Name: Kingdom of Bahrain
Time Zone: GMT+3
Population: 1,046,816 (2008) Languages Spoken: Arabic (official), Farsi, English, Urdu
Currency: Bahraini Dinar (BD), equivalent to approx US$2.67. One Dinar is divided up into 1,000 fils.
Bahrain is a little island situation in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and although small in size, it has a lot of character and spirit. While rich in heritage and culture, the past few decades have seen tremendous development in the country, re-shaping much of it's landscape to a modern banking, commercial and tourism hub.
The country is now a charming mix of contrasts; on one side you have the historical features of thousands of years ago, and a few minutes away, the advanced technology of new developments. Walking down a shopping mall, you could see shops selling traditional clothes and antiques, right next to shops selling the latest international brands and electronics.
Bahrain has always been an important trading center, due to its prime location and it's accessibility. With the discovery of oil, the country managed to develop rapidly, and has now diversified it's economy to include petroleum and aluminum processing, motor-sports, growing tourism as well as a solid banking sector.
Facts & Figures:
Area: 706 km2²(270 sq miles)
Coordinates: 26o 13' N, 50o 34 E
National Day: December 16
National Day: Islam is the official religion, although numerous others exist, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Bahaai, etc.
Country Dialing Code: +973
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Visa: The process for getting a tourist or business visa is usually very straightforward, through applying at your local Bahrain Embassy or through the Bahrain government website. Some nationalities can get a visa from the airport after arrival (see e.gov for more details).
Climate: Temperatures from Nov-Apr are usually pleasant, ranging between 15-25ºC. Summers are usually very hot and humid, reaching 45ºC, and can be uncomfortable, especially during Jul-Sep.
Accommodation: A wide range of hotels, resorts, furnished apartments and hostels are available to satisfy luxury seekers, as well as bargain hunters.
Business Hours: Most shops open from 8am-8pm, with some taking a short afternoon break (usually from 1-3). Most shopping malls open till midnight, and restaurants can open till late. 24 hour shops, pharmacies and restaurants can be found in busy areas.
Food: All types of food can be found, from traditional Bahraini dishes, to International cuisine, to fast food, covering all price ranges.
Electricity: Bahrain uses 230v (50hz), British style 3 prong plugs.
Getting Around: Bahrain offers a public bus service, although it is not very comprehensive. Visitors are advised to either rent a vehicle to get around (available from the airport), or get a taxi. Navigating around the country is not very difficult, and road maps are available at the airport and most hotels. To drive in Bahrain, visitors need both their local and international driving licenses.
Taxi's are not hard to find in most locations, and some companies offer a telephone booking system.