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    describe three past conflicts in southwest asia and explain how they impact the people currently living in that region.

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    North Africa and Southwest Asia – World Regional Geography

    7 NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA

    Learning Objectives

    Identify the key geographic features of North Africa and Southwest Asia

    Describe the geography of the major religious groups found in North Africa and Southwest Asia

    Explain how the history of North Africa and Southwest Asia impacted its cultural landscape

    Describe the current areas of religious conflict within North Africa and Southwest Asia

    NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA’S KEY GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES

    When geographers divide the world into regions, we often do so using landmasses. Have a big chunk of land might be mostly surrounded by water? Let’s make it a region! Sometimes, though, making these sorts of divisions is more difficult. Africa, for instance, is almost entirely surrounded by water except for a small land connection with Asia at Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. But Sub-Saharan Africa is physiographically, culturally, and linguistically distinct from the African countries north of the Sahara. In fact, North Africa has much more in common in terms of its physical and religious landscape with the Arabian Peninsula and Southwest Asia than some of its continental neighbors to the south (see Figure 7.1).

    Figure 7.1: Map of North Africa and Southwest Asia (CIA World Factbook, Public Domain)

    Historically, this perhaps awkwardly named region of North Africa and Southwest Asia was commonly called the “Middle East.” This begs the question, though, what is it in the middle of? What is it east of? On a globe, east and west are relative terms. California is west of Europe but east of China. Indonesia is in Southeast Asia but is northwest of Australia. The equator might objectively be in the middle of the globe, but the “Middle East” is over 1,000 miles to its north. In truth, the term “Middle East” originated in Western Europe. Eastern Europe and Turkey were commonly referred to as the “Near East,” while China was called the “Far East.” The “Middle East” was thus in between these two regions.

    Referring to the region as the “Middle East” seems to privilege the European perspective, so what alternatives exist? Perhaps you could call it the Islamic World? This would exclude places like Israel and secular governments like Turkey, as well as the numerous minority religious groups found in the region. You might have heard people refer to this area as the Arab World, but this would not apply to Iran, much of Israel, or Turkey. Thus we are left with simply the descriptive geographic name: North Africa and Southwest Asia, sometimes abbreviated as NASWA.

    Whatever its name, this region is the hearth area for several of the world’s great ancient civilizations and modern religions. The landscape of North Africa and Southwest Asia, as its naming difficulties imply, is marked by regional differences: in culture, in language, in religion, in resources, and in precipitation. Even within countries, regional

    imbalances exist both in terms of the physical landscape and the patterns of human activity.

    One of the most recognizable features of North Africa and Southwest Asia are its deserts. The Sahara, from the Arabic word ṣaḥrā‘ meaning “desert,” is the largest hot desert in the world, stretching across 9.4 million square kilometers (3.6 million square miles) of the North African landscape. Although the typical image of the Sahara is its impressive sand dunes, most of the desert is actually rocky (see Figure 7.2).

    Figure 7.2: Sahara, Algeria (© Cernavoda, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

    To the east, the Arabian Desert dominates the landscape of the Arabian Peninsula. In the southern portion of this desert is the Rub’al-Khali, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. It is also one of the world’s most oil-rich landscapes. There are also a number of highland areas across the region including the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia and the Zagros Mountains of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

    The prevailing climatic feature of North Africa and Southwest Asia is a lack of precipitation. From 10°to 30°north is a particular band of dry air that forms the region’s hot desert climate zone (BWh in the Köppen climate classification system) and is clearly apparent on a map of global climate regions (see Figure 7.3). Most of the region receives less than 30 cm (12 in) of rain each year. This hot desert environment means that much of the land in the region is unsuitable for cultivation.

    Figure 7.3: Map of Global Hot Desert (BWh) Climate Zones (© Peel, M. C., Finlayson, B. L., and McMahon, T. A., Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

    There are exceptions to this arid environment, however. The region has a number of fertile river valleys and oases. The Nile River, for example, creates an arable floodplain in an otherwise extremely dry area (see Figure 7.4). While part of Iran is desert, northern Iran is actually home to dense rainforests and there are a number of scenic lakes. Coastal Turkey along the Mediterranean is often called the Turquoise Coast owing to its scenic blue waters. In general, however, those areas of North Africa and Southwest Asia where there is more abundant plant life are due to the presence of rivers, lakes, and seas rather than to the presence of ample rainfall.

