North Africa, SW Asia
 2 dozen countries
 Historic meeting ground between Europe, Asia, Africa
 Region is a cultural hearth; a region from which innovations diffuse to other parts
of the world
 Islamic fundamentalism:
o advocates return to more traditional practices
o calls for merger of civil and religious authority
o challenges encroachment of global popular culture
 Petroleum industry key to reg econ.
Regional Landforms
 North Africa;
o Maghreb –includes Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia; dominated by the
Atlas Mnts.
o Southwest Asia
o Levant-eastern Med reg of SW Asia; mnts, highlands
 Plateaus;
o Anatolia;Turkey [Asia Minor]; geologically active
o Iranian Plateau;Elburz mnts, geologically active
o Mesopotamia-in iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Jordan River Valley
Patterns of Climate
Large portions of the region are arid
Med climates in Atlas mnts and the Levant coastline caused by altitude and
Legacies of a Vulnerable Landscape
o -Deforestation
o -Salinization
 -Buildup of toxic salts in the soil from centuries of irrigation
o -Managing Water
 -Qanat Sys [Iran]
 -Aswan Dam [Egypt]
 -Hydropolitics; interplay of water resource issues and politics
The geography of pop
o 400+million people
o Physiological densities are among world’s highest
 -Physiological density; a stat that relates the number of people to
the amount of arable land
Two dominant pop clusters:
 -Maghreb
 -Egypt’s Nile River Valley
-70m within 10 miles of Nile river, in Egypt.
Rural settlement patterns
-This region is an elderly hearth of agriculture domestication
 -Fertile Crescent; ecologically diverse zone that stretches from
Levant inland through the fertile hill country of northern Syria into
-Pastoral Nomadism
-Oasis life
 -Areas where high groundwater or deep-water wells provide
reliable moisture
 -small agricultural settlements, trading centers.
Urban settlement patterns
-A long urban history
Some of world’s oldest urban areas
 -Eridu and Ur [Mesopotamia, 3500BC]
 -Memphis and Thebes [Egypt, 3000BC]
Rise of trade centers around 2000BC
Centers of Islamic religious administration and education
 -Baghdad, Cairo
 -The original urban core of a traditional Islamic city is
called a medina, has a central mosque, bazaar
-Signatures of Globalization
o -Urban centers have become focal points of economic
growth [Cairo, Algiers, Istanbul]
o -Oil wealth has addes modern element to traditional cities
-A Region on the move
-Migration Streams
 -Rural-to-urban migration
 -Migration of low-wage workers from other regions to SW
Asia and N Africa
 -Migration of workers from the regions to other places
[Turkey Guest worker to Germany]
Shifting Demographic Patterns
o -Pop growth rates vary within the reg
o -smaller families becoming more common in many countries
 -causes include delayed marriage, family planning initiatives,
greater urbanization
o -high rates of natural increase in West Bank, Gaza, and Libya
o -increasing pop will strain cities, water supplies, public services.
o -jobs will be needed for the people added to the pop
Patterns of Religion
o -Hearth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition
 -Jews and Christians trace their roots to the E Med.
o -The Emergence of Islam
-Began in SW Asia in 622 AD
-Shares many of the same prophets, including Abraham,
Moses, and Jesus
 -Quran [Koran]; Muslim holy book of revelations received
by Muhammad from Allah [God], representing the highest
religious and moral revelations
 -Islam diffused quickly along trade and military routes
 -Five Pillars of Islam;
o -Repeat the basic creed to accept Islam [“There is
no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet”]
o -Pray five times daily facing Makkah
o -Give charitable contributions
o -Fast during month of Ramadan
o -Make at least one pilgrimage [Hajj] to Makkah
 -Major Religions schism divided Islam early on, and still
o -Shiites; current name of group that favored passing
power on within Muhammad’s own family
o -Sunnis; current name of group that favored passing
power through established clergy
o -Modern religious diversity
 -Muslimes majority in region, except for in Israel, Cyprus
o -Sunni [73%]
o -Shiite [23%]
 -Dominant in Iran, S Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan,
and Bahrain
o -Pockets of Christianity in Egypt and Lebanon
Geographies of Lang
o -Semites and Berbers
 -Semite langs; Arabic, Hebrew
 -Berber- older Afro-Asiatic lang
 -Found in Atlas mnts and sahara reg
o -Persians and Kurds
 -Both groups speak indo-european langs
 -Persian dominates the Iranian plateau
 -Kurdish in N Iraq, NW Iran, E Turkey
o -The Turkish Imprint
 -Part of Altaic family
The Colonial Legacy
o -European colonialism came late to the reg
 -Dominance of Ottoman Empire
 -Widespread European colonialism after WWI
 -Many political boundaries set by colonial powers
Imposing European Power
o -France was major player in early colonization [1800s]
o -Britain in Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf by 1900
 -Suez Canal; linked med and red seas in 1869
 -British instrumental in establishing Saudi Arabia, Iraq [3 Ottoman
provinces; Basra, Baghdad, Mosul]
o -Italians in Libya, Spanish in Morocco
o -Turkey, Iran [Persia] never occupied
o -Decolonization and Independence
 -Europeans began to withdraw after WWII
 -by 1950 most countries independent
 -Post-colonial conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon
Modern Geopolitical Issues
o -The Arab-Israeli conflict
o -Troubled Iraq
o -Politics of Fundamentalism
 -originated in Iran, 1978-1979 when Shiite clerics [led by
Khomeni] overthrew Shah
 -Sudanese fundamentalists overthrew democracy in 1989
o -Conflicts within states
 -Lebanon – conflict among Sunni and Shiite Muslims and
 -result of spread of Palestinian refugees to region
 -Cyprus – conflict between Greece and Turkey
 -Green-line; demarcation set up by UN peacekeepers that
divides the capital of Nicosia in Cyprus
o -Uncertain political future
 -international political relations remain complex
 -Israel, Turkey are US allies; Iran, Syria oppose US
 -few democracies in region [Turkey, Israel]
Geography of Fossil Fuels
o -Region has 7% of world’s pop; holds 68% of the world’s proven
petroleum reserves
o -oil reserves unevenly distributed
Regional Economic Patterns
o -High-income oil exporters
 -Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE
 -Cultural landscape reshaped because of oil wealth
 -not all benefit- rural Shiite Muslims and foreign workers
o -Low income oil exporters
 -Algiers; oil and nat gas top exports; political instability, brain
drain a problem
-Iran; huge oil reserves, long war with Iraq [1980-1990],
fundamentalist government’s policies have lowered living
o -Prospering without oil
 -Israel highest living standard in reg, but poverty widespread
among Palestinians
 -Turkey has a diversified, growing econ
 -Lebanon potential prosperity, still feels effects of civil war
o -Regional patterns of poverty
 -Sudan’s econ ruined by civil war
 -Egypt’s prospects unclear, w/ growing econ, large gaps b/w rich,
 -Yemen poorest in reg-largely rural, subsistence agriculture
Global Economic Relationships
o -Changing Global linkages
 -oil=70% of reg exports
 -OPEC influence cost and availability of petroleum
 -Non-OPEC countries export textiles, electronics, gems
 -Tourism includes relig, historic sites.winner