National Day on 16 December is the celebration of Bahrain’s independence and of the accession to the throne of its first post-independence monarch in 1971.
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The history of Bahrain prior to 1971 is long and complicated. It was first the site of the ancient Dilmun Civilisation. Then came the conversion to Islam and a period of Arab rule in the 600’s A.D. Next, in 1521, the Portuguese took control, followed by the Persians in 1602 and the Bani Utbah clan in 1783. During the 1800’s, the British gained influence that ultimately amounted to control. Even after the British left, however, a treaty of friendship was signed.
National Day celebrations are very long and widespread in Bahrain, extending through the entire month of December and including a wide array of events in every part of the island. There are fireworks displays, impressive lights shows at night, colourful decoration of public monuments, flags set out all along the highways, folk dancing and singing, carnivals, “air parades,” heritage shows, and numerous speeches praising the accomplishments of of Bahrain and its citizens.