Western Asia

Last updated

West Asia
Western Asia (orthographic projection).svg
Area5,994,935 km2 (2,314,657 sq mi)a
Population313,428,000 (2018) (9th) [1] [2]
Population density50.1 km2 (19.3 sq mi)
GDP  (PPP)$9.063 trillion (2019) [3]
GDP  (nominal)$3.383 trillion (2019) [3]
GDP per capita$10,793 (2019; nominal) [3]
$28,918 (2019; PPP) [3]
HDIIncrease2.svg0.699 (medium)
Ethnic groups Semitic, Turkic, Iranic, Armenian, Assyrian, Chaldeans, Arameans or Syriacs, North Caucasian, Cushitic, Georgians, Hellenic, Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austronesian, etc.
Religions Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baháʼí, Druzism, Yarsanism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.
Demonym West Asian
Western Asian
4 unrecognized
DependenciesFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Other languages
  • Afroasiatic :
  • Austronesian :
  • Indo-European :
  • NE Caucasian :
  • NW Caucasian :
  • Turkic :
Time zones
5 time zones
Internet TLD .ae, .am, .az, .bh, .cy, .eg, .ge, .il, .iq, .ir, .jo, .kw, .lb, .om, .ps, .qa, .sa, .sy, .tr, .ye
Calling code Zone 9 except Armenia, Cyprus (Zone 3) & Sinai (Zone 2)
Largest cities
UN M49 code 145 – Western Asia
a Area and population figures include the Sinai

Western Asia, also called West Asia or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anatolia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Mesopotamia, the Armenian Highlands, the Levant, the island of Cyprus, the Sinai Peninsula, and partly the Caucasus Region (Transcaucasia). The region is considered to be separated from Africa by the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, and separated from Europe by the waterways of the Turkish Straits and the watershed of the Greater Caucasus. Central Asia lies to its northeast, while South Asia lies to its east. Twelve seas surround the region (clockwise): the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Gulf of Suez, and the Mediterranean Sea.


Western Asia covers an area of 5,994,935 km2 (2,314,657 sq mi), with a population of around 313 million. [1] [2] Out of the 20 UN member countries located fully or partly within the region, 13 are a part of the Arab world. The most populous countries in Western Asia are Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

In the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD), Western Asia excludes the Arabian Peninsula. [4]


The term West Asia is used pragmatically and has no "correct" or generally agreed-upon definition. Its typical definitions overlap substantially, but not entirely, with definitions of the terms Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and Near East (which is historically familiar but is widely deprecated today). 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, Palestine (called West Bank and Gaza in the latter), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen as West Asian countries. [5] [6] In contrast to this definition, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in its 2015 yearbook also includes Armenia and Azerbaijan, and excludes Israel (as Other) and Turkey (as Europe). [7]

Unlike the UNIDO, the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) excludes Iran from Western Asia and includes Turkey, Georgia, and Cyprus in the region. [8] In the United Nations 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 Western Asian sports governing bodies are limited to Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. [9] [10] [11] 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.


"Western Asia" was in use as a geographical term in the early 19th century, before "Near East" became current as a geopolitical concept. [12] 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. [13] [14] [15] 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. [16]

Use of the term in the context of contemporary geopolitics or world economy appears to date from at least the mid-1960s. [17]


The region is surrounded by eight major seas; the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea.

To the northwest and north, the region is delimited from Europe by the Turkish Straits and drainage divide of the Greater Caucasus, to the southwest, it is delimited from Africa by the Isthmus of Suez, while to the northeast and east, the region adjoins Central Asia and South Asia. The region is located east of Southern Europe and south of Eastern Europe.

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


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. [18] [ better source needed ] The Arabian Plate is moving northward into the Anatolian plate (Turkey) at the East Anatolian Fault, [19] and the boundary between the Aegean and Anatolian plate in eastern Turkey is also seismically active. [18]

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. [20] [ better source needed ] 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. [20] Flood or furrow irrigation, as well as sprinkler methods, are extensively used for irrigation, covering nearly 90,000 km2 (35,000 sq mi) across Western Asia for agriculture. [21] Also, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers contribute very well.


