The MIDDLE EAST is a transcontinental region centered on Western
North Africa . The corresponding adjective is
_Middle-Eastern_ and the derived noun is _Middle-Easterner_. The term
has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term
Near East (as
opposed to the
Far East ) beginning in the early 20th century.
Arabs , Turks , Persians ,
Kurds , and Azeris (excluding
Azerbaijan) constitute the largest ethnic groups in the region by
population. Minorities of the
Middle East include
Jews , Assyrians
and other Arameans , Baloch ,
Berbers , Coptic
Samaritans , Shabaks , Tats , and
Zazas . In the
Middle East, there is also a Romani community. European ethnic groups
that form a diaspora in the region include
Crimean Tatars , Franco-Levantines , and
Italo-Levantines . Among other migrant populations are
well as other Indians , Chinese , Filipinos , Indonesians , Pakistanis
, and Sub-Saharan Africans .
The history of the
Middle East dates back to ancient times, with the
(geopolitical) importance of the region being recognized for
millennia. Several major religions have their origins in the Middle
Christianity , and
Islam ; the Baha\'i faith
Mandaeism , Unitarian
Druze , and numerous other belief systems were
also established within the region.
Middle East generally has a hot, arid climate, with several major
rivers providing irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas
such as the
Nile Delta in Egypt, the
Mesopotamia , and most of what is known as the
Fertile Crescent .
Most of the countries that border the
Persian Gulf have vast reserves
of crude oil , with monarchs of the
Arabian Peninsula in particular
benefiting economically from petroleum exports.
* 1 Terminology
* 1.1 Criticism and usage
* 1.2 Translations
* 2 Territories and regions
* 2.1 Territories and regions usually within the
* 2.2 Other definitions of the
* 3 History
* 4 Demographics
* 4.1 Ethnic groups
* 4.2 Migration
* 4.3 Religions
* 4.4 Languages
* 5 Economy
* 6 Gallery
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 8.1 Citations
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
The term "Middle East" may have originated in the 1850s in the
India Office . However, it became more widely known when
American naval strategist
Alfred Thayer Mahan used the term in 1902
to "designate the area between Arabia and India". During this time
the British and Russian Empires were vying for influence in Central
Asia , a rivalry which would become known as
The Great Game . Mahan
realized not only the strategic importance of the region, but also of
its center, the
Persian Gulf . He labeled the area surrounding the
Persian Gulf as the Middle East, and said that after Egypt's Suez
Canal , it was the most important passage for Britain to control in
order to keep the Russians from advancing towards British
Mahan first used the term in his article "The
Persian Gulf and
International Relations", published in September 1902 in the _National
Review _, a British journal.
The Middle East, if I may adopt a term which I have not seen, will
some day need its Malta , as well as its Gibraltar ; it does not
follow that either will be in the Persian Gulf. Naval force has the
quality of mobility which carries with it the privilege of temporary
absences; but it needs to find on every scene of operation established
bases of refit, of supply, and in case of disaster, of security. The
British Navy should have the facility to concentrate in force if
occasion arise, about Aden , India, and the Persian Gulf.
Mahan's article was reprinted in _
The Times _ and followed in October
by a 20-article series entitled "The Middle Eastern Question," written
Ignatius Valentine Chirol . During this series, Sir Ignatius
expanded the definition of _Middle East_ to include "those regions of
Asia which extend to the borders of
India or command the approaches to
India." After the series ended in 1903, _The Times_ removed quotation
marks from subsequent uses of the term.
World War II
World War II , it was customary to refer to areas centered
Turkey and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean as the "Near
East ", while the "
Far East " centered on
China , and the Middle East
then meant the area from
Burma , namely the area
Near East and the Far East. In the late 1930s, the British
Middle East Command , which was based in
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 founded in
Washington, D.C. in 1946, among other
CRITICISM AND USAGE
Play media 1957 American film about the
The description _Middle_ has also led to some confusion over changing
definitions. Before the First World War , "Near East" was used in
English to refer to the
Balkans and the
Ottoman Empire , while "Middle
East" referred to
Iran , the
Afghanistan , Central Asia,
Turkestan . In contrast, "Far East" referred to the countries of
East Asia (e.g.
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 .
However, the usage "Near East" was retained by a variety of academic
disciplines, including archaeology and 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 first official use of the term "Middle East" by the United States
government was in the 1957
Eisenhower Doctrine , which pertained to
Suez Crisis . Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles defined the
Middle East as "the area lying between and including
Libya on the west
Pakistan on the east,
Iraq on the North and the Arabian
peninsula to the south, plus the
Ethiopia ." In 1958, the
State Department explained that the terms "Near East" and "Middle
East" were interchangeable, and defined the region as including only
Saudi Arabia ,
Bahrain , and
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
("based on a British Western perception") by Hanafi (1998).
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 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 Ближний Восток or
_Blizhniy Vostok_, Bulgarian Близкия Изток, Polish _Bliski
Wschód_ or Croatian _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 Moyen-Orient, Swedish Mellanöstern, Spanish
Oriente Medio or Medio Oriente, and the Italian Medio Oriente.
