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Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the conti ...
. It is entirely a part of the Greater Middle East. It includes
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 ...
, the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landfo ...
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north ...
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ Ārām''-Nahrīn'' or ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ ''Bēṯ Nahrīn'') is a historical region of Western ...
, the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the G ...

Levant
region, the island of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the M ...
, the Sinai Peninsula, and partly Transcaucasia. The region is considered to be separated from
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
by the Isthmus of Suez in
Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. ...
, and separated from
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
by the waterways of the Turkish Straits and the watershed of the Greater Caucasus.
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. The region consists of the former Russian Empire, Russian-rul ...

Central Asia
lies to its northeast, while
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sr ...
lies to its east. Eight seas surround the region (clockwise): the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. 21 countries are located fully or partly in Western Asia, out of which 13 are part of the Arab world. The most populous countries in Western Asia are
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north ...
, Turkey (mostly located on Western Asia's Anatolian peninsula, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe), Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The total population of Western Asia is estimated to be 300 million (as of 2015).


Definition

The term ''West Asia'' is used pragmatically and has no "correct" or generally agreed-upon definition. Its typical definitions overlap substantially, but not entirely, with definitions of the terms Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and Near East (which is historically familiar but is widely deprecated today). The ''National Geographic Society, National Geographic Style Manual'' as well as Angus Maddison, Maddison's ''The World Economy: Historical Statistics'' (2003) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) only includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Palestine (called West Bank and Gaza in the latter), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen as West Asian countries. In contrast to this definition, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in its 2015 yearbook also includes Armenia and Azerbaijan, and excludes Israel (as Other) and Turkey (as Europe). Unlike the UNIDO, the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) excludes Iran from Western Asia and includes Turkey, Georgia, and Cyprus in the region. In the United Nations geopolitical United Nations Regional Groups, Eastern European Group, Armenia and Georgia are included in Eastern Europe, whereas Cyprus and East Thracian Turkey are in Southern Europe. These three nations are listed in the European category of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). National members of Western Asian sports governing bodies are limited to Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Olympic Council of Asia's multi-sport event West Asian Games are contested by athletes representing these thirteen countries. Among the region's sports organisations are the West Asia Basketball Association, West Asian Billiards & Snooker Federation, West Asian Billiards and Snooker Federation, West Asian Football Federation, and the West Asian Tennis Federation.


History

"Western Asia" was in use as a geographical term in the early 19th century, before "Near East" became current as a geopolitical concept. In the context of the history of classical antiquity, "Western Asia" could mean the part of Asia known in classical antiquity, as opposed to the reaches of "interior Asia", i.e. Scythia, and "Eastern Asia" the easternmost reaches of geographical knowledge in classical authors, i.e. Transoxania and Indus valley, India. In the 20th century, "Western Asia" was used to denote a rough geographical era in the fields of archaeology and ancient history, especially as a shorthand for "the Fertile Crescent excluding Ancient Egypt" for the purposes of comparing the early civilizations of Egypt and the former. Use of the term in the context of contemporary geopolitics or world economy appears to date from at least the mid-1960s.


Geography

The region is surrounded by eight major seas; the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. To the north, the region is delimited from
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
by the drainage divide of the Greater Caucasus, to the southwest, it is delimited from
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
by the Isthmus of Suez, while to the northeast and east, the region adjoins
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. The region consists of the former Russian Empire, Russian-rul ...

Central Asia
and
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sr ...
. The region is located south of Eastern Europe. The Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut deserts in eastern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north ...
naturally delimit the region from Balochistan and South Asia.


Geology


Plate tectonics

Three major plate tectonics, tectonic plates converge on Western Asia, including the African Plate, African, Eurasian Plate, Eurasian, and Arabian Plate, Arabian plates. The boundaries between the tectonic plates make up the Azores–Gibraltar Transform Fault, Azores-Gibraltar Ridge, extending across North Africa, the Red Sea, and into Iran.Beaumont (1988), p. 22 The Arabian Plate is moving northward into the Anatolian Plate, Anatolian plate (Turkey) at the East Anatolian Fault, and the boundary between the Aegean Sea Plate, Aegean and Anatolian plate in eastern Turkey is also seismically active.


Water resources

Several major aquifers provide water to large portions of Western Asia. In Saudi Arabia, two large aquifers of Palaeozoic and Triassic origins are located beneath the Jabal Tuwayq mountains and areas west to the Red Sea.Beaumont (1988), p. 86 Cretaceous and Eocene-origin aquifers are located beneath large portions of central and eastern Saudi Arabia, including Wasia and Biyadh which contain amounts of both fresh water and saline water. Flood or furrow irrigation, as well as sprinkler methods, are extensively used for irrigation, covering nearly across Western Asia for agriculture. Also, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers contribute very well.


Climate

Western Asia is primarily arid climate, arid and semi-arid, and can be subject to drought, but it also contains vast expanses of forest and fertile valleys. The region consists of grasslands, rangelands, deserts, and mountains. Water shortages are a problem in many parts of West Asia, with rapidly growing populations increasing demands for water, while salinity, salinization and pollution threaten water supplies. Major rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates River, Euphrates, provide sources for irrigation water to support agriculture. There are two wind phenomena in Western Asia: the ''sharqi'' and the ''shamal (wind), shamal''. The ''sharqi'' (or ''sharki'') is a wind that comes from the south and southeast. It is seasonal, lasting from April to early June, and comes again between late September and November. The winds are dry and dusty, with occasional gusts up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour) and often kick up violent sand and dust storms that can carry sand a few thousand meters high, and can close down airports for short periods of time. These winds can last for a full day at the beginning and end of the season, and for several days during the middle of the season. The ''shamal'' is a summer northwesterly wind blowing over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), often strong during the day, but decreasing at night. This weather effect occurs anywhere from once to several times a year.


