The Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East. It has a long history for being a melting pot of different cultures. About 5000 years ago Bahrain became a centre in the busy trade between Mesopotamia, Oman and India during the period now called "Dilmun".
Islam is the country's official religion. There is also a Roman Catholic Church in Manama.
Arabic is the official language and English is widely spoken.
Bahrain is an island about 60 km long and 16 km across at its widest point. It has a population - estimated about 1,400,000. A large number of expatriates come from Europe, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy. The Royal Family is Al Khalifa.
King: Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa
Prime Minister: Khalifah ibn Sulman Al Khalifah
Crown Prince: Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Bahrain was under British protection from 1861 until 1971, when Bahrain's independence was declared. Some features have their origin in this period: The voltage system is 220V - 50Hz with British style sockets which is different in Saudi Arabia where 110V - 60Hz American style plugs are used.
Oil was discovered in 1932 but was of no great importance until the oil boom of the Eighties.
Read more about Bahrain on the BBC Website