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, comprehending 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 eastern part of the
Arabic-speaking world (as opposed to the _
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 equivalent for
Middle East is
خاورمیانه (_Khāvar-e miyāneh_), the Hebrew is המזרח
התיכון (_hamizrach hatikhon_) and the Turkish is Orta Doğu.
TERRITORIES AND REGIONS
TERRITORIES AND REGIONS USUALLY WITHIN THE MIDDLE EAST
Traditionally included within the
Middle East are
Iran (Persia), Asia
Mesopotamia , the
Levant , the
Arabian Peninsula , and
In modern-day-country terms they are these:
COUNTRY , WITH FLAG
(per km²) CAPITAL
(2012) Per capita
languages COAT OF ARMS
Israeli shekel ,
Jordanian dinar Semi-presidential republic
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital of
Israel and the actual
location of the
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 disputed .
OTHER DEFINITIONS OF THE MIDDLE EAST
Near East and
Greater Middle East
Various concepts are often being paralleled to Middle East, most
notably Near East,
Fertile Crescent and the Levant. Near East, Levant
Fertile Crescent are geographic concepts, which refer to large
sections of the modern defined Middle East, with
Near East being the
Middle East in its geographic meaning.
The countries of the South
Azerbaijan , and
Georgia —are occasionally included in definitions of the Middle
Greater Middle East was a political term coined by the second
Bush administration in the first decade of the 21st century, to
denote various countries, pertaining to the
Muslim world ,
Pakistan . Various
Central Asian countries are sometimes also included.
History of the Middle East See also: List of modern
conflicts in the
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Western Wall and
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock in
Jerusalem The Kaaba
, located in
Middle East lies at the juncture of
Africa and of the
Mediterranean Sea and the
Indian Ocean . It is the birthplace and
spiritual center of religions such as
Mandeanism , and in Iran,
Manicheanism , and the Bahá\'í 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 world's earliest civilizations,
Sumer , Akkad ,
Babylonia ) and ancient
Egypt , originated in the Fertile
Nile Valley regions of the ancient Near East. These were
followed by the Hittite , Greek and
Urartian civilisations of Asia
Elam in pre-Iranian Persia, as well as the civilizations of
Levant (such as
Israel), Persian and
Median civilizations in Iran, North Africa
Carthage /Phoenicia) and the
Arabian Peninsula (Magan ,
Sheba , Ubar
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 Iranian empires (namely
the Parthian and Sassanid Empires ), the
Roman Empire and Byzantine
Empire . However, it would be the later
Arab Caliphates of the Middle
Ages , or
Islamic Golden Age which began with the
Arab 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
identity that largely (but not exclusively) persists today. The
Mongols , the Kingdom of
Armenia , the Seljuks , the Safavids , the
Ottoman Empire, and the
British Empire also dominated the region.
Middle East began after
World War I
World War I , when the Ottoman
Empire, which was allied with the
Central Powers , was defeated by the
British Empire and their allies and 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
France by the end of the 1960s. They were supplanted in
some part by the rising influence of the
United States from the 1970s
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
United Arab Emirates having large quantities of oil. Estimated oil
reserves , especially in
Saudi Arabia and Iran, are some of the
highest in the world, and the international oil cartel
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. Of course,
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 of the Middle East and Largest metropolitan
areas of the
Ethnic groups in West Asia
Arabs constitute the largest ethnic group in the Middle East,
Turkic people . Native ethnic groups of the region
include, in addition to Arabs,
Jews , Arameans , Assyrians , Baloch ,
Mandaeans , Persians ,
Samaritans , Shabaks , Tats , and
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"Migration has always provided an important vent for labor market
pressures in the Middle East. For the period between the 1970s and
Arab states of the PersianGulf 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 Franceand 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 35.1 billion
USD in remittance in-flows and remittances sent to
Lebanon from other
Arab countries are 40 to 190 per cent higher than
trade revenues between these and other
Arab countries. In
Somali Civil War has greatly increased the size of the Somali
diaspora , as many of the best educated Somalis left for
North America and other Middle Eastern countries.
Arab Middle Eastern countries such as
Israel and 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
Jews , Assyrians ,
Greeks and Armenians as
well as many Mandeans have left nations such as Iraq, Iran,
Turkey for these reasons during the last century. In Iran, many
religious minorities such as
Christians , Baha\'is and Zoroastrians
have left since the
Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Religion in the Middle East
Islam is the largest
religion in the Middle East. Here, Muslim men are prostrating during
prayer in a mosque. Lebanese
Christians account for roughly
40.5% of the population in
Lebanon , and have made significant
contributions to various different sectors of society.
Middle East is very diverse when it comes to religions , many of
which originated there.
Islam is the largest religion in the Middle
East, but other faiths that originated there, such as
Christianity , are also well represented.
