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Bahrain's pre-Islamic population consisted of Christian Arabs (mostly Abd al-Qays), Persians (Zoroastrians), Jews, According to Robert Bertram Serjeant, the Baharna may be the Arabised "descendants of converts from the original population of Christians (Aramaeans), Jews and Persians inhabiting the island and cultivated coastal provinces of Eastern Arabia at the time of the Muslim conquest".
Muhammad's first interaction with the people of Bahrain was the Al Kudr Invasion.
The region stretched from Basra in Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz in Oman. The exact date at which the term "Bahrain" began to refer solely to the Awal archipelago is unknown.
From the sixth to third century BCE, Bahrain was part of the Achaemenid Empire.
The sovereign state comprises a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by the 25-kilometre (16 mi) King Fahd Causeway. Following a period of Arab rule, Bahrain was occupied by the Portuguese in 1521, who in turn were expelled in 1602 by Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty under the Persian Empire.
Bahrain was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam, in 628 CE.
By the 5th century, Bahrain became a centre for Nestorian Christianity, with the village Samahij As a sect, the Nestorians were often persecuted as heretics by the Byzantine Empire, but Bahrain was outside the Empire's control, offering some safety.
The names of several Muharraq villages today reflect Bahrain's Christian legacy, with Al Dair meaning "the monastery".
This theory was accepted by the 19th-century German classicist Arnold Heeren who said that: "In the Greek geographers, for instance, we read of two islands, named Tyrus or Tylos, and Aradus, which boasted that they were the mother country of the Phoenicians, and exhibited relics of Phoenician temples." Bahrain was also the site of worship of an ox deity called Awal.
Bahrain is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Bahrayn is the dual form of Arabic bahr ("sea"), so al-Bahrayn originally means "the two seas".
In 2011, the country experienced protests inspired by the regional Arab Spring.
Bahrain's ruling al-Khalifa royal family has been accused and criticized for human rights abuses, including imprisonment, torture and execution of dissidents, political opposition figures and its Shia Muslim population.