In 1783, the Sunni Al-Khalifa family took power in Bahrain. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. A steady decline in oil production and reserves since 1970 prompted Bahrain to take steps to diversify its economy, in the process developing petroleum processing and refining, aluminum production, and hospitality and retail sectors. It has also endeavored to become a leading regional banking center, especially with respect to Islamic finance. Bahrain's small size, central location among Gulf countries, economic dependence on Saudi Arabia, and proximity to Iran require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among its larger neighbors.
Its foreign policy activities usually fall in line with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.The Sunni royal family has long struggled to manage relations with its large Shia-majority population. In early 2011, amid Arab uprisings elsewhere in the region, the Bahraini Government confronted similar pro-democracy and reform protests at home with police and military action, including deploying Gulf Cooperation Council security forces to Bahrain. Political talks throughout 2014 between the government and opposition and loyalist political groups failed to reach an agreement, prompting opposition political societies to boycott legislative and municipal council elections in late 2014. Ongoing dissatisfaction with the political status quo continues to factor into sporadic clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Source: The CIA World Factbook - Bahrain
Subject descriptor 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Gross domestic product, constant prices 4.351 2.863 2.102 1.768 1.615 Gross domestic product, current prices 33.381 31.119 31.823 33.918 35.703 Gross domestic product per capita, current prices 26,321.896 24,057.579 24,119.410 25,202.998 26,009.212 Inflation, average consumer prices 2.651 1.836 3.645 3.016 4.046 Volume of imports of goods and services -0.982 -13.304 0.335 10.608 8.752 Volume of exports of goods and services -1.716 -0.190 2.976 3.303 3.346 Unemployment rate 4.174 n/a n/a n/a n/a Current account balance 1.523 -0.965 -1.499 -1.284 -1.155 Current account balance 4.562 -3.103 -4.709 -3.786 -3.234
Source: IMF Statistics - Bahrain
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