The Kingdom of Bahrain, a small island nation off the Arabian Peninsula,is generally considered more liberal in its interpretation and application of Islam than adjacent countries. Spurred by the political and economic reforms of hereditary ruler Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, women's rights have steadily improved since he took the throne in 1999. Shari‘a (Islamic law) is the main source of legislation, and the rights, duties, and gender roles of women in Bahrain are strongly infl uenced by the country's culture and
religion. Bahraini citizens make up approximately one half of the resident population, which is believed to have reached one million.