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 petroleum processing and refining, aluminum production, and hospitality and retail sectors. It has also endeavored to become a leading regional banking center, especially with respect to Islamic finance. Bahrain’s small size, central location among Gulf countries, economic dependence on Saudi Arabia, and proximity to Iran require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Its foreign policy activities usually fall in line with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The following sections briefly discuss the history and culture of Bahrain in more depth and provide some Bahrain fun facts. An additional section describes what living in a modern Bahrain is like. At the end of each section, links are provided to allow you to continue to learn and explore. As you read, briefly consider what your life would be like as a temporary resident in this unique country.
CIA World Factbook – Bahrain