Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain consists of a group of islands between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. It is an island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. It is a small archipelago centered on Bahrain Island, its largest land mass. It is just 23 km (14 mi) east off Saudi Arabia, connected to it through the King Fahd Causeway. The peninsula of Qatar is also nearby, about 50 km (31 mi) to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. Iran lies 200 km (124 mi) to the north across the Persian Gulf. The population in 2010 stood at 1,234,567, including 666,172 non-nationals. It is 780 km2 in size, making it the third smallest nation in Asia after the Maldives and Singapore.
Bahrain is a generally flat and arid archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia. It consists of a low desert plain rising gently to a low central escarpment with the highest point the 134 m (440 ft) Mountain of Smoke (Jabal ad Dukhan).Bahrain had a total area of 665 km2 (257 sq mi) but due to land reclamation, the area increased to 765 km2 (295 sq mi), which is slightly larger than Hamburg or the Isle of Man.
Often described as an archipelago of 33 islands, extensive land reclamation projects have changed this; by August 2008 the number of islands and island groups had increased to 84. Bahrain does not share a land boundary with another country but does have a 161 km (100 mi) coastline. The country also claims a further 22 km (12 nmi) of territorial sea and a 44 km (24 nmi) contiguous zone. Bahrain’s largest islands are Bahrain Island, the Hawar Islands, Muharraq Island, Umm an Nasan, and Sitra. Bahrain has mild winters and very hot, humid summers. The country’s natural resources include large quantities of oil and natural gas as well as fish in the offshore waters. Arable land constitutes only 2.82% of the total area.
Bahrain established bilateral relations with 190 countries worldwide. As of 2012, Bahrain maintains a network of 25 embassies, 3 consulates and 4 permanent missions to the Arab League, United Nations and European Union respectively. Bahrain also hosts 36 embassies. Bahrain plays a modest, moderating role in regional politics and adheres to the views of the Arab League on Middle East peace and Palestinian rights by supporting the two state solution Bahrain is also one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Bahrain also has the freest economy in the Middle East and is twelfth freest overall in the world based on the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritahe Foundation/Wall Street Jurnal.
Bahrain’s banking and financial services sector, particularly Islamik Banking, have benefited from the regional boom driven by demand for oil. Petroleum production and processing is Bahrain’s most exported product, accounting for 60% of export receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP. Aluminium production is the second most exported product, followed by finance and construction materials.
Bahrain depends heavily on food imports to feed its growing population; it relies heavily on meat imports from Australia and also imports 75% of its total fruit consumption needs. Since only 2.9% of the country’s land is arable, agriclture contributes to 0.5% of Bahrain’s GDP. In 2004, Bahrain signed the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which will reduce certain trade barriers between the two nations.
Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used.