Published on October 25, 2007
NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA Geography 200 Dr. Stavros Constantinou NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA This region is often referred to as the Middle East, a term that is an inaccurate reflection of colonial chauvinism and a reflection of the eurocentric view of the world. The “Middle East” is about halfway along the route to the "Far East" from Britain or France. Applying the same logic, to the inhabitant of Pakistan, this region would have been described as "Midwest." The geographically correct term Southwest Asia, will be used here despite the fact that it creates problems because we often tend to include China, India, and Japan. Also, there is a problem regarding the incorporation of Saudi Arabia or Israel. Egypt is clearly more related to Syria or Iraq than those nations are to Korea or Vietnam. Geographically Egypt belongs to Africa. The nations north of the Sahara Desert share many similarities with the "Middle East" but relatively few with their neighbors in Sub-Saharan Africa. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA From the political geographer's point of view, this region constitutes a shatter belt, that is, a fragmented region, coveted by outside powers, where the dangers of confrontation are great, the stakes are high, and the dangers of escalating conflict all too real. Conflict has been more or less endemic to this region throughout recorded history. Several flash points continue to persist down to the present time. Despite its diversity, this region constitutes a unit because of: a. the dominance of dry climates and b. the Islamic (Moslem or Muslim) religion. Islam is the principal religion in all countries except: Israel, where Judaism prevails; Lebanon, where ancient forms of Christianity are of major importance. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: MAJOR FEATURES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: MAJOR FEATURES Dry climates and the Muslim faith dominate in this region. More than sixty percent of the world's oil reserves are found here. The Fertile Crescent was one the major domestication hearths extending from the Levant to the Persian Gulf. Crops originating here include figs, grapes, dates, and olives. Home to three of the world's major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Water is the most important resource in the area and population is concentrated where water is found. Water is not only the basis for life, but for the social organization of the village. The Middle East is one of the world's shatterbelts and a focal point of conflict. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE The realm of North Africa and Southwest Asia forms an elongated region stretching for 9,660 km. (6,000 mi.) across northern Africa and southwestern Asia, from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of India, China and Central Asia. This realm covers an area of 16,886,155 square kilometers (6,519,752 square miles) or 11.3% of the total land area of the planet. The Tropic of Cancer crosses the central section of this region. Turkey is the only country of this region that reaches along the 42nd parallel. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE Twelve countries in this region have populations of 10,000,000 people or more. Iran, Turkey, and Egypt have more than 60,000,000; Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Algeria have populations that range between 24,000,000 and 32,000,000. These countries have populations that range between 10 and 20 million: Syria, Yemen, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. Western Sahara, Qatar and Bahrain are the smallest countries in population with 300,000, 600,000 and 700,000 people, respectively. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LOCATION AND SIZE The importance of countries, however, is not necessarily a function of size. For example, the small state of Israel has carved out a niche for itself despite the opposition of larger neighbors. The rich petroleum deposits of Kuwait and other minor territories of the Persian Gulf have magnified the importance of these small political units. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS The margins of North Africa and Southwest Asia are mainly occupied by oceans, seas, high mountains, and deserts: to the west, the Atlantic Ocean; to the south, the Sahara Desert, the highlands of East Africa, and the Indian Ocean; to the north, the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas together with mountains and deserts in Central Asia. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS Alpine System: A chain of mountains extends across Southwest Asia from the Toros (Taurus) ranges of Turkey to Zagros, Elburz, and Hindu Kush. The Atlas Mountains of North Africa, the physiographic base of the settled Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), are also a part of the Alpine System. The Atlas Mountains receive an average rainfall of 750 mm (30 inches), something unusual for this region. The role of altitude is clear. Even 240 km (150 miles) into the interior, the slopes of the Atlas receive more than 250 mm (10 inches) of rainfall. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS In Iran, qanat (kanat) furnishes the water supply for a large share of the country's irrigated acreage. Qanat is an underground channel which carries irrigation water from the mountains, where rainfall is relatively plentiful, to the drier areas below. A qanat’s course may be clearly recognized from the air, for at intervals it has circular openings resembling miniature craters. It corresponds to the foggara of North Africa. The length of a qanat ranges from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers. Another important physiographic feature of this region is the elevated plain (plateau) of interior Iran, and the Anatolian Plateau of interior Turkey. