The Kingdom of Bahrain is a country that has existed for millennia. This small island nation in the Persian Gulf has been fought over by Alexander the Great, allied with the British Empire, and converted by Mohammed. Today it is a modern kingdom with a striking flag to symbolize its identity in the world.
Bahrain’s first flag on record was a solid red banner. In 1820, as the result of a treaty with the British Empire, a vertical white stripe was added to the left edge of the banner. The rest of the flag retained its bright red shade. Bahrain later became an official protectorate of the United Kingdom.
Oil was discovered in Bahrain in 1931, and the country went through a period of rapid modernization. This was reflected in another change in the flag. In 1932, the white stripe on the left edge of the flag was expanded to cover a third of the area while the rest remained bright red. The straight border between the colors was changed to a serrated border. The 1932 flag had 28 white serrated points that extended into the red field.
The flag evolved further after Bahrain declared its independence from the United Kingdom in 1971. The colors and proportions of the flag remained the same, but the number of white points was reduced from 28 to eight. At this time the country was a political state with elected representation.
The flag of Bahrain took its modern form on February 14, 2002. This was the day the Emir of Bahrain declared the country a kingdom and himself the king. The number of white points on the flag was reduced to five. It is believed by many that the five triangles formed by the points represent the five pillars of Islam.
The Emir instituted a number of legal codes that dictate when and how the flag is to be used and displayed. Violation of these codes may result in a short prison term and a monetary fine.
Bahrain’s flag and the kingdom have evolved together through the centuries. The flag’s bright red and white fields with the five-point serrated border symbolize both its deep historical roots and its modern place in the world community.