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. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has become an international banking center. 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 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 protests at home with police and military action, including deploying Gulf Cooperation Council security forces to Bahrain. Sporadic clashes between demonstrators and security forces continue in Bahrain. Ongoing dissatisfaction with the political status quo has led to a broader discussion termed the Bahrain National Dialogue, a process that convenes members of the executive, parliament, and political societies in an attempt to reach a political agreement.

Other Information

Natural Resources

oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls

Land Use

arable land: 1.79%
permanent crops: 3.95%
other: 94.26% (2011)


country comparison to the world: 157
note: immigrants make up almost 55% of the total population, according to UN data (2013) (July 2014 est.)

Ethnic Groups

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


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.)


Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.6%
male: 96.1%
female: 91.6% (2010 est.)



Government Type

constitutional monarchy


15 August 1971 (from the 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