What/where is the Middle East?

August 16, 2006 at 4:51 pm (International community, Middle East)

A somewhat vexing question is: what are the boundaries of the Middle East?

Does it extend from Morocco to Iran? Why? The Arab Peninsula and surrounding countries (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt)? Why? Is Turkey part of the Middle East? Iraq? Iran? North Africa? Afghanistan? Central Asia? Pakistan?

I suppose the question boils down to what criteria (religion, language, culture, history, geography, geo-politics) are used to determine what the Middle East is.

What do you think?

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3 Comments

  1. Christopher Taylor said,

    It seems to me that you’d have to include the former Soviet countries like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Anywhere that’s primarily muslim, arabic (or related such as Turkish, persian, etc) and mostly desertous seems to fit the description. What was once called the “orient.”

    Africa is it’s own continent, so you have to cut it off there. Pakistan and Afghanistan aren’t part of the middle east, and neither is Russia. Turkey seems to be, so maybe the cut off to the north is the Black Sea.

    Like a lot of world regions this is a pretty subjective, vague title.

  2. Dex said,

    I’d go from Egypt north to Turkey and east as far as Iran. I think Asia starts about the eastern side of Iran. The western quarter of Kazakhstan from the Aral sea south. But that’s just me, and it’s not defined by religion or culture, just seems that way. Good question.

    In Ekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) Russia, there’s a monument to show the divide between Asia and Europe. If you follow a line south from there to define Asia, then you’d have the eastern border. I’d say Egypt and Turkey are part of the middle east, but even though Egypt is on the African continent and Turkey nearly touches Europe and that is for cultural reason.

  3. middleeaststudiesstudent said,

    Actually the Middle east goes from the Arabian Peninsula up to Turkey as well as Iran. Technically Pakistan and the other Stan’s and Egypt are not included in the usual definition of the middle east. This is because there’s a big difference from the middle east and countries that have middle eastern culture. Egypt is actually on the African continent but practices middle eastern culture. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the other Stan’s are actually included in Asia and if you ever see movies and pictures of Pakistan and Afghanistan it looks a lot like Asian except for most of the culture (although there is a lot of Asian culture as well).

    The tricky thing about the middle east, however, is that lots of different people included lots of different countries in there definition. I just gave you the most widely excepted region that’s included in the middle east.

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