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Chapter 4

Africa and SW Asia

North Africa and Southwest AsiaDay 1

What Makes This a Region?

To most outsiders, North Africa and Southwest Asia is a region characterized by

five qualities:
The center of the religion of Islam
Locus of a great deal of Earths petroleum resources
Overall scarcity of water
Predominantly Arab in ethnicity
Women face significant discrimination in this region (but are playing an
increasingly important political role)
In this region, the vast majority of people practice Islam, a monotheistic religion
that emerged in the seventh century CE when the archangel Gabriel revealed the
tenets of the religion to the Prophet Muhammad.
While most Muslims accept the validity of other beliefs, including Christianity and
Judaism, as Mary, Jesus, and Abraham play a role in Islam as well as Christianity.
A vocal minority of Muslims are drawn to Islamism, which is an activist movement
that seeks political power to curb what they perceive as dangerous secular
influences being spread by globalization.

What Makes This a Region?

Fossil fuel reservesmade up of oil and natural gas formed over millions of years
from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animalsare found mainly around
the Persian Gulf.
While Arabic culture and language are widespread, many people in the region are
not Arab; the second and third most populous countries in the region, Turkey and
Iran, are of non-Arab ethnicities
Finally, the role and status of women, long a point of contention, is in transition.
Women are beginning to lead the fight for gender equity in the region, and their
life options are expanding.
Be careful: We choose to not use the common term Middle East. The Arab world is
used only where it applies, since many people in the region are not of Arab
We use the term occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT) to refer to Gaza and the
West Bank, those areas where Israel still exerts control despite treaty agreements

Physical Pattern and Climate- driest region

The climate is dry and hot in the vast stretches of the relatively low, flat land; it is
somewhat more moist where mountains capture orographic rainfall. The lack of
vegetation perpetuates aridity. Occasionally copious rainfall simply runs off,
evaporates, or sinks rapidly into underground aquifers, of which there are many
across the region.
A belt of dry air that circles the planet between roughly 20 N and 30 N creates
desert climates in the Sahara of North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, the
Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran.
Nevertheless, in even the driest zones, humans survive as traders and nomadic
herders at scattered oases, where they maintain groves of drought-resistant plants
such as date palms.

Desert, Saudi Arabia

Steppe, Morocco

Mediterranean, summer dry, Algeria

Continental, moist all year, Turkey

Climate Zones

In the uplands and at the desert margins, enough rain falls to nurture grass, some
trees, and limited agriculture. Such is the case in northwestern Morocco; along the
Mediterranean coast in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya; in the highlands of Sudan,
Yemen, and Turkey; and in the northern parts of Iraq and Iran.
The rest of the region, generally too dry for cultivation, has for generations been
the prime herding lands for nomads, such as the Kurds of Southwest Asia, the
Berbers and Tuareg (a branch of Berbers) in North Africa, and the Bedouin of the
steppes and deserts on the Arabian Peninsula.
Some of these lands are now irrigated for commercial agriculture, but the sources
of irrigation water are scarce.

Landforms and Vegetation

Mountains in northwestern Africa capture sufficient moisture to allow plants,

animals and humans to flourish.
The Atlas Mountains, stretching from Moroccos Atlantic coast to Tunisia, help
provide this moisture with orographic rainfall.
A rift that formed between two tectonic platesthe African Plate and the Arabian
Plateseparates Africa from Southwest Asia and has created the Red Sea. The
Arabian Peninsula lies to the east of this rift where mountains capture enough
rainfall to sustain local agriculture.
Behind these mountains, to the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula, lies the great
desert region of the Rub al Khali. Like the Sahara, it has virtually no vegetation.
The Arabian Plate is colliding with the Eurasian Plate and pushing up the
mountains and plateaus of Turkey and Iran. The tectonic movements that create
mountains also create earthquakes, a common hazard in Southwest Asia.

Landforms and Vegetation

There are three river systems in the region. The Nile crosses Sudan and desert
Egypt and forms a large delta on the Mediterranean.
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers both begin with the rain that falls in the mountains
in Turkey and flows southwest to the Persian Gulf.
Finally, the small Jordan river starts as snowmelt in the uplands of southern
Lebanon and flows through Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
Dry riverbeds or wadis carry water after the light rains between November and

Heritage and Water Conservation

The Quran (or Koran), the holy book of Islam, guides believers to avoid spoiling or
degrading human and natural environments and to share resources, especially
water, with all forms of life.
Residents of this region conserve water better than most people in the world.
Traditional architectural designs and public baths and underground water
conduits (qanats) minimize the loss of water.
Today, with growing populations, all countries in the region (except Turkey, Iran,
Iraq, and Syria) suffer from freshwater scarcity (<1000 cubic meters per person per
Fossil water (or paleowater is a somewhat broadly-used term to describe water
that has been contained in some undisturbed space, usually groundwater in an
aquifer, for millennia or longer) are under investments now (e.g. Libya) but is
Seawater desalination is a technology that fossil fuel-rich countries of the Persian
Gulf have invested heavily in. This technology removes salt from seawater, making
it suitable for drinking and agriculture. But it requires high amounts of energy.

