Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Bahrein

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BAHREIN, the principal island of a cluster in the Persian Gulf, in an indentation of the Arabian coast. It is about 70 miles long and nearly 25 broad, and is very flat and low except towards the east, where a range of hills attain an elevation of 800 or 900 feet. The climate is mild, but humid, and rather unhealthy. The soil is for the most part fertile, and produces rice, pot herbs, and fruits, of which the citrons are especially good. Water is abundant, but frequently brackish. Fish of all kinds abound off the coast, and are very cheap in the markets. The inhabitants are a mixed race of Arab, Qrnanite, and Persian blood, slender and small in their physical appearance; they possess great activity and intelligence, and are known in all the ports of the Persian Gulf for their commercial and industrial ability. The traffic in the island itself is great and various, the harbour of Manama, which admits vessels of 200 tons, being largely frequented by ships from Persia, Sindh, India, &c. This town, which has in some respects supplanted the older and more inland Ruffin, is well built, and contains about 25,000 inhabitants ; and there are besides about 15 villages in the island. There is a city of almost equal extent in the neighbouring and smaller island of Mohanek, but the trade is not so great. Bahrein has from a remote period been famous for its pearl fishery, which produces the finest pearls in the world. The Portuguese obtained possession of the islands in 1507, but were driven from their settlements in that quarter by Shah Abbas in 1622. The islands afterwards became an object of contention between the Persians and Arabs, and at last the Arabian tribe of the Athubis made themselves masters of them in 1784. Since then they have been for some time subject more or less to the Wahabees, whose interference has greatly damaged the commerce of the ports, and led to extensive emigration of the inhabitants. (See Palgrave, in J. Roy. Geo. Soc., vol. xxxiv.)