As an island country in the Persian Gulf with 1 million residents, Bahrain has played an important role in Middle East trade since ancient times. Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, and has a strong middle class and a fast growing economy due to its oil resources. A 2001 census reported that 81.2 percent of the population were Muslim (Shia and Sunni) and 9 percent were Christian, with the remaining 9.8 percent practicing other religions. In 2009, Bahrain's per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at $38,800. The World Economic Forum rated Bahrain low in gender equality in 2010, ranking 110 out of 134 countries rated. Although human rights groups consider Bahrain a model for the region due to its civil rights, freedom ...

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