We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
— Hilaire Belloc, 1870 - 1953
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Bahrain

Background

Bahrain

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 Shia community. Shia political societies participated in 2010 parliamentary and municipal elections. Al Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shia discontent has resurfaced in recent years with street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.

About

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Middle Eastern archipelago in the Persian Gulf, tucked into a pocket of the sea flanked by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It's an oasis of liberalism – or at least Western-friendly moderation – among the Muslim countries of the region. It's popular with travelers for its authentic "Arabness" but without the strict application of Islamic law upon its non-Muslim minority. Case in point: alcohol is legal here. Although it has a heavily petroleum-based economy, its more relaxed culture has also made it a social and shopping mecca (so to speak), which has helped it develop a fairly cosmopolitan middle class not found in neighboring countries with just a rich elite and subsistence-level masses.

Read more about Bahrain in our Bahrain travel guide »

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Featured hotels in

Bahrain

BahrainGolden Tulip Bahrain 

Old Palace Road
Manama 1090
Bahrain

Price (US$): $248 - $447 / night

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Location. Golden Tulip Bahrain is located in Manama, close to Bab Al Bahrain, Bahrain National Museum, and Seef Mall. Nearby points of interest also include Al Muharraq Stadium and Bahrain Mall. Hotel Features. Dining options at Golden Tulip Bahrain include 3 restaurants. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a health club, and a sauna. This 5 star property has a business center. This Manama property has event space… more »

BahrainSofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa 

105 Zallaq Highway, Building 2015
Block 1055
Zallaq
Bahrain

Price (US$): $238 - $3978 / night

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Location. Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa is located on the beach in Zallaq's Sakhir neighborhood, close to Bahrain Grand Prix. Other points of interest are First Oil Well and Zallaq Beach. Hotel Features. Dining options at Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa include 5 restaurants. 2 bars/lounges and a poolside bar are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves hot and cold buffet breakfasts each morning in the restaurant (surcharges apply).… more »

BahrainSheraton Bahrain Hotel 

6 Palace Avenue
P.O. Box 30
Manama
Bahrain

Price (US$): $225 - $450 / night

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Location. Located in Manama, Sheraton Bahrain Hotel is near the airport and close to Bab Al Bahrain, Bahrain National Museum, and Seef Mall. Additional points of interest include Al Muharraq Stadium and Bahrain Mall. Hotel Features. Dining options at Sheraton Bahrain Hotel include 3 restaurants. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves buffet breakfasts each morning in the restaurant (surcharges apply). Recreational… more »

BahrainKempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre 

City Centre Shopping Mall Al Seef
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Hwy
Manama
Bahrain

Price (US$): $464 - $1511 / night

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Location. Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre is a business friendly hotel located in central Manama, close to Dana Mall, Bahrain Mall, and Seef Mall. Additional points of interest include Bahrain National Museum and Bab Al Bahrain. Hotel Features. Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre features a coffee shop/café, a poolside bar, and a swim up bar. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves full breakfasts each morning in the restaurant (surcharges… more »

BahrainThe Diplomat Radisson BLU Hotel, Residence & Spa 

Po Box 5243 Diplomatic Area
Manama
Bahrain

Price (US$): $225 - $448 / night

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Location. The Diplomat Radisson BLU Hotel, Residence & Spa is a business friendly Manama hotel in the business district and close to Bahrain National Museum, Al Muharraq Stadium, and Bab Al Bahrain. Additional points of interest include Al Fateh Mosque and Arad Fort. Hotel Features. The Diplomat Radisson BLU Hotel, Residence & Spa features a coffee shop/café, a poolside bar, and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves buffet breakfasts each morning in the… more »

Browse more hotels in Bahrain »

Bahrain

Full name
State of Bahrain
Capital
Manama
Location

Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

26 00 N, 50 33 E

Area comparative

3.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Coastline

161 km

Climate

arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers

Terrain

mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment

Lowest point

Persian Gulf 0 m

Highest point

Jabal ad Dukhan 122 m

Natural resources

oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls

Population

738,004

Ethnic groups

Bahraini 62.4%, non-Bahraini 37.6% (2001 census)

Religions

Muslim (Shia and Sunni) 81.2%, Christian 9%, other 9.8% (2001 census)

Languages

Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu

Government type

constitutional monarchy

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

Chief of state

King HAMAD bin Isa Al-Khalifa (since 6 March 1999); Heir Apparent 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

Internet country code

.bh

Internet users

419,500 (2009)

Airports

4 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Mina' Salman, Sitrah

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