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Do Not Write on This Article Palestinians There are more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the world, about 2 million of them in Israel and the Occupied Territories-the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The rest are scattered across the globe, although most live in neighboring Arab countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The UN lists 2 million Palestinian refugees. During the war years of 1947-49, 700,000 -800,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. When Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, another 300,000 Palestinians became refugees (and 150,000 who were already refugees were forced to move again). Refugees live in camps or slums. Refugee camps set up by the UN Relief Workers Agency (UNRWA) originally consisted of simple shacks and unpaved alleys. Today they are built of concrete, galvanized steel, and aluminum. Most camps are very overcrowded and become more so as time passes, more refugees pour in, and more children are born to the families already there. Some refugee camps in the Gaza Strip have more than 40,000 people living in them. Many Palestinians continue to live as small subsistence farmers in rural villages. Others have managed to find good jobs and live quite well in the lands to which they have moved. There are also many urban centers in Palestine. The term Palestinian used to refer to anyone who lived in the land of Palestine, Arab and Jew included. With the establishment of the modern state of Israel, however, the term Palestinian has narrowed to mean only those Arabs (both Christian and Muslim) and their descendants who lived in Palestine during the time of the British mandate (1920 -48). Most Palestinians (75%) are Muslim, the majority belonging to the Sunni sect. About 17% of Palestinians are Christians whose ancestors have lived in that land since the time Jesus was born, ministered, and died there. Palestinians of the older generation still wear traditional clothing. Men wear a long loose robe called a jallabiyeh and the common Arab headscarf, or kaffiyeh, held in place with a twisted band called an ogaal. Women wear a long black peasant dress, known as a thob, with an embroidered bodice1, and a shawl over the head and shoulders. Women from different towns can be distinguished by the embroidery and style of the thob. Most younger Palestinians wear Western-style clothing, with traditional headscarves which cover the hair for young women. Religiosity increased during the years of the Intifada2 and this has been reflected in an increase in religious attire, known as shari`a clothing or jilbab, for young women. This is basically a long jacket-like dress which covers the entire body, with a scarf worn on the head to cover the hair. 1 the part of a woman's dress covering the body between the neck or shoulders and the waist 2 a revolt begun in December 1987 by Palestinian Arabs to protest Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -1- Do Not Write on This Article The main social problem for Palestinians is the war with Israel over rights to the Palestinian homeland. Palestinians are people without a country, living at best as displaced persons and at worst as refugees in crowded camps. The war with Israel has been going on for decades, and younger generations of Palestinians have never known a time when their people were at peace. Israelis Approximately 5 million people now live in Israel, more than 90% of them in the cities. The other 10% live in kibbutzim and moshavim (communal farms) or in small villages. There are about 110,000 Bedouin Arabs (former nomadic herders who now live mostly settled lives) scattered throughout the Negev desert, living in tents and cooking over open fires. About 82% of the population is Jewish, and 16% Arab. Daily wear in Israel is generally informal and Western-style. Few men wear suit jackets and ties in the summer, except for important business occasions. Ultra-Orthodox Jews wear traditional clothing every day. Some Orthodox males wear their hair in sidelocks called payes. It is an Orthodox custom to give a boy his first haircut at the age of three. Married Orthodox women often wear a wig called a shietel, and a scarf tied to the back. Men wear long black or gray coats over a shirt and pants, and a black hat on their heads. Muslim men and women dress similarly to Palestinians, with the kaffiyyeh (scarf- like head-dress) worn by many of the more traditional and elderly men. Most Muslim women in Israel no longer wear the traditional thob of the Palestinians, choosing Western attire instead. The official languages of Israel are Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Hebrew is the language of the majority, and more Arabs speak Hebrew than Jews speak Arabic. Most Israelis also speak English. Modern Hebrew is a very young language, born only about 100 years ago. Some ultra-Orthodox Israelis still refuse to speak modern Hebrew. Hebrew uses a unique alphabet with no vowels. It is read from right to left, except for numerals, which are read from left to right. Given the extremely diverse