Water and Food Production

The predominant use of water in North Africa and Southwest Asia is for irrigated
agriculture, even though it does not contribute significantly to national economies.
Until the twentieth century, agriculture was confined to a few coastal and upland
zones where rain could support cultivation, but mechanized irrigation schemes
have expanded agriculture deep into arid environments.
Over time, irrigation projects damage soil fertility through salinization. When
irrigation is used in hot, dry environments, the water evaporates, leaving behind a
salty residue of minerals or other contaminants. When too much residue
accumulates, the plants are unable to grow or even survive.
drip irrigation dramatically reduce the amount of water used, thereby limiting
salinization and freeing up water for other uses; geopolitical issues as well as high
cost prevent these techniques from being used in other areas in the region.
Now the diets of nearly all people in this region include imported food. Beef, corn,
and wheat, because they require a large quantity of water to produce. In fact,
Southwest Asia is the worlds largest consumer of imported wheat

Many human activities have increased aridity, resulting in expanding deserts in the
Dams make water available for irrigation but reduce the amount of water available
to downstream users.
War and insurgency have been major sources of environmental degradation in the
region. The largest oil spill in history was when the Iraqi government spilled 300
million gallons of oil in order to thwart a land invasion by the United States in
1991. In Lebanon, Israeli bombing raids caused a similarly devastating spill in 2006.

Vulnerability to Climate Change

North Africa and Southwest Asia are especially vulnerable to climate change as
global warming is changing rainfall patterns and increasing evaporation rates,
transforming non-desert lands into deserts.
Sea level rise could severely impact the Mediterranean coast, especially the Nile
Delta, one of the poorest and most densely populated lowland areas in the world.
The new high-tech cities in the Persian Gulf would likely be flooded as well.
Global efforts to reduce dependencies of fossil fuel consumption could devastate
oil- and gas-based economies and transform the regions geopolitics.

Climate Change and Desertification

Climate change could accelerate desertification, the conversion of non-desert

lands into deserts. As temperatures increase, soil moisture decreases because of
evaporation. As a result, plant cover is reduced, which causes less protection for
arid soil.
As groundwater levels fall because water is being pumped out for cities and
irrigated agriculture, some plant roots no longer reach sources of moisture,
causing the plants to die.
International development agencies that have encouraged the settlement of
nomads and asked them to take up cattle ranching as practiced in western North
America has contributed to desertification as well.

Agriculture and the Development of

Between 10,000 and
8,000 years ago,
nomadic peoples
settled in the uplands
of the Tigris and
Euphrates river
systems and the Zagros
Mountains of modern
Iran. This zone is called
the Fertile Crescent
because of its onceplentiful fresh water,
fertile soil, forests,
grasslands, wild grains,
and animals.

Agriculture and the

Development of Civilization

The skills of the regions early people in domesticating plants and animals allowed
them to build ever more elaborate settlements. The settlements eventually grew
into societies based on widespread irrigated agriculture.
Over several thousand years, agriculture spread to the Nile Valley, west across
North Africa, north and west into Europe, and east to the mountains of Persia
(modern Iran). Ultimately, other cultivation systems across the world were
influenced by developments in the Fertile Crescent.
These settlements eventually turned into city-states and developed technologies.
For example, Sumerians (in modern southern Iraq) developed wheeled vehicles,
oar-driven ships, and irrigation technology.
From time to time, nomadic tribes who had adopted the horse as a means of
conquest banded together and, with devastating cavalry raids, swept over
agricultural settlements. They then set themselves up as a ruling class, but soon
these former nomads adopted the settled ways and cultures of the peoples they
conquered and thus themselves became vulnerable to attack.

Judaism, Christianity, Islam

Several thousand years ago, monotheisma belief system based on the idea that
there is only one godbegan to emerge, challenging religions based on a belief of
many gods.
All three religions are connected to the eastern Mediterranean and hold
connection to a sacred text.
Judaism was founded approximately 4000 years ago. According to tradition, the
patriarch Abraham led his followers from Mesopotamia to the shores of the
eastern Mediterranean, where he founded Judaism.
After the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire, which culminated in their
expulsion in 73 CE from the eastern Mediterranean, some were enslaved by the
Romans and most migrated to other lands in a movement known as the diaspora
(the dispersion of an originally localized people)
Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew who, claiming to
be the son of God, gathered followers in the area of Palestine about 2000 years
ago. Jesus, who became known as Christ (meaning anointed one or Messiah),
taught that there is one God, who primarily loves and supports humans but who
will judge those who do evil.


After Jesus execution in Jerusalem in about 32 CE, his teachings were written
down (the Gospels) by those who followed him, and his ideas as interpreted by
these writers spread and became known as Christianity.
Islam, now the overwhelmingly dominant religion in the region, emerged in the
seventh century CE, after the Prophet Muhammad transmitted the Quran to his
followers by writing down what was conveyed to him by Allah.
Followers of Islam, called Muslims, believe that Muhammad was the final and
most important in a long series of revered prophets, which includes Abraham,
Moses, and Jesus.
The spread of Islam start from Bedouinnomads of the Arabian Peninsula who
want to build an Arab-Islamic empire. By the end of the tenth century, the Arab
Islamic empire had begun to break apart. From the eleventh to the fifteenth
centuries, Mongols from eastern Central Asia (eventually converting to Islam by
1330) conquered parts of the Arab-controlled territory, forming the Muslim
Mughal Empire, centered in what is now north India.

