Bahrain, a small island nation located in the Persian Gulf, has a rich history that spans over 4,000 years. "Bahrain" is derived from the Arabic term "bahr," the name meaning "two seas" refering to the island nation's position as an archipelago surrounded by seas. Bahrain is home to the ancient Dilmun civilization, which thrived around 2,000 BC and engaged in trade across the Arabian Peninsula.
Before the discovery of oil, Bahrain's economy relied heavily on pearl diving. The country was known as the "Pearl of the Gulf" and played a crucial role in the global pearl trade. More recently, Bahrain is a typical Gulf story. They were under the rule of the British Empire for over century until 1970, they struck oil and a rich modern state shot up in only a few decades.
For the average visitor, there are a few UNESCO World Heritage sites on offer, the largest underwater dive park featuring a full size sunken Boeing plane and the famous tree known as the "Tree of Life." In the middle of the desert, despite the harsh conditions, this solitary tree continues to thrive and has become a popular attraction.
Manama is the capital and most populous city. Unlike other Gulf countries, when I took a taxi into the city, I was quite surprised to be driven by a local Bahraini. Manama was a ghost town during the afternoons, but everything comes alive in the cool evenings when all the shops are open and the streets are full of people. There's also a bridge connecting Saudi Arabia to Manama. Every weekend, thousands of Saudis drive into Bahrain for debauchery, taking advantage of Bahrain's laxer laws on alcohol.