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Bahrain

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BAHRAIN, a small, oil-rich Emirate comprising 33 low-lying islands situated between the Qatar Peninsula and the mainland of Saudi Arabia, is a hereditary monarchy. The largest island is Bahrain Island on which the capital, Manama (Al Manamah), is located. The King Fahd Causeway opened in 1986, links Bahrain Island to the mainland of Saudi Arabia. The highest point in the state is only 122 meters or 402 feet above sea level.

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The islands have hot, dry summers and mild winters during which the slight amount of annual rainfall (less than 100 millimeters or 4 inches) experienced. However, fresh water for the islands is supplied by artesian wells which have so far proved more than adequate for the needs of the islands. The natural vegetation consists of desert plants, but irrigated areas can support date palms, fruits, and vegetables. Wildlife includes a variety of birds, reptiles and desert rats.

Most of Bahrain is sandy and too saline to support crops but drainage schemes are now used to reduce salinity, and fertile soil imported from other islands. Agricultural products include vegetables, dates, and fruits with artesian wells providing irrigation, mainly on the north coast. Oil was discovered in 1931 and revenues from oil now account for about 80 percent of the country’s total revenue. Bahrain developed as a major manufacturing state, the main enterprises being aluminum smelting and the manufacture of clothing, paper products, and consumer goods. Traditional industries include pearl fishing, boat building, weaving, and pottery.

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