The Middle East

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					The Middle East
                  The Land
• Middle East comprises much of North Africa,
  and SW Asia
• Region is dominated by desert with mountains
  interspersed (Atlas, Caucasus, Hindu Kush)
• Major rivers also dot the region (Nile, Tigris,
  Euphrates, etc.) – very important
• Major resource of the region is fossil fuels
  underneath the sands of the region – world’s
  largest oil producing region
             Amounts of Oil
• Oil reserves in the Middle East are so
  extensive they make up almost 2/3 of all the
  world’s oil reserves
• All of these estimates do not include the
  newly discovered oil and gas fields in Caspian
  Sea region
• All of this is why the region is becoming
  fabulously rich and powerful
Water and Climate in the Middle East
• Water and climate are both very important in
  the Middle East
  – Climate is very dry
  – Water is very scarce
• Dry climate has led to centuries of pastoralism
  and nomadic herding
• More important are the impending wars over
  water rights in the region
  – As population grows, the ability to have water will
• One economic opportunity the region has
  going for it is tourism
  – Many of the world’s holiest shrines are located in
    the region
  – Much cultural history (Pyramids, ancient ruins)
    are located in the region
  – Much of the sea coast has a fantastic climate in
    which sun and cool breezes dominate the
           History of the Region
• Middle East is home to the beginnings of
   – Mesopotamia, Egypt both begin here
• Major religions of the world also develop here
   – Judaism
   – Christianity
   – Islam
• Each religion attracts a fanatical following from
  other parts of the world
       Importance to Humanity
• Middle East is the birthplace of the written
  – Hieroglyphics and Cuneiform originate in this
  – Math concepts such as 3.14 and Algebra emerge
    form this region
  – Other important innovations such as the wheel
    and the calendar emerge in early civilizations
       Importance to the World
• Middle East is at the crossroads of the East
  and the West
  – All major trade routes have passed through the
    area at one time
     – Silk Road
     – Suez Canal
• Today, the region is one of the greatest
  regions of conflict in the world
  – Palestinian vs. Jew
• Middle East is broken into 5 regions
  – North Africa
  – Arabian Peninsula
  – Eastern Mediterranean
  – Northeast
  – Central Asia
               North Africa
• Region is dominates by the Sahara Desert
• Because of this harsh climate, the region has
  a history of nomadic herders
• Civilization in the region has included
  – Roman Empire
  – Byzantine Empire
  – Islamic Empire
  – Colonialism
• Population density of the region varies
  – Not many people live in the middle of the desert
• Nile region and the coast of North Africa are
        Eastern Mediterranean
• One of the most contested regions in the
• Home to sacred sites of 3 religions
• War between Arabs and Jews has been a
  constant since the establishment of Israel as
  a nation in 1948
• Currently Jews and Arabs are negotiating a
  peace settlement
  – All peace deals in the past have failed
History of the Arab/Jewish Conflict
• 1948 – Israel is born/Arabs invade Israel
• 1967 – Six Day War results in Israel taking
  large portions of Arab territory
• 1973 – Yom Kippur War
• 2000s – Israel agrees to set up Palestinian
               The Northeast
• The Northeast contains Iran, Iraq, and Turkey
  – Not all people in this region are Arab – they are
    more Turkish
• Region formed the crux of the ancient
  Persian Empire
  – Several works of art are found in the region for
    this reason
               The Era of Oil
• Discovery of oil in the Persian Gulf region in
  the early 1900s has led to a transformation of
  the region
  – Iraq and Iran have huge oil reserves that have
    allowed the nations to build large armies and
    develop sophisticated weapons
  – Iran is thought to have the technology necessary
    to produce a nuclear weapon
        Problems in the Region
• Although it has abundant resources, the
  Northeast does have significant problems
• Most of the problems are associated with
  religion and ethnicity
• Shiite vs. Sunni rivalry has led to violence in
• Iraq has also persecuted the Kurds (a
  minority group of Turks living in northern
              Arab Peninsula
• Region is made up primarily by Saudi Arabia
  – Also includes small countries of Oman, Qatar,
    Bahrain, Yemen, United Arab Emirates
• Because of oil, region is fantastically wealthy
  – Highest per capita income in the world
• Almost totally desert
  – Most people live near the coast or near oasis
             Harsh Religion
• Since it is home to the Islamic religion,
  nations in the Arabian Peninsula can be very
• Women are not allowed to walk beside their
  husband; women are not allowed to show
  their faces in public
• Strict nature can even lead to death
  – Women were burned alive because to save them,
    men would have had to enter their bedroom
• Break into 3 groups and research one of the
  following nations
  – Qatar
  – Saudi Arabia
  – United Arab Emirates
• Develop a report on its history (brief), its
  economy, and issues in the nation
                    Central Asia
• Home of the “Stans”
   – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc.
• Region features over a dozen different ethnicities
  who rarely get along
• History of the region has been dominated by foreign
   – Persians, Russians, Islamic Empires have all ruled region
   – Not until collapse of Soviet Union did region gain its
          Home to Terrorism?
• Region is very susceptible to terrorism
  sentiment because of the poor living
• Some in the region are forced to sell their
  children to afford to continue to eat
• Making matters worse is the fact that many
  of the Soviet Union’s old nuclear weapons
  are housed in this unstable region

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