Middle East & Caucasus

The Middle East & Caucasus region represent a major geographic connection area between the European and Asian parts of the Euro-Asian landmass.

The region is one of the wellsprings of human civilization in the ancient and medieval worlds, the birthplace of several world religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Druze, and others.

While most countries in the region have a Muslim majority, the region is ethnically diverse. Arabs, Jews, Persians and Turks represent the largest groups, but there are substantial minorities (Kurds, Armenians etc) with their own languages, customs, and sometimes their own countries. There is also the important distinction within Islam itself between the Sunnis, who predominate in most countries, and the Shias (more localized to Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain).

The Middle East, including Turkey, generally has a hot, arid climate, with several major rivers providing 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.

To the north, the Transcaucasia spans the southern portion of the Caucasus Mountains and its lowlands, straddling the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. The countries of the Caucasus are all isolated but ancient lands inhabited by what may the world’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse region. All were annexed by the Soviet Union at some point, only to gain independence in the 1990s.

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Middle East & Caucasus (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

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