(Reuters) - Bahraini forces, in a crackdown on protesters on Wednesday, cleared hundreds from a camp that had become the symbol of an uprising by the island’s Shi’ite Muslim majority.
Bahrain had declared martial law the day before as has struggled to quell an uprising by the island’s Shi’ite Muslim majority, that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbor Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain on Monday to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi’ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.
The Gulf Arab island kingdom, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has seen the worst unrest since the 1990s after activists from the Shi’ite majority launched protests against the Sunni-led government last month. Here are some facts about Bahrain:
— Bahrain is a regional financial and banking hub, however the tourism and financial sectors have been hit by the unrest and it may take a while before the kingdom restores its reputation for business-friendliness. Bahrain postponed the season opening of the Formula One Grand Prix, which draws over 40,000 people annually.
— Before the protests, Bahrain’s king had promised to spend $488 million more over the next two years, including subsidies for food, low-income families and social allowances.
— The government had also planned to give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each Bahraini family. Overall, the package was estimated to be worth at least $700 million, or around 3.6 percent of GDP.
GDP (2010 est.): $21.73 billion.
Real GDP growth rate (2009 est.) 3.1 percent.
Per capita GDP (2009 est.): $38,400.
Natural resources: Oil, aluminum, textiles, natural gas, fish, pearls.
Trade (2009 est): Exports - $12.5 billion: oil and other mineral products, aluminum, textiles. Major markets - Saudi Arabia (3.4 percent), United States (3 percent), India (2.7 percent), Japan (2.3 percent).
Imports - $10.37 billion: crude oil, machinery and appliances, transport equipment, foodstuffs.
— Non-OPEC oil producer Bahrain has boosted its oil production to 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 32,000 bpd after it started to overhaul its main oilfield, Abdul-Hussain bin Ali Mirza, head of the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), was quoted as saying in February. He said Bahrain is targeting output capacity of 100,000 bpd by 2017.
POPULATION: 1.2 million including 235,000 non-nationals.
RELIGION: Muslim 85 percent, over 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi’ites and the rest Sunnis. There is a Christian minority and smaller numbers of Jews, Hindus, Baha’i and others.
LANGUAGE: The official language is Arabic, with English the second most widely spoken language.
GEOGRAPHY: Bahrain, with an area of 711 square km (267 sq miles), is located in the middle of the Gulf and comprises an archipelago of 32 islands, 24 km (15 miles) from the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia and 28 km north of the Qatar peninsula. It is linked to Saudi Arabia by a 25-km (15 miles) causeway.
— Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy. The government is headed by a prime minister who is appointed by the king from the ruling al-Khalifa family. Both the king and the prime minister hold enormous authority.
— Political parties are banned in Bahrain, but political groups have been formed after King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who came to power in 1999, initiated political and economic reforms.
— Bahrain has a 40-member elected parliament and a 40-seat upper house consultative appointed by the government.