A Lebanese Cedar Forest in winter Cedars in Lebanon.jpg
A Lebanese Cedar Forest in winter
Koppen climate classification map of West Asia West Asia Koppen Map.png
Köppen climate classification map of West 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. [22] 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 kilometres 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. [23]


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. [24] 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. [25]

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.


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. [26]

The most populous countries in the region are Turkey and Iran, each with around 79 million people, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia with around 33 million people each, and Yemen with around 29 million people.

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 Neo-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 in the region of Syria, and Greek in Anatolia, although Hebrew became the dominant language in Israel in the second half of the 20th century, and Neo-Aramaic (spoken by modern Arameans, Assyrians, and Chaldeans) and Greek both remain present in their respective territories as minority languages.

Significant native minorities include, in alphabetical order: Arameans, Assyrians, [27] Chaldeans, [28] Druze, [29] Jews, Lurs, Mandeans, Maronites, Shabaks and Yezidis.


Religion in West Asia (2020) [30]

   Islam (92.59%)
   Christianity (3.87%)
   Jewish (2.02%)
   No religion (1.16%)
   Hinduism (0.32%)
  Other religions (0.25%)
   Buddhism (0.15%)
   Folk religions (0.06%)

Four major religious groups (i.e. the two largest religions in the world: Christianity and Islam, plus Judaism and Druze faith) originated in Western Asia. [31] [32] [33] Islam is the largest religion in Western Asia, but other faiths that originated there, such as Judaism and Christianity, [34] are also well represented.

In Armenia and Georgia, Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion, [35] and there are still different ancient communities of Eastern Christians in Azerbaijan. [35] There are still large ancient communities of Eastern Christians (such as Assyrians, Middle Eastern Christians and Arab Christians) in Lebanon, [35] Iraq, [35] Iran, [36] Turkey, [37] [35] Syria, [35] Jordan, [35] Israel and Palestine numbering more than 3 million in West Asia. [35] There are also a large populations of expatriate workers which include a sizeable Christian communities live in Arabian Peninsula numbering more than 3 million. [38] Christian communities have played a vital role in Western Asia. [39]

Judaism is the predominant religion in Israel, and there are small ancient Jewish communities in Western Asia such as in Turkey (17,400),[ citation needed ] Azerbaijan (9,100), [40] and Iran (8,756). [41]

The Druze Faith or Druzism originated in Western Asia. It is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of figures like Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad and Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah and Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The number of Druze people worldwide is around one million, with about 45% to 50% living in Syria, 35% to 40% living in Lebanon, and less than 10% living in Israel; recently there has been a growing Druze diaspora. [42]

There are also important minority religions like the Baháʼí Faith, Yarsanism, Yazidism, [43] Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism, and Shabakism.


