country profile - BAHRAIN
Background: In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. 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 Persian 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. The aftermath led to modest reforms, though continued dissatisfaction by Bahraini oppositionists with the extent of the reforms, has led to a broader dialogue between government officials, political societies, and legislators.
geography  
Location: Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
Area: total: 760 sq km
land: 760 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 161 km
Climate: arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Natural resources: oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls
people  
Population: 1,346,613
note: immigrants make up almost 55% of the total population, according to UN data (2013) (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 19.48% (male 133,201/female 129,140)
15-24 years: 15.84% (male 120,073/female 93,182)
25-54 years: 56.13% (male 494,405/female 261,399)
55-64 years: 5.79% (male 50,466/female 27,501)
65 years and over: 2.77% (male 18,092/female 19,154) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 31.8 years
male: 33.3 years
female: 29.1 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.41% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 13.66 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 2.69 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate 13.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.29 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.89 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.84 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.54 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Bahraini(s)
adjective: Bahraini
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.)
Religions: 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.)
Languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 96.9%
female: 93.5% (2015 est.)
government  
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
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: Manama
geographic coordinates: 26 14 N, 50 34 E
time difference: UTC+3
Administrative divisions: 4 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Asimah (Capital), Janubiyah (Southern), Muharraq, Shamaliyah (Northern)
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
Legal system: mixed legal system of Islamic law, English common law, Egyptian civil, criminal, and commercial codes; customary law
Suffrage: 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: 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 in November 2018)
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by society - NA; seats by society - Al-Asalah (Sunni Salafi) 2, Islmaic Minbar (Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) 1, independent 36, other 1; note - Bahrain has societies rather than parties
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
note: the judiciary of Bahrain is divided into civil law courts and sharia law courts
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 per a July 2005 law
Al Watan
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
Unitary National Democratic Assemblage [Fadhil ABBAS]
Wifaq National Islamic Society [Ali SALMAN]
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CICA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 280,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 2.3 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 177 (2014 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 earth station - 1 (2007)
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 and TV broadcasts from countries in the region are available (2007)
Internet country code: .bh
Internet hosts: 47,727 (2012)
Internet users: total: 1.3 million
percent of population: 96.5% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 4 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 4
over 3,047 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 20 km; oil 54 km (2013)
Roadways: 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
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: none
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Bahrain is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; unskilled and domestic workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, and other countries migrate willingly to Bahrain, but some face conditions of forced labor through the withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment, threats, and abuse; many Bahraini labor recruitment agencies and some employers charge foreign workers exorbitant fees that make them vulnerable to forced labor and debt bondage; domestic workers are particularly at risk of experiencing forced labor and sexual exploitation because they are not protected under labor laws; women from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries are forced into prostitution in Bahrain
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Bahrain does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute a significant effort toward meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking; an increased number of trafficking offenders were investigated, prosecuted, and convicted in 2013; the government did not prosecute or convict any forced labor perpetrators and often treated these cases as labor violations rather than serious crimes; some progress was made in identifying victims and referring them to protection services, but trafficking victims continued to be punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked (2014)
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ba.html