The Kingdom of Bahrain is an independent Arab nation in western Asia, part of the region known as the Middle East. It is made up of 36 islands on the western side of the Persian Gulf, between Saudi Arabia to the east and Qatar to the west. The main island, also known as Bahrain, is home to the country’s capital and largest city, Manama.
More than 60 percent of Bahrain’s population is native-born, in contrast to the populations of other Persian Gulf states such as Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, where foreign-born inhabitants outnumber the native population. Bahrain also differs from its neighbors in that the number of followers of Shia Islam in the country is more than double that of the adherents of Sunni Islam, which is the largest group of Muslims worldwide. The Sunnis control the country’s government, however.
In the 1930s Bahrain became the first Arab state in the Persian Gulf region to develop an oil-based economy, but by the early 1980s its oil fields were mostly depleted. However, the country had prepared for this change by investing in other industries, and its economy continues to prosper.
Map: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
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