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The region stretched from Basra in Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz in Oman. The exact date at which the term "Bahrain" began to refer solely to the Awal archipelago is unknown.From the sixth to third century BCE, Bahrain was part of the Achaemenid Empire.Many large financial institutions have a presence in Manama, the country's capital.It has a high Human Development Index and is recognised by the World Bank as a high-income economy.Nearchus is believed to have been the first of Alexander's commanders to visit the island, and he found a verdant land that was part of a wide trading network; he recorded: "That on the island of Tylos, situated in the Persian Gulf, are large plantations of cotton trees, from which are manufactured clothes called sindones, of strongly differing degrees of value, some being costly, others less expensive.The use of these is not confined to India, but extends to Arabia." The Greek historian Theophrastus states that much of Bahrain was covered by these cotton trees and that Bahrain was famous for exporting walking canes engraved with emblems that were customarily carried in Babylon.
Bahrayn is the dual form of Arabic bahr ("sea"), so al-Bahrayn originally means "the two seas".Alexander had planned to settle Greek colonists on Bahrain, and although it is not clear that this happened on the scale he envisaged, Bahrain became very much part of the Hellenised world: the language of the upper classes was Greek (although Aramaic was in everyday use), while Zeus was worshipped in the form of the Arabian sun-god Shams.This theory was accepted by the 19th-century German classicist Arnold Heeren who said that: "In the Greek geographers, for instance, we read of two islands, named Tyrus or Tylos, and Aradus, which boasted that they were the mother country of the Phoenicians, and exhibited relics of Phoenician temples." Bahrain was also the site of worship of an ox deity called Awal. The sovereign state comprises a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by the 25-kilometre (16 mi) King Fahd Causeway. Following a period of Arab rule, Bahrain was occupied by the Portuguese in 1521, who in turn were expelled in 1602 by Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty under the Persian Empire. Bahrain was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam, in 628 CE.