In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family took power in Bahrain. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. A steady decline in oil production and reserves since 1970 prompted Bahrain to take steps to diversify its economy, in the process developing successful petroleum processing and refining, aluminum production, and hospitality and retail sectors, and also to become a leading regional banking center, especially with respect to Islamic finance. Bahrain's small size and central location among Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors.
The Sunni-led government has long struggled to manage relations with its large Shia-majority population. In early 2011, amid Arab uprisings elsewhere in the region, the Bahraini Government confronted similar pro-democracy and reform protests at home with police and military action, including deploying Gulf Cooperation Council security forces to Bahrain. Political talks throughout 2014 between the government and opposition and loyalist political groups failed to reach an agreement, prompting opposition political societies to boycott parliamentary and municipal council elections in late 2014. Ongoing dissatisfaction with the political status quo continues to factor into sporadic clashes between demonstrators and security forces.



Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

26 00 N, 50 33 E

Map references

Middle East


total: 760 sq km
land: 760 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

3.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


161 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: extending to boundaries to be determined


arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers


mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal ad Dukhan 122 m

Natural resources

oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls

Land use

agricultural land: 11.3%
arable land 2.1%; permanent crops 3.9%; permanent pasture 5.3%
forest: 0.7%
other: 88% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

40 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; dust storms

Environment - current issues

desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land, periods of drought, and dust storms; coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, and distribution stations; lack of freshwater resources (groundwater and seawater are the only sources for all water needs)

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

close to primary Middle Eastern petroleum sources; strategic location in Persian Gulf, through which much of the Western world's petroleum must transit to reach open ocean

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Bahraini 46%, Asian 45.5%, other Arab 4.7%, African 1.6%, European 1%, other 1.2% (includes Gulf Co-operative country nationals, North and South Americans, and Oceanians) (2010 est.)

Birth rate

13.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)


1,378,904 (July 2016 est.)
note: immigrants make up approximately 50% of the total population, according to UN data (2015)


noun: Bahraini(s)
adjective: Bahraini


Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu


Muslim 70.3%, Christian 14.5%, Hindu 9.8%, Buddhist 2.5%, Jewish 0.6%, folk religion <.1, unaffiliated 1.9%, other 0.2% (2010 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.27% (male 134,899/female 130,792)
15-24 years: 15.76% (male 122,683/female 94,627)
25-54 years: 56.07% (male 505,181/female 268,034)
55-64 years: 6.05% (male 53,693/female 29,717)
65 years and over: 2.85% (male 19,253/female 20,025) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 31.4%
youth dependency ratio: 28.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 3.2%
potential support ratio: 31.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 32.1 years
male: 33.5 years
female: 29.3 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.33% (2016 est.)

Death rate

2.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

12.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

smallest population of the Gulf States, but urbanization rate exceeds 90%; largest settlement concentration is found on the far northern end of the island in and around Manamah and Al Muharraq


urban population: 88.8% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.71% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MANAMA (capital) 411,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.3 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.88 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.81 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.54 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

15 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 9.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78.9 years
male: 76.7 years
female: 81.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.77 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

5% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.92 physicians/1,000 population (2012)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 99.2% of population
rural: 99.2% of population
total: 99.2% of population
urban: 0.8% of population
rural: 0.8% of population
total: 0.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

34.1% (2014)

Education expenditures

2.6% of GDP (2012)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 96.9%
female: 93.5% (2015 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 5.3%
male: 2.6%
female: 12.2% (2012 est.)



15 August 1971 (from the UK)

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Bahrain
conventional short form: Bahrain
local long form: Mamlakat al Bahrayn
local short form: Al Bahrayn
former: Dilmun, State of Bahrain
etymology: the name means "the two seas" in Arabic and refers to the water bodies surrounding the archipelago

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

4 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Asimah (Capital), Janubiyah (Southern), Muharraq, Shamaliyah (Northern)
note: each governorate administered by an appointed governor

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


adopted 14 February 2002; amended 2012 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of Islamic law, English common law, Egyptian civil, criminal, and commercial codes; customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Bahrain
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 25 years; 15 years for Arab nationals


20 years of age; universal; note - Bahraini Cabinet in May 2011 endorsed a draft law lowering eligibility to 18 years