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
Population [44] [45]
(per km2)
Capital Nominal GDP [46]
Per capita [47]
Currency Government Official languages
Anatolia :
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 1783,56284,775,40494.1 Ankara $788.042 billion$10,523 Turkish lira Presidential republic Turkish
Arabian Peninsula :
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain 7801,463,2651,646.1 Manama $30.355 billion$26,368 Bahraini dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait 17,8204,250,114167.5 Kuwait City $184.540 billion$48,761 Kuwaiti dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 212,4604,520,4719.2 Muscat $78.290 billion$25,356 Omani rial Absolute monarchy Arabic
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 11,4372,688,235123.2 Doha $192.402 billion$104,756 Qatari riyal Absolute monarchy Arabic
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 2,149,69035,950,39612 Riyadh $733.956 billion$25,139 Saudi riyal Absolute monarchy Arabic
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates 82,8809,365,14597 Abu Dhabi $383.799 billion$43,774 UAE dirham Federal Constitutional monarchy Arabic
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen 527,97032,981,64144.7 Sana'a (Houthi-led government)
Aden (Seat of government)
$35.05 billion$1,354 Yemeni rial Provisional Presidential republic Arabic
South Caucasus :
Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia.svg  Abkhazia 58,660242,86228 Sukhumi $500 millionN/A Georgian lari Semi-presidential republic Abkhaz
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia 29,8002,790,974108.4 Yerevan $9.950 billion$3,033 Armenian dram Semi-presidential republic Armenian
Flag of Artsakh.svg  Artsakh 511,458150,932N/A Stepanakert $1.6 billion$2,581 Artsakh dram
Armenian dram
Presidential republic Armenian
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan 86,60010,312,992105.8 Baku $68.700 billion$7,439 Azerbaijani manat Presidential republic Azerbaijani
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 69,7003,757,98068.1 Tbilisi $15.847 billion$3,523 Georgian lari Semi-presidential republic Georgian
Flag of South Ossetia.svg  South Ossetia 53,90053,53213 Tskhinvali $500 millionN/A Georgian lari Semi-presidential republic Ossetian
Fertile Crescent :
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 438,31743,533,59273.5 Baghdad $216.044 billion$6,410 Iraqi dinar Parliamentary republic Arabic, Kurdish
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 20,7708,900,059365.3 Jerusalem 4$353.65 billion$39,106 Israeli new shekel Parliamentary republic Hebrew
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan 92,30011,148,27868.4 Amman $30.98 billion$4,843 Jordanian dinar Constitutional monarchy Arabic
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon 10,4525,592,631404 Beirut $42.519 billion$10,425 Lebanese pound Parliamentary republic Arabic
Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine 66,2205,133,392667 Ramallah 3$6.6 billion$1,600 Egyptian pound, Jordanian dinar, Israeli new shekel Semi-presidential republic Arabic
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 185,18021,324,367118.3 Damascus N/AN/A Syrian pound Presidential republic Arabic
De facto SA-NES Flag.svg  Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria 550,0000N/A Ayn Issa N/AN/A Syrian pound Libertarian socialist federated semi-direct democracy Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac
Iranian Plateau :
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 1,648,19587,923,43245 Tehran $548.590 billion$7,207 Iranian rial Islamic republic Persian
Mediterranean Sea :
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Akrotiri and Dhekelia 725415,700N/A Episkopi N/AN/A Euro Stratocratic dependency under a constitutional monarchy English
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus 9,2501,244,188117 Nicosia $22.995 billion$26,377 Euro Presidential republic Greek, Turkish
Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.svg  Northern Cyprus 53,355313,62693 North Nicosia $4.032 billion$15,109 Turkish lira Semi-presidential republic Turkish
Sinai Peninsula :
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 260,000850,00082 Cairo $262.26 billion$3,179 Egyptian pound Presidential republic Arabic


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. [note 1]
4 Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital of Israel and the actual location of the Knesset, Israeli Supreme Court, etc. Due to its disputed status, most embassies are in Tel Aviv. [note 1]
5 Unrecognised state
6 UN observer state
7 British Overseas Territory



See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Middle East</span> Geopolitical region encompassing Egypt and most of Western Asia

The Middle East is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabia, Asia Minor, East Thrace, Egypt, Iran, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and the Socotra Archipelago. The term came into widespread usage as a replacement of the term Near East beginning in the early 20th century. The term "Middle East" has led to some confusion over its changing definitions, and has been viewed by some to be discriminatory or too Eurocentric. The region includes the vast majority of the territories included in the closely associated definition of Western Asia, but without the South Caucasus, and additionally includes all of Egypt and all of Turkey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Saudi Arabia</span> Overview of the geography of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country situated in Southwest Asia, the largest country of Arabia, by the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen. Its extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal. The kingdom occupies 80% of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the country's boundaries with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and the Republic of Yemen are undefined, so the exact size of the country remains unknown. The Saudi government estimate is at 2,217,949 square kilometres, while other reputable estimates vary between 2,149,690 and 2,240,000 sq. kilometres. Less than 7% of the total area is suitable for cultivation, and in the early 1960s, population distribution varied greatly among the towns of the eastern and western coastal areas, the densely populated interior oases, and the vast, almost empty deserts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arabian Peninsula</span> Peninsula of Western Asia