Topography

Western Asia contains large areas of mountainous terrain. The Anatolian Plateau is sandwiched between the Pontus Mountains and Taurus Mountains in Turkey. Mount Ararat in Turkey rises to 5,137 meters. The Zagros Mountains are located in Iran, in areas along its border with Iraq. The Central Plateau of Iran is divided into two drainage basins. The northern basin is Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert), and Dasht-e-Lut is the southern basin. In Yemen, elevations exceed 3,700 meters in many areas, and Highland (geography), highland areas extend north along the Red Sea coast and north into Lebanon. A Geologic fault, fault-zone also exists along the Red Sea, with continental rifting creating Trough (geology), trough-like topography with areas located well-below sea level. The Dead Sea, located on the border between the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan, is situated at 418 m (1371 ft) below sea level, making it the Extremes on Earth, lowest point on the surface of the Earth. Rub' al Khali, one of the world's largest sand deserts, spans the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula in Saudi Arabia, parts of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Jebel Akhdar (Oman), Jebel al Akhdar is a small range of mountains located in northeastern Oman, bordering the Gulf of Oman.


Demographics

The population of Western Asia was estimated at 272 million as of 2008, projected to reach 370 million by 2030 by Maddison (2007; the estimate excludes the Caucasus and Cyprus). This corresponds to an annual growth rate of 1.4% (or a doubling time of 50 years), well above the world population estimates, world average of 0.9% (doubling time 75 years). The population of Western Asia is estimated at about 4% of world population, up from about 39 million at the beginning of the 20th century, or about 2% of world population at the time.Data for "15 West Asian countries", from Maddison (2003, 2007).Angus Maddison, 2003, ''The World Economy: Historical Statistics'', Vol. 2, OECD, Paris, . ''Statistical Appendix'' (2007, ggdc.net) "The historical data were originally developed in three books: Monitoring the World Economy 1820–1992, OECD, Paris 1995; The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, OECD Development Centre, Paris 2001; The World Economy: Historical Statistics, OECD Development Centre, Paris 2003. All these contain detailed source notes." Estimates for 2008 by country (in millions): Turkey (71.9), Iran (70.2), Iraq (28.2), Saudi Arabia (28.1), Yemen (23.0), Syria (19.7), Israel (6.5), Jordan (6.2), Palestine (4.1), Lebanon (4.0), Oman (3.3), United Arab Emirates (2.7), Kuwait (2.6), Qatar (0.9), Bahrain (0.7). The most populous countries in the region are Turkey and
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north ...
, each with around 79 million people, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia with around 33 million people each, and Yemen with around 29 million people. Numerically, Western Asia is predominantly Arabs, Arab, Persians, Persian, Turkish people, Turkish, and the dominating languages are correspondingly Arabic language, Arabic, Persian language, Persian and Turkish language, Turkish, each with of the order of 70 million speakers, followed by smaller communities of Kurdish Language, Kurdish, Azerbaijani Language, Azerbaijani, Hebrew language, Hebrew, Armenian Language, Armenian and Neo-Aramaic. The dominance of Arabic and Turkish is the result of the medieval Islamic conquests, Arab and Turkic expansion, Turkic invasions beginning with the Islamic conquests of the 7th century AD, which displaced the formerly dominant Aramaic language, Aramaic in the Syria (region), region of Syria, and Greek language, Greek in Anatolia, although Hebrew became the dominant language in Israel in the second half of the 20th century, and Neo-Aramaic (spoken by modern Modern Arameans, Arameans, Modern Assyrians, Assyrians, and Modern Chaldeans, Chaldeans) and Greek language, Greek both remain present in their respective territories as minority languages. Significant native minorities include, in alphabetical order: Modern Arameans, Arameans, Modern Assyrians, Assyrians, Modern Chaldeans, Chaldeans, Druze, Jews, Lurs, Mandeans, Maronites, Shabaks and Yezidis.


Economy

The economy of Western Asia is diverse and the region experiences high economic growth. Turkey has the largest economy in the region, followed by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Petroleum is the major Petroleum industry, industry in the regional economy, as more than half of the world's oil reserves and around 40 percent of the world's natural gas List of countries by natural gas proven reserves, reserves are located in the region.


Statistical data

Notes: 1 The figures for Turkey includes East Thrace, which is not a part of
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 ...
.
2 The area and population figures for Egypt only include the Sinai Peninsula.
3 Ramallah is the actual location of the government, whereas the proclaimed capital of Palestine is Jerusalem, which is Positions on Jerusalem, disputed.
4 Jerusalem is the Jerusalem Law, proclaimed capital of Israel and the actual location of the Knesset, Israeli Supreme Court, etc. Due to its Positions on Jerusalem, disputed status, most embassies are in Tel Aviv.
5 List of states with limited recognition, Unrecognised state
6 UN observer state
7 British Overseas Territory


Sports

*The West Asian Tennis Federation regulates the championships and leagues in the region. *The West Asian Billiards & Snooker Federation regulates the championships related to billiards and snooker, amongst which an annual tournament. *The West Asian Games have been held in 1997, 2002 and 2005. *The West Asian Football Federation was founded in 2001 and is one of the regional federations of the Asian Football Federation. They organize the WAFF Championship. *The West Asia Basketball Association organizes the WABA Championship since 1999.


Map of Western Asia


See also

* Middle East * Cinema of West Asia * List of World Heritage Sites in Western Asia * West Asian Games * WABA Champions Cup, West Asian Basketball League * West Asia Basketball Association * West Asian Billiards & Snooker Federation * West Asian Tennis Federation * West Asian Football Federation


Notes


References

{{Authority control Western Asia, Regions of Asia Geography of Western Asia,