Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Chapter 5: Bahrain
Sadiq Sohail Introduction The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago of 33 islands nestled between the Qatar peninsula and the coast of Saudi Arabia. Taking its name from the Arabic word which means ‘two seas’, the islands for the most part are level expanses of sand and rock. Bahrain shares no land borders, but despite its small land area that measures 48 km long and 16 km wide, it has 161 km of coastline. The islands are composed of limestone and saline sand, which is particularly noticeable on the southern side of the main island, an area characterized by desert and oil fields. Historical records show that the islands were once abundant in lush vegetation, and various ancient myths have been connected with them, including that of the Garden of Eden. Bahrain has a recorded history dating back 5000 years, when the Sumerians knew it as Dilmun, the first great civilization of the Middle East. Since then it remained an important trading and commercial center throughout, visited and at times occupied by Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Portuguese, and British. 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 nineteenth century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. In 1968 the British announced their intention to withdraw military forces from the Gulf area. Bahrain attained independence in 1971. Modern Bahrain is a small and reasonably prosperous economy. In 2007, the population was...
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