Situated in the western Persian Gulf, 29 km (18 mi) NW of Qatar, the State of Bahrain consists of a group of 33 islands (6 inhabited) with a total area of 620 sq km (239 sq mi), extending 48 km (30 mi) N–S and 19 km (12 mi) E–W. Comparatively, Bahrain occupies slightly less than 3.5 times the area of Washington, D.C. Bahrain, the main island, is linked by causeways and bridges to Muharraq and Sitra islands and to Sa'udi Arabia; other islands include the Hawar group, Nabih Salih, Umm an-Nasan, and Jidda. The total coastline is 161 km (100 mi). Bahrain's capital city, Manama, is located on the northeastern coast.

State of Bahrain

Dawlat al-Bahrayn

CAPITAL : Manama (Al-Manamah)

FLAG : Red with a white serrated band (five white points) on the hoist side.

ANTHEM : Music without words.

MONETARY UNIT : The Bahrain dinar (BD) is divided into 1,000 fils. There are coins of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 fils and notes of 500 fils and 1, 5, 10, and 20 dinars. BD1 = $2.6596 (or $1 = BD0.376) as of January 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is used; local measures also are used.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; National Day, 16 December. Movable Muslim religious holidays include Hijra (Muslim New Year), 'Ashura, Prophet's Birthday, 'Id al-Fitr, and 'Id al-'Adha'.

TIME : 3. 00 PM = noon GMT.

MIGRATION :The proportion of aliens increased from 20% of the total population in 1975 to an estimated 40% in 2000. Most of them are temporary workers from other Arab countries, Iran, Pakistan, India, and the Republic of Korea. Many skilled workers are Europeans. In 2000, the net migration rate was 6.6 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views these migration levels as satisfactory requiring no intervention.

ETHNIC GROUPS :In 2002, 63% of the population consisted of indigenous Bahrainis, the vast majority of whom were of northern Arab (Adnani) stock, infused with black racial traits. Asians accounted for 19% of the population; other Arab groups (principally Omanis) 10%; Iranians 8%; and other ethnic groups 6%.

LANGUAGES :Arabic is the universal language; the Gulf dialect is spoken. English is widely understood, Farsi and Urdu less so.

ARMED FORCES :In 2002 the Bahrain armed forces had 10,700 active members. The army consisted of 8,500; the naval force had 1,000; and the air force had 1,300. Paramilitary troops consisted of 10,160 personnel, including the police, national guard, and coast guard. Defense expenditures in 2001 were $526.2 million, or 6.7% of GDP.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION :Bahrain joined the UN on 21 September 1971 and is a member of ESCWA, all major regional organizations, and all the nonregional specialized agencies except IAEA, IDA, and IFAD. It also belongs to the Arab League and G-77, and is a signatory of the Law of the Sea and a member of the WTO. Bahrain was a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, inaugurated in 1981.

FORESTRY :There are no forests in Bahrain. In 2000, roundwood imports amounted to 32,000 cu m (1.1 million cu ft) and imports of wood-based panels totaled 20,000 cu m (700,000 cu ft). Bahrain's imports of forest products amounted to $25.8 million that year.

MINING :Bahrain's oil-based economy produced few minerals other than crude oil and natural gas. Other minerals in 2000 accounted for $211 million of the $5.7 billion in export earnings, as compared to crude oil and refined petroleum products, which accounted for 70% of the total. Cement production was reported at 88,806 tons in 2000, down from 230,422 in 1998. Sulfur production was estimated at 66,400 tons in 2000.

INSURANCE :The total premiums underwritten in 1996 in Bahrain equaled approximately $100 million. Over 100 insurance companies were operating in Bahrain in 2000. In 2001, life insurance premiums totaled $34 million. In 1999, the total insurance expenditure for Bahrain was $192 million, or 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

TAXATION :The only taxes in Bahrain are an income tax on oil production and a municipal tax of 10% on residential rents; the rate is 7.5% on furnished rentals, office, and commercial rents. As an offshore tax haven, Bahrain allows foreign firms to remit accumulated profits and capital without taxation.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT :Since the late 1960s, the government has concentrated on policies and projects that will provide sufficient diversification in industrial, commercial, and financial activities to sustain growth in income, employment, and exports into the post-oil era. Despite diversification efforts, the oil and gas sectors remain the cornerstone of the economy.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS :The Central Public Library in Isa Town has 124,000 volumes. The University of Bahrain in Manama (1978) holds 140,000 volumes, while the Manama Central Library holds 155,000 volumes. In 2003, the first specialized law library opened at the University's Sakhir campus. Bahrain National Museum in Manama holds art, archaeological and historical exhibits, chronicling the rise of the Dilmun civilization.

FAMOUS BAHRAINIS :Sheikh 'Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa (b. 1933) ruled from 1961 until his death in 1999. He was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin 'Isa al-Khalifa (b.1950).

DEPENDENCIES :Bahrain has no territories or colonies.

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