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The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط,
ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task which is applied to a common and repeated use of rules, conditions ...
:
) is a geopolitical term that commonly refers to the region spanning the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
,
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
,
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
(including modern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
),
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
. The term came into widespread usage as a replacement of the term
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
(as opposed to the
Far East The Far East is a term to refer to the geographical regions that includes East and Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nati ...

Far East
) beginning in the early 20th century. The term "Middle East" has led to some confusion over its changing definitions, and has been viewed by some to be discriminatory or too
Eurocentric Eurocentrism (also Eurocentricity or Western-centrism) is a worldview upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the ment ...
. The region includes the vast majority of the territories included in the closely associated definition of
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
, but without the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
and including all of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, and not just the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, ), is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other ...

Sinai Peninsula
. Most Middle Eastern countries (13 out of 18) are part of the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Member states of the Arab League, Arab countries which are members of ...

Arab world
. The most populous countries in the region are Egypt,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, and Turkey, while
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
is the largest Middle Eastern country by area. The
history of the Middle East Home to the Cradle of civilization, Cradle of Civilization, the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucas ...
dates back to
ancient times Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from t ...

ancient times
, with the geopolitical importance of the region being recognized for millennia. Several major religions have their origins in the Middle East, including
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
, and
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
.
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
constitute the main socioethnic grouping in the region, followed by Turks,
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...

Persians
,
Kurds Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ...
,
Azeris Azerbaijanis (; az, Azərbaycanlılar) or Azeris (), also known as Azerbaijani Turks ( az, Azərbaycan Türkləri, ), are a Turkic ethnic group, living mainly in the sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; ...

Azeris
,
Copts The Copts ( cop, ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, translit=niremənkhēmi; ar, الْقِبْط, ) are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group), or simply an ethnoreligion, is a grouping of people who a ...

Copts
,
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
,
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
,
Iraqi Turkmen The Iraqi Turkmen (also spelled as Turkoman and Turcoman; ar, تركمان العراق: tr, Irak Türkmenleri), also referred to as Iraqi Turks, ( tr, Irak Türkleri) are Iraq's third largest ethnic group. Whilst Turkic migration to Iraq began ...
, and
Greek Cypriots Greek Cypriots ( el, Ελληνοκύπριοι, tr, Kıbrıs Rumları or Kıbrıs Yunanları) are the ethnic Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offici ...
. The Middle East generally has a hot,
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in d ...

arid
climate, especially in the Peninsula and Egyptian regions. Several major rivers providing
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
to support
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
in limited areas here such as the
Nile Delta The Nile Delta ( ar, دلتا النيل, or simply , ) is the delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), ...
in Egypt, the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
watersheds of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
, and eastern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
), and most of what is known as the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
. Conversely the Levantine coast and most of Turkey have more temperate, oceanic and wetter climates. Most of the countries that border the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
have vast reserves of
petroleum Petroleum, also known as crude oil and oil, is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isoc ...

petroleum
, with monarchs of the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
in particular benefiting economically from petroleum exports. Because of the arid climate and heavy reliance on the fossil fuel industry, the Middle East is both a heavy contributor to climate change and a region expected to be severely negatively impacted by it. Other concepts of the region exist including the broader the
Middle East and North Africa MENA is an English language, English-language acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa. It is alternatively called the WANA (Western Asia, West Asia and North Africa). The MENA acronym is often used in education in the Middle East ...

Middle East and North Africa
(MENA), which includes states of the
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania (also considered part of West Africa), Morocco and ...

Maghreb
and
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
, or the "
Greater Middle East The Greater Middle East, is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ...
" which additionally also includes parts of
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, and sometimes the
South Caucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
.


Terminology

The term "Middle East" may have originated in the 1850s in the British
India Office 275px, The western or park end of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's building in 1866. It was then occupied by the Foreign and India Offices, while the Home and Colonial Offices occupied the Whitehall Whitehall is a road and area in the C ...
. However, it became more widely known when
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...