    Source : worldgeo.pressbooks.com

    Southwest Asia

    Southwest Asia, subregion of Asia, bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Red Sea and on the south and southeast by the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The region reaches the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea to the north. Southwest Asia is often, but not always, coterminous with the Middle East; the latter is a more variable term that often includes parts of the African continent, while the term “Southwest Asia” is restricted to the continent of Asia. Southwest Asia, like much of southern Asia, is made up of an ancient platform—the

    Southwest Asia

    region, Asia

    By Alfred Felix L. Beeston See All • Edit History

    Southwest Asia, subregion of Asia, bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Red Sea and on the south and southeast by the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The region reaches the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea to the north. Southwest Asia is often, but not always, coterminous with the Middle East; the latter is a more variable term that often includes parts of the African continent, while the term “Southwest Asia” is restricted to the continent of Asia.

    Tigris River

    Tigris River near Erbil, northern Iraq.

    © (null) (null)/Dreamstime.com

    Southwest Asia, like much of southern Asia, is made up of an ancient platform—the northern fragments of Gondwanaland—in which sloping plains occur in the marginal downwarps. Its principal components are Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula.

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    Asia: Southwest Asia

    Southwest Asia, like much of southern Asia, is made up of an ancient platform—the northern fragments of Gondwanaland—in...

    Mesopotamia consists of the Tigris and Euphrates floodplains and also the deltas from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf. The original lowland is covered with late Cenozoic sedimentation; the elevated plain, on the other hand, has been dissected by erosion and denudation under the continental conditions prevailing in the late Cenozoic.

    Tigris River

    Tigris River near Ashur, northern Iraq.

    © Giovanni Mereghetti/age fotostock

    Mesopotamia is flat alluvial land. Between Baghdad and the mouth of the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab (the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, where it empties into the Persian Gulf) there is a difference in height of only about 100 feet (30 metres). As a result of the slow flow of the water, there are heavy deposits of silt, and the riverbeds are raised. Consequently, the rivers often overflow their banks (and may even change their course) when they are not protected by high dikes. In recent times they have been regulated above Baghdad by the use of escape channels with overflow reservoirs. The extreme south of the region is extensive with marshes and reed swamps, hawrs, which, probably since early times, have served as an area of refuge for oppressed and displaced peoples.

    The supply of water is not regular; as a result of the high average temperatures and a very low annual rainfall, the ground of the plain of latitude 35° N is hard and dry and unsuitable for plant cultivation for at least eight months of the year. Consequently, agriculture without risk of crop failure—which seems to have begun in the higher rainfall zones and in the hilly borders of Mesopotamia in the 10th millennium BCE—began in Mesopotamia itself, the real heart of the civilization, only after artificial irrigation had been invented, bringing water to large stretches of territory through a widely branching network of canals. Since the ground is extremely fertile and, with irrigation and the necessary drainage, will produce in abundance, southern Mesopotamia became a land of plenty that could support a considerable population.

    The Arabian Peninsula is a tilted platform, highest along the Red Sea, on which the stratified plains have undergone erosion under arid conditions. Plateaus with uplifted margins, Cenozoic lava plateaus, stratified plains, and cuestas (long low ridges with a steep face on one side and a long gentle slope on the other) all occur. Ancient marine sands and alluvium, resulting from previous subsidence and sedimentation, now take the form of vast sandy deserts.

    Al-Ḥajar range

    A water channel known as a falaj provides irrigation to a date grove in the Al-Ḥajar range of Oman.

    A.C. Waltham/Robert Harding Picture Library

    Abu Dhabi: desert

    Desert sand dunes in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    © Nicolas Durance/Fotolia

    At one time Arabia as a whole may have had greater rainfall and richer vegetation than it does today, as shown by the large dried-up watercourses intersecting the peninsula, but climatic conditions seem to have changed little in the past five millennia, and human life—settled or nomadic—has been a struggle to cope with the harsh realities of this vast peninsula.

    Southern Arabia (comprising Yemen and Oman) lies within the climatic zone of the Indian Ocean monsoons, which yield enough rainfall to make it potentially the most fertile part of Arabia. In Yemen, sophisticated irrigation techniques go very far back indeed; soundings in the silt deposits around the great dam of Maʾrib attest intensive agricultural exploitation there from at least 2000 BCE.