Executive branch

chief of state: King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa (since 6 March 1999); Crown Prince SALMAN bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (son of the monarch, born 21 October 1969)
head of government: Prime Minister KHALIFA bin Salman Al-Khalifa (since 1971); First Deputy Prime Minister SALMAN bin Hamad Al Khalifa (since 11 March 2013); Deputy Prime Ministers ALI bin Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Jawad bin Salim al-ARAIDH (since 11 December 2006), KHALID bin Abdallah Al Khalifa (since November 2010), MUHAMMAD bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa (since September 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Assembly consists of the Consultative Council or Majlis al Shura (40 seats; members appointed by the king) and the Council of Representatives or Majlis al Nuwab (40 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed; members serve 4-year renewable terms)
elections: Council of Representatives - last held in two rounds on 23 and 29 November 2014 (next to be held in November 2018)
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by society - NA; seats by society - Al-Asalah (Sunni Salafi) 2, Islamic Minbar (Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) 1, independent 36, other 1; note - Bahrain has societies rather than parties

Political pressure groups and leaders


Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Cassation or Supreme Court of Appeal (consists of the chairman and 3 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of the president and 6 members); High Sharia Court of Appeal (court sittings include the president and at least one judge); appeals beyond the High Sharia Court of Appeal are heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal
note: the judiciary of Bahrain is divided into civil law courts and sharia law courts; sharia courts are further divided into Sunni Muslim and Shia Muslim
judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by royal decree and serve for a specified tenure; Constitutional Court president and members appointed by the Higher Judicial Council, a body chaired by the monarch and includes judges from the Court of Cassation, sharia law courts, and Civil High Courts of Appeal; members serve 9-year terms; High Sharia Court of Appeal member appointment and tenure NA
subordinate courts: Civil High Courts of Appeal; middle and lower civil courts; High Sharia Court of Appeal; Senior Sharia Court

Political parties and leaders

note: political parties are prohibited, but political societies were legalized under a July 2005 law
Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society or Al-Wefeq [Ali SALMAN]
Arab Islamic Center Society [Abdulrahman AL-BAKER]
Constitutional Gathering Society [Abdulrahman AL-BAKER]
Islamic Asalah [Abd al-Halim MURAD]
Islamic Saff Society [Abdullah Khalil BU GHAMAR]
Islamic Shura Society
Movement of National Justice Society [Muhi al-Din KHAN]
National Action Charter Society [Muhammad AL-BUAYNAYN]
National Democratic Action Society [Radhi AL-MOUSAWI]
National Democratic Assembly [Hasan AL-ALI]
National Dialogue Society
National Fraternity Society [Musa AL-ANSARI]
National Islamic Minbar [Ali AHMAD]
National Progressive Tribune [Abd al-Nabi SALMAN]
National Unity Gathering [Abdullatif AL-MAHMOOD]
Unitary National Democratic Assemblage [Fadhil ABBAS]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador ABDALLAH bin Muhammad bin Rashid Al Khalifa (since 3 December 2013)
chancery: 3502 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 342-1111
FAX: [1] (202) 362-2192
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador William V. ROEBUCK (since 12 December 2014)
mailing address: PSC 451, Box 660, FPO AE 09834-5100; international mail: American Embassy, Box 26431, Manama
telephone: [973] 1724-2700
FAX: [973] 1727-0547
embassy: Building

Flag description

red, the traditional color for flags of Persian Gulf states, with a white serrated band (five white points) on the hoist side; the five points represent the five pillars of Islam
note: until 2002 the flag had eight white points, but this was reduced to five to avoid confusion with the Qatari flag

National symbol(s)

a red field surmounted by a white serrated band with five white points; national colors: red, white

National anthem

name: "Bahrainona" (Our Bahrain)
lyrics/music: unknown
note: adopted 1971; although Mohamed Sudqi AYYASH wrote the original lyrics, they were changed in 2002 following the transformation of Bahrain from an emirate to a kingdom


GDP (purchasing power parity)

$66.37 billion (2016 est.)
$65 billion (2015 est.)
$63.19 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Economy - overview

