The Middle East: A Brief Overview

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The Middle East is a region in Southwest Asia that includes the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, U.A.E., Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. The aspects that make up all that is geography in the Middle East include physical geography, economic geography, religion, and human history. The Middle East is known for its physical geography, being the largest area of dry climate in the world.

Southwest Asia is mostly desert and steppe climate because of subtropical high pressure over the area which keeps the region dry and the air warm. Some places around the Mediterranean Sea have a Mediterranean climate. Like all desert regions, temperatures vary greatly between day and nighttime, with afternoon high reaching well over 100 degrees, then dropping up to 30 degrees at night. Rain is very rare in the desert, usually only occuring a few times a year. Surface water is virtually non-existant in the driest areas. But people are able to survive in the desert, getting water from springs and oases. Where there is no water, there are no people, and these arid regions between water sources are only visited by the occasionalt migrating herder. There are some regions in the Middle East, however, that receive some rain during the year, sometimes more than 50 inches, compared to the desert's 4 inch average. These areas are found mostly in NE Iran and Afghanistan, though the rivers that drain these highlands provide water for the valleys beneath. Rivers that flow from a humid climate region, through the desert, to the sea are called exotic rivers. These rivers are what keep agriculture alive in the midst of such arid environments.

Agriculture is a major occupation in the Middle East, despite the mostly dry climate. Fertile soil for farming is found in the river valleys, on mountain plateaus, and in some oases, where natural spring water seeps up throught the rocks, providing good farming conditions. However, some of this farmland is being destroyed. Overgrazing has led to soil erosion, and the few mt. forests have been cut down, but the countries in which this is happening are taking action to try and save what they have left. Although there is some land that f...

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...licts have arisen throughout history.

The Arab people dominate most of the region, excluding Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Iran, and Afghanistan. Today, most Arabs are Muslim, and non-Arab cultures in Turkey and Iran also practice Islam. Israel is know to be occupied primarily by Jews. Many Jews each engage in the idea known as zionism, and take a trip, if not move, to the Jewish homeland in Israel. The conflicts today have arisen in that area with the Jews arguing that ancient Palestine belonged to the Hebrews and therefore should belong to them. After World War 1, Palestine was ruled as a British mandate by Great Britain. That ended in 1947. Palestine was then divided into halves, with half going to the Arab Palestinians, and the other half was given to the Jews, who believe that they should have control over all of it. In 1948, Palestine was declared the Jewish State of Israel by the U.N. There are conflicts in other areas of the Middle East, though. Non-Arabic Muslims known as kurds are scattered throughout the mountains of Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Syria, and Turkey. They don't have an independent country to call their own.
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