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 Iron Age.
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 the UN.
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 states.
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 Representatives.