Bahrain (Arabic: البحرين al-Baḥrayn, "Two Seas"), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is widely believed to be the site of the ancient kingdom of Dilmun, a commercial centre that traded with the ancient Sumer civilization. The name, Bahrain, is from the Arabic term al-baḥrayn, meaning “two seas.” This is thought to refer to the two different water sources on the island: the inland spring waters and the saltwater coasts. It may also refer to the two coasts off the island: the north coast facing the Persian coast and the south coast across the water from Saudi Arabia.
During the Dilmun kingdom, Bahrain was famous for its shiny pearls. Thanks to the work of Muhammad, Bahrain came under Arab Islamic rule for centuries until the Portuguese ruled briefly from 1521-1602. The Portuguese were kicked out of Bahrain by the Iranians. In 1783, the Bani Utbah clan, a clan of Arab tribes, captured Bahrain from the Iranians and the same Al Khalifa family has been ruling the kingdom to this day!
The Bahrain currency is Bahraini Dinar and the current king of Bahrain is Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (since 2002).
Where is Bahrain?[edit | edit source]
Bahrain is a small island country in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is neighboring to the west of the United Arab Emirates and to the east of Qatar. It is connected to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway.
It has a total area of 760 square kilometers and is made up of 50 natural islands and an additional 33 man-made islands. Bahrain Island, the largest island in the country, makes up about 83 percent of the country's landmass.
The capital city of Bahrain is Manama. It is the largest city in the country and is located on the northeastern coast of Bahrain Island.
How many people live in Bahrain?[edit | edit source]
According to the official census in 2014, there are about 1.36 million people living in Bahrain. The population growth percentage is 7.4% (avg).
What are the most common languages in Bahrain?[edit | edit source]
The common language spoken in Bahrain is modern standard Arabic, a modernized form of classical Arabic. It is used in schools and is used in written communication with the Arabic-speaking international community. However, English is widely used and a compulsory second language at all schools. Persian is also common, although it is spoken mostly at home. A number of other languages spoken among expatriates include Urdu, Hindi, and Tagalog.
What is the most common religion in Bahrain?[edit | edit source]
Overall, 70.2% population is predominately Muslim and includes both the Sunni and the Shīʿite sects, with the latter in the majority. The ruling family and many of the wealthier and more influential Bahrainis are Sunni. The rest of the population falls into Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhists, and Sikhs. An overwhelming majority of native Bahrainis are Muslim, with a few being Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís, and Sikhs.
What is the sport of Bahrain?[edit | edit source]
Horse racing is a national pastime sport in Bahrain as horses are a significant part of Bahraini culture. Horse racing is a competitive, equestrian sport where two or more horses, ridden by jockeys, are put for race in a numbered set of laps at a race course.
There are more than 20 types of Arabian horses that are bred on the islands, and races are held weekly on Bahrain island’s large racecourse. The race course consists of two grass tracks measuring about 2,400 meters with a straight of 1200 meters and one sand track. The racecourse can hold about 10,000 spectators and has stables for 300 horses.
What are some important sites?[edit | edit source]
- Tree of Life is a 500-year-old tree standing alone about 2 km (1.24 miles) away from Jebel-al. The reason why this tree is so special is because it is located in the midst of the desert without any source of water nearby! Local inhabitants believe that the tree marks the location of the Garden of Eden (biblical paradise) and the tree's longevity has been sustained by the mythical God of water, Enki. In scientific reasoning, botanists concur that its roots go super deep and wide to get water from reserves located many kilometers away. Talk about dedication!
- Qal'at al-Bahrain (Arabic: قلعة البحرين) is an ancient fort that sits atop an artificial hill. It used to be the capital of the ancient Dilmun culture. Its archaeological site comprises four main elements: an archaeological tell (an artificial hill formed over time by successive occupations) of over 16 hectares, immediately adjacent to the northern coast of Bahrain, a sea tower around 1600m northwest of the tell, a sea channel of just <16 hectares through the reef near the sea tower, and a number of groovy palm-groves. It is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since it is one of the best-preserved sites of the ancient Dilmun culture that we have to this day.
- Al Fateh Grand Mosque (Arabic: مسجد الفاتح) is a big mosque located right in the capital! The center hosts a mosque, an Islamic library, and a section that dwells in the teachings of the Qur'an. It stands as one of the largest mosques in the world with its ability to host over 7,000 worshippers! The mosque was constructed and finally revealed to the public in 1988 by Sheikh Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifa (the current king's father). The name of the mosque, "Al-Fateh", is a sign of deep respect to the founder of Bahrain, Ahmed Al-Fatah (or Ahmed the Conqueror). The mosque is built from concrete and fiberglass, with the mosque holding the record of having the world's largest fiberglass dome.