>Geography Lesson: Bahrain

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As the Bahraini Government attacks its own population, I thought maybe I would copy an idea set forth by Time and conduct a little geography lesson on Bahrain.

Bahrain‘s government answers to one person, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa (“Hamad, son of Isa; the King”) the literal translation. King Hamad is the monarch, and Bahrain is an Absolute Monarchy, with about 1.23 million people.

Bahrain, as the map above illustrates, is a very small island in the Persian Gulf, just north of the country of Qater (pronounced “Cutter”), and just off the east coast of Saudi Arabia. In fact, there is a causeway, a long two-lane bridge that connects Bahrain to the Mainland.

A little larger than the city of Chicago, Illinois, Bahrain was once a world-leader in petroleum exports. But being the first to exploit their oil, they were also the first to run out. Today, they are a leading regional finance center. And, other than financial institutions, tourism is their other economy. Most their 8 million tourists arrive from regional Arab countries, though other countries are discovering Bahraini hospitality. Bahrain has a World Heritage Site, the castle Qalat al-Bahrain, which is a popular destination.

As for the military, the United States government is probably wringing its hands. The Bahraini military was provisioned with U.S. armament, F-16s, M60As, and Blackhawks, plus a couple decommissioned frigates they bought from the United States. Bahrain is the home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, as well.

Islam is the most popular religion, which should come as no surprise. Bahrain is more liberal Muslim country, promoting women’s rights, allowing them to vote, and recently promoted a women as their country’s representative to the United Nations. One Christian and one Jew have positions within the Shura, the upper “house” of one of Bahrain’s legislative bodies.

Summer time temperatures commonly are higher than 100F, while winters are a balmy 70F. Most of the summer, Bahrain receives 0″ of rain, and probably no more than 3 inches the entire year.

Bahrain loves fast cars and has hosted Formula One racing for a few years. The Grand Prix is popular, as is drag racing.

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