Bahrain is one of the smallest countries of the Arab world, but its size does not reflect its importance. This tiny nation, made up of 33 islands in the Arabian Gulf, is a key regional ally of the United States. In addition, Bahrain is one of the few countries in the Middle East that allows its people-both men and women-to participate in government, through an elected national assembly. Bahrain is far from a democracy, and the country has struggled with a religious division that has led to violence in recent years. But if Bahrain can move successfully toward a more open government, it may inspire other Middle Eastern nations to experiment with democratic principles as well. Discusses the geography, history, economy, government, religion, people, foreign relations, and major cities of Bahrain.