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Fast Facts
Official Name: Kingdom of Bahrain (Bahrain means “two seas” in Arabic)
Population: 1,2 million
Capital: Manama
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Leaders: King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Religion: Muslim 81.2% (Shia and Sunni), Christian 9%, Other 9.8%
Languages: Arabic is the official language, however, English is widely used particularly in commerce
GDP: $29.71 billion (CIA 2010 est.)
GDP/Capita: $40.300 (CIA 2010 est.)
Main exports: Oil, Pearls
Time zone: GMT +3
International dialing code: 973
Currency: 1 Bahraini Dinar (BHD) = USD 8
Country briefing
Bahrain flag
Bahrain is often considered one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East. Since independence from Britain in 1971, it has achieved astonishing growth figures, mainly as a result of large oil reserves. Bahrain’s political system has evolved into a constitutional monarchy, which was formally established in 2002 under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. The Sunni al-Khalifa clan has governed the country since the late 18th century and its members constitute the vast majority of the ruling elite, most notably in Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. Bahrain experienced heavy turmoil as revolutions spread across the Middle East in early 2011. The wave of demonstrations on Bahrain’s streets has not resulted in the toppling of the regime but has forced it to make some concessions.