Explainer: Bahrain: Key players, issues

  • Image: Bahraini soldiers with the portrait of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on the armored personnel carrier, are seen at a checkpoint near Pearl Square in Manama
    Sergey Ponomarev  /  AP
    Bahraini soldiers with the portrait of Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on the armored personnel carrier, are seen at a checkpoint near Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain.

    Bahraini forces, in repeated crackdown on protesters, have cleared hundreds from a camp that had become the symbol of an uprising by the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority.

    Bahrain had declared martial law and has struggled to quell an uprising by the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority, that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbor Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.

    The Gulf Arab island kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has seen the worst unrest since the 1990s after activists from the Shi'ite majority launched protests against the Sunni-led government last month. Here are some facts about Bahrain:

  • Nation glance

  • Image: Bahrain protests
    Hasan Jamali  /  AP
    Thousands of anti-government protesters march  March 15, 2011, to the Saudi embassy in Manama, Bahrain.

    At least 1.2 million, including 235,000 non-nationals, live in Bahrain. Muslim 85 percent, over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites and the rest Sunnis. There is a Christian minority and smaller numbers of Jews, Hindus, Baha'i and others.

    (Source: Reuters)

  • The language

    The official language is Arabic, with English the second most widely spoken language.

  • The land

    Bahrain, with an area of 267 square miles, is located in the middle of the Gulf and comprises an archipelago of 32 islands, off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia and north of the Qatar peninsula. It is linked to Saudi Arabia by a 15-mile causeway.

    (Source: Reuters)

  • Economy

    Bahrain Anti-Government Protests
    Photo: Joseph Eid | AFP | Getty Images
    Bahraini Shiite anti-government demonstrators wave national flags as they march past a huge billboard bearing pictures of King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa (center), his son Crown Prince Sheikh Salman (right), and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa during a protest.

    Bahrain is a regional financial and banking hub, however the tourism and financial sectors have been hit by the unrest and it may take a while before the kingdom restores its reputation for business-friendliness. Bahrain postponed the season opening of the Formula One Grand Prix, which draws over 40,000 people annually.

    Before the protests, Bahrain's king had promised to spend $488 million more over the next two years, including subsidies for food, low-income families and social allowances.

    The government had also planned to give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each Bahraini family. Overall, the package was estimated to be worth at least $700 million, or around 3.6 percent of GDP.

  • Some numbers

    GDP (2010 est.): $21.73 billion.

    Real GDP growth rate (2009 est.) 3.1 percent.

    Per capita GDP (2009 est.): $38,400.

    Natural resources: Oil, aluminum, textiles, natural gas, fish, pearls.

    (Source: Reuters)

  • Trade

    Exports: $12.5 billion: oil and other mineral products, aluminum, textiles. Major markets - Saudi Arabia (3.4 percent), United States (3 percent), India (2.7 percent), Japan (2.3 percent).

    Imports: $10.37 billion: crude oil, machinery and appliances, transport equipment, foodstuffs.

    (Source: Reuters)

  • Oil

    Non-OPEC oil producer Bahrain has boosted its oil production to 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 32,000 bpd after it started to overhaul its main oilfield, Abdul-Hussain bin Ali Mirza, head of the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), was quoted as saying in February. He said Bahrain is targeting output capacity of 100,000 bpd by 2017.

    (Sources: Reuters)

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