...One of the smallest kingdoms in the world, Bahrain boasts a 1.2 million population figure of whom less than 600,000 are indigenous, with the balance hailing from numerous Arab as well as non-Arab countries. Densely populated, though concentrated in the north of the country around the capital city of Manama, an estimated 65-70 percent of the indigenous populations are Shia Muslims even if the ruling family is predominantly Sunni.
The oldest traceable Shia community, known as the Baharnah, track their roots to Arabian tribes that were present in the area since pre-Islamic times. They accepted Islam and became Shias nearly 1300 years ago. In addition to Manama, many live across the causeway on the Island of Muharraq, though exclusive villages exist elsewhere.
Sunni Bahrainis are relatively recent arrivals on the island kingdom, as most came with the Al Khalifahs about 200 years ago from Qatar, where the Al Thanis defeated and expelled them from the promontory. Sunni Arabs, including the ruling family trace their origins to Central Arabia, Najd in particular, which underscores their ideological proximity to the Saudi royal family, though they are not Muwahhidun (Wahhabis).
In addition to the Baharnah and Sunni Bahrainis, another significant and influential ethnic minority arrived nearly 400 years ago as laborers, artisans and merchants, and were known as the Ajam (Persians Shias). Unlike the Baharnah, the Ajam have maintained a distinct culture and language and though most assimilated over the years, identifying themselves as Persian Bahrainis. ...