American
naval strategist
Alfred Thayer Mahan Alfred Thayer Mahan (; September 27, 1840 – December 1, 1914) was a United States naval officer and historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A ...
used the term in 1902 to "designate the area between Arabia and India". During this time the
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
and
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
s were vying for influence in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
, a rivalry which would become known as
The Great Game The Great Game was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, ...
. Mahan realized not only the strategic importance of the region, but also of its center, the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
. He labeled the area surrounding the Persian Gulf as the Middle East, and said that after Egypt's
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
, it was the most important passage for Britain to control in order to keep the Russians from advancing towards
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
. Mahan first used the term in his article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September 1902 in the ''
National Review ''National Review'' is an American semi-monthly conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the p ...
'', a British journal. Mahan's article was reprinted in ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' and followed in October by a 20-article series entitled "The Middle Eastern Question," written by Sir
Ignatius Valentine Chirol Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (28 May 1852 –  22 October 1929) was a British journalist, prolific author, historian and diplomat. Early life He was the son of the Rev. Alexander Chirol and Harriet Chirol . His education was mostly in Fra ...
. During this series, Sir Ignatius expanded the definition of ''Middle East'' to include "those regions of Asia which extend to the borders of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
or command the approaches to India." After the series ended in 1903, ''The Times'' removed quotation marks from subsequent uses of the term. Until
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, it was customary to refer to areas centered around
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean as the "
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
", while the "
Far East The Far East is a term to refer to the geographical regions that includes East and Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nati ...

Far East
" centered on
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, and the Middle East then meant the area from
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
to
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
, namely the area between the Near East and the Far East. In the late 1930s, the British established the
Middle East Command Middle East Command, later Middle East Land Forces, was a British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular ful ...
, which was based in
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in E ...

Cairo
, for its military forces in the region. After that time, the term "Middle East" gained broader usage in Europe and the United States, with the
Middle East Institute The Middle East Institute (MEI) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research. Resea ...
founded in
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
in 1946, among other usage. The corresponding adjective is ''Middle Eastern'' and the derived noun is ''Middle Easterner''. While non-Eurocentric terms such "Southwest Asia" or "Swasia" has been sparsedly used, the inclusion of an African country, Egypt, in the definition questions the usefulness of using such terms.


Criticism and usage

The description ''Middle'' has also led to some confusion over changing definitions. Before the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

First World War
, "Near East" was used in English to refer to the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
and the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
, while "Middle East" referred to the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
,
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
, and Arabian lands, and sometimes
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
and others. In contrast, "Far East" referred to the countries of
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
(e.g.
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
,
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korea
, etc.) With the disappearance of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, "Near East" largely fell out of common use in English, while "Middle East" came to be applied to the re-emerging countries of the
Islamic world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodne ...
. However, the usage "Near East" was retained by a variety of academic disciplines, including
archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better underst ...
and
ancient history Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from ...

ancient history
, where it describes an area identical to the term ''Middle East'', which is not used by these disciplines (see
Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
). The first official use of the term "Middle East" by the
United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or U ...
was in the 1957
Eisenhower Doctrine The Eisenhower Doctrine was a policy enunciated by Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 5, 1957, within a "Special Message to the Congress on the Situation in the Middle East". Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, a Middle Eastern country could request Ame ...
, which pertained to the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
. Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles John Foster Dulles (; February 25, 1888May 24, 1959) was an American diplomat, lawyer, and Republican politician. He served as United States Secretary of State The United States secretary of state implements foreign policy for the U.S. g ...
defined the Middle East as "the area lying between and including
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
on the west and
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
on the east,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
on the North and the Arabian peninsula to the south, plus the
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
and
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
." In 1958, the
State Department The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the fede ...
explained that the terms "Near East" and "Middle East" were interchangeable, and defined the region as including only
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
,
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
,
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Persian Gulf. The Island country, island nation c ...

