The Kingdom of Bahrain is a flat and small archipelago, in the Persian Gulf, with a 161 km (100 mi) coastline. Manama is the capital. Other cities are:
al-Muharraq, Ar-Rifaca, Madinat Hamad and Sitrah.
The oil boom of the 1970s greatly benefited Bahrain. It has a large oil and natural gas reserve as well as fish stocks . Bahrain had already begun to diversify its economy, Bahrain replaced Beirut as the Middle East's financial centre as Lebanon's large banking sector was driven out of the country by the war.
In March 1999, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah succeeded his father and gave women the right to vote. Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy since 2002.
The summers are very hot with a high humidity, especially in the summer nights. Temperatures can reach above 35°C (95°F). Most rainfalls occur in the winter season, recorded maximum of 7.2 cm (+/-3 inch). Winters are mild and very hot.
Bahrain is a popular tourist destination with over eight million tourists a year, because of its authentic Arab heritage and a reputation as relatively liberal and modern.
The official religion of Bahrain is Islam, which the majority of the people practices. In 2001, 80% of Bahrain's population was Muslim, 10% were Christian, and 10% practiced other religions.
Bahrain is more liberal than its neighbours. While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis have been known for their tolerance, and Churches, Hindu temples, Sikh Gurdwara and a Jewish synagogue can be found alongside mosques.
That's why Bahrain is sometimes called the "Middle East lite"