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With a land area of only 665 square kilometers, the island of Bahrain is home to 698,585 people, including 235,108 nonnationals. Bahrain's strategic location in the Persian Gulf among larger and more aggressive nations forces the government to balance its own needs against the demands of its neighbors. The ruling amir, who proclaimed himself the king in February 2002, launched major economic and political reforms in Bahrain. Since oil reserves are rapidly declining, Bahrain has shifted its economic focus to petroleum processing and refining, which provide around 60 percent of export receipts and government revenues. In addition to oil, natural resources include associated and nonassociated natural gas, fish, and pearls. The development of Bahrain as an international banking center has also helped to replace lost ...

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