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WESTERN ASIA, WEST ASIA, SOUTHWESTERN ASIA or SOUTHWEST ASIA is the westernmost subregion of Asia . The concept is in limited use, as it significantly overlaps with the Middle East (or the Near East ), the main difference usually being the exclusion of Egypt (which would be counted as part of North Africa ). The term is sometimes used for the purposes of grouping countries in statistics . The total population of Western Asia is an estimated 300 million as of 2015.

In an unrelated context, the term is also used in ancient history and archaeology to divide the Fertile Crescent into the "Asiatic" or "Western Asian" cultures as opposed to ancient Egypt . As a geographic concept, Western Asia includes the Levant , Mesopotamia , Anatolia , Iran , the Armenian Highlands , the South Caucasus , the Arabian peninsula as well as the Sinai Peninsula , making Egypt a transcontinental country . Although the term "Western Asia" is mostly used as a convenient division of contemporary sovereign states into a manageable number of world regions for statistical purposes, it is sometimes used instead of the more geopolitical term " Middle East ", for example by the Government of Canada .

The term is used pragmatically and has no "correct" or generally agreed-upon definition. The National Geographic Style Manual as well as 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, Palestinian territories (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 Organisation (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 include Turkey, Georgia, and Cyprus in the region. In the United Nation's geopolitical 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 West Asian sports governing bodies are limited to Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, 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 and Snooker Federation , West Asian Football Federation , and the West Asian Tennis Federation .

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 2 Geography

* 2.1 Geology

* 2.1.1 Plate tectonics * 2.1.2 Water resources

* 2.2 Climate * 2.3 Topography

* 3 Demographics * 4 Economy * 5 Statistical data * 6 Sports * 7 Map of Western Asia * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links

HISTORY

See also: History of the Middle East , Ancient Near East , History of the Ottoman Empire , Treaty of Gulistan , Treaty of Turkmenchay , and Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire

"Western Asia" was in use as a geographical term in the early 19th century, even 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 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 the 1960s.

GEOGRAPHY

See also: Geography of Asia

Western Asia is located directly south of Eastern Europe . The region is surrounded by seven major seas; the Aegean Sea , the Black Sea , the Caspian Sea , the Persian Gulf , the Arabian Sea , the Red Sea , and the Mediterranean Sea .

To the north, the region is delimited from Europe by the Caucasus Mountains , to the southwest, it is delimited from Africa by the Isthmus of Suez , while to the east, the region adjoins Central Asia and South Asia .

The Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut deserts in eastern Iran naturally delimit the region somewhat from Asia itself.

GEOLOGY

Plate Tectonics

Three major tectonic plates converge on Western Asia, including the African , Eurasian , and Arabian plates. The boundaries between the tectonic plates make up the Azores-Gibraltar Ridge , extending across North Africa , the Red Sea , and into Iran. The Arabian Plate is moving northward into the Anatolian plate (Turkey) at the East Anatolian Fault , and the boundary between the 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. 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 90,000 km² across Western Asia for agriculture.

CLIMATE

A Lebanese cedar forest in winter. Köppen climate classification map of West Asia. See also: Climate of Asia

Western Asia is primarily 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 salinization and pollution threaten water supplies. Major rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates , provide sources for irrigation water to support agriculture .

There are two wind phenomena in Western Asia: the _sharqi_ and the _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 kilometers 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 areas extend north along the Red Sea coast and north into Lebanon . A fault -zone also exists along the Red Sea, with continental rifting creating 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 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 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 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.

The most populous countries in the region are Turkey and Iran and, each with around 79 million people, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia with around 33 million people each.

Numerically, Western Asia is predominantly Arab , Persian , Turkish , and the dominating languages are correspondingly Arabic , Persian and Turkish , each with of the order of 70 million speakers, followed by smaller communities of Kurdish , Azerbaijani , Hebrew , Armenian and Eastern Aramaic . The dominance of Arabic and Turkish is the result of the medieval Arab and Turkic invasions beginning with the Islamic conquests of the 7th century AD, which displaced the formerly dominant Aramaic and Hebrew in the Levant, and Greek in Anatolia, although Hebrew is once again the dominant language in Israel , and Aramaic (spoken largely by Assyrians ) and Greek both remain present in their respective territories as minority languages.

Other significant native minorities include Assyrians , Druze , Mandeans , Maronites , Shabaks , Syriac Arameans , Lurs and Yezidis .

ECONOMY

See also: Economy of Western Asia

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 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 reserves are located in the region.

STATISTICAL DATA

COUNTRY , WITH FLAG Area (km²) Population (2012) Density (per km²) CAPITAL Nominal GDP (2012) Per capita (2012) CURRENCY GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

ANATOLIA :

Turkey 1 783,562 73,722,988 94.1 Ankara $788.042 billion $10,523 Turkish lira Parliamentary republic Turkish

ARABIAN PENINSULA :

Bahrain 665 1,234,596 1,646.1 Manama $30.355 billion $26,368 Bahraini dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic

Kuwait 17,820 3,566,437 167.5 Kuwait City $184.540 billion $48,761 Kuwaiti dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic

Oman 212,460 2,694,094 9.2 Muscat $78.290 billion $25,356 Omani rial Absolute monarchy Arabic

Qatar 11,437 1,696,563 123.2 Doha $192.402 billion $104,756 Qatari riyal Absolute monarchy Arabic

Saudi Arabia 2,149,690 27,136,977 12 Riyadh $733.956 billion $25,139 Saudi riyal Absolute monarchy Arabic

United Arab Emirates 82,880 8,264,070 97 Abu Dhabi $383.799 billion $43,774 UAE dirham Federal Constitutional monarchy Arabic

