Bahrain officially the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago with Bahrain Island the largest land mass at 55 km long by 18 km wide. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway while Iran lies 200 km to the north across the Persian Gulf. The peninsula of Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain.
The population in 2010 stood at 1,234,571, including 666,172 non-nationals. Formerly a state, Bahrain was declared a "Kingdom" in 2002. Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1932, the first such find on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Bahrain has the first "post-oil" economy in the Persian Gulf because the Bahraini economy does not rely on oil.
Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has heavily invested in the banking and tourism sectors. The country's capital, Manama is home to many large financial structures. Bahrain has a high Human Development Index (ranked 48th in the world) and was recognized by the World Bank as a high income economy.
Due to the Persian Gulf area's low moisture, summers are very hot and dry. The seas around Bahrain are very shallow, heating up quickly in the summer to produce high humidity, especially at night. Rainfall in Bahrain is minimal and irregular.
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 155,000 people. Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population.
After periods of Portuguese and Persian control and invasions from the ruling dynasties of Saudi Arabia and Oman, Bahrain established itself as an independent nation during the 19th century period of British hegemony.
Although the current twin cities of Manama and Muharraq appear to be founded simultaneously in the 1800s, Muharraq took prominence due to its defensive location and was thus the capital of Bahrain until 1921.Manama became the mercantile capital and was the gateway to the main Bahrain Island.
In the 20th century, Bahrain's oil wealth helped spur fast growth and in the 1990s concerted diversification effort led to expansion in other industries and helped transform Manama into an important financial hub in the Middle East.
Manama was designated as the capital of Arab culture for the year 2012 by the Arab League.