Low oil prices have generated a budget deficit of at least a $4 billion deficit in 2016, nearly 14% of GDP. Bahrain has few options for covering this deficit, with meager foreign assets and a constrained borrowing ability, stemming in part from a sovereig

Oil comprises 86% of Bahraini budget revenues, despite past efforts to diversify its economy and to build communication and transport facilities for multinational firms with business in the Gulf. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a

Other major economic activities are production of aluminum - Bahrain's second biggest export after oil - finance, and construction. Bahrain continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industr

In 2011 Bahrain experienced economic setbacks as a result of domestic unrest driven by the majority Shia population, however, the economy recovered in 2012-15, partly as a result of improved tourism. In addition to addressing its current fiscal woes, Bahr

GDP (official exchange rate)

$31.82 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.1% (2016 est.)
2.9% (2015 est.)
4.4% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$50,300 (2016 est.)
$50,200 (2015 est.)
$49,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

20% of GDP (2016 est.)
20.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
32% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 48.5%
government consumption: 16.6%
investment in fixed capital: 18.7%
investment in inventories: 1.2%
exports of goods and services: 47.1%
imports of goods and services: -32.1% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.3%
industry: 33.8%
services: 65.9% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

fruit, vegetables; poultry, dairy products; shrimp, fish


petroleum processing and refining, aluminum smelting, iron pelletization, fertilizers, Islamic and offshore banking, insurance, ship repairing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

1.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

note: excludes unemployed; 44% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1%
industry: 32%
services: 67% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate

4.1% (2014 est.)
4.3% (2013 est.)
note: official estimate; actual rate is higher

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $4.37 billion
expenditures: $8.781 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

13.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-13.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

72% of GDP (2016 est.)
58.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.5% (2016 est.)
1.8% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

5.4% (31 December 2016 est.)
5.16% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$8.971 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.762 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$27.03 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$26.71 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$29.28 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$28.29 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$19.25 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$22.07 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$18.57 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.499 billion (2016 est.)
-$965 million (2015 est.)


$12.09 billion (2016 est.)
$14.2 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

petroleum and petroleum products, aluminum, textiles

Exports - partners

Saudi Arabia 3.6%, UAE 2.4%, US 2.2% (2015)


$7.974 billion (2016 est.)
$8.848 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

crude oil, machinery, chemicals

Imports - partners

Saudi Arabia 29.1%, US 9.5%, China 7.6%, Japan 6.6%, Australia 5.1%, India 4.9% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$3.26 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.657 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$21.16 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$19.74 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$18.32 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$17.31 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$11.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$11.22 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Bahraini dinars (BHD) per US dollar -
0.376 (2016 est.)
0.376 (2015 est.)
0.376 (2014 est.)
0.376 (2013 est.)
0.376 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 41,317
electrification - total population: 98%
electrification - urban areas: 98%
electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

Electricity - production

26 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

25 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

200 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

200 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

3.9 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

99.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

50,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

219,100 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

100 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

272,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

55,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

243,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

15,960 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

16.9 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

16.9 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

92.03 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

37 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 278,976
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 2.519 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 187 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern system
domestic: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones
international: country code - 973; landing point for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and US; tropospheric scatter to Qatar and UAE; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite ea (2015)

Broadcast media

state-run Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC) operates 5 terrestrial TV networks and several radio stations; satellite TV systems provide access to international broadcasts; 1 private FM station directs broadcasts to Indian listeners; radio an (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 1.259 million
percent of population: 93.5% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 42
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 5,313,756
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 240,107,004 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

A9C (2016)


4 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4
over 3,047 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 20 km; oil 54 km (2013)


total: 4,122 km
paved: 3,392 km
unpaved: 730 km (2010)

Merchant marine

total: 8
by type: bulk carrier 2, container 4, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 5 (Kuwait 5)
registered in other countries: 5 (Honduras 5) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Mina' Salman, Sitrah


Military branches

Bahrain Defense Force (BDF): Royal Bahraini Army (RBA), Royal Bahraini Navy (RBN), Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF), Royal Bahraini Air Defense Force (RBADF) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for NCOs, technicians, and cadets; no conscription (2012)

Military expenditures

4.2% of GDP (2014)
4.1% of GDP (2013)
3.9% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international