Christians represent 40.5%
of Lebanon, where the 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 Bahá\'í
Yarsanism , Yazidism ,
and Shabakism , and in ancient times the region was home to
Mesopotamian religions , Canaanite religions ,
Manichaeism , Mithraism
and various monotheist gnostic sects.
The five top languages, in terms of numbers of speakers, are Arabic ,
Persian , Turkish , Kurdish , and Hebrew . Arabic and Hebrew represent
the Afro-Asiatic language family . Persian and Kurdish belong to the
Indo-European language family. Turkish belongs to Turkic language
family. About 20 minority languages are also spoken in the Middle
Arabic, with all its dialects, are the most widely spoken languages
in the Middle East, with
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 branch of the Afro-Asiatic
Modern South Arabian languages such as Mehri and
Soqotri are also spoken
Yemen and Oman. Another Semitic language such
as Aramaic and its dialects are spoken mainly by Assyrians and
Mandaeans . There is also a Oasis Berber -speaking community in Egypt
where the language is also known as Siwa . It is a non-Semitic
Persian is the second most spoken language. While it is primarily
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 branch of the family of
Indo-European languages .
Other Western Iranic languages spoken in the region include Achomi ,
Daylami , Kurdish dialects, Semmani , Lurish , amongst many others.
The third-most widely spoken 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 , is spoken by Azerbaijanis
Hebrew is one of the two official languages of
Israel , the other
being Arabic. Hebrew is spoken and used by over 80% of Israel's
population, the other 20% using Arabic.
English is commonly taught and used as a second language, especially
among the middle and upper classes , in countries such as
Bahrain , United Arab
Kuwait . It is also a main language in some Emirates of
French is taught and used in many government facilities and media in
Lebanon , and is taught in some primary and secondary schools of Egypt
Syria . Maltese , a Semitic language mainly spoken in Europe, is
also used by the Franco-Maltese diaspora in Egypt.
Armenian and Greek speakers are also to be found in the region.
Georgian is spoken by the Georgian diaspora. Russian is spoken by a
large portion of the Israeli population, because of emigration in the
late 1990s . Russian today is a popular unofficial language in use in
Israel ; news, radio and sign boards can be found in Russian around
the country after Hebrew and Arabic. Circassian is also spoken by the
diaspora in the region and by almost all
speak Hebrew and English as well. The largest Romanian -speaking
community in the
Middle East is found in
Israel , where as of 1995
Romanian is spoken by 5% of the population.
Urdu is 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
United Arab Emirates (where
50–55% of the population is South Asian), and Qatar, which have
large numbers of Pakistani , Bangladeshi and Indian immigrants.
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reflect recent events or newly available information. (December 2016)_
Economy of the Middle East and
Middle East economic
integration Oil and gas pipelines in the Middle-East
Middle Eastern economies range from being very poor (such as Gaza and
Yemen) to extremely wealthy nations (such as
Qatar and UAE). Overall,
as of 2007 , 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 ($794,228,000,000), Saudi Arabia
Iran ($385,143,000,000) in terms of Nominal GDP
. Regarding nominal GDP per capita, the highest ranking countries are
Qatar ($93,204), the UAE ($55,028),
Kuwait ($45,920) and Cyprus
Iran ($839,438,000,000) and
Saudi Arabia ($589,531,000,000) had the largest economies in terms of
GDP-PPP . When it comes to per capita (PPP)-based income, the
highest-ranking countries are
Kuwait ($39,915), the
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,
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
begun attracting greater number of tourists because of improving
tourist facilities and the relaxing of tourism-related restrictive
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
Morocco and 73% in
Abu Dhabi - UAE
Dubai - UAE
Kuwait City -
Ramallah - Palestine
Tel Aviv -
Play media This video over Central
Africa and the Middle East
was taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the International
Space Station . Play media This video over the
Sahara Desert and
Middle East was taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the
International Space Station. Play media A pass beginning over
Turkmenistan , east of the
Caspian Sea to south-eastern
China , just
Hong Kong .
Middle East portal
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Mental health in the Middle East
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Middle Eastern cuisine
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* State feminism §
Timeline of Middle Eastern history
* ^ Arabic : الشرق الأوسط, _Ash-Sharq al-Awsaṭ_;
Armenian : Միջին Արևելք, _Miǰin Arevelk’_; Azerbaijani :
Central Kurdish : ڕۆژھەڵاتی ناوین,
_Rojhelatî Nawîn_; French : _Moyen-Orient_; Georgian : ახლო
აღმოსავლეთი, _Axlo Aɣmosavleti_; Greek :
Μέση Ανατολή, _Mési Anatolí_; Hebrew : המזרח
התיכון, _Ha'Mizrah Ha'Tihon_; Northern Kurdish :
'ROJHILATA NAVîN\'; Persian : خاورمیانه,
_Xāvar-Miāne_; Somali : _Bariga Dhexe_; Turkish : _Orta Doğu_; Urdu
: مشرق وسطی, _Maśriq Vosta_
* ^ In Italian, the expression "Vicino Oriente" (Near East) was
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