population of Israel, it is difficult to define any standard Israeli ways of relating to one another. Native-born Israelis (known as Sabras), however, tend to be very straightforward, plain-talking people, even to the point of rudeness. They detest sentimentality of any kind and love a good argument. They are fierce and articulate, friendly and hospitable, self-confident, ambitious, and proud. -2- Do Not Write on This Article Iranians The name "Persian" is now used to refer to all Iranians (with a total population of about 64,073,000 people). Only 45% of Iranians, however, are actually Persians, i.e., descendants of the Aryans who emigrated from Central Asia. Persians, the largest ethnic group, live either in the developed farm areas or in the large cities of the northern and western plateau. Iran's official language is Farsi, which is also known as "Persian." Farsi, also spoken in parts of Turkey and Afghanistan, was brought to Iran when the Aryan people of Central Asia migrated across Iran's northern border. Farsi has since been influenced by other languages, predominantly Arabic. The Farsi alphabet is very similar to the Arabic alphabet, and, like the latter, is written from right to left. Many Iranians understand Arabic, an important language since the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, is written in Arabic. Almost 70% of Iran is uninhabited because of the harshness of the deserts and mountains. Most of the population lives in the western and northern parts of the country, with the highest concentration of people in Tehran, the capital city, which has a population of about 6 million people. The population of more than 64 million people is almost evenly divided between urban- dwellers and rural inhabitants, with the cities rapidly growing due to urbanization and rural-to-urban migration. The cities of Iran are very spacious, and the streets are lined with trees. Despite the space, city streets are often very congested with automobiles. Larger cities have many high-rise apartments and some have modern supermarket complexes that are several stories high. Cities also have marketplaces, or bazaars. Wooden houses are common along the Caspian coast and square houses made of mud brick are found on the slopes in the mountain villages. The overwhelming majority of Iranians (about 98%) are Shi'ah Muslims, and Shi'ah Islam is the state religion. Before the advent of Islam, most Iranians were Zoroastrians. The Zoroastrian faith developed in Iran around the 7th to 6th centuries BC. Zoroastrians followed a teacher named Zoroaster or Zarathustra. They worshiped a god of good known as Ahura Mazda, and believed in a god of evil known as Ahriman. Most people in Iran employ an elaborate system of courtesy, known in Farsi as taarof. Polite and complimentary phrases are used to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. For example, when an Iranian finds he or she has had their back to someone, which is considered offensive body language, he or she will apologize. The other person will usually reply, "A flower has neither back nor front." At times, taarof can complicate or delay things, such as when two people each insist that the other should proceed first through a door. Since it brings honor to the one who insists, there could be a long struggle before one person finally gives in. -3- Do Not Write on This Article Kurds Population estimates for the Kurds range from 5 million to 22 million. It is difficult to get an accurate count because the Kurds live in remote mountain areas, many are refugees and flee from one place to another to escape persecution, and governments want to downplay their numbers and significance. It is known that more Kurds live in Turkey than anywhere else, and Kurds are the second-largest ethnic group in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. They are the third-largest group (after Azerbaijanis) in Iran. Kurds also live in Lebanon, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, as well as Germany (about 400,000) and other places across Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. Although they live among them, Kurds are unrelated to Turks, Arabs, and Iranians. "Kurdistan" is generally thought of as the mountainous area at the junction of the Iraqi, Iranian, and Turkish borders. The Kurds at first resisted the Islamic invasion during the 7th century AD. But they eventually gave in after the Islamic victory near the modern-day Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya in 643 AD. Most Kurds are now Sunni Muslims. About one-fifth are Shi'ite, especially in Iran. Many Kurds also belong to Sufi (Islam mystic) brotherhoods. The Sufi brotherhoods are very important in Kurdish village life. There are a million or so Kurdish Alevis in Turkey, and 40,000 -70,000 Yazidis (an independent sect combining aspects of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), mostly in Armenia and Azerbaijan. A very few Kurds are Christian. The Kurdish language is related to Persian (or Farsi), the language spoken in Iran. The main Kurdish dialects are the northern Kurmanji, spoken in Turkey, Syria, and the Caucasus region (of the former Soviet Union); and the southern Sorani, spoken in Iraq and Iran. Kurmanji is more widely used than Sorani. Kurdish, like Persian, has also borrowed many words from the Arabic language. Written Kurdish differs from region to region: Iraqi Kurds use a written form of Sorani; Syrian and Turkish Kurds write Kurmanji with the Latin alphabet; and Kurds of the Caucasus region finally settled on Kurmanji written with the Cyrillic alphabet, after trying Arabic, Armenian, and Latin alphabets. The skillful use of language is highly valued by Kurds. Witty repartee and a command of poetry are considered important social assets. In Turkey, however, it was illegal to speak Kurdish, except at home, until 1991. It is not illegal to speak Kurdish in Iran or Iraq. Traditionally, Kurdish women wear colorful skirts and blouses, and men wear baggy pants, vests, a red sash around the waist, and a blue silk turban on the head. Men also like to wear daggers. The typical Kurdish hat used to be a conical shape made of white felt, but today it is usually only worn by children. Nomadic Kurdish men shave their heads and wear long moustaches. -4- Do Not Write on This Article Traditional dress is becoming more and more rare as Kurds choose to dress like the people of the countries where they are living. In Iran, they must obey the laws of the Muslim government, so women must wear the black chador - a cloth covering their hair and clothes. In contrast, the government of Turkey has banned women from covering their hair in universities and public jobs, and so women are forced to wear more Western- style clothing. Most Kurds live in small villages in remote mountain regions. Some live in the valleys or on the plains. A typical Kurdish house is made of mud-brick with a wooden roof. In the summer, Kurds sleep on the roof where it is cooler. In some mountain villages, the houses are built so close together that those on higher elevations use their lower neighbors' roofs for extra living space. Some homes have underground rooms to use in the winter to escape the cold. There is rarely indoor plumbing; water is carried into the house in jars and cans from a central village well. There is no central heating. The few remaining nomadic Kurds live in tents made of blackened hides, and extended family members cluster their tents together in small communities. The greatest problem for the Kurds is the unwillingness of the nations in which they live to allow them cultural autonomy. Kurds do not currently request an independent state, but wish to be allowed to maintain their own language and culture within the states in which they live. Persecution of the Kurds has been especially traumatic in the age of nation-states. The concept of one nation with one people and one language has been adopted by the governments of Turkey and Iraq, and this has led to great oppression of the Kurds in an attempt to make them conform. Turks At the end of 1994, Turkey had an estimated population of 61.2 million (up from 56.5 million in the 1990 census). Between 80% and 90% of the population is composed of ethnic Turks. With more than 160 million people worldwide, many of them in Central Asia, the Turks are among the world's largest ethnic groups. The Turks' pride in their country and their nationality is expressed in the popular slogan, first coined by the great Turkish nationalist leader Atatürk: Ne mutlu Türkum diyene ("How happy is he who can say he is a Turk"). More than 90% of Turkey's population speaks Turkish. In the 1920s, the nationalist leader Atatürk instituted two major language reforms, replacing the Arabic script used during the Ottoman era with a modified Latin alphabet, and attempting to eradicate loan words from Arabic, Persian, and other languages by substituting Turkish ones. Nevertheless, words with Arabic and Persian origins still remain part of the language. More than 99% of Turks are Muslims, mostly Sunni, with Shiite and Alawite populations in the east and southeast of the country. Religious minorities include a small number of Jews whose ancestors fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 and found refuge among the Ottomans. There are also small numbers of Armenian, Syrian, and Greek Orthodox Christians. Although the Turks as a people are Muslims, their country has been a secular state since shortly after World War I, when Atatürk established a democratic republic ruled by codes of law, ending the sovereignty of Islamic law in the country. Modern Western-style clothing has been worn in Turkey since the founding of the republic in the 1920s. In urban areas, both adults and teenagers look much the same as -5- Do Not Write on This Article those in the cities of the West, with well-dressed businessmen wearing Italian suits, women taking an interest in the latest fashions from Paris, and young people wearing the universal teen uniform of jeans and athletic shoes. In villages and certain tourist areas, one may still see the traditional salvar, the baggy, loose-fitting trousers worn by both men and women. Bright colors and flowered prints are favored by village women. Although they do not wear veils, many