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In 1521, Portugal took control, using Bahrain as a pearling post and military garrison.
This situation lasted until 1602, when the Persians wrested the country from the Portuguese.
When the emir turned this request down, widespread rioting broke out.
The country's shaky relations with Iraq led it to cooperate with United Nations' efforts to monitor that nearby country. There are tensions between the Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, and religious affiliation is of primary importance in defining one's identity. Expatriates constitute 20 percent of the population.
Muharraq is the oldest town, and used to be the capital.
The city has been modernized, but in the old sections one can still see traditional architecture.
Anti-British sentiment rose in the 1950s, but Britain did not decide to pull out until 1971.
Bahrain officially declared its independence on 14 August of that year.
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