The Spread of Islam

Western Domination, State Formation

During WW I, Britain and France take over most of the terrains in here left by
Ottoman Empire.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust in Europe, the Jewish state of Israel was created
in the eastern Mediterranean
By the 1950s, European and U.S. energy companies played a key role in influencing
who ruled Iran and Saudi Arabia where vast oil deposits become lucrative.
While a tiny ruling elite grew fabulously wealthy, the oil and other tax revenues
were not invested in creating opportunities for the vast majority of poor people.
Over time, ever more political power accrued to the ruling elite and to foreign
energy companies.
During the Cold War, the United States and Western
Europe supported autocratic local leaders sympathetic
to their interests, preventing reforms that would have
led to greater democracy.

Religion in Daily Life

93% of people in the religion are Muslims. The Five Pillars of Islamic Practice
embody the central teachings of the religion.
A testimony of belief in Allah as the only God and Muhammad as his
messenger (prophet).
Daily prayer at five designated times
Obligatory fasting during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan
Obligatory almsgiving (zakat) of at least 2.5% to those in need
Pilgrimage or hajj at least once in a lifetime to the Islamic holy places including
the Masjid Al-Haram and the Kaaba in Makkah (Mecca) during the twelfth
month of the Islamic calendar
Saudi Arabia occupies a prestigious position in Islam as it is the site of two of
Islams three holiest shrinesMakkah (the birthplace of the Prophet) and Al
Madinah/Medina (the site of the Prophets mosque and his burial place). A large
private sector industry owned and managed by members of the Saud family
organizes and oversees the hajj for more than 2.5 million devout foreign visitors.

Islamic Religious Law

Beyond the Five Pillars, Islamic religious law, called sharia, or the correct path,
guides daily life according to the principles of the Quran. But there are many
interpretations of the Quran, several renderings of sharia, and a wide variety of
versions of the observant Muslim life.
In the region of North Africa and Southwest Asia, the debate about whether
sharia or secular law is best for the modern era gained scrutiny during and after
the so- called Arab Spring beginning in 2010, when several countries started to
frame new constitutions.
Sunni Muslims account for the majority of Muslims and Shiite or Shia Muslims
are a large minority within the religion.
The SunniShiite split dates from shortly after the death of Muhammad, when
divisions arose over who should succeed the Prophet and have the right to
interpret the Quran for all Muslims. This division continues today. The original
disagreements have been exacerbated by countless local disputes over land,
resources, and philosophies.

Gendered Roles and Gendered Spaces

Scholars think that after the development of agriculture, as the accumulation of wealth
and property became more important in human society, concerns about family lines of
descent and inheritance emerged. This led in turn to the idea that womens bodies
needed to be controlled so that a woman could not become pregnant by a man other
than her mate and thus confuse lines of inheritance.

In this region, the ideal is for men and boys to go forth into public spacesthe town
square, shops, the market. Women are expected to inhabit primarily private spaces. But
there are many possible exceptions to those ideals.
The requirement that women stay out of public view (also known as female seclusion) is
most strictly enforced in the more conservative Muslim countries of the Gulf states
(Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates).
But the restriction is released In the more secular and urbanized Islamic countries
Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran

Many women in this region use the veil to preserve a measure of seclusion when she
enters a public space, but their increasing anticipation in political power are expected.
Many young women wear a headscarf with a jeans and T-shirt, and others may wear a
veil that fully covers the body.

Variations on the veil as portable seclusion.

There is an almost infinite variety of interpretations of the veil.

A veiled woman stands in front of

supporters of Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Schoolchildren in Iran wear a uniform that

covers much of their hair and a suit that
covers most of their body.

In Tunisia, some women wear

garments that cover all except
their eyes and hands

While the region has notably more restrictive customary and legal limits on
women, such as a ban on women drivers in the Gulf States, changes have been
made as women have become more active in public life.

Children and family

In most families children contribute to the welfare of the family starting at a very
young age.
Daily lives take place overwhelmingly within the family circle. Both girls and boys
spend their time within the family compound or in urban areas in adjacent family
School, television, and the Internet increasingly influence the lives of children and
introduce them to a wider world. Most children go to school; many boys go for a
decade or more, and increasingly girls go for more than a few years.
The deeply entrenched cultural preference for sons in this region is both a cause
and a result of womens lower social and economic standing.
Besides, population growth rates are higher in societies where women are not
accorded basic human rights, are less educated, and work primarily inside the

Changing Population Patterns

Vast tracts of desert are virtually uninhabited, while the regions 477 million
people are packed into coastal zones, river valleys, and mountainous areas with
orographic rainfall.
Population densities in these areas, such as in Cairo, are four times higher than
New York City with over 260,000 people per square mile. The fertility rate is still
3.1 in 2012.

