The Middle East and North Africa
                                                                    most Berbers today ar...
A century after Mohammad’s death, Islam           life forms have adapted to even the most
spread as far as Spain in the w...
in the Middle East and                                                          Oil has changed the Middle
North Africa, m...
skin. Any fish carried in from the Jordan die          Great Britain. Soon after, the British sent
instantly when they rea...
The Nations of the Middle East and North Africa
                                                             as of Novembe...
The Nations of the Middle East and North Africa

UAE=United Arab Emirates...
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ME NA Study Guide

  1. 1. The Middle East and North Africa most Berbers today are Arabic-speaking Many Things in Common Muslims. The Middle East and North Africa are two Many of the nations of the Middle East regions that are often grouped together and North Africa were once controlled by because they have many things in common. colonial powers. This is why you will Islam is the dominant religion and almost commonly hear many other everyone speaks Arabic. Most of the Middle languages, including East and North Africa is a desert where very English, French and little rain falls. There are, however, many Italian in the region. exceptions: • Most Iranians are Muslims, but they are The Arabs not Arabs. Until 1935, Iran was known as People who speak Arabic Persia, a culture that has existed for as their primary language thousands of years. Most Iranians speak are known as Arabs. Traditionally, they lived Farsi. on the Arabian Peninsula, but the language and culture of the Arabs spread throughout the • The Turks originally came from the land Middle East with the expansion of Islam. northwest of India. They are also Muslims Arabic is the language of the Quran, the holy but speak Turkish rather than Arabic. book of Islam. Today more than 250 million • The people of Lebanon primarily speak Arabs live throughout the world. Arabs Arabic, but more than one-third are constitute the substantial majority of people in Christian. Lebanon has traditionally been Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, a Christian Arabic nation, but Muslims Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, now outnumber Christians because Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Muslims have tended to have more Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. children. Most Arabs living in the United States are Lebanese. Where is the Middle East? • Most people in Israel speak Hebrew and practice Judaism. After World War II The lands around the southern and ended, the United Nations created Israel as eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea are a homeland for Jews. often called the Middle East or the Near East. The term came from the first • About twenty-five million Kurds live in geographers in ancient Greece, for whom the mountains between Iran, Iraq, Syria, the region was both near and east. China and Turkey. The Kurds are Muslims, but and Japan are part of the Far East. they have the own language and culture. The west referred to Western Europe, Many Kurds want to keep their traditional but later included the American continents lifestyle and resist assimilating into the once they were discovered. Australia and population of their host nations. New Zealand are often considered western • A minority of the people of Morocco and nations. This is because most people in Algeria are Berbers. The Berbers are the those nations have more in common with descendants of the people who lived in people in Western Europe and America North Africa before the Arab invasion. than they do with China or Japan. The Berbers have their own traditions, but ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 1 of 6
  2. 2. A century after Mohammad’s death, Islam life forms have adapted to even the most spread as far as Spain in the west to northern severe desert environment. Camels are able to India in the east. The Arabs were great traders survive long periods without food or water. whose influence reached as Many desert plants have far as Southeast Asia. Today long, shallow root systems. more Muslims live in This allows the plants to Indonesia, far from the Arab reach out to collect water world, than in any other over great distances. Other nation. desert plants have taproots. The Arabs were Taproots grow very deep so interested in learning and in they can tap sources of other cultures. Western underground water. Plant Europe was in a period often life in the desert is usually called