Looking out the window, I could not resist the opportunity to take this photograph. There is nothing in particular going on and there are no telling surroundings. Yet, this picture symbolises a good deal to me if I generalise it to a regional context. There are proud and traditionalist people groups with a very long history, strong religious sentiments. In addition, it’s a man’s world.
The Middle East and North Africa consists of largely Muslim countries but with large and important groups of two other world religions, those of the Jews and Christians. Geo-politically this region has for the last few decades been at the centre of the world’s focus. It contains some important root causes of much of the world’s disorder. This is partly due to the Israeli-Arab conflict and partly due to the rich petroleum resources which are a necessary to the rest of the world.
The rest of this part of the world, as I have defined it, has up until very recently not given me any impressions. That has now changed as I have started to explore the continent of Africa. Have a look at the map below.
The Middle East consists of 16 (or 15 if one omits Palestine) countries. They stretch from Turkey in the north and west, to Iran in the east, and south throughout the Arabian Peninsula. In Africa there are 54 independent countries and 10 non-sovereign territories.
As the map shows, I have been to very few. In all I have made it to 14 independent countries out of 70. Click in the country list above to view all posts from each country.
These are the countries I have not been to:
Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo R, Congo DR, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Yemen.
Map of Middle East and Africa. Sandalsand has been to countries marked with a green colour, not the yellow ones. (Map source: Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
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Posts from the Middle East and Africa
The Crusader castles in Syria are old and remarkably intact. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with...
Right in the middle of the Syrian desert, the ancient town of Palmyra rises like a Fata Morgana. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a...
The Syrian town of Aleppo has been around for thousands of years and will be for thousands more, despite huge setbacks from time to time. The UNESCO...
The fascinating life and scenery on the Anatolian Plateau, as well as the bureaucratic hassles of continuing the journey. This article is part of a...
The landscape of this part of Turkey is spectacular, and human activity has made the rock formations even more fascinating. The UNESCO World...
This was a journey into the unknown and intriguing cultures of the Middle East, and the encounter of a friendliness and hospitality hard to come by...
The Greek acropolis of Pergamon in western Turkey commanded a large area, and was central in trading activities more than 2,000 years ago. The...
The Ottoman Empire took over when the Eastern Roman empire fell. The Ottomans trace their roots back to this area in Western Turkey. The...
Istanbul is a dream, the monumental mosques and minarets are almost like a fairytale. The city's history and geographic setting is unique. The...
Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil! (Golda Meir)
A fact sheet
This is Wikipedia’s introduction to the two regions I have combined on this page.
The Middle East
Map and numbers
- Region: Middle East
- Area: 7,207,575 km2
- Population: 371 million (2010)
- Countries: 18 countries
- Languages: ~60 languages
Geography and demography
The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey (both Asian and European), and Egypt (which is mostly in North Africa). The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East (as opposed to the Far East) beginning in the early 20th century.
Arabs, Turks, Persians, Kurds, and Azeris (excluding Azerbaijan) constitute the largest ethnic groups in the region by population. Minorities of the Middle East include Jews, Baloch, Greeks, Assyrians, and other Arameans, Berbers (who primarily live in North Africa), Circassians (including Kabardians), Copts, Druze, Lurs, Mandaeans, Samaritans, Shabaks, Tats, and Zazas. In the Middle East, there is also a Romani community. European ethnic groups that form a diaspora in the region include Albanians, Bosniaks, Crimean Tatars, Franco-Levantines, and Italo-Levantines. Among other migrant populations are Bengalis as well as other Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Afghans, and Sub-Saharan Africans.
The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, with the (geopolitical) importance of the region being recognised for millennia. Several major religions have their origins in the Middle East, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Baha’i faith, Mandaeism, Unitarian Druze, and numerous other belief systems were also established within the region.
The Middle East generally has a hot, arid climate. Several major rivers provide irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas such as the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia, and most of what is known as the Fertile Crescent.
Most of the countries that border the Persian Gulf have vast reserves of crude oil, with monarchs of the Arabian Peninsula in particular benefiting economically from petroleum exports.
Map and numbers
- Region: Africa
- Area: 30,370,000 km2
- Population: 1,225,080,510 (2016)
- Population density: 36.4/km2
- Nominal GDP: $2.19 trillion (2017)
- PPP GDP: $6.36 trillion (2017)
- Per capita GDP: $1,820 (2017)
- Demonym: African
- Countries: 54 (and 2 disputed)
- Dependencies: External (3), Internal (4)
Africa is the world’s second largest and second most-populous continent (behind Asia in both categories). At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth’s total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.
Africa’s average population is the youngest amongst all the continents. The median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Algeria is Africa’s largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes). This is evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors as well as later ones, dated to around 7 million years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas. It is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.
Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised almost all of Africa. Most present states in Africa originated from a process of decolonisation in the 20th century. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.
Wikipedia on a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Date: 2018-06-22.