Modern states /
Kingdom of Bahrain
Arabic: mamlaka 'al-bahrayn
Independent monarchy in Asia, one of the smallest Muslim states with a surface area of only 707 km² and 1.1 million inhabitants (2009 estimate), of which only 51% are nationals. The capital, Manama, is the centre of the only and dominating urban area. The ruler of Bahrain is since 1999, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The full name was changed in 2002, from State of Bahrain to Kingdom of Bahrain, reflecting the change of title of its ruler.
Bahrain has two national days. August 15 commemorates the establishment of the Bahraini state in 1971, whereas Bahrain became independent from the British protectorate on December 16 the same year.
Bahrain is among the Middle Eastern countries performing best on the Human Development Index, coming in as no. 39 of the 182 states that are ranked in the world, scoring 0.895 points out of a maximum of 1.000.
The currency of Bahrain is dinar (BHD), a currency which is fixed to the US dollar at 1 Dinar=US$2.66, and US$1=0.38.
Bahrain's GDP per capita is as high as US$37,200 (2008 estimate), and considering the high percentage of foreign workers, 15% unemployment rate.
Bahrain's population growth rate is relatively high at 1.3%, which is principally a reflection of traditional lifestyles still dominating the Bahraini family. Bahrain has an excellent health care system, and life expectancy is around 75 years.
Although without any internationally ranked universities, Bahrain comes out high among MENA countries for its education system.
Being a country with an economy of foreign workers, Bahrain has numerous ethnic groups represented. The indigenous population is similar to the Saudi Arabian, Arabs, but there is also a longer-lasting Persian presence.
Arabic and Persian are the two local languages. English is widely spoken and the language most often used between immigrants and locals.
The dominating form of Islam in Bahrain is Shi'ism, although there is a substantial minority of Sunnis. Due to foreign workers, Hinduism challenges Christianity at being the second largest religion.
Bahrain has had most of its population growth through immigration, and good ruling of its government has never promised immigrants citizenship. The country is in an ideal position to control its population in the future decades by controlling the size of the expat communities.
Bahrain's modern history is apparently short, but the island has been home of civilizations for more than 4,000 years, beginning with Dilmun.