Bahrain is a small archipelago (island group) in the Persian Gulf. It has been ruled by the al Khalifa dynasty since 1783. It became a British protectorate in the 19th century, and became independent in 1971.
The country's first elected parliament was suspended in 1975 by then-emir Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Bahrain became a traditional monarchy.
In 1999, Sheikh Isa died suddenly of a heart attack. His son Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa assumed the throne and moved toward democratic reform.
Bahrain officially became a constitutional monarchy in 2002. It is now called the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Sheik Hamad's title has been changed from emir to king.
There is now a democratically elected parliament, although King Hamad has the right to appoint a consultative Shura council with legislative powers equal to those of parliament. Women can run for office. Political parties are still officially banned, but political societies can back candidates in elections.
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First Light: Modern Bahrain and Its Heritage by Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifah. The author is Bahrain's current king.
The Life and Times of Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa by Andrew Wheatcroft is a biography of the emir who reigned in Bahrain from 1942 to 1961. Sheikh Salman was the grandfather of Bahrain's current king.
The Making of the Modern Gulf States by Rosemarie Said Zahlan. Explores the history of the royal families of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Bahrain Mini Explorer: The Essential Visitor's Guide by Explorer Publishing. Travel guide.
Dilmun and Its Gulf Neighbours by Harriet E. W. Crawford. The kingdom of Dilmun is believed to have been located in Bahrain around 2000 BC.
The Dilmun Temple at Saar: Bahrain and Its Archaeological Inheritance edited by Harriet Crawford and Robert Killick.
Wikipedia - Al Khalifa Family