KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN
(مملكة البحرين, Mamlakat al-Baḥrayn, The Land of The Two Seas)
- Location: Persian Gulf
- Capital: Manama
- Language(s): Arabic
- Population: 1,240,221
- Total Area: 750 sq km
- Currency: Bahraini Dinar
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Although Bahrain is a predominantly Muslim nation, alcohol can be easily purchased.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 1.89 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Coffee (gawah)
Bahrain is an archipelago (island group) in the southwestern portion of the Persian Gulf. In this group, the largest is the Bahrain Island and there are other islets numbering about 35. The name of the country was coined from the Arabic words for ‘two seas’. The capital of the country is Al Manamah (Manama), which is located on the Bahrain Island and it also doubles as the largest port in the country. The neighbors of Bahrain are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and these are two of the world’s largest oil producers. On the other hand, the country itself has little oil reserves. Bahrain is connected to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway. The country is ruled by the Khalifa family and is an important ally of the United States.
Around 70% of the population is Arab, many of whom are ethnic Bahrainis. Other Arabs are from Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman and other Persian Gulf countries. There is also a significant population of people from other Asian countries, especially India and Pakistan. Most of the immigrants provide cheap labor in the fast-growing country, and are mainly found in the capital city of Manama. The expatriate population is made up mainly of British and American nationals. Expectedly, the official language is Arabic and English is widely used in schools. Among the worker population, the main languages are Persian, Urdu and Hindi. Although more than 80% of the citizens are Muslims, there is a sharp division as there two major sects –the Sunnis and the Shiites. Although Shiites are in the majority, the country is ruled by the minority Sunnis and this is usually a source of tension in the tiny country. Others are Christians, Hindus, Jews and Baha’is.
As in many of the island nations of the world I visited, Bahrain is a country of sheer beauty and splendor. You can start your visit by taking a cruise round the smaller islands like Sitra and Al-Muharraq. In the capital city, you can also visit the resplendent and glorious Grand Mosque. The country is famed for its date palms and there is virtually no island you will visit in the country without seeing them. There is also a large racecourse on Bahrain itself where you can see some of the finest horses in action.
If you want to have the gastronomic experience of a lifetime, the place to be are the islands of Bahrain. There is a traditional dish named makboos, and is made from rice and fresh fish. There is also another rice meal called muamma and is eaten with dates. Incidentally, Bahrain is known to have some of the best dates on the planet.
In the country, most of the citizens prefer to take tea, which is considered the traditional drink. In my host’s house, the coffee pot was never empty. Alcohol and wines are sold at designated points, especially in Manama.
- Bahrain is an archipelago linked to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway.
- The Al Khalifa family rules the nation.
- The country is home to some of the most enchanting pearls in Arabia.
- For the lovers of racing, there is the Bahrain International Circuit.
- The country was once claimed as a part of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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