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS Sedimentary Covers: This is a broad area extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Delta of the Nile. It also occupies major sections of the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, and Iraq. Specifically, it includes the Sahara, Libyan, An Nafud, and Rub al Khali. The Sahara forms the world's largest desert (9,065,000 sq. km. or 3,500,000 sq. mi.). It continues to move southward into Africa at a rate of about 8 km (5 mi.) per year. Such a spread of desert landscapes constitutes what is often referred to as desertification. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LANDFORMS Rifted Shield Areas. This is an elongated area that extends from the foothills of the Toros (Taurus) Mountains in Turkey, to the Jordan River Valley, and the Red Sea. The best-known example of a rift valley is the one that extends from Syria, Israel, Jordan, and East Africa for more than 4,800 km (3,000 mi.) in length. This rift valley includes the Sea of Galilee, the valley of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea, and runs through Lake Rudolph and several smaller lakes to Lake Malawi with a branch through Lakes Tanganyika, Edward, and Albert. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CLIMATE: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CLIMATE Because of the Arabian peninsula's location between 15 degrees and 30 degrees N lat., it is dominated by the subtropical high (STH) pressure throughout much of the year resulting in conditions of heat and especially drought. Summer temperatures in this region often exceed 48º Celsius (120º Fahrenheit), while high humidity along the coasts adds to human discomfort. Desert lands in this region typically have a high daily range of temperature. Precipitation averages only between 5 and 10 cm (2-4 in.) except on the mountains (orographic effect) notably the arid regions of the southwest where as much as 76 cm (30 in.) of rain may fall. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CLIMATE: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CLIMATE Climatic types: Tropical and subtropical desert (BWh). Tropical and subtropical steppe (BSh). Middle latitude steppe (BSk). Dry summer subtropical or Mediterranean (Csa). NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: VEGETATION: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: VEGETATION Sparse desert vegetation predominates throughout this region. Needleleaf evergreen trees are found in the Atlas Mountains of northwestern Africa. Broadleaf evergreen trees are found in the Nile Valley. Mixed: broadleaf deciduous and needleleaf evergreen trees are found in Northern coastal and eastern Turkey, and northern and western Iran. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: SOILS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: SOILS The soils of this region are very poor. The predominant soil group is the aridisols. Patches of entisols are also found in the dry desert areas. Inceptisols predominate in the river valleys and in northwestern Africa. A small area of mollisols is found in the interior of the Anatolian Plateau in Turkey. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES Water has been the key to life in this arid environment, since the beginning of time. For example, the ancient Greek scholar Herodotus described Egypt as “the gift of the Nile,” an evaluation that rings true today as it did in ancient times. The Nile is an example of an exotic river because it receives its water as runoff in humid regions or from highland zones and then flows across large expanses of desert before reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Along 2% of the Egyptian territory (Nile Valley and Delta) live more than 95% of the Egyptian population (72,100,000 in 2003). Other examples of exotic river systems are the Tigris-Euphrates system and the Jordan River. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES The nomads of this region move from oasis to oasis in search of water and pastures for survival. Oases are natural concentrations of fresh water that do not depend on immediate local precipitation, and they have proved critical for an important component of desert life. In Iran, the qanat has been an integral part of life for a long time. The qanat is a subterranean channel built to carry irrigation water from mountains to the lands below. In recent years, technology has been employed by many of the countries in this realm to solve the scarcity of water and supply drinking water for their people. For example, through the use of desalination Kuwait has a capacity of producing more than 600,000,000 liters of drinking water every day. Several cities along the Gulf depend on these practices for their survival. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOOURCES -- OIL: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOOURCES -- OIL Oil is certainly the most important resource of North Africa and southwest Asia. Deposits are concentrated around the Persian Gulf. It is the most economically important export of the realm. During the period 1994-1996, on average, these countries together produced 28.0 percent of the world total output. Saudi Arabia ranked as the world’s leading producer with 13.1 percent followed by: Iran with 5.8 percent; the United Arab Emirates with 3.6 percent; Kuwait with 3.3 percent; and Libya with 2.2 percent (Table 6.2). Additional detailed statistics on the world’s leading oil countries are shown in Table 6.3. In 1997, the world estimates in petroleum reserves were 1,160,069,500,000,000 barrels. These countries collectively account for 56.3 percent of the world's total reserves. Saudi Arabia has 22.6 percent, Iraq 9.7 percent, Kuwait 8.2 percent, Iran 7.8 percent, U.A.E. 5.5 percent, and Libya 2.5 percent. