The smallest of the Arab countries (surface area equivalent to that of Singapore) and independent since 15 August 1971, the Emirate of Bahrain, a former British protectorate, became a kingdom on 14 February 2002. It sits under the authority of King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, who succeeded his father on 6 March 1999.
The Kingdom, ruled by a Sunni family, is the only majority Chiite state on the Arabian Peninsula. It is generally thought that the Chiites account for three quarters of the 529,446 Bahraini nationals (amongst a total resident population of 1,110,000 inhabitants).
Updated on 01.11.10