The Arabian Peninsula, or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate, and located in the center of the Middle East. At 3,237,500 km2 (1,250,000 sq mi), the Arabian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arab world</span> Geographical and cultural region in Africa and the Middle East

The Arab world, formally the Arab homeland, also known as the Arab nation, the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, refers to a vast group of countries, mainly located in Western Asia and Northern Africa, that linguistically or culturally share an Arab identity. A majority of people in these countries are either ethnically Arab or are Arabized, speaking the Arabic language, which is used as the lingua franca throughout the Arab world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Middle East</span> Aspect of history

The Middle East, interchangeable with the Near East, is home to one of the Cradles of Civilization and has seen many of the world's oldest cultures and civilizations. The region's history started from the earliest human settlements and continues through several major pre- and post-Islamic Empires to today's nation-states of the Middle East.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MENA</span> Geographic region

MENA, an acronym in the English language, refers to a grouping of countries situated in and around the Middle East and North Africa. It is also known as WANA, SWANA, or NAWA, which alternatively refers to the Middle East as Western Asia and is a way to refer to the geography instead of the political term.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arab states of the Persian Gulf</span>

The Arab states of the Persian Gulf refers to a group of Arab states which border the Persian Gulf. There are seven member states of the Arab League in the region: Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Yemen is bound to the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, based on history and culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shia crescent</span>

The Shia Crescent is the notionally crescent-shaped region of the Middle East where the majority population is Shia or where there is a strong Shia minority in the population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Partition of the Ottoman Empire</span> Division of Ottoman territory after World War I

The partition of the Ottoman Empire was a geopolitical event that occurred after World War I and the occupation of Istanbul by British, French and Italian troops in November 1918. The partitioning was planned in several agreements made by the Allied Powers early in the course of World War I, notably the Sykes–Picot Agreement, after the Ottoman Empire had joined Germany to form the Ottoman–German Alliance. The huge conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states. The Ottoman Empire had been the leading Islamic state in geopolitical, cultural and ideological terms. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after the war led to the domination of the Middle East by Western powers such as Britain and France, and saw the creation of the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkey. Resistance to the influence of these powers came from the Turkish National Movement but did not become widespread in the other post-Ottoman states until the period of rapid decolonization after World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States foreign policy in the Middle East</span> Activities and objectives of the United States in the Middle East

United States foreign policy in the Middle East has its roots in the 19th-century Barbary Wars that occurred shortly after the 1776 establishment of the United States as an independent sovereign state, but became much more expansive in the aftermath of World War II. With the goal of preventing the Soviet Union from gaining influence in the region during the Cold War, American foreign policy saw the deliverance of extensive support in various forms to anti-communist and anti-Soviet regimes; among the top priorities for the U.S. with regards to this goal was its support for the State of Israel against its Soviet-backed neighbouring Arab countries during the peak of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The U.S. also came to replace the United Kingdom as the main security patron for Saudi Arabia as well as the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf in the 1960s and 1970s in order to ensure, among other goals, a stable flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. As of 2022, the U.S. has diplomatic relations with every country in the Middle East except for Iran, with whom relations were severed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Syria, with whom relations were suspended in 2012 following the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of the Arab world</span>

The Arab world consists of 22 states. As of 2021, the combined population of all the Arab states was around 407-420 million people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Arabian cuisine</span>

Eastern Arabian cuisine, also called Khaleeji cuisine, is the traditional Arabic cuisine variant that is shared by the population in Eastern Arabia and areas around the Persian Gulf. Seafood is a very significant part of the diet of the inhabitants of the coastal region of Eastern Arabia. Fish is very popular. The cuisine of eastern Arabia is different from the cuisine of the Arabs of Hejaz, Yemen, Najd, Oman, and other parts of Arabia. Harees is also a very popular dish in the region.