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES In 1960, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia founded OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in an effort to dictate oil prices. Later additions included Algeria, Ecuador, Nigeria, Gabon, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Libya. This 13-member cartel was designed to control world pricing and production of a single commodity, oil. Currently, OPEC has 11 members after the withdrawal of Ecuador and Gabon. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES This region has important natural gas deposits. Collectively, these countries control 35.0% of the world's reserves in natural gas. Of the world output, Iran ranks first with 15.0%, Qatar ranks third with 5.1%, U.A.E. has 4.1%, Saudi Arabia has 3.8%, Iraq has 2.4%, Algeria 2.6%, Uzbekistan 2.1%, and Turkmenistan has 2.0%. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: RESOURCES Chief among the mineral resources of the region are chromite and phosphate of lime. Kazakhstan produces 16.8% of the world’s chromite and ranks second (after South Africa which produces 37.7 percent). Turkey ranks third producing 12.8% of the world’s chrome. Phosphate rock is used in the manufacture of fertilizer. Morocco and Tunisia are among the world's leading producers of phosphate rock, 15.5 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. Morocco ranks third and Tunisia fourth in the production of phosphate rock, after the United States (33.2 percent) and China (16.4 percent). Morocco is the world's leading exporter of this commodity. Kazakhstan has 17.6 percent of the world’s uranium reserves and ranks second after Australia. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION The twenty-seven countries that are included in the North Africa and Southwest Asia realm have a total population of 488,800,000, or 7.7% of the world total population. The largest countries in terms of population are Turkey, Iran, and Egypt. These three countries together account for about half this total. Population growth rates are, for the most part, higher than the world average. A number of countries in this region face a serious demographic problem if appropriate policies are not implemented to curb a population explosion. Examples: Egypt where the rate of natural increase of the population stands at 2.1 percent. The rate of natural increase in the Palestinian Authority region stands at 3.6%, which is well above the world rate. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION For the most part, the people of this region live along river valleys (Nile Valley and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates) and in the better irrigated lands. The greatest density of population is found in a narrow strip of well-watered land along the Nile. Egypt's population (about 95 percent) is highly concentrated in a narrow strip along the Nile and its delta. Except for a few major cities, the majority of the population resides in small rural villages. Egypt has one of the world’s highest physiologic population densities, or number of persons per square unit of cultivated land. While the overall arithmetic population density of the country is 72 persons per sq. km (186 persons per sq. mi), the physiologic density is 1,839 persons/sq. km (4,764 persons per sq. mi). NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POPULATION An ecological trilogy characterizes most of the societies of the Middle East. Society is divided into three mutually dependent types of communities--the city, the village, and the tribe--each operating in a different setting, each contributing to the support of the other two sectors and thereby to the maintenance of total society. (English, P. 1967. "Urbanites, Peasants and Nomads: The Middle Eastern Ecological Trilogy." Journal of Geography 66: 54-59). NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY While urbanization has been going on for a long period of time in this region, currently there are sixteen cities that have populations greater than one million inhabitants. Istanbul, Tehran, and Cairo are the three largest cities of this region, with populations in excess of 6,000,000 inhabitants. Because of the accelerated movement of people to the major urban centers of this region, a large number of people are forced to live in shantytowns that have sprung up in many of North Africa's and Southwest Asia’s cities. For example, the poverty in Cairo's shantytowns is well publicized and in the major cities of the Maghreb the name bidonvilles is used to describe the poverty-stricken shantytowns that surround its cities. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY Among the most important urban centers of this region is the city of Jerusalem (320,000), which is a holy place for three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Because all three religions have aspired to control Jerusalem, it is the focus of considerable problems in the Arab-Israeli conflict. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: URBAN GEOGRAPHY In Saudi Arabia, the government is developing new industrial towns at Jubail on the Gulf Coast and at Yanbu on the Red Sea. Jubail is about halfway toward a planned population of approximately 300,000. The city has major industrial zones, an airport, and highway linkages. When completed, the city of Jubail will have the area of Greater London or Atlanta. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Religious complexity: This region is the birthplace of the three great modern monotheistic religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Monotheistic religions profess belief in only one God. Jerusalem is the most sacred city to Jews and Christians; it falls behind only Mecca (Makkah) and Medina in sacredness for Muslims. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Judaism The Jewish faith was given a spatial expression in 1948 with the formation of the state of Israel. Diversity and disagreement exist in Israel. European Jews, “Ashkenazim,” are not the same people as Middle Eastern “Sephardic” Jews. Reformed and Orthodox versions of the Jewish faith are often in bitter doctrinal opposition. Jewish fundamentalism is becoming increasingly visible. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Islam is the religion founded by the prophet Mohammed. Muslims are adherents of the Islamic faith. There are about 1.1 billion Muslims in the world. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. The term Islam means submission to the will of God (Allah). The term shari’a refers to the form of government and laws required by adherence to the Koran, the Islamic holy book. This major world religion originated in 610 A.D., when Mohammed began to receive visions from Allah's messenger, Gabriel, while meditating in a cave near Mecca. The messages of Gabriel continued for twenty-two years and were recorded in the Koran. I NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Islam: In A.D. 622 Mohammed fled Mecca (idolatry and ritual were a profitable religious business in Mecca at the time) for Yathrib (later Medina--City of the Prophet). This flight, or hegira, marks the beginning of the Moslem era. Ten years later Mohammed ventured back to Mecca, where the idols were destroyed at the religious center of Kaaba, and the Islamic state began a phase of expansion diffusion. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY There are five pillars in the Islamic faith: Confession of faith by the acceptance of but one god, Allah, and his prophet Mohammed. Dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and nightfall prayers. An almsgiving, or zaket, given to the needy. Daytime fasting during the ninth lunar month, or Ramadan. One pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca in a lifetime. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Following the death of Mohammed, his followers split into two major groups, based on whether succession to the prophet should follow elected lines or blood lines. Muslims who believe in elected succession are called Sunni. The Sunni are Orthodox Muslims who recognize the first four elected caliphs (successors of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam) as the rightful successors to Muhammad. Succession to Mohammed should be elective among senior leaders qualified to rule. Sunni are the most numerous among the world's Muslims, accounting for about 85 percent of all Muslims. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Those who in bloodline succession are called Shi’ite and they are smaller in number than the Sunni. According to the Shi’ites, the Prophet's succession should be hereditary. They are a branch of Muslims that do not accept the election of caliphs, but recognize the "blood lines" of inheritance through Ali, one of Muhammad's nephews who had married the prophet's only surviving daughter. The Shi’ites form the largest minority group of the Islamic world including Iraq and Pakistan. They make up 90 percent of Iran’s Muslim population today. Only about 10 percent of the population of Iran is Sunni. During the height of the holiest ceremony in the Shiah Muslim calendar, the streets are thronged with believers beating themselves with chains in mourning for Hussein, grandson of the Prophet, who was killed at Karbala in 680 A.D. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Among the smaller minorities of Muslims one can note the Ismailis and the Druses. The head of the Ismailis, the Agha Khan, traces his ancestry back to the Prophet himself and his followers are located in northern Pakistan. The Druses form a sect which includes elements of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and they are found chiefly in Lebanon and Syria. In Oman, the Ibadhi sect of Islam is the most important. Islam spread throughout the North Africa / Southwest Asia region and became the dominant religion of the realm. Arabs of North Africa and Southwest Asia account for only about one-fifth of the total Islamic population of the world. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Islam spread across central Asia, India, Malaysia and Indonesia; In China it spread as far as the city of Xian. The Muslims of India constitute the world’s largest religious minority at about 120,000,000 people. The spread of Islam occurred by a process of expansion diffusion – or the diffusion of an idea through a fixed population. The expansion of Islam spread north into Spain, which was controlled by the Moors (an Arab- Berber alliance). Moorish influence is evident in Spanish architecture, including such landmarks as the palace of Alcazar and the Giralda in Seville, and also in the cities of Granada and Cordoba. Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the world’s largest Islamic countries. Egypt, Turkey and Iran are the largest Islamic countries in North Africa / Southwest Asia. The concepts of Islam are closely related to Judaic and Christian beliefs and traditions. In fact, Muslims honor the Jewish prophets and Jesus as holy men. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Languages -- the linguistic picture in this region is very complex: Semitic Family: Arabic is the most widely used language in the North Africa and Southwest Asia realm. Hebrew is spoken in Israel. Amharic is spoken in the plateau country of Ethiopia. Altaic Family: Turkic, a member of the of languages is spoken in Turkey. Tajik Indo-European Family: Iranian (Farsi), is spoken in Iran. Hamitic Family: Berberic and Tuareg are spoken among the indigenous populations in Algeria and Morocco NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Agriculture: Farming practices in this region are strongly correlated to the presence of water, the most important resource in this dry area. The most productive areas are found along the allogenic (exotic) rivers of the Nile in Egypt and Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq. Still smaller pockets of agricultural production are the areas adjacent to well-watered mountains and the coastal plains of countries like Turkey, which is self sufficient in foodstuffs. The various oases are of smaller significance in the overall production of food. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY The improvements in agriculture are many in this region, undertaken in an effort to increase the amount of land under irrigation and raise larger amounts of food. In ancient Egypt, basin irrigation was practiced. According to this system, fields along the low bands of the Nile were partitioned off by earth ridges into a large number of artificial basins. The mud-rich river waters would pour into these basins during flood time, and then the exits would be closed, so that the water would stand still, depositing its fertile load of alluvium. Then, after six to eight weeks, the exit sluices were opened and the water drained away, leaving the rejuvenated soil ready for sowing. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY The most technologically advanced farming techniques are found in Israel where the employment of fertigation has indeed made the desert bloom. Historically, agriculture in Israel is carried out in collectivized settlements called kibbutzim (singular, kibbutz). Many of the kibbutzim lie in frontier areas and perform defensive as well as agricultural and industrial functions. Far more numerous, however, are the small holder’s cooperatives called moshavim (singular moshav). NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY In recent years, the construction of dams made possible the perennial irrigation of Egypt's farmlands. The greatest of all Nile dam projects, the Aswan High Dam, was begun in 1958 and completed in 1971 at the First Cataract. The dam wall is 110 meters (364 feet) high and creates Lake Nasser, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. The reservoir inundates 480 sq km (300 sq mi) of the Nile valley, not only in Upper Egypt, but also in the Sudan. The cooperation of the Sudanese was required for construction of the dam, since 50,000 people had to be relocated. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Prior to the building of Aswan, waters could irrigate 2.53 million hectares (6.25 million acres) of farmland. To this area, the Aswan High Dam has added another 550,000 hectares 1 ha = 2.471 acres). In addition, 400,000 hectares of farmland under basin irrigation could be converted to perennial irrigation resulting in increased crop yields. Finally, the Aswan High Dam supplies Egypt with about 50% percent of its energy requirements in the form of hydroelectricity. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY In Upper and Middle Egypt the strip of green is five to 25 kilometers (three to 5 miles) wide. Below Cairo, the Nile's delta is 160 kilometers (180 miles) long, and 250 kilometers (155 miles) wide (Alexandria to Port Said). The waters of the delta are diverted through two controlled channels, the Rosetta in the west and the Damietta in the east. Each distributary, as these channels are called, defines the delta of the Nile, and nearly half of Egypt's population inhabits the delta region NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY The main agricultural crops that are produced in this region are: Cotton from Egypt and Syria. Cotton and cotton products form the major exports of Egypt. Fruits and vegetables (which are important in all countries that have Mediterranean climate) Cereals (especially barley) are raised in most of the less productive soils throughout the region. In Egypt rice, millet, sugar cane and lentils are among the crops that thrive under perennial irrigation. Tunisia has long been the world's leading exporter of olive oil. Morocco exports citrus fruit and vegetables. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Turkey's principal crops include: tobacco, hazelnuts (filberts) grown primarily in the Black Sea section, and grapes for sultana raisins and figs raised in the central Aegean section around the port of Izmir (Smyrna) with 1,757,414 inhabitants. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Industry: The industrial sector of these countries is mostly involved in the processing of food and light industries. Turkey is a major exporter of textiles. Pockets of heavy industry depend on the availability of local materials and are found in Egypt, Turkey and Israel. A steel plant at Hulwan, near Cairo, uses the iron ore deposits found at about 50 km (30 miles) west of Aswan, manganese from the Eastern Desert and local limestone. Israel produces an array of industrial goods with significant output in military hardware. Israel is the world's leading producer in industrial diamonds. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Notwithstanding other conflicts in this region, the conflict between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries dominates the political geography of this area. Israel was officially proclaimed on May 14, 1948; it borders on Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the southwest and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Following its creation Israel was involved in a war with the Arab populations living in Palestine, all of whom rejected Israel's right to exist. A large number of Palestinian Arabs became refugees. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The most important recent wars between Israel and the Arab countries are the following: The failed Anglo-French intervention in the Suez Canal in collusion with Israel in 1956. The Six-Day War in June 1967, when Israel emerged victorious and acquired major pieces of territory from Egypt (Gaza Strip and Sinai), Jordan (West Bank), and Syria (Golan Heights). Most of these areas are still disputed and have high population densities. The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 during which the Egyptians were able to cross the Suez Canal. Following peace negotiations at Camp David between Israel and Egypt, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to the Egyptians. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY In July 2000, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat walked out of Palestinian / Israeli peace talks being mediated by U.S. President Clinton at Camp David Maryland. In September 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, site of the al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine of Islam. This touched off a new intifada (uprising) among the Palestinians. By May 2004 over 1900 Palestinians and 750 Israelis had been killed in the renewed conflict. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY • Other important recent wars in this region are the following: The ten-year war between Iraq and Iran following the rise to power of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. The 1991 Gulf War. Historically, present-day Iraq and Kuwait were under Ottoman control. After World War I, Britain and France succeeded the Ottoman Turks and dominated the area. During colonial times, Kuwait was administered from Basra, a southern Iraqi city. When Britain withdrew from the area in 1961, they defined the boundaries that separated Kuwait from Iraq and very nearly landlocked Iraq leaving it with only 19 kilometers (11.81 miles) of Gulf coastline. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY By contrast Kuwait has 250 kilometers (155.38 miles) of coastline. The ascendancy to power in Baghdad of the extremist Baath Party in 1968, major oil discoveries in Kuwait, the Arab Israeli conflict and the regional power struggle between Iran and Iraq further compounded Iraqi claims on the mini-sheikdom at the mouth of the Gulf. For all of these reasons, Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and annexed it as its 19th province. The United States organized and led a United Nations coalition of military forces that launched Desert Shield and later Desert Storm on January 16, 1991. After a 45-day aerial bombardment of Iraq, the allied forces invaded Iraq and liberated Kuwait. As a result of this war, Iraq was faced with a rebellion in the north of the country by the Kurds and another one in the south by the Shi’ites who were misled by the allies into believing that they would receive support to oust Saddam Hussein and possibly set up their own independent states. Iraq still faces a formidable task of reconstruction and an international embargo. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the U.S. government declared war on terrorism and the nations who supported or gave sanctuary to terrorists. The first target of this war was Muslim fundamentalist, Taliban–ruled Afghanistan, home base of al Qaeda and home to Usama bin Laden, architect of the 9/11 assault. Early in 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush declared Iraq part of an “axis of evil,” or rogue nations who were suspected of cooperating with terrorists and had the ability to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, defied the U.N. resolutions for disarmament and weapons inspections it was forced to accept under the terms of surrender in 1991. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The Hussein government was also accused of massive human rights abuses, including the systematic torture, rape, and mass killings of Iraqi citizens. March 20, 2003 U.S. and British forces led a coalition of troops in invading Iraq and deposing the Hussein government. Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay (his presumptive successors) were killed July 22, 2003. Hussein himself was captured by U.S. troops December 14, 2003 and awaits trial. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Geometric boundaries are found in many of the countries of this region and reflect the involvement of European colonial powers in this realm. For example, geometric boundaries separate Egypt's 1,000,000 square kilometers (387,000 square miles) from Libya to the west and the Sudan to the south. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Forward capital cities are established by nation-states in order to redirect national foci. For example, Turkey transferred the capital functions of the country from the nation's largest city, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), to Ankara on the Anatolian Plateau to underscore the Asiatic character of the country following the defeat of the Greek armies at the beginning of the 20th century in Asia Minor. Istanbul, the headquarters of the Byzantine Empire, is strategically located at the southern entrance of the Bosporus. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Strategic waterways or Choke Points of the region: Three water passages that connect the Mediterranean with the Black Sea: Dardanelles Straits (Hellespont, Canakkale Bogazi): connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea Sea of Marmara: An open body of water between the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The Straits of Bosporus (Istanbul Bogazi) that connect the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara Among other important strategic waterways in this region are: The Suez Canal that was constructed in 1869 to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea The Straits of Hormuz that control the movement from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean. The Straits of Bab el Mandeb, connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The Kurdish Minority: The Kurds, thought to number about 25,000,000, form the world's largest minority without a country to call their own. Kurdistan ("Land of the Kurds") includes sections of the Taurus Mountains of Eastern Anatolia in Turkey, northern Iraq, and the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. Another pocket of Kurds is located in the Khorasan region of northeastern Iran. Kurdish Populations: Turkey has the largest Kurdish population, perhaps as many as 12,000,000 to 14,000,000. Iran about 8,000,000 Iraq about 4,000,000 Smaller numbers in Lebanon, Armenia, Syria, and Azerbaijan. Diyarbakir, Turkey is the dominant Kurdish city. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The traditional Kurdish way of life was nomadic, revolving around herding goats and sheep in the mountains of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Kurdish nationalism is a recent phenomenon. The Treaty of Sevres drawn up in 1920 provided for an autonomous Kurdistan but was never ratified. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) that replaced the Treaty of Sevres made no mention Kurdistan or the Kurds. In the face of rising Turkish nationalism under Kemal Atatürk, the Kurds were designated as "Mountain Turks" and were not allowed to speak their language or wear their distinctive national costume. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Official government policy encouraged the emigration of Kurds to urban areas, thus diluting the concentration of Kurds in the eastern provinces of the country. The Kurds of Iraq are now de facto concentrated in the northern part of the country (north of the 36th parallel) under the protection of allied forces, following the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. Iranian Kurds were also subjected to strong assimilationist pressure from the Shi’ite Muslim majority. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The Palestinian Question has dominated the conflict between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries since the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, in what had been the British Mandate of Palestine. As a result of this political development, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who called Palestine home became refugees in the neighboring Arab countries. Some of those became assimilated in the receiving societies, but many continue to live in refugee camps. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY The numerical strength of the Palestinian population is estimated at 9,300,000. 1, 240,000 live in Israel proper 2,300,000 in the Israeli occupied West Bank 1,300,000 in the Gaza Strip 2,700,000 in Jordan 403,000 in Lebanon 423,000 in Syria 296,000 in Saudi Arabia 250,000 in Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, and Libya. 388,000 in other Arab countries. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY In 1987, the Palestinians of the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip launched an uprising (intifada) against the Israeli occupying forces. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY In 1993, direct negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians yielded results. On September 12, 1993, Israel and the Palestinians signed a peace agreement, in Washington D.C. According to these agreements, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) recognized each other’s right to exist. In addition, the Israelis gave the Palestinians a limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and the area surrounding the town of Jericho in the West Bank. After long and arduous negotiations, these agreements were implemented in May, 1994, with the transfer of power from Israeli to Palestinian control. The Gaza Strip covers an area of 363 square kilometers (140 square miles) and has a population of 1,205,000 inhabitants. The arithmetic density is very high (3,320 persons per square kilometer or 8,607 persons per square mile). NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Turkestan is an old name describing the vast region in western and central Asia east of the Caspian Sea: It includes: Territory in the south-central part of Xinjiang province in China, a strip of northern Afghanistan, and the area comprising the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan Uzbekistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Afghanistan The latter six cover an area of 4,646,490 square kilometers (1,794,012 square miles) and have a total population of 86,500,000 in 2003. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Kazakhstan: The largest country in area in Turkestan is divided into two distinct regions: the Russified north and the Islamic south. It is a land of desert and steppe and scattered water-depended populations, especially in the east where the former capital city of Almaty (formerly Alma Ata) is located. The new capital city is Astana (formerly Aqmola) in the northern part of the country in the Russian Transition Zone. The country has vast oil reserves in the Tengiz Basin near the northeastern corner of the Caspian Sea. The country has more than 100 ethnic groups. The Kazakhs account for 40 percent of the country’s total population. Russians form 38 percent of the total and are concentrated mostly in the north. 22 percent of the population is represented by other minority groups. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Uzbekistan. It occupies the heart of Turkestan and three-fourths of its inhabitants are Uzbeks. They ruled Asia from their khanates in Khiva and Bukhoro (Bukhara) until they became a part of the Soviet Union in 1924. The capital of the country, Toshkent (Tashkent), is located in the eastern section of the country, in the Farghona valley. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Turkmenistan. The desert country of Turkmenistan extends from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the borders of Afghanistan. It has 1,100 kilometer long (700 miles) boundary with Iran. During the 1950s the Soviets launched the Garagum (Kara Kum) Canal. 1,100 km. (700 mi.) long, by 1993 it brought 3,000,000 acres under cultivation. Many Turkmen still herd sheep and Astrakhan furs form a major export item. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Tajikistan: A mountainous country that occupies the eastern section of Turkestan. The Pamirs dominate the eastern part of the country from where the Amu Darya originates. The Tajiks are people of Persian origin and speak an Indo-European language. They constitute about 62 percent of the population. A significant number of Tajiks inhabit Afghanistan and a smaller number is found in western China. Most Tajiks are Sunni Muslims and not Shi’ite like the Iranians About 24 percent of the population is made up of Uzbeks, largely concentrated in the west and northwest. Dushanbe, the capital of the country, is located in the west. Some areas are claimed by both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Kyrgyzstan: This country is dominated by the Tian Shan mountain ranges. The Kyrgyz constitute about 50% of the population Russians make up more than 20% of the population. Uzbeks are about 13% of the population. Most Kyrgyz are Sunni Muslims. Pastoralism is the predominant economic activity. The Kyrgyz raise sheep, cattle, and yaks for meat and milk. Irrigated valleys yield wheat, fruits, and vegetables. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Afghanistan played the role of a buffer state between Russia and Britain. It has a compact shape with the exception of the narrow (15 to 65 km wide) Vakhan Corridor. Because of this narrow proruption, Afghanistan borders on China to the east and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan in the north. To the west it borders on Iran, and to the southeast, Pakistan. Afghanistan is a landlocked and mountainous country with significant relative location. This territory played a strategic role in empire building of the past by virtue of important routes and passes leading across it from the steppes and oases of Central Asia and the plateaus of Iran to the plains of northern India that have been a goal of Asian conquerors for thousands of years. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Afghanistan has 29,000,000 people, plus 4,000,000 refugees living outside the country. Main ethnic groups: Pushtuns (Pathans) 52.4%; Tajiks 20.4%; Hazara 8.8%; Uzbeks 8.8%; Chamar Aimak 2.8%; Turkmen 1.9%; other 4.9%. Major cities: Kabol (Kabul) 2,607,000; Kandahar 225,500; Herat 177,300; Mazar-e-Sharif 130,600; Jalalabad 55,000. Mujahideen: Strugglers who fought Soviets after their invasion in 1979. Taliban: Students of religion from religious schools in Pakistan. This movement started in 1994 and by 1996 they captured Kabol (Kabul) and in 1998 Mazar-e-Sharif, an Uzbek and Tajik stronghold. Their rule ended with the American campaign following the 9/11/2001 attacks. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS Shatterbelt: A fragmented region, coveted by outside powers, where the dangers of confrontation are great, the stakes are high, and the dangers of escalating conflict all too real. Fertile Crescent: A domestication hearth extending from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the mouth of the Gulf. The core of this region is present day Iraq. Desert pavement: A rocky desert (reg in Algeria and serir in Libya). Exotic river: Stream that originates in humid environment and flows through a dry area. Distributary: Part of the channel of a river in the lower course that literally distributes the river's water to the sea NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS Oasis: An area in the desert where water is available. Wadi: The course of an ephemeral stream in the desert. Graben: Another name for a rift valley. Monotheistic religion: A belief in only one god. Universalizing religion: A religion that tries to increase its number of followers through proselytizing. Ethnic religion: A religion that is found only among the members of a particular group of people. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS Hegira: The flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. Hajj: The pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. Sunni: The largest sect of Islam that believes in the elected successors to the Prophet. Shiite: A branch of Islam, confined primarily in Iran, that believes in the blood succession to the Prophet. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS Geometric boundaries: A type of boundaries that follow straight lines, usually parallels or meridians. Physiologic density: The number of people per unit of arable (cultivable) land. Basin irrigation: A method of irrigation in Egypt involving the trapping and later release of floodwaters. Maghreb : An Arabic term that is used to describe the countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Sahel: A zone of recurrent drought south of the Sahara Desert. NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS: NORTH AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA: LIST OF TERMS Qanat: An underground water tunnel leading from the mountains to adjacent dry lands. Sudd: A marshy zone in the southern Sudan where the waters of the Nile stagnate and a large mass of vegetation floats around Tell: The lower slopes and coastal plains in northwestern Africa between the Atlas Mountains and the sea. Bidonvilles: A French term that is used to describe the Maghreb's shanty towns. Kibbutz: A cooperative farm unit in Israel whose goal is also to provide military security to its residents.