women in rural areas cover their faces with a scarf or handkerchief when they are in close proximity to men they don't know. The Turks are an exceptionally polite people, particularly to visitors, and they use many courteous phrases in everyday conversation. They have three different ways of saying "thank you”: sagol, tesekkur edermin, and the French-derived mersi. It is considered impolite to hug or kiss members of the opposite sex in public, and a handshake that is too firm is also considered a sign of bad manners. On the other hand, it is acceptable and customary for men to publicly display physical affection toward each other, embracing and kissing when they greet each other and walking down the street arm-in-arm or holding hands. Armenians Today, estimates of the world-wide Armenian population range between 5 and 7 million, 3.5 million of whom reside in the Republic of Armenia. Significant diaspora communities exist in the United States, France, former Ottoman territories (Jerusalem, Syria, and Lebanon), formerly communist countries (Georgia, Russia, Bulgaria, and Romania), and Iran. Some diaspora3 communities are very old, such as the ones in Madras, India and in San Lazzaro, Italy, but many date to the Armenian genocide and the subsequent dispersion of Armenians from their Anatolian homeland. The Armenian language occupies an independent branch of the Indo-European family tree and has been spoken since antiquity. The Armenian language was written for the first time in the early 5th century (406 AD ), when its alphabet was invented by the scribe, Mesrop Mashtots, so that the Christian liturgy and scriptures could be translated and written for an Armenian audience. The alphabet has 36 characters, some of which were modeled after Greek and Syriac. According to some, Christianity was introduced in Armenia by the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and is therefore apostolic. But it was not until King Trdat III's conversion that Armenia was Christianized, shortly before the official Christianization of the Roman Empire. Not all Armenians are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, partly due to the pressures of communism in Soviet Armenia, and the attraction of other Christian faiths in the diaspora. Nevertheless, the Armenian Church has played an important role in the preservation of Armenian history and culture. 3 any group that has been scattered outside its traditional homeland -6- Do Not Write on This Article For more than 100 years, urban Armenians have dressed like other urban peoples of Europe. Men wear suits, sweaters, slacks, and leather jackets. Women prefer to wear dresses, jewelry, cosmetics, and high heels. Jeans are popular with young men and young women alike. As elsewhere in the world, Armenians follow Western fashion trends through magazines, television, and movies. Traditional costumes are worn for dramatic performances and for dance, as well as for occasions of cultural importance. For both men and women, traditional dress includes baggy pants below long shifts or overcoats. Distinctive regional adornments include sheepskin hats, engraved metal belts, and jewelry, sometimes made of coins. Women wear their hair in two long braids. Arabs The Arab World is the third largest geocultural unit in the world after Russia and Anglo-America, with a population exceeding 300 million and spanning from Morocco across Northern Africa to the Persian Gulf. This is usually known as the Middle East and North Africa. There is no single Arab culture or society: the Arab world is full of rich and diverse communities, groups and cultures. Differences exist not only among countries, but within countries. While there are many different regions in these areas and different factors that distinguish each of them, there are also many factors unifying them into a single Arab nation. These similarities—such as speaking Arabic—exist among most Arabs, regardless of their region of origin. : - - : closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. It is spoken throughout the Arab world and is widely studied and known throughout the Islamic world. Arabic has been a literary language since at least the 6th century and is the liturgical4 language of Islam, in addition to widespread use as a vernacular language. The Arabic language has various dialects from the numerous countries and traditions. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the language of the media and of educated Arabs, is different from the everyday spoken Arabic dialects in different Arab countries. Spoken Arabic also differs greatly in speech from written Arabic, which is much more formal. At present, most Arabs are Muslims by religion. Sunni Islam dominates in most areas, overwhelmingly so in North Africa; Shia Islam is prevalent in Bahrain, southern Iraq and adjacent parts of Saudi Arabia, southern Lebanon, parts of Syria, and northern 4 pertaining to formal public worship -7- Do Not Write on This Article Yemen. Ibadi are primarily in Oman and are also present in Algeria and Libya. There are some religious minorities like the Druze, Ismaaili Shia and other off shoots of Islam. -8-