the “Dark Ages” spread out over great because the civilizations of Greece and Rome distances. This is why deserts are often had been extinguished, but the Arabs made described as barren, or lifeless. great advances in mathematics, medicine, and When many people think of a desert they physical science. They replaced clumsy often think of endless miles of hot sand, but a Roman numbers with Arabic numerals we use desert does not have to be hot or sandy. Most today. Algebra and Chemistry are both of the land of the Middle East and North Arabic words. Africa is hot, dry desert land, but some deserts look very different. Most of Antarctica is a Deserts desert but there is no sand on the continent The Middle East and North Africa are one and the climate of Antarctica is the coldest on of the driest regions on earth. Nearly two- earth. thirds of the region is desert. A desert is land that receives an average of less than ten inches Bedouins of rain per year. The Sahara Desert of Bedouins are nomads who inhabit the northern Africa is the largest desert in the Middle East and North Africa. Bedouin is an world. It stretches across 3.5 million square Arabic word that means “desert dweller.” Like miles, a area larger than the United States if the plants and animals, the Bedouins have you excluded Alaska and Hawaii. The Rub adapted the lifestyle to the severe desert ‘al-Khali, or “Empty Quarter” is a large desert climate. They use their extensive knowledge in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest area of of the location of water and seasonal weather continuous sand in the world. changes to survive. Desert air contains little moisture, so few Traditionally, Bedouins avoid farming or clouds form over the land. Without clouds to any kind of settled life. They prefer to herd block the sun, temperatures may reach as high animals such as camels, as 125oF during the day. At night, sheep, and goats. Bedouins without the clouds to contain the generally travel in extended heat, the temperature can fall to family units headed by a as low as 40oF. sheik, a position handed Extreme temperatures down from father to eldest combined with little rainfall make son. They generally live in desert life difficult for people, tents so they can move plants, and animals. Yet, some easily. As oil wealth and A Bedouin family strong government evolved ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 2 of 6
  3. 3. in the Middle East and Oil has changed the Middle North Africa, many East and North Africa. Many Bedouins have given up leaders in the region have used the their traditional lifestyle and wealth from oil to modernize their settled on the outskirts of nations, while others kept the villages. wealth or used it to buy weapons Almost all Bedouins are and build armies. Saddam Hussein Muslims who speak Arabic. ruled Iraq from 1979 to 2003. It’s easy to float in the Dead Sea. Bedouins constitute a small Saddam and other dictators in the minority of the population of the Middle East region used their nations’ oil wealth to build and North Africa, but they live across a wide strong armies to control their nations. area of land. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, so Oil oil-producing nations must prepare for a time when their petroleum wealth no longer exists. Petroleum is the world’s most important Experts believe that the price of oil will energy resource. Industrialized nations such continue to rise as supplies are used up in as the United States depend on NATIONS WITH easily accessible areas. The world will petroleum oil to power their THE LARGEST likely prepare for the exhaustion of factories, and developing nations PROVEN petroleum reserves by switching to other such as China and India are PRETOLEUM RESERVES sources of energy. Bahrain is a small require an increasing share of the Nation oil* nation in the Persian Gulf that used its oil world’s oil production as their Saudi 262 wealth to develop a diversified economy. nations industrialize. Some Arabia Today Bahrain has little oil left, but it is a nations have a great deal of Iran 132 commercial and financial center and petroleum reserves, while other Iraq 115 Bahrain’s refineries process oil from nations have none. Kuwait 99 United Arab 98 other nations in the region. More than forty percent of the Emirates world’s oil reserves are spaced Venezuela 77 The Dead Sea unevenly among the nations of the Russia 72 The Dead Sea is not a sea, but a 50- Middle East and North Africa. Kazakhstan 40 mile long by 11-mile wide salt lake Libya 39 America’s relationship with the Nigeria 35 between Israel and Jordan. We call it a Middle East and North Africa has United 29 sea because