Human society- troublesome political


Two highly globalized patterns of urbanization with distinct geographic signatures

are now apparent: one pattern in the newly oil-rich countries, and another in
those countries where development has primarily resulted in rural-to-urban
migration with associated crowded slum housing.
The petroleum-rich Gulf states are now highly urbanized. Between 70 and 100
percent of the (still small) population now lives in urban areas, which are
extravagant in design. These modern Gulf cities draw investment in high-tech
ventures and high-end tourism.
Outside the Gulf states, urban growth has been planned and financed far less well.
For example, in 1950, Cairo had about 2.4 million residents, while today it is home
to over 17 million people. These millions of new residents live in huge makeshift
slums. Meanwhile, much of Cairos middle class occupies the medieval interiors of
the old city, where streets are narrow pedestrian pathways and plumbing and
other services are chronically dysfunctional.

Internal and International Migration

The prospect of better education opportunities, jobs, and living conditions pull
rural internal migrants into Cairo and other cities outside the Gulf states. However,
because stable, well-paying jobs are scarce, many migrants end up working in the
informal economy.
In the Gulf states, on the other hand, there has been a deficit of trained native
young people willing and able to work in white-collar jobs, yet surplus trained
workers from neighboring countries have not been welcomed. Instead, immigrants
come from all over the world to be temporary guest workers.
Refugees comprise another category of migrants. This region has the largest
number of refugees in the world. Usually they are escaping human conflict, but
environmental disasters such as earthquakes or long-term drought also displace
many people. When Israel was created in 1949, many Palestinians were placed in
refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Human Well-Being

From country to country there is wide variation with regard to GNI (gross national
income) less than U.S.$2000 per person per year in Sudan and well over
U.S.$47,000 per person per year in Kuwait, the UAE, and Qatar.
Oil and gas wealth does not necessarily translate into high GNI per capita.
HDI (Human Development Index): Israel ranking the highest.
Of the 21 countries, only Israel, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia,
and Libya have mid-level rankings considering human well-being.

Economic and Political

There are major economic and political barriers to peace and prosperity
The economic base is unstable because the main resources are fossil fuels and agricultural
commodities, both of which are subject to wide price fluctuations on world markets.

Global oil and gas prices have risen and fallen dramatically since 1973, when governments in the Gulf states raised the price
of oil and gas for several reasons. On the one hand, the Gulf states were imposing a kind of penalty in response to U.S.
support for Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and neighboring Arab countries.

Political and economic cooperation in the region has been thwarted by a complex tangle of hostilities
between neighboring countries. Many of these hostilities are the legacy of outside interference by
Europe and the United States.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries formed a cartel that facilitated the price hikes
in 1973. OPEC members cooperate to restrict or increase oil production and significantly influence the
price of oil on world markets.

Many OPEC countries, which were exceedingly poor just 40 years ago, have become much wealthier since 1973, but they
have also become more vulnerable to economic downturns.

Gulf states have begun to invest heavily in roads, airports, new cities, irrigated
agriculture, and petrochemical industries.
Dubai, for example, has a planned tourism economy as insurance against when the
regional oil economy fails.
The 2008 global financial recession demonstrated the vulnerability of this model,
however, as Dubais projects ground to a halt as the global economy faced a

OPEC Flows

Power and Politics: The Arab Spring

The political protests that swept across North Africa in 2010 and into Syria by 2011
eventually resulted in the toppling of long-standing dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and
then Libya.
The political disquiet reflected the fact that, for much of their history, most
governments in this region gave citizens very little ability to influence how
decisions were made.
People across the region saw their governments as unresponsive and corrupt, and
themselves as powerless to influence government in any way other than by
massive protests.
Certainly, the role that Islam should play in society has been the most contentious
issue of long-term significance, and it relates directly to determining which system
of laws should be adopted as well as which protections women should be

Which First: Elections or Constitutions?

There were no viable reform models extant within the region to follow after the
dictators were toppled.
Hopes for democratic reforms in Tunisia and Egypt chose to have elections first,
but there was low turnout. In both countries, Islamist-oriented governments were
elected, and they adopted constitutions that did not adequately provide for the
rights of more secular political groups, minorities, or women.
In Egypt, by contrast, where elections were the first priority, the highly organized
Muslim Brotherhood mobilized their supporters and swept to power with only a
minority of the electorate voting. Having won, the Muslim Brotherhood then
controlled the writing of a constitution that gave the government authoritarian
Freedoms of speech, most notably those of journalists, were also sharply curtailed.
Then within a few weeks, after President Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood stalwart,
declared that he had powers that superseded those of the Egyptian courts. He was
then deposed in a military coup.
For the many thousands of womenstudents and young professionalswho
participated in the Cairo demonstrations, it was exhilarating to be welcomed by
male compatriots.

Thousands celebrate in Tripoli, Libya on

the second anniversary of the end of
Libyas civil war of 2011. Like the war in
Syria, this conflict, in which 25,00 to
30,000 people were killed, was ignited by
the governments brutal repression of
Arab Spring protests.

