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Bahrain - The Country of the Two Seas

Bahrain is an island in the Persian Gulf which combines the exotic world of the ancient Orient from One Thousand and One Nights with the impressive modern buildings of the oil boom in the last century. Luxurious skyscrapers and the vibrant activity on the souqs promise an exciting trip through the Middle East.

Manama - Bahrain's capital

Geography - Desert wind in the Persian Gulf

The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island country in a bay of the Persian Gulf west of Qatar and east of Saudi-Arabia. It consists of 33 islands, including the main island with an area of 620 km² and several smaller islands such as Muharreq, Sitra and Umm an Nasan. The islands are dominated by humid and warm to subtropical desert climate. It is very humid throughout the year and there is extremely low precipitation. Hot winds coming from the desert on the Arabian Peninsula make the island climate even more stuffy.

Harbour in Bahrain

Nature - A growing country

Bahrain's scenery is constantly changing. Since the first deposit of land the island state has grown by 30 km² and has produced new bays, peninsulas and beach sections. The country is characterised by the desert, especially in the south. Sand dunes and salt marshes dominate the landscape. Only the north can be used for agriculture because of its numerous freshwater springs. Citrus fruit and wonderfully sweet dates are grown in the region. The panorama is varied with dry deserts and fertile oases, several small forests and a beautiful sea coast. Bahrain's flora and fauna, however, is rather poor in species. The Hawar Islands are the only place where you can watch cormorants along the deserted natural beaches.

Sweet dates from Bahrain

Natural sights - The Tree of Life

Bahrain contains one of the most extraordinary natural wonders on earth - the Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat). What makes this mesquite tree so special is that it grows in one of the driest desert regions and no one knows where it gets its water from. The next spring is over one kilometre away and there is no other plant anywhere near it. Still, the tree is already 400 years old. Besides this natural phenomenon, the Al Areen Wildlife Park with the small adjacent zoo, the botanic garden in Budaya, the Royal Camel Farm in Janabiyah and the freshwater springs in the north of the country are worth a visit. These springs gave the country its name. Bahrain means "country of the two seas" and refers to the sea of the Gulf on the one hand and the springs in the country's heartland on the other.

The Tree of Life in Bahrain

Culture - Pearl diving and oil boom

One of Bahrain's most important economic sectors used to be pearl diving. The country has kept its charm but today it is mostly tourists who are searching for the valuable mussels. The country benefited from the oil boom of the Arab world in the 1970s and, like the United Arab Emirates, it built numerous fascinating buildings and artificial islands such as Durrat Al Bahrain with luxurious golf courses and impressive yacht harbours. Bahrain contains the world's oldest oil spring, Oil Well No. 1, which can be visited now. The population is 100 percent Islamic to the present day but in contrast to Saudi-Arabia, there is freedom of culture in Bahrain. You will even see Hindu temples on the country's souqs.

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Cultural sights - Tombs, skyscrapers and mosques

Bahrain contains the world's greatest prehistoric excavation site with over 170,000 burial mounds on an area of 30 km². Other worthwhile sights are the gigantic royal tombs of al-A'ali, The houses in Muharraq's old town and Arad Fort. An example of modern architecture is the breathtaking bridge which connects the island country to the mainland. It measures over 25 kilometres, reaches from Bahrain to Saudi-Arabia and is the island's only land connection. The capital Manama unites ancient traditions with modern architecture. A particularly impressive region is the Diplomatic Area with its skyscrapers. One of the most important financial districts in the Far East is emerging here, which bears resemblance to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Several of the most beautiful mosques offer tours in a number of different languages, for example the Al-Fateh Mosque or the Al-Khamis Mosque - the country's oldest mosque.

Archaeological site in Bahrain

Experience - Coffee and specialities

The Bahrainis are a coffee nation. They refine their coffee with spices, rose water and a heaped spoonful of sugar before they enjoy it in good company. In contrast to most Arab countries, drinking alcohol is permitted in Bahrain. Ramadan is the only time at which tourists should stick with coffee in public. Typical Bahraini dishes are chickpea balls which are wrapped into flat bread (falafel), lamb on a skewer (shawarma) and fish with rice (machbūs). After a meal, travellers can explore Bahrain's shopping centres. Seef Mall or Bahrain City Centre fulfil everyone's wishes with international brands and all local highlights. You can buy spices from the Orient, magical pearl and gold jewellery or handmade baskets on the traditional souqs (markets) in Bahrain. The country is also more liberal with regard to nightlife and offers its visitors night clubs, bars and restaurant.

Relaxing at the beach in Bahrain

Activities - Formula One, the water park and camels

Clean beaches around the island invite holidaymakers to go swimming and snorkelling. If you want to have fun in the water, you can visit the greatest water park Lost Paradise of Dilmun or put out to sea on a yacht or a speedboat. Furthermore, Bahrain contains one of the most modern and exciting Formula One circuits on earth, the Bahrain Race Circuit. Since 2004, the Bahrain Grand Prix has been taking place here. A more relaxing experience is a camel ride.

Speed boating near Bahrain

Information

Bahrain is not a typical travel destination but it is expanding its tourist offers. Due to the extreme temperatures, the best time for travelling the country is winter. At that time, temperatures are usually below 30 °C.

The long history of the island country is apparent from vast archaeological excavation sites, which are of particular interest to lovers of culture. Motorsport is one of the things which made the kingdom famous and makes adrenaline junkies' hearts leap for joy.

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Information

Flag of Bahrain
Region:
Middle East
Size:
750 km²
Population:
1,234,571
Capital:
Manama
Timezone:
UTC+3
Currency:
Bahraini dinar (BHD)
Languages:
Arabic