Bahrain is mentioned as Dilmun in Sumerian
wedge writing documents from the 21st century BC. A
Danish archaeological expedition has, among other things,
found a walled city with an area of 17 ha from about 2000
BC, when the island of Bahrain was an intermediate station
for trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. We have
found seals of steatite that are similar to seals in Ur and
Indus culture and weights that correspond in shape and
weight to those in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The number of
burial mounds on the island is estimated at 100,000.
Excavated mounds have been dated to the Bronze Age and the
Bahrain, together with the eastern part of the Arabian
Peninsula, was part of the Persian Empire in the 3rd century
AD. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Bahrain. The islands were Islamized in the 7th century. In 1521
they were taken by the Portuguese. From 1602 Bahrain was
ruled by Persians but was conquered in 1783 by a Bedouin
tribe from the Arabian Peninsula, Al Khalifa. Since then,
the Khalifa dynasty has ruled Bahrain.
During the 19th century, Bahrain sought support from
Britain against Turkish and Persian claims. Several
so-called protection treaties were concluded, and the
British established bases in Bahrain. British influence grew
but was gradually met by an active opposition, which also
demanded internal democratic rights. In 1968, the British
decided to withdraw their forces from the areas east of
Suez. Iran renewed its claims on Bahrain but bowed, partly
to the majority's decision in a referendum on independence,
and partly to pressure from Britain, the United States and
Bahrain became independent in 1971. By then, the
foundation had been laid for a welfare state based on income
from the oil, which began to be mined as early as the 1930s.
The Iran revolution in 1979 led to tensions in Bahrain. A
coup attempt in 1981, directed against the emir and staged
by Muslim fundamentalists, was averted. In 1992, limited
reforms were implemented, but political unrest increased
among the Shiites. The regime has, on numerous occasions,
accused the Shiite majority of coup attempts.
Bahrain maintains close economic and political relations
with Saudi Arabia, is a member of the GCC and is a member of
the Arab League.
Within the GCC, a free trade area has been created.
According to the original plans, this would gradually become
a customs union with the EU as a model, where the issue of
the single currency was also included. However, a deep crack
within the GCC was highlighted in the summer of 2017, when
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on June 5
broke off relations with Qatar, accused of supporting
terrorism. Since then, it has been more a matter of avoiding
open war than of deepening cooperation between the Gulf
Since independence in 1971, Bahrain has developed close
cooperation with the United States and is the home of the
United States' fifth fleet. Like other GCC states, Bahrain
participated in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm,
in 1991. Since 2004, Bahrain has a free trade agreement with
the United States.
A border dispute with Qatar over the Hawar Islands and
the city of Zubara was resolved by a ruling in the 2001
International Court of Justice, which granted Bahrain
sovereignty over the Hawar Islands, while Zubara and some
smaller islands were brought to Qatar. However, in the
context of the crisis between the Gulf states in 2017, these
issues were again raised by Bahrain.
In 2002, a constitutional reform was implemented, which
included the establishment of a partially elected House of