A rebel sniper in the city of Aleppo,

Syria. The Syrian governments harsh
crackdown on Arab Spring protests,
beginning in 2011, was the spark that
started the civil war. Over 100,000
people have been killed and millions of
others have been displaced by the

Islamism and the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring opened up space for Islamist groups, including the extreme, purist
and conservative Salafists who believe that Islam cannot be reconciled with
modern times.
Governments in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the UAE, Oman, and Iran are theocratic
states in which Islam is the official religion and political leaders are considered to
be divinely guided by both Allah and the teachings of the Quran.
Elsewhere, such as in Turkey as well as in Tunisia, Libya, and even Syria (at least
before the 2011 rebellion began), governments were officially secular states,
where religious parties were not allowed and the law was neutral on matters of
religion, but of course, Islamic tradition (and other religious traditions) influence
political leanings in these countries.
The militancy often associated with Islamism is characteristic of many popular
political movements in this region, where challenges to the authority of
governments are frequently met with violent repression.

Iraq and the USA 1963-2013

The origins of the U.S. war with Iraq, beginning in 2003, lie in 1963, when the
United States backed a coup that installed a pro-U.S. government that evolved into
the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The United States publicly supported Iraq in the 19801988 war between Iraq and
Iran, but secretly supplied Iran with weapons during the Reagan administration
(19811989) when it appeared that Iraq might become more troublesome if it
won the war.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. President George H. Bush forced Iraqs
military out of Kuwait in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and afterward placed Iraq
under crippling economic sanctions.
The George W. Bush administration, under the assumption that Saddam Hussein
was building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, declared war on Iraq.
While the initial invasion met little resistance, terrorism and insurgency have
greatly increased.
Today, Iraqis want a strong central government that keeps them safe from violent
insurgents and maintains control of the countrys large fossil fuel reserves. They
also want the U.S. and allied military forces to leave.

Sixty Years of Conflict between Israel and Palestine and

the Two-State Solution

In November 1947, after an intense debate in the UN General Assembly, the UN

adopted the Plan of Partition with an Economic Union that ended the earlier
mandate and called for the creation of both Arab and Jewish states.
The Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries fiercely objected to the
establishment of a Jewish state and feared that they would continue to lose land
and other resources.
Warfare between the Jews and Palestinians began immediately. Neighboring Arab
countriesLebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordansupported the Palestinian
Arabs and invaded Israel the next day. Fighting continued for several months,
during which Israel prevailed militarily.
In the repeated conflicts over the next decadessuch as the Six-Day War in 1967
and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 Israel again defeated its larger Arab neighbors,
expanding into territories formerly controlled by Egypt (Sinai), Syria (Golan
Heights), and Jordan.


In 1987, the Palestinians mounted the first of two prolonged uprisings, known as
the intifada, characterized by escalating violence. The first ran until 1993, when
the Oslo Peace Accords provided that Israel withdraw from parts of the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank, and that the Palestinian Authority be the entity that would
enable Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state.
The second intifada began in 2000 and continues into the present, primarily fueled
by the expansion of Israeli settlementsin breach of the Oslo Accordsinto
Palestinian territories in Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights (see Figure
6.29F). Both sides have suffered substantial trauma and casualties.
In 2012 the Palestinians, led by their president, Mahmoud Abbas, officially
petitioned the UN General Assembly for status as a nonmember observer state.
The UN General Assembly voted 138 to 9 to approve this petition (41 nations
abstained), and thus the Palestinians gained official recognition that they had
never before achieved.

Territorial Disputes

When Israel occupied Palestinian lands in 1967, the UN Security Council passed a
resolution requiring Israel to return those lands, known as the occupied Palestinian
Territories (oPT), in exchange for peaceful relations between Israel and
neighboring Arab states. This is known as the land-for-peace formula.
Between 1967 and 2013, Israel secured ever more control over the land and water
resources of the occupied territories.
The West Bank barrier, a high containment wall built beginning in 2003, encircles
Jewish settlements on the West Bank and separates approximately 30,000
Palestinian farmers from their fields. It also blocks roads that once were busy with
small businesses, effectively annexes 6 to 8 percent of the West Bank to Israel, and
severely limits Palestinian access to much of the city of Jerusalem.

Palestinian women on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate

Ramadan pass through a heavily guarded checkpoint at the
West Bank Barrier in Bethlehem, Palestine. The barrier has
hindered the flow of people and goods between Israel and the
West Bank, severely damaging the latters economy.

Subregions Day4


The Maghreb

The countries of the Maghreb stretch along the North African coast from Western
Sahara through Libya. A low-lying coastal zone is backed by the Atlas Mountains,
except in Western Sahara and Libya.
European domination in this area lasted from the mid-nineteenth century well into
the twentieth century, during which time the people of North Africa took on many
European sociocultural practices.
The cities, beaches, and numerous historic sites of the Maghreb continue to
attract mil lions of European tourists every year who come to buy North African
Europe is also a source of jobs for people from the Maghreb. Local firms are
supported by European investment and tourism, and millions of guest workers
have migrated to Europe, many after losing jobs as a result of agricultural
Settlement and economic activities are concentrated along the narrow coastal
zone where water is more available.