Bahrain
, and
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
. Middle East has also been rejected as a colonialist and racist term. The
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
Stylebook says that Near East formerly referred to the farther west countries while Middle East referred to the eastern ones, but that now they are synonymous. It instructs:
Use ''Middle East'' unless ''Near East'' is used by a source in a story. ''Mideast'' is also acceptable, but ''Middle East'' is preferred.
The term ''Middle East'' has also been criticised as
Eurocentric Eurocentrism (also Eurocentricity or Western-centrism) is a worldview upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the ment ...
("based on a British Western perception") by Hanafi (1998). ("unedited paper as given at the Oslo conference. An updated and edited version has been published in Utvik and Vikør, The Middle East in a Globalized World, Bergen/London 2000, 1–9. Please quote or refer only to the published article") "The expression Middle East is an old British label based on a British Western perception of the East divided into middle or near and far". see also


Translations

There are terms similar to ''Near East'' and ''Middle East'' in other European languages, but since it is a relative description, the meanings depend on the country and are different from the English terms generally. In
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
the term '' Naher Osten'' (Near East) is still in common use (nowadays the term ''Mittlerer Osten'' is more and more common in press texts translated from English sources, albeit having a distinct meaning) and in
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
Ближний Восток or ''Blizhniy Vostok'',
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

Bulgarian
Близкия Изток, Polish language, Polish '':pl:Bliski Wschód, Bliski Wschód'' or Croatian language, Croatian '':hr:Bliski istok, Bliski istok'' (meaning ''Near East'' in all the four Slavic languages) remains as the only appropriate term for the region. However, some languages do have "Middle East" equivalents, such as the French language, French :fr:Moyen-Orient, Moyen-Orient, Swedish language, Swedish :sv:Mellanöstern, Mellanöstern, Spanish language, Spanish :es:Oriente Medio, Oriente Medio or Medio Oriente, and the Italian language, Italian :it:Medio Oriente, Medio Oriente.In Italian, the expression "Vicino Oriente" (Near East) was also widely used to refer to Turkey, and ''Estremo Oriente'' (Far East or Extreme East) to refer to all of Asia east of Middle East Perhaps because of the influence of the Western press, the Arabic equivalent of ''Middle East'' (Arabic: الشرق الأوسط ''ash-Sharq al-Awsaṭ'') has become standard usage in the mainstream Arabic press, comprising the same meaning as the term "Middle East" in North American and Western European usage. The designation, ''Mashriq'', also from the Arabic root for ''East'', also denotes a variously defined region around the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, the eastern part of the Arabic-speaking world (as opposed to the ''
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania (also considered part of West Africa), Morocco and ...

Maghreb
'', the western part). Even though the term originated in the West, apart from Arabic, other languages of countries of the Middle East also use a translation of it. The Persian language, Persian equivalent for Middle East is خاورمیانه (''Khāvar-e miyāneh''), the Hebrew is המזרח התיכון (''hamizrach hatikhon''), the Turkish is Orta Doğu and the Greek is Μέση Ανατολή (''Mesi Anatoli'').


Territories and regions


Territories and regions usually considered within the Middle East

Traditionally included within the Middle East are
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
(Persia), Asia Minor,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
, the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. In modern-day-country terms they are these: :a. Jerusalem is the Jerusalem Law, proclaimed capital of Israel, which is Positions on Jerusalem, disputed and the actual location of the Knesset, Israeli Supreme Court, and other governmental institutions of Israel. Ramallah is the actual location of the government of Palestine, whereas the proclaimed capital of Palestine is East Jerusalem, which is Positions on Jerusalem, disputed. :b. Controlled by the Houthis due to the Yemeni Civil War (2015–present), ongoing war. Seat of government moved to Aden.


Other definitions of the Middle East

Various concepts are often being paralleled to Middle East, most notably Near East,
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
and the Levant. Near East, Levant and Fertile Crescent are geographic concepts, which refer to large sections of the modern defined Middle East, with Near East being the closest to Middle East in its geographic meaning. Due to it primarily being Arabic speaking, the
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania (also considered part of West Africa), Morocco and ...

