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North Africa, Southwest Asia and Central Asia. What makes this A Region?. Deserts and Mountains Population that practices one of the three major monotheistic religions Possession of more than half of the worlds known oil reserves A need for freshwater resources

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What makes this a region
What makes this A Region?

  • Deserts and Mountains

  • Population that practices one of the three major monotheistic religions

  • Possession of more than half of the worlds known oil reserves

  • A need for freshwater resources

  • A history of external cultural influences

Physical geography
Physical Geography

  • Tectonic activity responsible for shaping landscape

  • 4 tectonic plates converge in this region

  • Shifting plates have built mountains and frequently cause earthquakes

  • Atlas mountains are found in North Africa

  • Precipitation on northern side of mountains makes this an agriculturally productive region

  • Along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula two mountain ranges, Hejaz and Asir,

  • Asir region the most agriculturally productive region in Southwest Asia

  • Caucus Mountains are found between the Caspian and Black Seas

Physical geography1
Physical Geography

  • Coastal Plains are the most fertile regions and support agriculture

  • Major peninsulas- Arabian, Sinai, Anatolian

  • Landlocked bodies of saltwater are found in the region

  • Caspian Sea- largest inland body of water on Earth

  • Dead Sea on the border of Israel and Jordan is at the mouth of the Jordan River

  • Aral Sea in Central Asia

  • 1960’s fourth largest body of water in the world

  • Dried up in the 1970’s to present because of water used for irrigation to grow cotton, split the sea north and south

Physical geography2
Physical Geography

  • Water Systems

  • Region lacks abundant water resources and rivers have always been important and affected development

  • Nile River fertile land along river home to one of the worlds earliest civilizations

  • 90% of population lives in Nile River delta (3% of Egypt’s land)

  • Aswan High Dam on Nile provides hydroelectric power and water for agriculture

  • Tigris- Euphrates valley in Southwest Asia was a cradle of civilization

  • Today dams provide water for agriculture and hydroelectric power for Syria, Iraq and Turkey

Physical geography3
Physical Geography

  • Oil and natural gas are the most important natural resources in the region

  • Region contains over 60% of the know world oil reserves

  • Oil exports have enriched the region

  • Economy can rise or sink because of fluctuation in world oil markets

  • Many countries in the region are trying to diversify their economies away from reliance on oil exports


  • Water scarcity affects the regions climate

  • Deserts cover more than 50% of the region

  • Sahara Desert largest desert in the world, covers North Africa

  • Weather patterns in deserts are extreme, cold nights and long hot summers

  • Rub al-Khali in Saudi Arabia largest area of sand in the world

  • Some nomadic herding and small scale farming is possible in oasis regions

  • Villages develop around oases


  • Steppe is the second largest climate region

  • Supports livestock grazing

  • Mediterranean climates are found in coastal areas

  • Countries rely on Mediterranean climates to export citrus fruits, olives to Europe and North America

  • These regions also benefit from tourism

North africa
North Africa

  • Indigenous cultures of North Africa have mixed with Arab and European cultures

  • Spanish, French, Roman, Jewish and Muslim cultures have influenced the region

  • European influence mainly in coastal North Arica (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia)

  • Primary cultural mixture is Arab and indigenous cultures

  • Arab invaders mixed with native Berber people

  • Berbers exist today as farmers and pastoral nomads

  • Arabs migrated to the region around 600

North africa1
North Africa

  • Availability of water has influenced settlement

  • Most people settled along seacoasts and river deltas

  • Cairo, Egypt is one of the most densely populated cities on the planet

North africa2
North Africa

  • Location near Europe and Southwest Asia has made the region vulnerable to invasion over the centuries

  • Regions farmers were among the first in the world to domesticate plants and animals

  • One of the world first great civilizations developed in the Nile River Valley

  • In the 600’s Arab invasions and heavily influenced cultures of the region

  • The Arabs brought their language, architecture and Islam

  • European colonial influence in the 1800’s helped develop the regions geometric boundaries

North africa3
North Africa

  • Egypt gained independence in 1922 from Great Britain

  • Typically pro- Western in their views, country has a large military

  • Their control of the Suez canal has made it a key regional power

  • Egypt is also a center of Arab nationalism

  • Algeria gained independence from France in 1962

  • They have developed their natural resources (oil) and raised their standard of living

  • Libya gained independence from Italy in 1951

  • Since 1969 they have been ruled by a military dictator Muammar Kaddafi

  • Morocco and Tunisia gained independence from France in 1956

North africa4
North Africa

  • Most people in North Africa practice Islam

  • Most share the Arabic language

  • Literacy rates range widely from 52% in Morocco to 82% in Libya

  • Health care is government run in most countries, with urban areas receiving better health care than rural areas

