Region: Middle East

Capital: Manama

Population: 1,248,348 note:includes 235,108 non-nationals (July 2012 CIA est.)

Surface area: 665 sq km

Currency: Bahraini dinar (BHD)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $27,300 (2011 CIA est.)


In 1783, the 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. 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. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, after coming to power in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms to improve relations with the Shi’a community. Shi’a political societies participated in 2006 parliamentary and municipal elections. Al Wifaq, the largest Shi’a political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shi’a discontent has resurfaced in recent years with street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.

Economy – Overview:

Bahrain is one of the most diversified economies in the Persian Gulf. Highly developed communication and transport facilities make Bahrain home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. Bahrain’s economy, however, continues to depend heavily on oil. Petroleum production and refining account for more than 60% of Bahrain’s export receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP (exclusive of allied industries). Other major economic activities are production of aluminum – Bahrain’s second biggest export after oil – finance, and construction. Bahrain competes with Malaysia as a worldwide center for Islamic banking and continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries. In 2011, Bahrain experienced economic setbacks as a result of domestic unrest. Bahrain’s reputation as a financial hub of the Gulf has been damaged, and the country now risks losing financial institutions to other regional centers such as Dubai or Doha. Economic policies aimed at restoring confidence in Bahrain’s economy, such as the suspension of an expatriate labor tax, will make Bahrain’s foremost long-term economic challenges – youth unemployment and the growth of government debt – more difficult to address. (CIA, 2012)

Major Export Commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, aluminum, textiles

Remittances: Not available

Human Development Index 2011 ranking42  of 187 countries (UNDP 2011)

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA in 2004 was US $1.41 million.

Total External Debt:US $15.2 billion (December 2011 CIA est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth: 75.1 (UNDP 2011)

Environmental Indicators:

                                        Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 8

                                        Forested Area (percentage of land area): 0.6

                                        CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita) 29.0

                                        (Data Source: UNDP 2011)

United Nations membership date: 21 September 1971

New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations

866 Second Avenue, 14th and 15th Floors
New York, N.Y.10017USA
Telephone: 212-223-6200
Fax: 212-319-0687, 212-223-6206


CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.

World Development Indicators. World Bank

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Human Development Report 2011.United Nations Development Programme.

Updated July 2012