Maghreb
region of North Africa is sometimes included. The countries of the
South Caucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
—Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia (country), Georgia—are occasionally included in definitions of the Middle East. The
Greater Middle East The Greater Middle East, is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ...
was a Political geography, political term coined by the George W. Bush administration, second Bush administration in the first decade of the 21st century, to denote various countries, pertaining to the Muslim world, specifically
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
. Various Central Asian countries are sometimes also included.


History

The Middle East lies at the juncture of Eurasia and Africa and of the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is the birthplace and Spirituality, spiritual center of religions such as
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
,
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
,
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
, Manichaeism, Yezidi, Druze, Yarsan and Mandeanism, and in Iran, Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism, and the Baháʼí Faith. Throughout its history the Middle East has been a major center of world affairs; a strategically, economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive area. The region is one of the regions were agriculture was independently discovered, and from the Middle East it was spread, during the Neolithic, to different regions of the world such as Europe, the Indus Valley and Eastern Africa. Prior to the formation of civilizations, advanced cultures formed all over the Middle East during the Stone Age. The search for agricultural lands by agriculturalists, and pastoral lands by herdsmen meant different migrations took place within the region and shaped its ethnic and demographic makeup. The Middle East is widely and most famously known as the Cradle of civilization. The world's earliest civilizations,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(Sumer, Akkadian Empire, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia), ancient Egypt and Kish civilization, Kish in the Levant, all originated in the Fertile Crescent and Nile Valley regions of the ancient Near East. These were followed by the Hittites, Hittite, Greeks, Greek, Hurrians, Hurrian and Urartian civilisations of Asia Minor; Elam, History of Iran, Persia and Medes, Median civilizations in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, as well as the civilizations of the History of the Levant, Levant (such as Ebla, Mari, Syria, Mari, Tell Brak, Nagar, Ugarit, Canaan, Aramea, Mitanni, Phoenicia and
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
) and the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
(Majan (civilization), Magan, Sheba, Iram of the Pillars, Ubar). The Near East was first largely unified under the Neo Assyrian Empire, then the Achaemenid Empire followed later by the Macedonian Empire and after this to some degree by the History of Iran, Iranian empires (namely the Arsacid Empire, Parthian and Sassanid Empires), the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire. The region served as the intellectual and economic center of the Roman Empire and played an exceptionally important role due to its periphery on the Sassanid Empire. Thus, the Ancient Rome, Romans stationed up to five or six of their legions in the region for the sole purpose of defending it from Sassanid and Bedouin raids and invasions. From the 4th century CE onwards, the Middle East became the center of the two main powers at the time, the Byzantine empire and the Sassanid Empire. However, it would be the later Caliphate, Islamic Caliphates of the Middle Ages, or Islamic Golden Age which began with the Islamic conquest of the region in the 7th century AD, that would first unify the entire Middle East as a distinct region and create the dominant
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic Arab ethnic identity that largely (but not exclusively) persists today. The 4 caliphates that dominated the Middle East for more than 600 years were the Rashidun Caliphate, the Umayyad caliphate, the Abbasid caliphate and the Fatimid caliphate. Additionally, the Mongols would come to dominate the region, the Kingdom of Armenia (Antiquity), Kingdom of Armenia would incorporate parts of the region to their domain, the Seljuk Empire, Seljuks would rule the region and spread Turko-Persian culture, and the Franks would found the Crusader states that would stand for roughly two centuries. Josiah Russell estimates the population of what he calls "Islamic territory" as roughly 12.5 million in 1000 –
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
8 million, Syria (region), Syria 2 million, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
1.5 million. From the 16th century onward, the Middle East came to be dominated, once again, by two main powers: the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
and the Safavid dynasty. The modern Middle East began after World War I, when the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with the Central Powers, was defeated by the British Empire and their allies and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, partitioned into a number of separate nations, initially under British and French Mandates. Other defining events in this transformation included the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the eventual departure of European powers, notably United Kingdom, Britain and France by the end of the 1960s. They were supplanted in some part by the rising influence of the United States from the 1970s onwards. In the 20th century, the region's significant stocks of crude oil gave it new strategic and economic importance. Mass production of oil began around 1945, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates having large quantities of oil. Estimated Oil reserves#Estimated reserves by country, oil reserves, especially in Saudi Arabia and Iran, are some of the highest in the world, and the international oil cartel OPEC is dominated by Middle Eastern countries. During the Cold War, the Middle East was a theater of ideological struggle between the two superpowers and their allies: NATO and the United States on one side, and the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact on the other, as they competed to influence regional allies. Besides the political reasons there was also the "ideological conflict" between the two systems. Moreover, as Louise Fawcett argues, among many important areas of contention, or perhaps more accurately of anxiety, were, first, the desires of the superpowers to gain strategic advantage in the region, second, the fact that the region contained some two-thirds of the world's oil reserves in a context where oil was becoming increasingly vital to the economy of the Western world [...] Within this contextual framework, the United States sought to divert the Arab world from Soviet influence. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the region has experienced both periods of relative peace and tolerance and periods of conflict particularly between Sunnis and Shiites.


