The year 2002 marks a remarkable year for the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Constitution has been
substantially revised making the kingdom a constitutional monarchy ruled by a king. Prior to this year's consitutional revisions,
the ruler of Bahrain was called an "Emir".
The constitution states that the succession of the office of king automatically passes from ruler to son, making Bahrain unique among the monarchies of the Arabian Gulf.
Chief of state: King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (since 6 March 1999)
Heir Apparent Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad (son of the monarch, born 21 October 1969)
Head of government:
Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (since 1971)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
Elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister appointed by the monarch
Unicameral National Assembly was dissolved 26 August 1975 and legislative powers were assumed by the Cabinet; appointed Advisory Council established 16 December 1992; the National Action Charter created a bicameral legislature on 23 December 2000; approved by referendum of 14 February 2001
High Civil Appeals Court
The al-Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since 1783. Bahrain gained full independence from
Britain in 1971, adopted a constitution in 1973, and substantially revised the constitution in 2002.
Under the 2002 constitution, Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a king (prior to 2002, the al-Khalifa ruler was called an emir). The constitution states that the succession of the office of king automatically passes from ruler to son, making Bahrain unique among the monarchies of the Persian Gulf in this regard.
The king appoints a prime minister and a cabinet, the Council of Ministers. The constitution also provides for a bicameral legislature, the National Assembly. The two houses of the National Assembly are the Consultative Council, whose 40 members are appointed by the king; and the Chamber of Deputies, whose 40 members are elected by direct popular vote by citizens 20 years of age or older. Both appointed and elected legislators serve four-year terms. All legislation approved by the National Assembly must be ratified by the king in order to become law.
Bahrainís legal system draws upon Islamic religious law (the Sharia), tribal law, English common law, and other sources. All residents are subject to the jurisdiction of Bahraini courts, which guarantee equality to all before the law. The court system consists of civil and Sharia courts, both of which have courts of appeal. The countryís highest court is the Supreme Court of Appeal. The 2002 constitution established a Higher Judicial Council to supervise the functioning of the court system. The king chairs the council and appoints judges proposed by the council.
Bahrain is divided into 12 municipalities, administered from Manama by a central municipal council whose members are appointed by the king. Thus, the central government largely controls local governmental affairs.
The Bahraini Defense Force (BDF) numbered 11,000 in 2001. The BDF includes some Jordanian officers, as well as Pakistani and Sudanese enlisted men. Foreign personnel, chiefly Americans and Britons, contract with the BDF to supply support services. The BDF consists of an 8,500-member army, a 1,500-member air force, and a 1,000-member navy. The navy receives assistance (in the form of the loan of a frigate and training for personnel) from the U.S. Navy, whose Fifth Fleet uses Bahrainís harbor facilities. There is a separate 1,000-member Coast Guard. Military service is voluntary.
Upon its independence in 1971, Bahrain became a member of the United Nations and the Arab League, which promotes common Arab interests. It also belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
International organization participation:
ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Chief of Mission: His Excellency Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary
Chancery: 3502 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX:  (202) 362-2192
Consulate(s) general: Washington
Telephone:  (202) 342-0741
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Chief of mission: Ambassador Ronald E. NEUMANN
Embassy: Building #979, Road 3119 (next to Al-Ahli Sports Club)
Block 321, Zinj District, Manama
Mailing address: American Embassy Manama, PSC 451, FPO AE 09834-5100; international mail: American Embassy, Box 26431, Manama
Telephone:  273-300
FAX:  272-594
Red with a white serrated band (five white points) on the hoist side