Bahrain Table of Contents
In 1992 an estimated 550,000 people lived in Bahrain. This number included 363,000 Bahraini citizens and 187,000 foreign nationals. Citizens accounted for 66 percent of the total population, a decline from the 70 percent they represented in the 1981 census and the 82.5 percent they represented in 1971. The unofficial estimate indicated that the population had increased by 57 percent, or at an average annual growth rate of 5.2 percent, since 1981. In 1992 the growth rate was 3.1 percent. The non-Bahraini community, which grew from 112,000 in 1981 to 187,000 in 1992, increased by 67 percent, while the number of citizens increased by 52.5 percent in the same eleven-year period.
In 1992 an estimated 58 percent of the population was male and only 42 percent female. The gender disparity resulted from the exceptionally high number of men among Bahrain's foreign residents: 76 percent of foreign residents were male. The maleto -female ratio was more balanced among Bahraini citizens: about 50.3 percent were male and 49.7 percent female. The age distribution also was skewed: about 80 percent of the foreign population was more than fourteen years of age, but less than 60 percent of citizens were more than fourteen. For the total population, 33.4 percent were in the age-group of zero to fourteen; 62.8 percent were in the age-group of fifteen to fiftynine ; and a mere 3.8 percent were in the age-group of sixty years and older. Life expectancy for Bahraini children born in 1990 was seventy years for males and seventy-five years for females.
The population of Bahrain is overwhelmingly urban. About 85 percent of the people live in cities or suburbs. Most working-age men who reside in villages commute to jobs in urban areas. The largest city, Manama, is the principal commercial and cultural center. It had an estimated population of 152,000 in 1992. Manama's expansion since 1960, when its population was only 62,000, resulted in entire villages, fields, and palm and fruit groves--located to the east, north, and south of the city--being incorporated as part of the urban sprawl. Manama also spread to the west through the reclamation of hundreds of hectares from the sea. Traditional brick houses, built with central courtyards and wind towers in the architectural style of southern Iran, and covered bazaars are found in the old sections of the city. In the newer and less congested neighborhoods, multistory apartment complexes, high-rise hotels and office buildings, and supermarkets predominate. Because most of Bahrain's foreign workers tend to live in the city, their presence provides Manama with a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
The city of Al Muharraq, which had an estimated population of 75,000 in 1992, is the country's only other major city. Until the 1930s, the ruler lived in Al Muharraq; thus, for more than a century, the city served as Bahrain's political center, and its commercial importance rivaled that of Manama. Al Muharraq declined after the Al Khalifa family moved to the island of Bahrain, and for nearly forty years the city stagnated. During the 1970s, however, the construction of the US$60 million Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard adjacent to the fishing village of Al Hadd, located southeast of Bahrain International Airport, helped to stimulate an investment and development boom in the city.
Bahrain's main towns are Jidd Hafs, Ar Rifaa, Sitrah, and Madinat Isa. Throughout the nineteenth century and during the first half of the twentieth, Jidd Hafs was a relatively prosperous village renowned for its extensive date palm groves and the manufacture of medicinal drugs from the buds, flowers, and pollen of palm trees. By 1975, however, Jidd Hafs had been transformed into Manama's largest suburb. Ar Rifaa, which originally consisted of two adjacent villages--Ar Rifaa ash Sharqi and Ar Rifaa al Gharbi, established in the nineteenth century near natural springs in the central region of Bahrain-- grew rapidly after 1952 when Shaykh Salman ibn Hamad established his official residence there. Ar Rifaa's importance as the country's political center has continued under Shaykh Isa ibn Salman, who constructed his palace in the town, as did several other members of the Al Khalifa. The town of Sitrah formerly consisted of several palm-cultivating villages, but extensive residential construction during the 1970s fused the villages into one large suburban town. Madinat Isa was a planned community built to relieve the congestion in Manama and such close suburbs as Jidd Hafs and Sanabis.
Data as of January 1993
Bahrain Table of Contents