Demographics


Ethnic groups

Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
constitute the largest ethnic group in the Middle East, followed by various Iranian peoples and then by Turkic people, Turkic speaking groups (Turkish people, Turkish, Azeris, and
Iraqi Turkmen The Iraqi Turkmen (also spelled as Turkoman and Turcoman; ar, تركمان العراق: tr, Irak Türkmenleri), also referred to as Iraqi Turks, ( tr, Irak Türkleri) are Iraq's third largest ethnic group. Whilst Turkic migration to Iraq began ...
). Native ethnic groups of the region include, in addition to Arabs, Arameans in Syria, Arameans,
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
, Baloch peoples, Baloch, Berbers,
Copts The Copts ( cop, ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, translit=niremənkhēmi; ar, الْقِبْط, ) are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group), or simply an ethnoreligion, is a grouping of people who a ...

Copts
, Druze,
Greek Cypriots Greek Cypriots ( el, Ελληνοκύπριοι, tr, Kıbrıs Rumları or Kıbrıs Yunanları) are the ethnic Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offici ...
,
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
,
Kurds Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ...
, Lurs, Mandaeans,
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...

Persians
, Samaritans, Shabak people, Shabaks, Tat people (Iran), Tats, and Zazas. European ethnic groups that form a diaspora in the region include Albanians, Bosniaks, Circassians (including Kabardians), Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Levantines (Latin Christians), Franco-Levantines, Levantines (Latin Christians)#Italian Levantines, Italo-Levantines, and Iraqi Turkmens. Among other migrant populations are Overseas Chinese, Chinese, Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, Filipinos, Indians in Saudi Arabia, Indians, Indonesians in Saudi Arabia, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Pashtuns, Romani people, Romani, and Afro-Arabs.


Migration

"Migration has always provided an important vent for labor market pressures in the Middle East. For the period between the 1970s and 1990s, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf in particular provided a rich source of employment for workers from Egypt, Yemen and the countries of the Levant, while Europe had attracted young workers from North African countries due both to proximity and the legacy of colonial ties between France and the majority of North African states." According to the International Organization for Migration, there are 13 million first-generation migrants from Arab nations in the world, of which 5.8 reside in other Arab countries. Expatriates from Arab countries contribute to the circulation of financial and human capital in the region and thus significantly promote regional development. In 2009 Arab countries received a total of US$35.1 billion in remittance in-flows and remittances sent to
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
from other Arab countries are 40 to 190 per cent higher than trade revenues between these and other Arab countries. In Somalia, the Somali Civil War has greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora, as many of the best educated Somalis left for Middle Eastern countries as well as Europe and North America. Non-Arab Middle Eastern countries such as
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
and
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
are also subject to important migration dynamics. A fair proportion of those migrating from Arab nations are from ethnic and religious minorities facing racial and or religious persecution and are not necessarily ethnic Arabs, Iranians or Turks. Large numbers of Kurdish people, Kurds, Jewish people, Jews,
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
, Greek people, Greeks and Armenian people, Armenians as well as many Mandeans have left nations such as Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey for these reasons during the last century. In Iran, many religious minorities such as Christians, Baháʼí Faith, Baháʼís and Zoroastrians have left since the Iranian Revolution, Islamic Revolution of 1979.


