Famous for its pearls, thriving economy and rich history, Bahrain is on many a tourist’s bucket list. The archipelago nation made up of 33 islands is one of the most influential hubs in the Middle East and is known for its incredible blend of ancient and modern in all aspects. Whether you are planning to visit or are just curious about the lesser-known cousin to the UAE, here are some of the most interesting facts about Bahrain.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Bahrain
1. Its Size Might Surprise You
Bahrain’s size or lack thereof might throw you for a loop. The Gulf nations takes third place for the smallest countries in Asia. The only two countries smaller than Bahrain are Singapore, which is a city-state; and the Maldives. At just 295 square miles, its just a smidge larger than the Caribbean’s Dominica. However, despite its small size, it remains a key player in Middle Eastern trading and economics.
2. It’s Not Even 50 Yet
While the history of the area dates back several millennia with its Golden Age spanning from 2200–1600 BC, it’s only been an independent nation for 46 years. Over the centuries its swapped hands between Persian Empire, Portuguese, British and others. But in 1971, Bahrain declared nationhood and joined the United Nations and Arab League shortly after. Since then it has only continued to move up the commercial and economic ranks of the Persian Gulf.
3. Bahrain Was One of the Earliest Adopters of Islam
Its thought by historians that Bahrain converted to Islam as early as 628AD. This would have made it an Islam nation four years before the death of the prophet Mohammad. In fact, the Al-Khamis Mosque dates to 692 AD, was Bahrain’s first mosque and is one of the oldest and most important mosques in the entire world.
4. It Was Home to the First Ever Grand Prix in the Middle East
Long before Abu Dhabi became a hotspot for mega Formula One races such as the Grand Prix, hosting such as race in the region was literally unheard up. Until 2004, that is. In 2004 Bahrain hosted the first-ever Grand Prix in the Middle East and put the region on the map in terms of large sporting events.
5. It is Loaded With Archeological Finds
Bahrain is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among them are the more than 100,000 Dilmun-era burial mounds which date back to 2200 BC. For a nation less than half the size of London, that’s quite a few graves. The series of graves make up 21 distinct archaeological sites sure to be a huge delight for history buffs.
6. You Can Find the Tree of Life Here
In the mid-1500s, a single mesquite tree was planted in Bahrain’s southern desert. To this day, the lone tree still stands in full green bloom and serves as a symbol for the tree of life. Why should you care? Well, there are no obvious water sources that have been feeding the tree over the centuries. So how it remains is a mystery.
7. It Has the World’s Largest Underwater Themepark
Speaking of water, Bahrain boasts the world’s largest underwater theme park. Sprawling across more than 100,000 sq metres, Dive Bahrain is genuinely mind-boggling. Truly a haven for scuba enthusiasts, Dive Bahrain even comes with a sunken Boeing 747 complete with coral studs and a healthy coat of rust. The park is also the most eco-friendly of its kind and provides a great opportunity to study marine life.