Bahrain, meaning ''kingdom of the two seas'', in Arabic, and also often referred to as the ''Pearl of the Gulf'', is an archipelago of 33 islands connected to the mainland by a modern causeway. The country is the site of the ancient Dilmun civilisation. It has been famed since antiquity for its pearl fisheries, which were considered the best in the world into the 19th century.
With a history dating back to the third millennium BC, modern Bahrain is fairly liberal and a forward thinking country. The kingdom was the first Middle Eastern country to host a Formula One Grand Prix. It boasts an independent legal system, democratic elections, and a uniquely independent character.
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