The Nile:
Sudan and Egypt

The countries of Sudan and Egypt share the

main part of the Nile system, which is their
chief source of water. Although Sudan and
Egypt have in common the Nile River, an
arid climate, and Islam (Egypt is 94 percent
Muslim; Sudan, 70 percent), they differ
culturally and physically.


Egypt is so dry that the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta are virtually the only
habitable parts of the country.
Egypt is the most populous of the Arab countries, with 75 million people in 2008
and 82.3 million in 2012, and it has been the most politically influential.
A new national government, swept into power by the Arab Spring in 2012, became
mired in political conflict that has diminished its ability to help improve the
Egyptian economy.
Its geographic location, bridging Africa and Asia, gives it strategic importance, and
the country plays an influential role in such global issues as world trade and in the
peace process between the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.
The Niles flow is no longer unimpeded. At the border with Sudan, the river is
captured by a 300-mile-long (483-kilometer- long) artificial reservoir, Lake Nasser.
The lake stretches back from the Aswan High Dam, completed in 1970 (see Figure
6.32), which controls flooding along the lower Nile and produces hydroelectric
power for Egypts cities and industries. This is affecting Mediterranean fisheries by
limiting freshwater flow, among other effects.

The Nile Delta

The cities Cairo and Alexandria are Egypts main cities. Cairo is home to 16 million
while Alexandria has 4.5 million inhabitants.
Egypts crowded delta region faces a crisis of clean water availability and the threat
of waterborne disease and pollution.
To address Egypts share of this problem, the recently created Ministry of the
Environment has been seeking international contractors to treat industrial,
agricultural, and urban solid and liquid wastes, which for years have been dumped
untreated into the Nile and the Mediterranean.
A battery disposal site that imports wasted car batteries from Europe releases lead
into the air at dangerous rates and blows across Cairo and the Eastern

The Arabian Peninsula

Wealth in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, at the heart of this region culturally because it is the home of
Makkah and other Islamic holy sites, is politically and economically central as well.
In the twentieth century, the sheikhs of the Saud family, in cooperation with
conservative religious leaders of the Wahhabi sect, consolidated the tribal groups
to form an absolutist monarchy called Saudi Arabia. Traditionally, land was divided
amongst tribal groups led by patriarchal leaders called sheikhs.
Today, the Saud family and the Wahhabi sect enjoy significant power as a result of
oil wealth, but have diminished opportunities for young people.
Discontent, especially among young Saudi adults, is rising. Sometimes people
express this discontent by embracing fundamentalist Islam.
Despite the overall conservatism of Arabian society, oil money has changed
landscapes, populations, material culture, and social relationships across the
peninsula. Where there were once mud-brick towns and camel herds, there are
now large, modern cities served by airports and taxis.

E.g. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, each with close to 10 percent of the worlds oil reserves,
are rapidly modernizing and are extremely affluent.
Bahrain and Dubai generate income not so much from oil, but oil-related service sectors.

The Eastern Mediterranean

Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and

Palestine have all been preoccupied
over the last 60 years with political
and armed conflict.
In the 1970s, the ArabIsraeli
conflict spilled over Lebanons
borders and exacerbated discord
between Christian and Muslim
Lebanese, resulting in a long civil
war that lasted until 1990.
All Eastern Mediterranean countries
have scarce water supplies and must
face the likelihood that climate
change is making the situation

The Eastern Mediterranean

If the IsraeliPalestinian tensions and Syrias civil war were resolved, the Eastern
Mediterranean could become the economic leader in the region.
Until the recent civil unrest, private investors, especially those from the Gulf states,
were helping Syria expand its industrial base to include pharmaceuticals, food
processing, and textiles, in addition to gas and oil production.
Some argue that Israel could be a model of development for neighboring
countries. Despite its rather meager natural resources, Israel has managed to
develop economically and now has the most educated, prosperous, and healthy
population in the region.
As the homeland for the worlds Jews, Israel has a pool of unusually devoted
immigrants and financial resources contributed by the worldwide Jewish
community and a number of foreign governments, particularly the United States.

The Northeast


Over the last century, Turkey has been more closely affiliated with Europe and North
America than with any country in its home region.
After this long, successful association with Europe, a strong faction in Turkey wants to
join the European Union.
The official reasons the EU has given for not yet accepting Turkey into the EU are that
Turkey has not sufficiently marketized its economy or instituted constitutional human
rights guarantees, including freedom of religion and protections for minorities such as
the Kurds.
As discussed earlier, Turkey, once the core of the Ottoman Empire, was dismantled after
World War I. After independence in 1923, Turkey undertook a path of radical
Europeanization, led by a military officer, Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, who is revered as the
father of modern Turkey.
Istanbul, already a booming city of more than 16 million, is now the regional
headquarters for hundreds of international companies.
Remittances from Turkish guest workers in Europe add substantially to the countrys
GDP and have financed innumerable large homes that now dot the landscape of
western Turkey.