it is salty like a sea or the changed since the discovery of oil States ocean. in the region. In 1960, many of Canada 17 China 17 The Dead Sea is the lowest body of the oil producing nations agreed Mexico 15 water on Earth, nearly one-quarter mile to form a cartel. A cartel is an Qatar 15 below sea level. Water from the Jordan international organization formed River flows in, but because the Dead Sea Algeria 12 to regulate prices and production. Brazil 11 is lower than the land around it, no water The cartel, called OPEC Norway 10 can drain out. The hot desert sun (Organization of Petroleum *oil is measured in billion barrels. evaporates the water about as fast as it Exporting Countries), increased Nations of the Middle East and flows in from the river, leaving behind North Africa are shown in prices by 70% in 1973. American italics. salt and other minerals from the Jordan. Source: BP Statistical gasoline prices more than doubled Review of World Energy and people waited for gasoline in June 2005. People can easily float on the surface lines sometimes over a mile long. of Dead Sea because it about seven times saltier than the ocean. When they get out of the water, they have a salty crust left on their ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 3 of 6
  4. 4. skin. Any fish carried in from the Jordan die Great Britain. Soon after, the British sent instantly when they reach the Dead Sea. soldiers into Egypt, saying they were Other salty lakes exist in dry areas around concerned for their property. For many years, the world. The Caspian Sea is the world’s the English controlled the Suez Canal. largest lake. The Romans thought they had In 1956, Egyptian president Gamel Abdel reached the ocean upon finding the Caspian Nasser seized the canal and declared it to be because it was salty. Utah’s Great Salt Lake the property of the Egyptian people. Egypt and the Aral Sea in Asia are also salty lakes. fought three bitter wars with Israel during this period, and denied Israel the use of the The Suez Canal waterway. Egypt and Israel agreed to a peace The Suez Canal is one of the most treaty in 1979, and since then the Suez Canal important waterways in the world. The 101- has been open to every nation. mile waterway connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The Suez Canal is often The Aswan Dam called the “crossroads to Europe, Africa, and For thousands of years the Nile River Asia” because the route is used to transport overflowed its banks every spring as the snow goods to and from all three continents. in the mountains transformed into a torrent of The idea of connecting the Mediterranean water. The annual floods carried dead and Sea to the Red Sea is as old as the pharaohs. decaying plants in its muddy solution. The The first canal in the region seems to have muddy water is called silt, and silt creates been dug about 1850 BC, but many attempts to excellent farmland. complete the task failed. Desert winds blew Since 1970, the Aswan Dam has into the canal and clogged it. About 150 years controlled the annual flood. By holding back ago, Great Britain had a thriving trade with water, the Aswan Dam created the world’s India, but without a canal, British ships largest man-made lake: Lake Nassar. The had to make a long journey around the water from Lake Nassar provided new entire continent of Africa. A canal fishing areas and provides much needed through the Isthmus of Suez would cut water for agriculture. The Aswan Dam the journey by 6,000 miles. An isthmus also makes it possible to grow an extra is a narrow strip of land connecting two crop each year by holding back the larger pieces of land. Ferdinand deLesseps summer flood that covers the banks of the A French company led by Ferdinand Nile River. deLesseps made a deal with Egypt to build the Critics charge that building the Aswan Suez Canal. After ten years of work, the canal Dam was unwise. The project was far more opened in 1869. The Egyptian ruler, Ismail, expensive than expected. Further, the annual celebrated by building a huge palace in Cairo. floods carried silt, which created the topsoil Ismail treated royalty from around the world needed for plants. Since the creation of the to a celebration in honor of the new canal. Aswan Dam, the farms on the formerly The heavy spending for the celebration came flooded banks have had to use expensive at a time when the price of Egyptian cotton fertilizers in place of the silt. Formerly, fish plunged. Egypt had gone into debt to pay for have fed on the silt, and the people the Suez Canal. Ismail took out loans from downstream depended on fishing from the European banks, but he was unable to repay river. them. Egypt was forced to sell the canal to ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 4 of 6
