Middle East

Middle East, a non-precisely demarcated area of ​​West Asia and North Africa. According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the term originated when British colonial officials in the 1800’s. divided the Orient into three administrative areas: the Near East, the Middle East, and the Far East. At that time, the Middle East included Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. In 1932, the British military Middle East office in Baghdad was moved to Cairo and merged with the Near East office; The Middle East then gained ground as a designation for the Western Orient.

The core area consists of the Levant with Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria; in addition, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. To the west, in some contexts, the Middle East can reach the Maghreb Mixes of North Africa and to the east all the way to Afghanistan; to the widest extent 20 countries with a total of over 350 million residents. A table of western Asian countries, capitals, population and area can be found on Countryaah – Countries in Middle East.

The Middle East contains over two thirds of the world’s known oil reserves and one third of the natural gas reserves. The area is generally dry and in many places water shortages are a crucial problem. In most Middle Eastern societies there are great differences between rich and poor, and from several countries there is great emigration. Huge areas of the region are largely uninhabited, but a few cities and areas such as Cairo (and the entire Nile Valley), Gaza and Tehran have some of the densest population concentrations in the world.

The Middle East was home to several of the Earth’s oldest cultural communities, and here the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, emerged.

Most of the countries have autocratic regimes, while a few have actual democracy (e.g. Israel) or incipient pluralistic regimes (Yemen, Jordan, etc.). The location of some of the world’s most important shipping routes (the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz), the enormous energy reserves and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 have made it an area of ​​central political and economic importance, and the Middle East has been a conflict center for most of the post-war period.


The European name Middle East refers to the countries in question as a secondary place in world history. From a historical perspective, however, the Middle East has for long periods played a central role. In the so-called fertile crescent, which stretches from Mesopotamia over Palestine to Egypt, arose around 7000 BC. the earliest known agriculture with the cultivation of barley and wheat as well as the domestication of pigs and cattle. From approximately 4000 BC rich urban cultures emerged in Mesopotamia such as the Sumerian, the Babylonian and the Assyrian (see Near Eastern ancient cultures), at the same time as the Egyptians in the Nile Valley created a well-organized, stable culture and state formation. Together they ruled the Middle East for a few millennia, and from them and their neighbors, the Phoenicians and the Jews, emanated significant cultural impulses: an efficient agriculture based on irrigation, urban communities with highly developed crafts, administration and judiciary, a strong military with archers and horse-drawn tanks. sciences such as mathematics, astronomy and medicine. The area’s trade and religion were also a prerequisite for the development of writing systems such as hieroglyphs and cuneiform, which culminated in the Phoenicians’ simplification into an alphabet approximately 1200-tkKr. The complicated astral and natural religions were rationalized by the Jews into a monotheism, which in the Christian and Islamic form became world religions. The stability of the region was threatened from the outside by the Hittites in the north and by the Medes and Persians in the east, who in 700-tkKr. conquered Babylon and Egypt, and later by Greeks and Romans, who both left strong traces.

In the first centuries AD. ruled the Middle East by the Byzantine Empire and by the Persian Empire, but in the 600-t. the two kingdoms were both politically and religiously pushed back by the Islamic caliphate, which in a short time had created a new unitary culture based on Islam and with Arabic as the dominant language. The old religious communities were reduced to tolerated minorities, Copts, Syrians and Armenians.

From Central Asia came new conquerors, Turkish and Mongolian fast cavalry armies, as in 1000-1400-t. drastically changed the Middle East. Baghdad and the caliphate fell in 1258 to the Mongols, and Byzantium in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans conquered Cairo and Mecca in 1517, and in approximately For 400 years they were masters of the core countries of the Middle East and large parts of Southeastern Europe. The Crusade period from 1099 to 1291 was only a short-lived interlude, but it left deep traces in European and Arab consciousness.

During the 1700’s. the Ottoman Empire weakened, and the growing European influence became apparent by Napoleon’s brief invasion of Egypt in 1798 and by the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869. From 1875, the English took control of the canal, while France secured influence in Syria and Lebanon, where an Arab culture and national self-awareness grew. A religious reform movement in Egypt called for a reinterpretation of Islam as a modernizing force, and in the 1920’s it took a more radical direction in the Muslim Brotherhood.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in World War I, a new Middle East emerged with the now secular Turkey confined to Asia Minor and the area around Istanbul. The League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to rule Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, while France took over Syria and Lebanon. After World War II, these countries became independent, and a new state, Israel, emerged in 1948. The great powers the United States and the Soviet Union became increasingly powerful, not least because of oil and Israel. Military coups in the 1950’s in the leading Arab countries, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, raised hopes for renewal, social progress and pan-Arab measures, but resulted in ineffective dictatorships, highlighted in the defeat to Israel in 1967. The region’s most important oil countries, Saudi Arabia and States of the Persian Gulf,

In Iran, religious scholars succeeded in 1979 in overthrowing the Protestant Shah regime and establishing an Islamic republic. It provided inspiration for smoldering Islamic uprisings in neighboring countries. The Iranian regime was challenged by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, leading to the 1980-88 Iran -Iraq War, which revived Arab-Iranian antagonisms. A weakened Iraq annexed Kuwait in 1990, citing that it was part of historic Iraq. The United States-led international community liberated Kuwait in 1991 and invaded parts of southern Iraq and later withdrew (see Gulf War). The dissolution of the Soviet Union made the United States the only superpower in the region, and this subsequently led to attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the conclusion of the 1993 Principle Agreement, this seemed to succeed, but the process stalled again from 2000. In March 2003, an international army led by the United States invaded Iraq to force a system change. However, the situation remained unresolved; Since 2004, Iraq has been marked by fierce internal struggles, but also by a process of political change ensured through the presence of the international alliance. Since 1991, the states of the Middle East have been trying to find their place in the international political system dominated by the United States. The whole region is characterized by internal political tensions.