Religions

The Middle East is very diverse when it comes to Major religious groups, religions, many of which originated there.
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
is the largest religion in the Middle East, but other faiths that originated there, such as
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
and
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
, are also well represented. Christians represent 40.5% of Lebanon, where the President of Lebanon, Lebanese president, half of the cabinet, and half of the parliament follow one of the various Lebanese Christian rites. There are also important minority religions like the Baháʼí Faith, Yarsanism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism, Druze, and Shabak people#Religious beliefs, Shabakism, and in ancient times the region was home to ancient Mesopotamian religion, Mesopotamian religions, ancient Canaanite religion, Canaanite religions, Manichaeism, Mithraic mysteries, Mithraism and various monotheist gnostic sects.


Languages

The six top languages, in terms of numbers of speakers, are Arabic dialects, Arabic, Persian language, Persian, Turkish language, Turkish, Kurdish languages, Kurdish, Hebrew languages, Hebrew and Modern Greek, Greek. Arabic and Hebrew represent the Afro-Asiatic languages, Afro-Asiatic language family. Persian, Kurdish and Greek belong to the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. Turkish belongs to Turkic languages, Turkic language family. About 20 minority languages are also spoken in the Middle East. Arabic, with all its dialects, is the most widely spoken language in the Middle East, with Modern Standard Arabic, Literary Arabic being official in all North African and in most West Asian countries. Arabic dialects are also spoken in some adjacent areas in neighbouring Middle Eastern non-Arab countries. It is a member of the Semitic languages, Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Several Modern South Arabian languages such as Mehri language, Mehri and Soqotri language, Soqotri are also spoken Yemen and Oman. Another Semitic language such as Aramaic language, Aramaic and its dialects are spoken mainly by
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
and Mandaeans. There is also an Berber languages, Oasis Berber-speaking community in Egypt where the language is also known as Siwa language, Siwa. It is a non-Semitic Afro-Asiatic language. Persian language, Persian is the second most spoken language. While it is primarily spoken in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and some border areas in neighbouring countries, the country is one of the region's largest and most populous. It belongs to the Indo-Iranian languages, Indo-Iranian branch of the family of Indo-European languages. Other Western Iranic languages spoken in the region include Achomi language, Achomi, Daylami language, Daylami, Kurdish languages, Kurdish dialects, Semnani language, Semmani, Luri language, Lurish, amongst many others. The third-most widely spoken language, Turkish language, Turkish, is largely confined to Turkey, which is also one of the region's largest and most populous countries, but it is present in areas in neighboring countries. It is a member of the Turkic languages, which have their origins in Central Asia. Another Turkic language, Azerbaijani language, Azerbaijani, is spoken by Azerbaijanis in Iran. Hebrew languages, Hebrew is one of the two official languages of
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, the other being Arabic. Hebrew is spoken and used by over 80% of Israel's population, the other 20% using Arabic. Modern Greek, Greek is one of the two official languages of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
, and the country's main language. Small communities of Greek speakers exist all around the Middle East; until the 20th century it was also widely spoken in Asia Minor (being the second most spoken language there, after Turkish) and Egypt. During the antiquity, Ancient Greek was the lingua franca for many areas of the western Middle East and until the Muslim expansion it was widely spoken there as well. Until the late 11th century, it was also the main spoken language in Asia Minor; after that it was gradually replaced by the Turkish language as the Anatolian Turks expanded and the local Greeks were assimilated, especially in the interior. English language, English is one of the official languages of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. It is also commonly taught and used as a second language, especially among the middle class, middle and upper classes, in countries such as
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, Kurdistan,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
,
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
,
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Persian Gulf. The Island country, island nation c ...

