760 sq km (293 sq miles).
1.3 million (2014).
1,729.1 per sq km.
Head of state:
King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa since 1999.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa since 1971.
220-240 volts AC, 50Hz (Awali, 110 volts AC, 60Hz). British-style plugs with three square pins are standard.
With a name meaning ‘Two Seas’ it is little wonder that Bahrain, an archipelago of 33 islands in the Gulf, defines itself in relation to the water that surrounds its shallow shores.
Those shallows once harboured a precious trade in pearls; now the same shallows are being reclaimed for ambitious, high profile developments, such as the twin 50-storey towers of Bahrain’s World Trade Centre and the 2,787,000 sq m (30,000,000 sq ft) horseshoe of man-made islands at the southern tip of the country.
In the middle of Bahrain, not far from where the Formula 1 racetrack now draws the crowds, is the point where in 1932 the Arab world first struck gold – black gold, that is – and oil has been the mainstay of the country ever since. As visitors travel the modest length of Bahrain, visiting the ancient burial mounds, forts, craft markets and potteries, they will run into many reminders of this momentous discovery, not least in the relaxed affluence of Bahrain’s multicultural residents.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Demonstrations and protests take place regularly. These activities may include attempts to disrupt traffic, protests in villages and near economic centres, burning tyres, throwing Molotov cocktails, and the use of improvised explosive devices. As a result there could be clashes between government security forces and protesters.
While there have been no direct threats or attacks on British nationals to date, you should remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings wherever you are on the island. Violent protests pose a risk to those who might inadvertently find themselves near to an active demonstration.
If you encounter a large public gathering or demonstration, leave the area immediately. If you see any suspect item, don’t approach or touch it. Move away from the vicinity and notify the police calling on 999 or the Police Hotline 8000 8008.
Travel on the main routes during daylight hours is generally orderly. There are some police checkpoints. In September 2012 the Ministry for the Interior issued a warning about explosive devices on major highways.
During demonstrations, roads can become blocked, resulting in diversions. These may re-route you to areas you are unfamiliar with. You should familiarise yourself with alternative routes.
Developments in Syria, Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which may trigger public disturbances.
The Ministry of Interior has issued a reminder that all residents and visitors must carry photographic ID. Under Bahraini law, it is an offence not to be able to present photographic ID if asked to do so by a member of the Bahraini authorities, and you may be subject to a fine of up to 300BHD.
Around 8,000 to 10,000 British nationals live in Bahrain, and thousands more visit each year. Most visits are trouble free. Female visitors should take care when travelling alone at night. You should use one of the reputable taxi companies.
You can drive using a UK licence for 3 months. If you are staying for a longer period of time, you should get an International Driving Permit. Bahrain operates a zero tolerance to drink-driving. If you are caught you will be arrested and put in the drivers prison. Your case will not be heard until the next working day. First time offenders will have to pay a minimum £900 fine and could be banned from driving in Bahrain. British visitors from Saudi Arabia will subject to the same punishment but with the addition of a driving ban there also. For repeat offenders the fine and ban will be more serious.
You may face lengthy security checks on arrival at Bahrain airport.
Although alcohol is available at Bahrain airport, security officers and airline staff deal firmly with passengers believed to be drunk – even those who are in transit through the airport. You may be denied boarding, detained and fined.
Take care when travelling by Dhow. The safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. Make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
Regional tensions may affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.