Mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment
STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE (:43)
Arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Population: 1,281,332 (July 2013 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Urdu
Muslim (Shia and Sunni) 81.2%, Christian 9%, other 9.8% (2001 census)
Bahrain has taken great strides in diversifying its economy and its highly developed communication and transport facilities make Bahrain home to numerous multinational firms with business in the Gulf. A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was implemented with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. The economy continues to depend heavily on oil. Petroleum production and refining account for more than 60% of export receipts, 70% of government revenues, and 11% of GDP.
Bahrain has one of the highest standards of living in the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf area. Traditionally, homes were made from palm fronds, or barasti. Modern homes are made of cement and lime brick. Rooms are built around an inner courtyard, and houses are built vertically (rather than horizontally, like ranch houses) to catch the breezes that blow higher in the air. "Wind towers" on the upper floors of many buildings catch breezes and funnel the air down to the lower floors.
US Military Presence/Support
Bahrain has been a valued military defense partner with America for many years and is a vital part of the Persian Gulf security architecture. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and is deeply involved in counter-terrorism initiatives. The U.S. provides assistance to support the country’s military equipment and training needs, anti-terror efforts, regional security cooperation and maritime smuggling interdiction.