Useful Notes / The Middle East
One of the world's most volatile regions, the traditional definition of the Middle East, which the countries listed down below go by, are the countries of Western Asia that are south of Transcaucasia/the South Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia). The Greater Middle East political definition, coined in the Early 2000's by the Bush Administration, throws in the entirety of North Africa as far west as Morocco (While the tradition Middle East only includes Egypt, as it is a transcontinental country in both Western Asia and North Africa) as well as Somalia and Djibouti in East Africa, Mauritania in West Africa, and Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia, fitting more closely with Arab World
and Muslim World
respectively (note that the three terms are technically not
synonymous). Some broader definitions of the Greater Middle East even include Transcaucasia/the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Some definitions of the region don't include Iran in Middle East and some don't include Cyprus and Turkey. Also known as the Near East, mainly in texts originating in Europe (both English and foreign texts), the Middle East is the area around Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and all those other -stans. And Iraq. This can cause a mess for translators as well. So you always better make sure what the author's definition of the term is and preferably attach your own definition if writing about it yourself.
The Middle East is generally considered the "cradle of civilization"; the earliest civilizations in the world (in the modern sense of the word) - Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian - developed in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and the surrounding areas about 5000 years ago; Ancient Egypt
showed up at about the same time as Sumer, and Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires would later trade territory in the Levant (Lebanon/Syria/Israel/Jordan). The whole area served as an important trade and cultural center in ancient times.
One should note that not all the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. Some states are more liberal (and desert-covered) than others. Additionally, not everyone in the Middle East is even Muslim as Egyptian Coptic Christians, Israeli Jews, Lebanese Maronite Christians, amongst others, would point out. Likewise, even leaving aside Turkey and Iran (Turks and Persians, respectively), not everyone in the Middle East is Arab, as Berbers, Jews, Kurds, Greeks, amongst others, would point out.
Also note that the Middle East is not a big desert, as countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Iran are covered with forests and mountains.
Countries and Territories
Capital & Largest City: Manama
Capital & Largest City: Nicosia
Capital & Largest City: Cairo
Capital & Largest City: Tehran
Capital & Largest City: Baghdad
(disputed), Tel Aviv-Yafo (recognized internationally)
Largest City: Jerusalem
Capital & Largest City: Amman
Capital & Largest City: Kuwait City
Capital & Largest City
Capital & Largest City: North Nicosia
Capital & Largest City: Muscat
Capital: Jerusalem (claimed), Ramallah (de facto)
Largest City: Gaza City
Capital & Largest City: Doha
Capital & Largest City: Riyadh
Largest City: Aleppo
Capital: Abu Dhabi
Capitals: Sana'a (national), Aden (provisional, Hadi Government}
Largest City: Sana'a