms of trafficking in persons; the government also established a specialized anti-trafficking unit within the Ministry of Interior to investigate trafficking crimes; however, the government did not report any prosecutions or convictions for trafficking offenses during 2007, despite reports of a substantial problem of involuntary servitude and sex trafficking (2008).
Women's political rights in Bahrain saw an important step forward when women were granted the right to vote and stand in national elections for the first time in the 2002 election. However, no women were elected to office in that years polls and instead Shi'a and Sunni Islamists dominated the election, collectively winning a majority of seats. The country's first female cabinet minister was appointed in 2004 when Dr. Nada Haffadh became Minister of Health, while the quasi-governmental women's group, the Supreme Council for Women, trained female candidates to take part in the 2006 general election. When Bahrain was elected to head the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 it appointed lawyer and women's rights activist Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa as the President of the United Nations General Assembly, only the third woman in history to head the world body. The king recently created the Supreme Judicial Council to regulate the country's courts and institutionalize the separation of the administrative and judicial branches of government; the leader of this court is Mohammed Humaidan.
On 1112 November 2005, Bahrain hosted the Forum for the Future, bringing together leaders from the Middle East and G8 countries to discuss political and economic reform in the region. The near total dominance of religious parties in elections has given a new prominence to clerics within the political system, with the most senior Shia religious leader, Sheikh Isa Qassim, playing whats regarded as an extremely important role; according to one academic paper, In fact, it seems that few decisions can be arrived at in Al Wefaq and in the whole country, for that matter without prior consultation with Isa Qassim, ranging from questions with regard to the planned codification of the personal status law to participation in elections. In 2007, Al Wefaq-backed parliamentary investigations are credited with forcing the government to remove ministers who had frequently clashed with MPs: the Minister of Health, Dr Nada Haffadh (who was also Bahrains first ever female cabinet minister) and the Minister of Information, Dr Mohammed Abdul Gaffar.
Bahrain is split into five governorates. These governorates are: Governorates
1. Capital Governorate
2. Central Governorate
3. Muharraq Governorate
4. Northern Governorate
5. Southern Governorate
Defense: The kingdom has a small but well equipped military called the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF). The BDF is primarily equipped with U.S. equipment, such as F16 Fighting Falcon, F5 Freedom Fighter, UH60 Blackhawk, M60A3 tanks, and the ex-USS Jack Williams (FFG-24), an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate renamed the RBNS Sabha. The Government of Bahrain has a cooperative agreement with the United States Military and has provided the United States a base in Juffair since the early 1990s. This is the home of the headquarters for Commander, United States Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT) / United States Fifth Fleet (COMFIFTHFLT), and about 1500 U.S. and coalition military personnel.
participation in international organizations: ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, NATO, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA,UNWTO.

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