Yemen 527,970 23,580,000 44.7 Sana\'a $35.05 billion $1,354 Yemeni rial Presidential republic Arabic

SOUTH CAUCASUS :

Armenia 29,800 3,262,200 108.4 Yerevan $9.950 billion $3,033 Armenian dram Presidential republic Armenian

Azerbaijan 86,600 9,165,000 105.8 Baku $68.700 billion $7,439 Azerbaijani manat Presidential republic Azerbaijani

Georgia 69,700 4,636,400 68.1 Tbilisi $15.847 billion $3,523 Georgian lari Semi-presidential republic Georgian

FERTILE CRESCENT :

Iraq 438,317 33,635,000 73.5 Baghdad $216.044 billion $6,410 Iraqi dinar Parliamentary republic Arabic , Kurdish

Israel 20,770 7,653,600 365.3 Jerusalem $257.62 billion $33,451 Israeli new shekel Parliamentary republic Hebrew , Arabic

Jordan 92,300 6,318,677 68.4 Amman $30.98 billion $4,843 Jordanian dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic

Lebanon 10,452 4,228,000 404 Beirut $42.519 billion $10,425 Lebanese pound Parliamentary republic Arabic

Palestine 6,220 4,260,636 667 Ramallah 3 $6.6 billion $1,600 Egyptian pound , Jordanian dinar , Israeli new shekel Semi-presidential republic Arabic

Syria 185,180 23,695,000 118.3 Damascus n/a n/a Syrian pound Presidential republic Arabic

IRANIAN PLATEAU :

Iran 1,648,195 78,868,711 45 Tehran $548.590 billion $7,207 Iranian rial Islamic republic Persian

MEDITERRANEAN SEA :

Cyprus 9,250 1,088,503 117 Nicosia $22.995 billion $26,377 Euro Presidential republic Greek , Turkish

SINAI PENINSULA :

Egypt 2 60,000 850,000 82 Cairo $262.26 billion $3,179 Egyptian pound Presidential republic Arabic

NOTES:

1 The figures for Turkey includes East Thrace , which is not a part of Anatolia . 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 disputed . 4 Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital of Israel and the actual location of the Knesset , Israeli Supreme Court , etc.

SPORTS

The West Asian Tennis Federation regulates the championships and leagues in the region.

The West Asian Billiards line-height: 1; text-align: center; background-color: #ffffff; position: relative; max-width: 100%; overflow-x: auto;">_ Arm. Azerbaijan Bah. Cyprus Egypt Georgia Iran Iraq Isr. Jordan Kuwait Leb. (Az.) Oman Pal. Pal. Qatar Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey UAE Yemen Aegean Sea _ _ Arabian Sea _ _ Aral Sea _ _ Black Sea _ _ Caspian Sea _ _ Gulf of Aden _ _Gulf of Oman _ _ Mediterranean Sea _ _ Persian Gulf _ _ Red Sea _ _ Sea of Azov _ AFRICA ASIA EUROPE

SEE ALSO

* Geography portal * Asia portal

* Cinema of West Asia * List of World Heritage Sites in Western Asia * West Asian Games * West Asian Basketball League * West Asia Basketball Association * West Asian Billiards ">

REFERENCES

* ^ "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census". Statistics Canada. 2006. Archived from the original on March 8, 2009. * ^ Miller, David. "West Asia Map". _National Geographic Style Manual_. National Geographic Society . * ^ Maddison, Angus (2004). _The World Economy: Historical Statistics _ (Print)format= requires url= (help ). Development Centre Studies. Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (published 2003). ISBN 92-64-10412-7 . LCCN 2004371607 . OCLC 53465560 . * ^ United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Vienna (UNIDO) (2005). _International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2015_. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing . p. 14. * ^ "Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use". Millenniumindicators.un.org. Retrieved 2012-08-25. The UNSD notes that the "assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is merely for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories."

* ^ "WABSF Member Countries". * ^ "The West Asian Games". Topend Sports. * ^ "WAFF Member Associations". _The-Waff.com_. * ^ e.g. James Rennell, _A treatise on the comparative geography of western Asia_, 1831. * ^ James Rennell, _The Geographical System of Herodotus Examined and Explained_, 1800, p. 210. * ^ Hugh Murray, _Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in Asia_ (1820). * ^ Samuel Whelpley, _A compend of history, from the earliest times_, 1808, p. 9. * ^ e.g. Petrus Van Der Meer, _The Chronology of Ancient Western Asia and Egypt_, 1955. Karl W. Butzer, _Physical Conditions in Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Egypt Before the Period of Agricultural and Urban Settlement_, 1965. * ^ _The Tobacco Industry of Western Asia_, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 1964. * ^ _A_ _B_ Beaumont (1988), p. 22 * ^ Muehlberger, Bill. "The Arabian Plate". NASA, Johnson Space Center. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. * ^ _A_ _B_ Beaumont (1988), p. 86 * ^ "Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)". * ^ "Chapter 7: Middle East and Arid Asia". _IPCC Special Report on The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability_. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2001. * ^ Taru Bahl; M H Syed, eds. (2003). _Encyclopaedia of the Muslim World_. New Delhi: Anmol Publications. p. 20. ISBN 978-81-261-1419-1 . Retrieved 1 February 2009. * ^ Sweeney, Jerry J.; William R. Walter (December 1, 1998). " Region #4 — Red Sea Continental Rift Zone" (PDF). _Preliminary Definition of Geophysical Regions for the Middle East and North Africa_. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. p. 8. * ^ "ASTER Image Gallery: The Dead Sea". NASA. * ^ Data for "15 West Asian countries", from Maddison (2003, 2007).Angus Maddison, 2003, _The World Economy: Historical Statistics_, Vol. 2, OECD, Paris, ISBN 92-64-10412-7 . _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),