How Big is Bahrain?

We haven’t been to Bahrain yet. We know it is a small constitutional monarchy in the Arabian Gulf, an archipelago of 33 islands,  just east of Saudi Arabia.

Lately I’ve been thinking of that descriptor “small” and how it relates to my idea of a geographically small area. As a geography major, I’m always curious about things like that.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Bahrain is 3.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. I have seen this statistic in other sources, too. In fact, I’ve repeated it to other people who asked about the size.

The size of Bahrain was still something I couldn’t picture, though. I have been in Washington, D.C., twice. It seemed big to me because we got around by public transportation and walking, lots of walking. Some of you know what I’m talking about. You, too, have visited in the summer and walked the two miles between the Lincoln and Washington Memorials. To hear that Bahrain was 3.5 times the size of Washington didn’t make it seem small at all.

Knowing that one fact didn’t add to my understanding of  the size of Bahrain, so I decided to do some math and get a better idea about the relative size of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

First of all, I would like to suggest a correction for the World Factbook. Bahrain has a strong land reclamation program, and is growing in land area. Washington, D.C., is not really 100 square miles, as it was at the beginning. Some of the land was given back to Virginia in 1846, so our nation’s capital is officially 68.3 square miles (177 km2). Since Bahrain is 294 square miles (762 km2), it’s really more than 4 times the size of Washington, D.C.

Anyway, closer to home.

Again, the total land area of the Bahraini archipelago is 762 km2. Total land area of Sioux County in Northwest Iowa, where we live, is 1,990.6 km2. So, I discovered Bahrain would fit into Sioux County 2.5 times with a little room in the Iowa county to spare. That gives me a new understanding of what “small” means when I describe the Kingdom of Bahrain.

People around here can understand that because we drive in and out of Sioux County on a daily basis. That is going to be a big change for us.  In Bahrain, we’ll only be driving in, not out of Bahrain.

Sioux County with Bahrain Map

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