This chapter includes the following articles.
For much of its history Bahrain was the name for the eastern coast of Arabia. Bahrain means “two seas” in Arabic, and although it is unclear which two seas the name refers to, it has recently come to identify the 33 natural islands of the Awal archipelago. The first notable inhabitants of the region were the Dilmun civilisation, approximately 6000 years ago, but throughout history its geographically strategic location has attracted the attention of numerous empires, including the Persians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Arabs, Portuguese and British. In 1932 Bahrain pioneered oil production in the Middle East, and in so doing established the region’s initial framework for the petroleum industry. The new resource enabled Bahrain to modernise its economy by moving beyond traditional industries such as pearl diving and fishing. At an early stage the kingdom sought to diversify its economy, and established itself as a leading regional financial centre in the 1970s and 1980s.
This chapter contains a viewpoint from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.