Iran occupies a transitional geographic position in this subregion. People of

Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, and Caucasian heritage occupy its western parts. Its
eastern parts are occupied by people with language and ethnic roots in
South Asia. Like Turkey, Iran has abundant natural resources and a large,
educated populationit has 79 million people and is growing at a modest
ratethat could make it a regional economic power.
Shah Reza Pahlavi seized control of the country in the 1920s and
introduced secular and economic reforms similar to those undertaken in
Mohammed Mossadeq, an opponent of the Shah, won a bona fide election
in the country but was forcefully removed by the United States under
President Eisenhower, allowing the Shah to retain power until 1979.
With the revolution of 1979, political conditions in Iran changed rapidly and
Currently, there have been significant social improvements in basic human wellbeing, but only limited economic growth and hesitant moves toward greater
political freedom.


Iraq, home to one of the earliest farming societies on Earth and to the Babylonian
Empire of Biblical times, was carved out of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
Most of Iraqs 34 million people live in the area of productive farmland in the
countrys eastern half, on the floodplains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Iraq is home to 9 million Sunni Arabs near Baghdad, 7 million Kurds in the north,
and 16 million Shia Muslims in the south near the Persian Gulf.
These groups lived in more ethnically integrated neighborhoods and districts
before the Iraq war was launched in 2003 by the United States.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Day 5
Sub-Saharan Africa contains 48 countries and occupies a space
bigger than North America and Europe combined.
Outsiders have a tendency to perpetuate the image of Africa as a
place of disease, corruption, conflict, and poverty. This approach
is now aggressively counteracted by assertive, highly competent
women and men, such as Juliana Rotich, who use the powerful
language of opportunity, optimism, and innovation to characterize
the Africa they know today.

During the era of European colonialism (1850s1950s), subSaharan Africas massive wealth of human talent and natural
resources flowed out of Africa.

What Makes Sub-Saharan Africa a Region?

Sub-Saharan Africa is separate from North Africa because the Sahara Desert and
the Sahel (that grassy transition zone between desert and wetter climes to the
south) present major obstacles to human habitation. Because of the Sahel, subSaharan Africa has developed largely separate from North Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa was known for centuries through the accounts of explorers,
such as the Arab Ibn Battuta who traveled through the region in the 1300s and
Portuguese explorers that explored the African west coast in the mid-1400s.
The Europeans noted what to them were exotic qualities: dark-skinned people,
with unique and varied ways of life and cultures, who possessed valuable trade
items, such as precious minerals, exotic plants and animals, and fine textiles. But,
for centuries, Europeans discounted the sophistication and complexity of subSaharan Africas cultural and historical heritage of horticulture, weaving, mining,
and metalwork.


The surface of the continent of Africa can be envisioned as a raised platform, or

plateau, bordered by fairly narrow and uniform coastal lowlands.
The platform slopes downward to the north; it has an upland region with several
high peaks in the southeast, and lower uplands in the northwest.
The cliffs along the coast have made transportation difficult and limited
connections to the rest of the world, though Cape Town (shown above) is an
important exception.
Africa continues to break apart along its eastern flank. There the Arabian Plate has
already split away and drifted to the northeast, leaving the Red Sea, which
separates Africa and Asia.

Climate and Vegetation

Most of the region has a tropical climate. Most rainfall comes to Africa by way of
the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a band of atmospheric currents that
circle the globe roughly around the equator.
The tropical wet climates that support equatorial rain forests are bordered on the
north, east, and south by seasonally wet/ dry subtropical woodlands (see Figure
7.5B). These give way to moist tropical savannas or steppes, where tall grasses and
trees intermingle in a semiarid environment.
These tropical wet, wet/dry, and steppe climates have provided suitable land for
different types of agriculture for thousands of years.
Without mountain ranges to block them, wind patterns can have a strong effect on
climate in Africa. Winds blowing north along the east coast keep ITCZ-related
rainfall away from the Horn of Africa, the triangular peninsula that juts out from
northeastern Africa below the Red Sea.

Environmental Issues

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change

because subsistence occupations are sensitive to even slight
variations in temperature, rainfall, and water availability. In large
part because of poverty, political instability, and having little access
to cash, the region does not have much resilience to the effects of
climate change.
Human impacts, such as deforestation, have increased this

Deforestation and Climate Change

Sub-Saharan Africa contributes to CO2 emissions and potential climate change

primarily through deforestation. Sub-Saharan countries are leading the world in
the rate of deforestation. Trees absorb CO2 as they photosynthesize, thus
removing carbon from the air and storing it as biomass, a process known as carbon
Most of Africas deforestation is driven by the growing demand for farmland and
fuelwood, although logging by international timber companies is also increasing. In
Nigeria, which is a petroleum producing country, wood is the cheapest fuel as
many people cannot afford petroleum products.
African governments that are trying to slow deforestation are encouraging
agroforestrythe farming of economically useful trees, along with the usual
subsistence and cash crops. Using the farmed trees for fuel and construction helps
reduce dependence on old-growth forests and can provide income through the
sale of the farmed wood.

