Bahrain has about 800,000 people, 80 percent of which are Muslim. Bahrain’s Muslims are predominantly Shiite, but there are no official numbers that show how large that majority is. (The New York Times reports that Shiite Muslims are about 70 percent of the total Muslim population.)
The ruling family, which controls both the executive and legislative branches of government, is Sunni – a continuing source of tension.
Bahrain has a large foreign population: only about 60 percent of Bahrain’s residents are actually Bahraini. Like elsewhere in the Gulf, many of the non-nationals came to the country as migrant workers, often from South Asia.