1782, the Al Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. 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.
Bahrain's small size and central location among Persian Gulf countries
require it to play a delicate balancing act in foreign affairs among
its larger neighbors. Facing declining oil reserves, Bahrain has turned
to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an
international banking center. Arabic, English
Farsi, and Urdu are spoken.