    The geography and climate of Southwest Asia have permitted an unusually long and rich historical record for the region. For more on the history, civilization, and people of Southwest Asia, see history of Mesopotamia; history of Arabia; and Islamic world.

    Source : www.britannica.com

    North Africa and Southwest Asia

    Chapter 8 North Africa and Southwest Asia

    Chapter 8 North Africa and Southwest Asia Identifying the Boundaries

    The realm of North Africa and Southwest Asia is large and expansive in terms of physical area, but its regions share a number of common qualities. The physical area of this realm is divided into three regions: North Africa, Southwest Asia, and the countries of TurkestanAlternative term for the region of Central Asia named after the Turkish people who moved through the area centuries ago. (the geographic region of Central Asia). The countries in the North African region include the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea from Morocco to Sudan. The realm borders the Atlantic Ocean, the Sahara Desert, and the African Transition Zone. Egypt has territory in both Africa and Asia through its possession of the Sinai Peninsula. The second region, Southwest Asia, includes Turkey, Iran, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula. The land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea is frequently referred to as the LevantLand area bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea that now includes Israel, Lebanon, and parts of western Syria. and is often included as a part of the Middle East. Technically, the term Middle East only includes the five countries of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, but in common practice Middle East refers to all of Southwest Asia. Central Asia, also referred to as Turkestan, includes the “stan” countries from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan in the region between China and the Caspian Sea. The suffix stan, meaning “land of,” is a common suffix for country names in Central Asia. Afghanistan is the only country of Central Asia that was not officially a part of the former Soviet Union.

    The Middle East—a European term that bridges the Near EastRegion of present-day Turkey. and the Far EastGeneral European term for the regions of Asia including India and China.—can also be defined as the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. Turkey, with its focal point of Istanbul, has been considered part of the Near East by Europeans. The famous Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express was about a train that traveled between Paris and Istanbul. The word orient refers to the east; occident refers to the west. Because Turkey was referred to as the Near East and India and China were the Far East, the region in between became the Middle East. This term is not entirely accurate but is widely used to refer to Southwest Asia.

    Three small countries in the Caucasus Mountains—Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia—are affiliated with this realm through their geographic location and their histories. They are technically European countries and were once part of the former Soviet Union. The details of these countries are covered in Chapter 1 "Introduction to the World". Turkey, which has territory in both Europe and Asia, was historically referred to as Asia MinorThe ancient region that is present-day Turkey. because most of its land mass is in Asia. The portion of Turkey that lies to the west of Istanbul is on the European continent, which connects Turkey with the European community. Cyprus is a small island in the eastern Mediterranean that has ties to Turkey and a historical connection to the Middle East. Cyprus is technically a European country and is a member of the European Union. Bordering both Iran and China is Afghanistan, which has been a transitional country in the pages of history. Many empires have conquered it, and many groups have fought over its territory. Today, Afghanistan is a key country in the globalization process because of its huge mineral reserves, yet it has a volatile and unstable political scene.

    Sudan, a country geographically located in Africa, is included in this realm because it shares similar traits with the rest of the realm’s three regions. Sudan could also be studied with East Africa. The African Transition Zone cuts across Sudan and extends through the widest part of the African continent. The African Transition Zone creates a boundary for the realms of North Africa and Southwest Asia dividing the Islamic influence to the north from the Christian influence to the south. It is also a transitional boundary between the dry and arid type B climates and the more tropical type A climates of Equatorial Africa. The countries on the eastern end of the African Transition Zone—including Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia—are often covered with this realm in other contexts, but in this textbook, the critical information was included in the section on East Africa (Chapter 7 "Subsaharan Africa", Section 7.5 "East Africa"). The African Transition Zone can be volatile, with the potential for ethnic, cultural, or political conflicts.

    Figure 8.1 The Regions of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Turkestan

    The African Transition Zone is the southern boundary of the realm.

    Source: Map courtesy of University of Texas Libraries, http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/world_pol_2011.pdf.

    8.1 Introducing the Realm

    Learning Objectives

    Understand three basic traits the countries of the realm shares in common.

    Outline the two cultural hearths and explain why they developed where they did.

    Source : saylordotorg.github.io

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