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Bahrain:
Geography

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Bahrain Page


Background
Definition
In 1783, the al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. King HAMAD bin Isa al-Khalifa, after coming to power in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms to improve relations with the Shi'a community. Shi'a political societies participated in 2006 parliamentary and municipal elections. Al Wifaq, the largest Shi'a political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shi'a discontent has resurfaced in recent years with street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.
Location
Definition
Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates
Definition
26 00 N, 50 33 E
Map references
Definition
Middle East
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 665 sq km
land: 665 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
Definition
0 km
Coastline
Definition
161 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: extending to boundaries to be determined
Climate
Definition
arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrain
Definition
mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal ad Dukhan 122 m
Natural resources
Definition
oil, associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, pearls
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 2.82%
permanent crops: 5.63%
other: 91.55% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
40 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
0.1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.3 cu km/yr (40%/3%/57%)
per capita: 411 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
periodic droughts; dust storms
Environment - current issues
Definition
desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land, 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)
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
close to primary Middle Eastern petroleum sources; strategic location in Persian Gulf, through which much of the Western world's petroleum must transit to reach open ocean


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