Bahrain
, United Arab Emirates and
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
. It is also a main language in some Emirates of the United Arab Emirates. It is also spoken as native language by Jewish immigrants from Anglophone countries (UK, USA, Australia) in Israel and understood widely as second language there. French language, French is taught and used in many government facilities and media in
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
, and is taught in some primary and secondary schools of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
. Maltese language, Maltese, a Semitic language mainly spoken in Europe, is also used by the Maltese in Egypt, Franco-Maltese diaspora in Egypt. Also, due to widespread immigration of French Jews to French Jews in Israel, Israel, it is the native language of approximately 200,000 Jews of Israel. Armenian language, Armenian speakers are also to be found in the region. Georgian language, Georgian is spoken by the Georgian diaspora.
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
is spoken by a large portion of the Israeli population, because of Aliyah from the Commonwealth of Independent States in the 1990s, emigration in the late 1990s. Russian today is a popular unofficial language in use in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
; news, radio and sign boards can be found in Russian around the country after Hebrew and Arabic. Northwest Caucasian languages, Circassian is also spoken by the diaspora in the region and by almost all Circassians in Israel who speak Hebrew and English as well. The largest Romanian language, Romanian-speaking community in the Middle East is found in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, where Romanian is spoken by 5% of the population.According to the 1993 ''Statistical Abstract of Israel'' there were 250,000 Romanian speakers in Israel, at a population of 5,548,523 (census 1995). Bengali language, Bengali, Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken by migrant communities in many Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia (where 20–25% of the population is South Asian), the United Arab Emirates (where 50–55% of the population is South Asian), and Qatar, which have large numbers of
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
i, Bangladeshi and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
n immigrants.


Economy

Middle Eastern economies range from being very poor (such as Gaza and Yemen) to extremely wealthy nations (such as Qatar and UAE). Overall, , according to the CIA World Factbook, all nations in the Middle East are maintaining a positive rate of growth. According to the World Bank's ''World Development Indicators'' database published on July 1, 2009, the three largest Middle Eastern economies in 2008 were Turkey ($794,228), Saudi Arabia ($467,601) and Iran ($385,143) in terms of List of countries by GDP (nominal), Nominal GDP.The World Bank: World Economic Indicators Database. ''GDP (Nominal) 2008.''
Data for 2008. Last revised on July 1, 2009.
Regarding nominal GDP per capita, the highest ranking countries are Qatar ($93,204), the UAE ($55,028), Kuwait ($45,920) and Cyprus ($32,745). Turkey ($1,028,897), Iran ($839,438) and Saudi Arabia ($589,531) had the largest economies in terms of List of countries by GDP (PPP), GDP-PPP.The World Bank: World Economic Indicators Database. ''GDP (PPP) 2008.''
Data for 2008. Last revised on July 1, 2009.
When it comes to per capita (PPP)-based income, the highest-ranking countries are Qatar ($86,008), Kuwait ($39,915), the UAE ($38,894), Bahrain ($34,662) and Cyprus ($29,853). The lowest-ranking country in the Middle East, in terms of per capita income (PPP), is the autonomous Palestinian Authority of Gaza and the West Bank ($1,100). The economic structure of Middle Eastern nations are different in the sense that while some nations are heavily dependent on export of only oil and oil-related products (such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait), others have a highly diverse economic base (such as Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and Egypt). Industries of the Middle Eastern region include oil and oil-related products, agriculture, cotton, cattle, dairy, textiles, leather products, surgical instruments, defence equipment (guns, ammunition, tanks, submarines, fighter jets, UAVs, and missiles). Banking is also an important sector of the economies, especially in the case of UAE and Bahrain. With the exception of Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, tourism has been a relatively undeveloped area of the economy, in part because of the socially conservative nature of the region as well as political turmoil in certain regions of the Middle East. In recent years, however, countries such as the UAE, Bahrain, and Jordan have begun attracting greater numbers of tourists because of improving tourist facilities and the relaxing of tourism-related restrictive policies. Unemployment is notably high in the Middle East and North Africa region, particularly among young people aged 15–29, a demographic representing 30% of the region's total population. The total regional unemployment rate in 2005, according to the International Labour Organization, was 13.2%, and among youth is as high as 25%, up to 37% in Morocco and 73% in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
.


