The Middle East is a region at the intersection of Europe, Africa and Asia. It has an ancient history and is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Middle Eastern countries
There is no clear definition of what counts as the Middle East. However, the countries that are most often included here are the Asian Arab states and Israel and Iran. Of these states, Iran is the largest population with over 70 million residents (2008) and Saudi Arabia is the largest country by area (2008). Most of these countries share strong historical ties and speak different dialects of the same language, Arabic, with the exception of Israel and Iran.
The greater Middle East also includes the African Arab states, the Turkish Central Asian states, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Cyprus, Azerbaijan and the states of the Horn of Africa. According to Countryaah, there are sixteen countries in the Middle East. Among them, the largest state here in population is Pakistan with about 173 million people (2008) and the largest one in area is Sudan (2008). The other countries include:
Iraq – Middle East
Iraq is a state in Asia. The capital of the country is Baghdad. Approximately 37 million Iraqis, Iraqis of other nationalities, live in Iraq. The official languages are Arabic and Kurdish. Iraq covers an area of around 435,000 km² and is about five times the size of the Republic of Austria. The highest mountain in Iraq is the Cheekha Dar at 3,611 meters. Neighboring countries are Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Kuwait.
Iran – Middle East
Iran is a state in Asia. The capital of the country is Tehran. Around 80 million Iranians, Iranians of other nationalities, live in Iran. The official language is Persian (Farsi). Iran covers an area of around 2 million km² and is thus around three times the size of France. The highest mountain in Iran is Damavand at 5,671 meters. Neighboring countries are Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Armenia.
Israel – Middle East
Israel, Zion, the Promised / Holy Land, is a state in Asia. The capital is Jerusalem. Approximately 8.5 million Israelis and residents of other nationalities live in Israel. Israel is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. The official languages are Hebrew and Arabic. Israel covers an area of around 21,000 km² and is about eight times the size of Luxembourg. The highest mountain in Israel is the Har Meron with 1,208 meters. Neighboring countries are Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.
Geography of the Middle East
Although the Middle East refers to a geographical area, it is a geographical area that does not have a clear definition. In short, it is considered to cover the different countries mentioned above. The Middle East often sends thoughts to deserts, which is not entirely wrong. Nevertheless, there are large fertile and green areas, not least around rivers such as Tigris, Euphrates and the Nile. However, there is a water shortage in much of the region.
Although the area is mainly flat, there are high mountains, for example, in Turkey (including Ararat at 5165 m) and Iran. There are also many high plateaus, including Yemen.
Middle Eastern religions
It is almost impossible to talk about the Middle East without talking about religion. Three of the world religions originate here; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here are some of the world’s most important holy cities such as Jerusalem and Mecca, which still today leads to conflict.
Islam is now clearly the dominant religion and has also set the strongest cultural imprint, but there are also large Christian and Jewish populations, with the Jewish state of Israel as an important example. In addition to these three religions, Drusters, Baha’is and Zoroastrians are also important minorities.
The history of the Middle East
The Middle East is considered by many to be the cradle of civilization, where the various Mesopotamian cultures are regarded as the earliest in the world (c. 5000 BC). In the following millennia, a number of different civilian institutions would play an important role in the region, such as Egypt, Babylon, Sumers, Assyrians and Phoenicians.
In the 600s BC, the Persian Empire came to dominate the region, to be followed by Alexander Macedonia and his successor Seleukids and Pthome Egypt. After these came the Romans, in the centuries just before the birth of Christ. During this period, the Middle East was dominated by Greek culture, the so-called Hellinist, with elements of Latin. When the Roman Empire was divided, the region came to belong to Östrom, then called Byzans, with the capital of Constantinople, today Istanbul. Christianity was now the dominant religion.
In the 6th century AD a new power comes into play, Islam. During the Caliphs, the Muslim warriors came to conquer largely the entire Middle East and beyond. Now also the distinct Middle Eastern identity, the Arabic, is created. But these caliphates were also replaced when the Selju Turks invaded during the 11th century. These would replace the Arab kingdoms and also put the death toll on Byzans as a power factor in the region. But even this civilization would have great problems. First came the crusades when European Christian warriors attacked with a surprising force. After this, the Mongols came from the east and conquered large areas.
The last major Muslim empire to dominate the region was the Ottoman, which emerged in the 15th century. This kingdom was to be a great power factor for several hundred years, but had lasted helplessly after Europe at the turn of the century. With the First World War the empire was dismantled and the various European colonial powers instead became the great power factor.
However, this dominance would be quite short-lived and after the Second World War, sometimes through armed conflicts, the Arab states made themselves free and independent. However, the region remains affected by conflicts, not least through the infected Israel-Palestine issue, which was raised with the state of Israel’s founding in 1948 and subsequent wars.
Middle Eastern economy
The economy of the Middle East is very mixed, with some of the world’s richest and poorest countries. However, what characterizes the entire region, especially the rich countries, is oil and gas. The most important economies include: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Iran and Qatar.