Eastern mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean

  • Region is inhabited by Jews and Arabs

  • Most Jews live in Israel

  • Trace heritage to region that is today Israel and Lebanon

  • Invasions led to exile and persecution, forced many Jews to relocate to different countries

  • 1948 Israel founded as an independent Jewish state

  • Arabs in region did not want Jewish state that had been their homeland for centuries, brought a series of six wars to the region sine 1948

  • Palestinians are the Arab people that live where Israel is today

  • Many have been displaced from their homes and have been forced to become refugees

Eastern mediterranean1
Eastern Mediterranean

  • Countries in the region include: Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon

  • Dry desert climate of the region causes majority of population to live along coasts and Euphrates River Valley

  • Parts of region have highest population densities in the region

  • Eastern Mediterranean is 75% urban

  • People from over 100 countries have settled in Israel, makes an ethnically diverse country

Eastern mediterranean2
Eastern Mediterranean

  • Three major religions began in region

  • Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

  • All three share similar beliefs, especially monotheism

  • Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic faiths

  • Christianity was founded in the land of Israel in AD 30

  • Islamic tradition began on nearby Arabian peninsula and spread to the region by AD 700

Eastern mediterranean3
Eastern Mediterranean

  • Jews in the late 1800’s called Zionists , called for a return to Palestine and the foundation of a Jewish state

  • After WWII the UN divided Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state

  • 1948 Jews proclaim the independent state of Israel

  • Series of wars occurred over the next 50 years and caused many Palestinians to become refugees

  • Many Palestinians today live in Israeli controlled settlements in Israel

  • Palestinians want an independent state of their own

  • Israel agreed to give the Palestinians some self rule in the 1990’s, but have since changed their position

  • The militant Palestinians group Hamas has supported attacks on Israeli territory

Eastern mediterranean4
Eastern Mediterranean

  • Most people in are Muslim

  • Large groups of Christians live in Syria and Lebanon

  • Hebrew is spoken in Israel, while other countries speak Arabic

  • Literacy rates vary from 76% in Syria to 96% in Israel

Iran iraq and turkey
Iran, Iraq and Turkey

Ethnic Populations

  • Turks- migrated from Central Asia

  • Eventually became known as the Ottomans and ruled the region for 600 years

  • Most Turks practice Sunni Islam

  • Iranians- migrated from Central Asia

  • Speak Farsi

  • 90% practice Shia branch of Islam

  • Arabs- majority of people in Iraq

  • Most are Shia Muslims

  • Arabic is the most commonly spoken language

  • Kurds- live in mountainous border area of Turkey and Iraq

  • Most are Sunni Muslims

  • Speak Kurdish and have different customs than Arabs of the region

  • Have no country of their own

  • Efforts at self rule have been repeatedly crushed by Turkish and Arab rulers

Iran iraq and turkey1
Iran, Iraq and Turkey

  • Most populous countries are Iran and Turkey

  • Most live in cities

  • Istanbul and Tehran dominate social and cultural life in their countries

  • Cities have had problems because of many villagers looking for opportunity

  • Government of Iran has relocated people to the countryside to relieve overcrowding

Iran iraq and turkey2
Iran, Iraq and Turkey

  • Mesopotamia was one of the world’s first cultural hearths, part of the fertile crescent

  • Persian and Ottoman Empires were once regional powers

  • Late 1800’s British controlled Iraq until 1922

  • Country of Turkey established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire

  • Iran’s secular government was overthrown in 1979 and is run by mullahs (religious leaders) that influence politics in the country today

Iran iraq and turkey3
Iran, Iraq and Turkey

  • Discovery of oil in the early 1900’s changed region drastically

  • 1950’s Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela formed the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to regulate oil production and set oil prices

  • OPEC has gained power as the demand for oil has increased

  • 1973 imposed a ban on the sale of oil when they became angry over Arab-Israeli conflicts

  • Demand for oil has made the region important internationally

Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula

  • Harsh desert climate means most people live along the coast

  • Lives shaped by traditional Islamic culture and modernization driven by the oil industry

  • Most in region are Arabs

  • Economic prosperity has brought a labor shortage to many countries (need somebody to do work they don’t want to)

  • Many foreign workers from South Asia immigrated to the region for economic opportunity

  • Most of the population lives in urban areas

  • Discovery of oil led to modernization, increased wealth and immigration

  • Majority of population in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar are immigrants

Arabian peninsula1
Arabian Peninsula

  • British controlled most of the area during the 1800’s, except for Oman which has always remained independent

  • Unified Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established in 1932

  • Still ruled today by Saud family

  • Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar gained independence in mid-1900’s