Climate change


Gallery

File:Abu dhabi skylines 2014.jpg, Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates File:View of Abdali.jpeg, Amman – Jordan File:YDA-Center-03.jpg, Ankara – Turkey File:5628442718 b10fc2c47f o.jpg, Baghdad,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
File:Beirut Corniche from University Tower.jpg, Beirut – Lebanon File:Flickr - archer10 (Dennis) - Egypt-2A-007.jpg,
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in E ...

Cairo
– Egypt File:Damascus from Qasiyon.JPG, Damascus – Syria File:Doha skyline in the morning (12544910974).jpg, Doha – Qatar File:Dubai skyline 2015 (crop).jpg, Dubai – United Arab Emirates File:Levent, Istanbul at night.jpg, Istanbul – Turkey File:Jerusalem Dome of the rock BW 14.JPG, Jerusalem – Israel File:Kuwait City cropped.jpg, Kuwait City – Kuwait File:Manama, Bahrain Decembre 2014.jpg, Manama – Bahrain File:MAKKAH - panoramio.jpg, Mecca – Saudi Arabia File:The gate to Muscat (8727196402).jpg, Muscat, Oman, Muscat – Oman File:Nicosia skyline July 2018.jpg, Nicosia – Cyprus File:Ramallahskyline.jpg, Ramallah – Palestine File:Sanaa HDR (16482367935).jpg, Sana'a – Yemen File:North of Tehran Skyline view.jpg, Tehran – Iran File:Panorama of Tel Aviv.jpg, Tel Aviv – Israel


See also

* Etiquette in the Middle East * Hilly Flanks * MENASA * Mental health in the Middle East * Middle Eastern cuisine * Middle Eastern music * Cinema of Egypt * Middle East Studies Association of North America * Orientalism * * Timeline of Middle Eastern history


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * Cleveland, William L., and Martin Bunton. ''A History Of The Modern Middle East'' (6th ed. 201
4th ed. online
* Cressey, George B. (1960). ''Crossroads: Land and Life in Southwest Asia''. Chicago, IL: J.B. Lippincott Co. xiv, 593 pp. ill. with maps and b&w photos. * Fischbach, ed. Michael R. ''Biographical encyclopedia of the modern Middle East and North Africa'' (Gale Group, 2008). * Freedman, Robert O. (1991). ''The Middle East from the Iran-Contra Affair to the Intifada'', in series, ''Contemporary Issues in the Middle East''. 1st ed. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. x, 441 pp. pbk. * * Halpern, Manfred. ''Politics of Social Change: In the Middle East and North Africa'' (Princeton University Press, 2015). * Ismael, Jacqueline S., Tareq Y. Ismael, and Glenn Perry. ''Government and politics of the contemporary Middle East: Continuity and change'' (Routledge, 2015). * Lynch, Marc, ed. ''The Arab Uprisings Explained: New Contentious Politics in the Middle East (Columbia University Press, 2014). p. 352. * * Reich, Bernard. ''Political leaders of the contemporary Middle East and North Africa: a biographical dictionary'' (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990).


External links



– Council on Foreign Relations: "A Resource for Nonpartisan Research and Analysis"
"Middle East – Interactive Crisis Guide"
– Council on Foreign Relations: "A Resource for Nonpartisan Research and Analysis"
Middle East Department
University of Chicago Library *
Middle East Business Intelligence since 1957
': "The leading information source on business in the Middle East" – MEED.com
Carboun
– advocacy for sustainability and environmental conservation in the Middle East *
Middle East News
from Yahoo! News
Middle East Business, Financial & Industry News
– ''ArabianBusiness.com'' {{Authority control Middle East Regions of Eurasia Western Asia North Africa Regions of Africa Articles containing video clips Eurocentrism