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         Thursday, March 05, 2015
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Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. The new amir, installed in 1999, has pushed economic and political reforms and has worked to improve relations with the Shi'a community. In February 2001, Bahraini voters approved a referendum on the National Action Charter - the centerpiece of the amir's political liberalization program. In February 2002, Amir HAMAD bin Isa Al Khalifa proclaimed himself king. In October 2002, Bahrainis elected members of the lower house of Bahrain's reconstituted bicameral legislature, the National Assembly.

Location: Middle East, archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia
Area: total: 665 sq km, land: 665 sq km, water: 0 sq km
Climate: arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Natural resources:
oil, associated and non associated natural gas, fish, pearls

Population: 677,886 includes 235,108 non-nationals (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.4% (male 97,179; female 95,043)
15-64 years: 68.4% (male 271,015; female 192,342)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 11,426; female 10,881) (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.56% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:

18.54 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 4.03 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.41 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female
total population: 1.27 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Ethnic groups: Bahraini 63%, Asian 19%, other Arab 10%, Iranian 8%
Religions: Islam
Languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu
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