Agricultural Systems

Most sub-Saharan Africans practice subsistence agriculture, usually done on small

farms of about 2 to 10 acres (1 to 4 hectares) to provide food and other products
for only the farmers family.
Most subsistence farmers also practice mixed agriculture, raising a diverse array of
crops and a few animals as livestock. Many also fish, hunt, herd, and gather some
of their food from forest or grassland areas.
Shifting cultivation is a productive system of agriculture in which small plots are
cleared in forestlands, the dried brush is burned to release nutrients, and the
clearings are planted with multiple species. Each plot is used for only 2 or 3 years
and then abandoned for many years of regrowth.
Much of Africa is now shifting over to commercial agriculture, in which crops are
grown deliberately for cash rather than solely as food for the farm family.
Commercial agriculture introduces crops into non-native environments (such as
cacao beans for making chocolate) and are not necessary adapt to the local
environment, so it makes the local more vulnerable to environmental risks.

Tea harvested for export in South Africa. Commercial crops like tea can
increase the farmers resilience to climate change by providing cash to buy
any needed food. But tea, like many commercial crops, requires expensive
and polluting fertilizers, and prices for tea are unstable.

Water Resources

Although sub-Saharan Africa has

a large wet tropical zone, much
of the region is seasonally dry,
and climate change may cause
freshwater deficits to increase.
A mapping of all available data
on groundwater for the African
continent revealed that the
quantity of groundwater (water
naturally stored in aquifers) is as
nearly 100 times larger than that
of previous estimates.
This does not mean that Africa
suddenly has an inexhaustible
supply of water; in fact, the
largest reservoirs of
groundwater storage are in
lightly populated areas.

Herding and Desertification

Herding, or pastoralism, is practiced by millions of Africans, primarily in savannas,

on desert margins, or in the mixture of grass and shrubs called open bush. Herders
live off the milk, meat, and hides of their animals.
Many traditional herding areas in Africa are now undergoing desertification, the
process by which arid conditions spread to areas that were previously moist.
The drying out is often the result of the loss of native vegetation; traditional
herding may be partially to blame, but economic development schemes that
encourage cattle raising are also at fault.

Wildlife and Climate Change

Africas world-renowned wildlife faces

multiple threats from both human and
natural forces, all of which could become
more severe with increases in global
climate change.
Farmers dependence on hunting wild
game (bushmeat) for part of their food
and income is already a major threat to
wildlife in much of Africa. In addition,
poaching (illegal hunting) presents a
further threat to wildlife.
Africas national parks constitute onethird of the worlds preserved national
parkland. The parks are struggling to
deal with poaching within the park
boundaries by members of surrounding
communities. Poaching is often fueled by
demand outside Africa for exotic animal

Early Agriculture, Industry, and Trade

in Africa

In Africa, people began to cultivate plants as far back as 7000 years ago in the
Sahel and the highlands of present-day Sudan and Ethiopia.
By 700 CE, when Europe was still recovering from the collapse of the Roman
Empire, a remarkable civilization with advanced agriculture, iron production, and
gold-mining technology had developed in the highlands of southeastern Africa in
what is now Zimbabwe, trading with various Asian merchants.
Powerful kingdoms and empires rose and fell in the forest and savanna of the
western Sahel. The kingdom of Djenn (700-1000 CE) and the Mali Empire (1250 1600 CE) participated in sending trade caravans to Makkah (Mecca). Tombouctou
(Timbuktu), in the Mali Empire, became an important Muslim trading and religious
Africans also traded slaves. Long-standing customs of enslaving people captured
during war fueled this trade. The treatment of slaves within Africa was sometimes
brutal and sometimes relatively humane. Millions of slaves were exported to Arab
and Asian lands to the east well before the European slave trade.

European Contact and the Slave Trade

The course of African history shifted dramatically in the mid-1400s, when

Portuguese sailing ships began to appear off Africas west coast.
By the 1530s, the Portuguese had organized a slave trade with the Americas. The
trading of slaves by the Portuguese, and then by the British, Dutch, and French,
was more widespread and brutal than any trade of African slaves that preceded it.
To acquire slaves, the Europeans established forts on Africas west coast and paid
nearby African kingdoms with weapons, trade goods, and money to make slave
raids into the interior.
The trade enriched those African kingdoms that could successfully conquer their
neighbors. It also encouraged the slave-trading kingdoms to be dependent on
European trade goods and technologies, especially guns.

Modern Slavery

Slavery persists in modern Africa and is

a growing problem that some argue
exceeds the transatlantic slave trade of
the past. Today, slavery is most
common in the Sahel region, where
several countries have made the
practice officially illegal only in the past
few years.
In Cte dIvoire, Burkina Faso, and
Nigeria, forced child labor is used
increasingly in commercial agriculture,
such as cacao (chocolate) production.
In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and
Congo, young boys have been enslaved
as miners and warriors.
It is hard to know exactly how many
Africans are currently enslaved, but
estimates range from several million to
more than 10 million.

Test Preparing List

N Africa & SW Asian
The location and physical settings
(major mountains, seas and rivers)
Climate zone and vegetation
Dominant religion
Oil distribution
Water supply, water use and
relevant technics
Fertile crescent
Agriculture and gender role
Foreign domination
Muslim daily life
Lives of children

Internal migration
HDI distribution
Unstable oil price and OPEC
War between U.S. and Irap
Continuous Conflicts between
Israelis and Palestinians
The distinctions between the five
sub- regions in N Africa and SW
Sub-Saharan Africa
Location and landform
Vegetation and Climate