  5. 5. The Nations of the Middle East and North Africa as of November 3, 2005 The density of a nation is the number of people per square mile. Crowded nations have higher densities than less crowded nations. Arable land is land that is farmable. Desert land is generally not farmable. The percentage of Muslims in each nation is an estimation. Population Area Density arable Muslim Description Afghanistan 29,928,987 251,825 119 12% 99% The Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement controlled mountainous sq. mi. per sq. mi. Afghanistan until 2002. The Taliban is believed to have harbored Osama bin Ladin, the accused mastermind of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Algeria 32,531,853 919,595 35 3% 99% At one time, Algeria was part of France, but the Algerians asked sq. mi. per sq. mi. the French to leave. Bahrain 688,345 268 2568 3% 100% Bahrain was one of the first Persian Gulf nations to produce oil, sq. mi. per sq. mi. but by the 1970s it had used almost all of its reserves. Egypt 77,505,756 385,229 201 3% 94% Almost all of Egypt’s population is concentrated in the Nile sq. mi. per sq. mi. River Valley. Iran 68,017,860 632,457 108 9% 98% Iran was once known as Persia. Iranians are Muslims, but they sq. mi. per sq. mi. are not Arabs. Iranians speak Farsi. Iraq 26,074,906 167,975 155 13% 97% Iraq has been controlled by a group of nations led by the United States sq. mi. per sq. mi. since the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraq includes the land once known as Mesopotamia. Israel 6,276,883 7,876 797 16% 16% Israel is a homeland to Jewish people who had lived as minorities sq. mi. per sq. mi. in other lands until 1948. Jordan 5,759,732 34,342 168 3% 92% Jordan is an Arab and Muslim nation, but Jordan’s then King sq. mi. per sq. mi. signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1994. Kuwait 2,335,648 6,880 339 1% 85% The United Nations declared war on Iraq in 1991 after Iraqi dictator sq. mi. per sq. mi. Saddam Hussein attempted to “annex” or take over Kuwait. Lebanon 3,826,018 3,950 969 17% 60% Clashes among Christians, Muslims, and Israel have made sq. mi. per sq. mi. Lebanon an unstable nation. Libya 5,765,563 678,400 8 1% 97% Libya has been controlled by Muammar al-Qaddaffi since 1967. It is a sq. mi. per sq. mi. strict Muslim nation where gambling and eating pork are forbidden. Morocco 32,725,847 177,117 185 20% 99% One-third of the people of Morocco are Berbers. The Berbers, who lived sq. mi. per sq. mi. in North Africa before the Arab invasion, have their own language and customs. Oman 3,001,583 118,150 25 0% 92% Oil has made this sultanate a rich nation. A sultanate is a nation sq. mi. per sq. mi. ruled by a sultan. Qatar 863,051 4,412 196 2% 95% Qatar is a tiny nation that has used its oil wealth to create a sq. mi. per sq. mi. diversified economy. It is a center of banking in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia 26,417,599 865,000 31 2% 100% Saudi Arabia includes Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities sq. mi. per sq. mi. of Islam. It has the largest oil reserves in the world. Syria 18,448,752 71,498 258 25% 90% Syria has the best farmland of the region. When irrigated, the sq. mi. per sq. mi. land produces crops of cotton, wheat, and various vegetables. Tunisia 11,074,951 63,378 175 18% 98% Tunisia was once home to the ancient civilization of Carthage, an sq. mi. per sq. mi. advanced sea-faring city. The Romans defeated Carthage, burned the city and poured salt over the land so that it would no longer be arable and the people would be forced to leave. Turkey 69,660,559 300,948 231 31% 99% Most of Turkey is in Asia, but the western tip of the nation is in Europe. sq. mi. per sq. mi. The European section of Turkey includes Istanbul, Europe’s second most populated city after Moscow. United Arab 2,563,212 32,280 79 1% 96% Seven small emirates, or Arab kingdoms, combined to form this Emirates sq. mi. per sq. mi. small nation in 1971. West Bank 2,385,615 2,200 1084 17% 75% The territory along the West Bank of the Jordan River has been sq. mi per sq. mi. controlled by Israel, but the Palestinian Arabs in the region have limited self-rule. Yemen 20,727,063 205,356 101 3% 97% Yemen is an isolated, mountainous nation. Its most famous sq. mi. per sq. mi. export is rich-tasting coffee called mocha. ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 5 of 6
  6. 6. The Nations of the Middle East and North Africa B=Bahrain I=Israel K=Kuwait L=Lebanon Q=Qatar UAE=United Arab Emirates ©2003-2005, Mike Dowling, All rights reserved. Page 6 of 6