Bahrain, which means “two seas,” is an archipelago of 33 small islands and enjoys a strategic location in the Arabian Gulf midway between the Qatar peninsula and Saudi Arabia in the Persian ( Arabian) Gulf .
Bahrain is divided into five governates : Capital, Central, Muharraq, Northern and Southern.
The islands for the most part are level expanses of sand and rock. A causeway connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.
Two seas refers to the presence of fresh water springs beneath saltwater oceans; in some places, one can actually dive beneath the layer of saltwater and get to the fresh water underneath.
This sweet water not only made it habitable- The Dilmun civilization flourished here for millennium , on trade routes linking Mesopatania with India- it aided the formation of particularly lustrous pearls, Bahrain's main source of income in the days before oil.
Bahrain was the first Arab country to export oil. It was discovered in 1931, and first exported three years later.
The middle picture is Ain Adhari in the 1950's a favorite place for locals to go to and refresh themselves in the hot weather.
The right is how it is now. No more natural water spring, the water level is so low that it all dried up mainly due to demand for groundwater by the increasing population.
Population 1950: 109. 650 of which 18. 471 (18%) where foreigners
In 2010, Bahrain's population is estimated to have grown to 1.234 million, out of which more than 666,172 (54%) were non-nationals up from the estimated population of 1.05 million (517,000 non-nationals) in 2008.
Though majority of the population is ethnically Arab, a sizable number of people from South Asia live in the country.
In 2008, approximately 290,000 Indian nationals lived in Bahrain, making them the single largest expatriate community in the country
While Arabic is Bahrain’s official language, English is widely spoken, especially for business purposes.
The islands were ruled by the Persians in the 4th century A.D., and then by Arabs until 1541, when the Portuguese invaded them. Persia again claimed Bahrain in 1602. In 1783 Ahmad Ibn al-Khalifa took over, and the Al-Khalifa's remain the ruling family today.
Bahrain became a British protectorate in 1820. It did not gain full independence until Aug. 14, 1971.
Although oil was discovered in Bahrain in the 1930s, it was relatively little compared to other Gulf states, and the wells are expected to be the first in the region to dry up.
The country provides its people with free medical care, housing, education, and old-age pensions.
The emir, Sheik Isa Bin Sulman al-Khalifa, died in 1999 after four decades of rule.
He was succeeded by his son, Sheik Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who gave himself the title of king but also began a sweeping democratization of the country: censorship has been relaxed and draconian laws repealed, exiles have been repatriated, and the stateless Bidoons have been granted citizenship.
In a February 2001 referendum, which permitted women to vote for the first time, Bahraini's overwhelmingly supported the transformation of the traditional monarchy into a constitutional one.
In October 2002, Bahrain had its first parliamentary election since 1973.
In 2006, the U.S. and Bahrain signed a free-trade agreement.
One is using insulin-making pig islets to bolster the insulin levels of people with type 1 diabetes, something routinely done in at least one hospital in Mexico City. In the last five years, about 40 patients at Children's Hospital of Mexico have received the pig islet transplants. Some of them have significantly reduced their insulin intake, said spokeswoman Isis Casanova.Another project would use pig hearts in people with severe heart failure instead of mechanical pumps.
Desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land. (2.85%)
Periods of drought, and dust storms; coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, and distribution stations.
Lack of freshwater resources (groundwater and seawater are the only sources for all water needs)
In 1981 the surface area of Bahrain was 665.3sq km. "By the end of last year, it was recorded at 741.40sq km. This is an increase of 76.1sq km in 26 years."
"This 11.4 per cent expansion is due to sea reclamation, mainly for housing and industrial developments."
The number of islands that make up Bahrain's archipelago as of the end of last year were 96 islands
33 natural and 63 artificial.
Damage to marine environment due to reclaiming the reefs and sea for billion dollars freehold housing projects that are aimed at foreigners as they are beyond and above what the local population can afford.
The government first unveiled the Northern Town plans in 2000 but people are still languishing on housing waiting lists dating back up to 15 years.
Original plans for the town include houses for 100,000 people, in addition to schools, universities, hospitals, public parks and other facilities.
Population growth and industrial development have reduced the amount of agricultural land and lowered the water table, leaving aquifers vulnerable to saline contamination.
In recent years, the government has attempted to limit extraction of groundwater (in part by expansion of seawater desalinization facilities) and to protect vegetation from further erosion.
In 1994, 100% of Bahrain's urban dwellers and 57% of the rural population had pure water.
Bahrain has developed its oil resources at the expense of its agricultural lands. (2.82% arable land)
As a result, lands that might otherwise be productive are gradually claimed by the expansion of the desert.
Pollution from oil production was accelerated by the Persian Gulf War and the resulting damage to oil-producing facilities in the Gulf area, which threatened the purity of both coastal and ground water, damaging coastlines, coral reefs, and marine vegetation through oil spills and other discharges.
The nuclear facility in (Bushehr) Iran will contribute also to pollution of the Arabian Gulf with catastrophic result for Bahrain as it is our sole source of water .
The wildlife sanctuary (Al Areen Wildlife park and Reserve) was established in 1980 and is home to threatened Gulf species, including the Arabian oryx, gazelle, zebra, giraffe, Defassa waterbuck, addax, and lesser kudu.
Bahrain has also established captive breeding centers for falcons and for the rare Houbara bustard. The goitered gazelle, the greater spotted eagle, and the green sea turtle are considered endangered species.
However the sanctuary's size is heavily reduced due to the building of Al Areen Resort which covers an area of 30 million square meters.
Environment - international agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands