An island-state country, Bahrain has the smallest population in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), estimated at 1.6 million, and growing at 5 percent in 2018.[1] Similar to other GCC countries, Bahrain is largely urbanized, with an urbanization rate of 89 percent.[2] Highly reliant on foreign labor, Bahrain has a migrant population of about 53 percent.[3]

The education prospects in Bahrain are positive. With a government expenditure in education at around 2.7 percent of GDP in 2016, Bahrain has the second lowest out of school children (primary school age) in the region at 1.14 percent according to latest available data. At the same time, Bahrain has high primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratios at 101 percent, 102.8 percent and 45.5 percent, respectively, in 2017. Bahrain has achieved gender parity at the primary and secondary stages and ranks second, in the region, in its tertiary Gender Parity Index at 1.95 in favor of girls.[4]

With the plunge in international oil prices as of mid-2014, external and fiscal vulnerabilities have deepened in Bahrain. GDP growth rate (constant 2005 prices) slowed down to 2.9 percent in 2015, down from 5.4 percent in 2013, but projected to increase to 3.2% in 2018.[5] The recent recovery in oil prices and more diversification away from hydrocarbons is expected to support growth. As an important driver for economic diversification, the services sector, particularly finance, has been key a driver for Bahrain's high-income economy; in 2018, the financial sector contributed to around 17.2 percent of GDP.[6] Bahrain’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant prices) leveled at Int USD 64.62 billion and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita reached Int USD 44,850 in 2017, compared to an Arab average of Int USD 16,958.[7]

A minor player in the oil market, Bahrain produced 17.8 million barrels of crude oil in 2016, the least among the GCC countries.[3] In April 2018, Bahrain announced a huge discovery of offshore oil and gas in the Persian Gulf containing up to 80 billion barrels of oil.[8] Despite diversification attempts, Bahrain still relies on oil gas as a primary source of income, with oil and gas constituting around 75.7 percent of total government revenues in 2016.[9] Bahrain’s cash balance has been in deficit since 2009, reaching its highest level at 18.4 percent of GDP in 2015, and decreasing to 8.9 percent of GDP in 2018. Despite slight fluctuations, inflation rate averaged 2.4 percent over the last 6 years. Meanwhile, the government debt has been witnessing a significant rise over the last decade, reaching 88.5 percent of GDP in 2018, up from up 12.6 percent in 2008.[5]

In 2016, Bahrain registered a deficit in its trade balance at BHD 684 million, from a surplus of BHD 115.8 million in 2015.[3] Bahrain’s economy remains highly dependent on trade, with trade-to-GDP ratio amounting to 139.6 percent in 2016, and with its main trading partners being China, the United States, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Oil constitutes the main export commodity for Bahrain, accounting for 55 percent of its merchandise exports in 2016. On the other hand, Bahrain’s main imports consist of manufactured goods (60 percent of merchandise imports in 2016) and refined petroleum products (23 percent of merchandise imports in 2016).[7]


Zooming into the labor dynamics, national unemployment rate remained relatively stable in the range of 3.5-4.3 percent between 2008 and 2016. Women, however, remain the most affected, with 6,998 unemployed Bahraini women, out of 8,458 unemployed nationals in 2016.[3]

This overview was last updated in February 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2017. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[3] Bahrain Open Data Portal. 2018Bahrain in Figures. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[4] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2018. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[5] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2018. World Economic Outlook Database. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[6] Bahrain Association of Banks. 2019. Economic and Banking Bulletin Second Quarter 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019]
[7] The World Bank. January 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].
[8] BBC News. April 2018. Bahrain discovers offshore oilfield 'containing 80bn barrels'. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 Jan 2019]
[9] ADP team computations based on figures extracted from the Bahrain Open Data Portal. 2016. Bahrain in Figures. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2019].

view all

Data Highlights

view all