Geographic and Governmental Profile of 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 transformed itself into 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. In addition, the Sunni-led government has struggled to manage relations with its large Shia-majority population. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Shia activists mounted a low-intensity uprising to demand that the Sunni-led government stop systemic economic, social, and political discrimination against Shia Bahrainis. King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa, after succeeding his late father in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms in part to improve relations with the Shia community. After boycotting the country's first round of democratic elections under the newly-promulgated constitution in 2002, Shia political societies participated in 2006 and 2010 in legislative and municipal elections and Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest bloc of seats in the elected lower-house of the legislature both times. In early 2011, Bahrain's fractious opposition sought to ride a rising tide of popular Arab protests to petition for the redress of popular grievances. In mid-March 2011, with the backing of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) capitals, King HAMAD put an end to the mass public gatherings and increasingly disruptive civil disobedience by declaring a state of emergency. Manama also welcomed a contingent of mostly Saudi and Emirati forces as part of a GCC deployment intended to help Bahraini security forces maintain order. Since that time, intermittent efforts at political dialogue between the government and opposition have remained at a stalemate. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), formed in June 2011 to investigate abuses during the unrest and state of emergency, released its final report in November 2011. The King fully endorsed the report, and since then Manama has begun to implement many of the BICI's recommendations, including improving policing procedures, reinstating fired workers, rebuilding some mosques, and establishing a compensation fund for those affected by the unrest and crackdown. Despite this progress, street protests have grown increasingly violent since the beginning of 2012.
Location
Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates
26 00 N, 50 33 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Middle East
Area
total:
760 sq km
rank:
188
land:
760 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
161 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
continental shelf:
extending to boundaries to be determined
Climate
arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrain
mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point:
Jabal ad Dukhan 122 m
Natural resources
oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls
Land use
arable land:
2.82%
permanent crops:
5.63%
other:
91.55% (2005)
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Irrigated land
40 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
0.1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
0.3 cu km/yr (40%/3%/57%)
per capita:
411 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
periodic droughts; dust storms
Environment - current issues
desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land, periods of drought, and dust storms; coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, and distribution stations; lack of freshwater resources (groundwater and seawater are the only sources for all water needs)
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
close to primary Middle Eastern petroleum sources; strategic location in Persian Gulf, through which much of the Western world's petroleum must transit to reach open ocean
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 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
5 governorates; Asamah, Janubiyah, Muharraq, Shamaliyah, Wasat
each governorate administered by an appointed governor
Independence
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
Constitution
adopted 14 February 2002
Legal system
mixed legal system of Islamic law and English common law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
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); Deputy Prime Ministers ALI bin Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, MUHAMMAD bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Jawad bin Salim al-ARAIDH
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections:
the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Shura Council or Consultative Council (40 members appointed by the King) and the Council of Representatives or Chamber of Deputies (40 seats; members directly elected to serve four-year terms)
elections:
Council of Representatives - last held in two rounds on 23 and 30 October 2010 (next election to be held in 2014); byelections to fill 18 vacated seats held on 24 September 2011
election results:
Council of Representatives (2010) - percent of vote by society - NA; seats by society - Wifaq (Shia) 18, Asala (Sunni Salafi) 3, Minbar (Sunni Muslim Brotherhood) 2, independents 17; Council of Representatives byelection for 18 vacated seats (2011) - seats by society - independent pro-government 13, Asala (Sunni Salafi) 1, independent 1, independent (Shia) 1, Islamic Society League (Shia pro-government) 1, Society for National Unity (Sunni pro-government) 1; note - Bahrain has societies rather than parties
Judicial branch
High Civil Appeals Court
Political parties and leaders
none: note - political parties prohibited but political societies were legalized per a July 2005 law
Political pressure groups and leaders
Shia activists; Sunni Islamist legislators
other:
several small leftist and other groups are active
International organization participation
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CICA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Huda Azra Ibrahim NUNU
chancery:
3502 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 342-1111
FAX:
[1] (202) 362-2192
consulate(s) general:
New York
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Thomas C. KRAJESKI
embassy:
Building #979, Road 3119 (next to Al-Ahli Sports Club), Block 331, Zinj District, Manama
mailing address:
PSC 451, Box 660, FPO AE 09834-5100; international mail: American Embassy, Box 26431, Manama
telephone:
[973] 1724-2700
FAX:
[973] 1727-0547
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
until 2002 the flag had eight white points, but this was reduced to five to avoid confusion with the Qatari flag
National anthem
name:
"Bahrainona" (Our Bahrain)
lyrics/music:
unknown
adopted 1971; although Mohamed Sudqi AYYASH wrote the original lyrics, they were changed in 2002 following the transformation of Bahrain from an emirate to a kingdom
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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