Bahrain draws its name from the two fresh-water springs found within the seas surrounding the country, as the Arabic word literally means “two seas”. Over the years, this country has changed hands countless times due to its strategic location within the Persian Gulf region of the world, ranging from the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and eventually the Arabs, at which point the country became predominately Islamic. The discovery of oil in 1932 brought rapid development to Bahrain, and the country quickly transformed from a simple country into a hot-spot on the global map. Britain established a protectorate in the area, although in 2002 the country was formally declared a kingdom and is under the rule of the Al Khalifa Royal Family.
Although oil has long been this country’s selling point, the historical significance of the area should not be ignored. Especially in light of developments made in the 21st century as the kingdom has progressed socially and economically into the Western world, and established firmer ties with the modern world. Along with the historical significance is the location of the kingdom itself, as an island within the Persian Gulf. Nowhere else in the world captures the essence of low deserts lying along the sea, and the mysterious air of the Arabic world is felt more prominently here than almost anywhere else in the Middle East, giving an almost “Arabian Nights” feel to the region.
While not necessarily known for its landscapes and geography, the area is a culturally and historically significant spot on any traveler’s itinerary. There are museums and mosques dotting the countryside, and the history of the area goes back over four thousand years, lending an air of ancient wisdom and undying majesty to an otherwise desert landscape. The Barbar temples date back to 3,000 BC, and you can visit the 400 year old Tree of Life, one of Bahrain’s national symbols. In addition, the kingdom is known for its date palms, and you can try your hand at diving for some of the world-famous Bahrain pearls off the coast while you are here.