  • UAE became a country in 1971, country today is an association of sheikdoms ruled by an Islamic religious leader

  • Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain are monarchies

  • Saudi Arabia is ruled by shari’ah law based on the Quran

  • Kuwait, Qatar are constitutional emirates ruled by princes

Arabian peninsula2
Arabian Peninsula

  • Standards of living vary widely across the region

  • Oil rich countries have used money to improve infrastructure and promote education

  • Qatar's oil and gas reserves have given it on of the worlds highest per capita incomes

  • Sunni and Shia are the dominant sects of Islam found in the region

  • Other sects of Islam are Ibadhism practiced in Oman

  • Wahhabi is a very conservative sect of the Sunni branch that believes in the literal translation of the Quran, found in Saudi Arabia

Central asia
Central Asia

  • Region has numerous ethnic groups, reflects centuries of migration and invasion by outside groups

  • Population has been shaped by conflict

  • Crossroads of many cultures, early history influenced by the Silk Road

  • Afghanistan predominant ethnic group is Pashtun

  • More than 50 nationalities live in the Caucus Mountains (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan)

  • Turkic peoples live in the republics of Central Asia (Uzbeks, Kazakhs)

Central asia1
Central Asia

  • Population densities are uneven across the region because of the climate and terrain

  • Afghanistan is the most populous country

  • Crossroads of many cultures, early history influenced by the Silk Road

  • Region has been controlled by Alexander the Great, Mongols, Ottomans

  • Armenia and Georgia are ethnically and culturally different than other countries in the region because they practice Christianity

  • Soviet Union unified parts of Central Asia in the 1900’s

  • Many countries were objects of Soviet cultural, political and economic influence

  • Caused an rise in the standard of living and literacy

Central asia2
Central Asia

  • Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979

  • Mujahedeen freedom fighters defeated the Soviets and set in motion their decline

  • After the Soviets left the Taliban, they imposed a strict form of Islamic rule on the country

  • When Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 the Central Asian republics declared their independence

  • Countries are have moved toward political and economic stability with various degrees of success

  • Poverty and unemployment are widespread

  • Healthcare is lacking, years of turmoil have left the region with few resources to spend on social programs

The economy
The Economy

  • Oil and water two key economic resources

  • Countries with oil need water, countries with water generally don’t have oil

  • Only a small portion of the land is available for farming, yet a large percentage is involved in farming

  • Agriculture plays a smaller role in oil rich countries where they import most of their food

  • Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest cotton producers

The economy1
The Economy

  • Petroleum and oil products have transformed the region

  • Villages in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and other Persian Gulf countries have becoming modern cities

  • Iran and Saudi Arabia have developed oil refining and shipping industries

  • Petrochemical industries provide jobs and improve the standard of living for many

  • Service industries (banking, real estate, retail sales, insurance industries, tourism)

The economy2
The Economy

  • Extensive road systems are found in oil rich countries to connect oil fields and seaports

  • Other countries are hampered by geography and finances

  • Water transportation is vital to the region

  • The Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal have strategic and economic importance to ship oil across the world

  • An elaborate system of pipelines connects oilfields to ports on the Mediterranean, Black and Red Seas

The economy3
The Economy

  • TV and radio is expanding, much of it government controlled

  • Satellite technology is helping sparsely populated areas improve communication services

  • Economic interdependence is growing across the region

  • Transportation and communication has increased interaction

  • Industrialized countries need oil from the region and the region depends on industrial products from other countries

  • OPEC has a major economic influence in many countries around the world

  • There is a wide disparity between the oil rich and oil poor countries

People and the environment
People and the Environment

  • Water resources key issue in region

  • Few major rivers, few countries have enough freshwater for irrigation

  • Oil rich countries can afford desalination plants to meet their need for freshwater

  • Very expensive and takes large amounts of energy to run them

  • Libya’s Great Man Made River tries to meet freshwater needs

  • Taps large aquifers under the Sahara desert and carries water to urban areas

  • Could create problems by depleting aquifers faster than they can be recharged and by taking water from other countries

People and the environment1
People and the Environment

  • Aswan High Dam in Egypt

    • Controls Nile’s floods, provides water for irrigation, supplies electricity

    • Negative impact is that it prevents Nile floods that bring fertile alluvial soil to lower Nile, and washes away salt

    • Dam traps soil so farmers have to use expensive fertilizers

  • War has had a negative impact Persian Gulf War, war in Afghanistan, turmoil in Israel

  • Central Asia inherited Soviet area environmental problems

  • Soviets tested nuclear, chemical, biological weapons there

  • Soviet heavy industry was based in these countries and left many areas with polluted water