More information about Bahrain is available on the Bahrain Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Bahrain in 1971 following its independence from the United Kingdom. The U.S. embassy at Manama was opened September 21, 1971, and a resident ambassador was sent in 1974. The Bahraini Embassy in Washington, D.C., opened in 1977. The American Mission Hospital has operated continuously in Bahrain for more than a century.
Bahrain plays a key role in regional security architecture and is a vital U.S. partner in defense initiatives. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and participates in U.S.-led military coalitions. Bahraini forces have supported the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, providing perimeter security at a military base. Bahrain was the first Arab state to lead a Coalition Task Force patrolling the Gulf and has supported the coalition counter-piracy mission with a deployment of its flagship. The U.S. designated Bahrain a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2002.
The U.S-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2006, generating additional commercial opportunities for both countries. In 2011, bilateral trade exceeded $1.7 billion.
Recent political and social unrest has highlighted the need for reform and reconciliation. Following the release of the royally appointed Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry's (BICI) findings, which recommended a series of reforms, the Government of Bahrain has taken initial steps to redress past abuses and implement reforms. Despite these efforts, unrest and clashes have continued. The United States has urged the Government of Bahrain to implement the full range of BICI recommendations and take steps to implement additional reforms.
U.S. Assistance to Bahrain
U.S. assistance helps Bahrain, which lacks the oil wealth of its neighbors, obtain the equipment and training it needs to operate alongside U.S. air and naval forces. With the help of the U.S., Bahrain has made significant efforts to upgrade its defense systems and modernize its armed forces over the last 20 years. Since the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. has provided military and defense technical assistance and training to Bahrain from Foreign Military Sales (FMS), commercial sources, and excess defense article sales (EDA), and under the International Military and Education Training (IMET) program. U.S. military sales to Bahrain since 2000 total $1.4 billion. Military exercises are conducted on a regular basis to increase the BDF's readiness and improve coordination with the U.S. and other GCC forces. The BDF also sends personnel to the United States for military training. This training includes courses from entry-level technical training to graduate-level professional military education.
To protect and advance U.S. interests, the United States uses all tools available, including foreign assistance, to encourage Bahrain's leadership to implement reforms and respect human rights standards; make Bahrain a stronger and more interoperable partner for regional peace, security and counter-terrorism cooperation; improve the ability to deny terrorist sponsorship, support, and sanctuary; and boost Bahrain's maritime defenses against smuggling and terrorism.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Due to its relatively limited energy reserves, Bahrain has been diversifying its economy away from oil and gas production and is seeking to attract foreign investment and businesses. The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement took effect on August 1, 2006 and is generating increased U.S. commercial interest in Bahrain. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and Bahrain has increased each since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement, exceeding $1.7 billion USD in 2011. U.S. exports to Bahrain include machinery, aircraft, vehicles, and agricultural products. U.S. imports from Bahrain include fertilizers, aluminum, textiles, apparel, and organic chemicals.
Bahrain's Membership in International Organizations
Among other regional and global organizations, Bahrain is a member of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
Bahrain maintains an embassy in the United States at 3502 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel: (202) 342-1111.
More information about Bahrain is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Bahrain Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Bahrain Page
U.S. Embassy: Bahrain
History of U.S. Relations With Bahrain
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information