All three major Abrahamic religions originated from the Middle East and are present in the Middle East. Islam is the most prevalent religion in the contemporary Middle East.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ethnic groups in the Middle East</span>

The ethnic groups in the Middle East in the 'transcontinental' region commonly known with its geopolitical term; the Middle East which includes Western Asia and areas close to West Asia such as Egypt and Cyprus. The region has historically been a crossroad of different cultures and languages. Since the 1960s, the changes in political and economic factors have significantly altered the ethnic composition of groups in the region. While some ethnic groups have been present in the region for millennia, others have arrived fairly recently through immigration. The largest socioethnic groups in the region are Arabs, Kurds, Persians, Turks and Azerbaijanis but there are dozens of other ethnic groups which have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of members.

The Demographics of the Middle East describes populations of the Middle East or the Greater Middle East that includes Northern Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict</span> Indirect conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia

The Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, sometimes also referred to as the Middle Eastern Cold War, is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and other Muslim regions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have provided varying degrees of support to opposing sides in nearby conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria and Yemen; and disputes in Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar, and Iraq. It also extends to disputes or broader competition in other regions such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of North and East Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholic Church in the Middle East</span>

The Catholic Church in the Middle East is under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The Catholic Church is said to have traditionally originated in the Middle East in the 1st century AD, and was one of the major religions of the region from the 4th-century Byzantine reforms until the centuries following the Arab Islamic conquests of the 7th century AD. Ever since, its proportion has decreased until today's diaspora tendency, mainly due to persecution by Islamic majority societies. In most Islamic countries, the Catholic Church is severely restricted or outlawed. Significant exceptions include Israel and Lebanon.

The demographics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region show a highly populated, culturally diverse region spanning three continents. As of 2018, the population was nearly 578 million. The class, cultural, ethnic, governmental, linguistic and religious make-up of the region is highly variable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern culture</span> Eastern culture

Eastern culture, also known as Eastern civilization and historically as Oriental culture, is an umbrella term for various cultural heritages of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies of the Eastern world.

The involvement of Turkey within the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict has been ambiguous, and the country has supported both Iran and Saudi Arabia at times.



  1. 1 2 Jerusalem is Israel's de jure capital under Israeli law, as well as its de facto capital by the location of the presidential residence, government offices, supreme court and parliament (Knesset). Jerusalem is the State of Palestine's de jure capital under its "2003 Amended Basic Law". 17 February 2008, but not its de facto capital as its government branches are based in Ramallah. The UN and most sovereign states do not recognize Jerusalem as either state's de jure capital under the position that Jerusalem's status is pending future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In practice, therefore, most maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv and its suburbs, or else in suburbs such as Mevaseret Zion outside Jerusalem proper. See CIA Factbook, "Map of Israel" (PDF) and Status of Jerusalem for more information.


  1. 1 2 "World Population prospects – Population division". United Nations. Archived from the original on 5 February 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  2. 1 2 "Overall total population" (xlsx). United Nations . Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "World Economic Outlook Database". imf.org. IMF. Outlook Database, October 2020
  4. Brummitt, R. K. (2001). World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (PDF) (2nd ed.). International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases For Plant Sciences (TDWG). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  5. Miller, David. "West Asia". National Geographic Style Manual. National Geographic Society . Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  6. Maddison, Angus (2004). The World Economy: Historical Statistics. Development Centre Studies. Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (published 2003). ISBN   978-92-64-10412-9. LCCN   2004371607. OCLC   53465560.
  7. United Nations Industrial Development Organization Vienna (UNIDO) (2005). International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2015. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 14. ISBN   9781784715502.
  8. "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."
  9. "WABSF Member Countries".
  10. "The West Asian Games". Topend Sports.
  11. "WAFF Member Associations". The-Waff.com.
  12. e.g. James Rennell, A treatise on the comparative geography of western Asia, 1831.
  13. James Rennell, The Geographical System of Herodotus Examined and Explained, 1800, p. 210.
  14. Hugh Murray, Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in Asia (1820).
  15. Samuel Whelpley, A compend of history, from the earliest times, 1808, p. 9 Archived 2022-11-20 at the Wayback Machine .
  16. 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.
  17. The Tobacco Industry of Western Asia, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, 1964.
  18. 1 2 Beaumont (1988), p. 22
  19. Muehlberger, Bill. "The Arabian Plate". NASA, Johnson Space Center. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06.
  20. 1 2 Beaumont (1988), p. 86
  21. "Land & Water". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  22. "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. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  23. 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.
  24. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2007. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  25. "ASTER Image Gallery: The Dead Sea". NASA. Archived from the original on 2006-08-30.
  26. 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), Jordan (6.2), Palestine (4.1), Lebanon (4.0), Oman (3.3), United Arab Emirates (2.7), Kuwait (2.6), Qatar (0.9), Bahrain (0.7).
  27. Laing-Marshall 2005, p. 149-150.
  28. "Who are the Chaldean Christians?". BBC News . March 13, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  29. C. Held, Colbert (2008). Middle East Patterns: Places, People, and Politics. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN   9780429962004. Worldwide, they number 1 million or so, with about 45 to 50 percent in Syria, 35 to 40 percent in Lebanon, and less than 10 percent in Israel. Recently there has been a growing Druze diaspora.
  30. "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050". www.pewforum.org. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  31. "Middle East (region, Asia)". Britannica. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  32. MacQueen, Benjamin (2013). An Introduction to Middle East Politics: Continuity, Change, Conflict and Co-operation. SAGE. p. 5. ISBN   9781446289761. The Middle East is the cradle of the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
  33. Takacs, Sarolta (2015). The Modern World: Civilizations of Africa, Civilizations of Europe, Civilizations of the Americas, Civilizations of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, Civilizations of Asia and the Pacific. Routledge. p. 552. ISBN   9781317455721.
  34. Jenkins, Philip (2020). The Rowman & Littlefield Handbook of Christianity in the Middle East. Rowman & Littlefield. p. XLVIII. ISBN   9781538124185. The Middle East still stands at the heart of the Christian world. After all, it is the birthplace, and the death place, of Christ, and the cradle of the Christian tradition.
  35. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population" (PDF). Pew Research Center.
  36. Price, Massoume (December 2002). "History of Christians and Christianity in Iran". Christianity in Iran. FarsiNet Inc. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  37. "Christianity in Turkey" . Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  38. "BBC News - Guide: Christians in the Middle East". BBC News. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  39. Curtis, Michael (2017). Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East. Routledge. p. 173. ISBN   9781351510721.
  40. "Ethnic composition of Azerbaijan 2009". Pop-stat.mashke.org. 7 April 1971. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  41. "Jewish woman brutally murdered in Iran over property dispute". The Times of Israel. 28 November 2012. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014. A government census published earlier this year indicated there were a mere 8,756 Jews left in Iran See
  42. C. Held, Colbert (2008). Middle East Patterns: Places, People, and Politics. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN   9780429962004. Worldwide, they number 1 million or so, with about 45 to 50 percent in Syria, 35 to 40 percent in Lebanon, and less than 10 percent in Israel. Recently there has been a growing Druze diaspora.
  43. Nelida Fuccaro (1999). The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq. London & New York: I. B. Tauris. p. 9. ISBN   1860641709.
  44. "World Population Prospects 2022". population.un.org. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  45. "World Population Prospects 2022: Demographic indicators by region, subregion and country, annually for 1950-2100" (XSLX). population.un.org ("Total Population, as of 1 July (thousands)"). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  46. "GDP". IMF . Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  47. "GDP per capita". IMF . Retrieved 2014-04-16.


Further reading