Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Middle East

MidEastWeb Middle East

Middle East

Middle East  - "Middle East" is an imprecise European term that includes the Arab and Muslim lands of Asia and sometimes those of North Africa (the Maghreb). When the term was first coined in the 19th century, it probably referred  to all the lands between India and the Mediterranean, a 1902 article by the American admiral Mahan offered a more circumscribed definition that included mostly the "Persian Gulf" Arabian Gulf)  countries: Modern Iraq, Iran and the Arabian peninsula (al Jazeera).  

Countries of the Middle East (the link opens an exhaustive list)

Map showing locations of most Middle East Countries:


Maps of Middle Eastern Countries

The term "Middle East" came into wide use after the fall of Ottoman Empire. It included all the West Asian countries formed of the former Ottoman Empire as well as Persia, and has come to include Afghanistan, an East Asian country, as well as Somalia in sub-saharan Africa.  In World War II, The British "Middle East" command was headquartered in Cairo, contradicting the idea that "Middle East" might exclude North Africa.  American journalists and diplomats usually mean the Arab-Israeli conflict when they refer to "the Middle East conflict."

 The term "Middle East" is a European concept. It includes terms such as the Arabic Mashriq and Maghreb and the older European terms "Levant" and "Near East."

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information:  See also Mashriq, Maghreb, Levant.  

USA Credit Card - Donate On-Line - Help us live and grow

Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

Copyright 2007- 8,  MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.

All original materials at MidEastWeb are copyright by MidEastWeb and/or by their authors unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy materials from this Web site to your Web site or to forums without permission. Please tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Please forward these materials in e-mails to friends with links to this URL - http://www.mideastweb.org and to the URL of the material. You can print out materials for your own use or classroom use, giving the URL of  MidEastWeb. For pages marked Copyright, printed material should bear this notice:

"Copyright by MidEastWeb for Coexistence R.A - Middle East Resources. - http://www.mideastweb.org. All rights reserved. "

and should give the URL of the original. Reproduction in any other form - by permission only. Consult detailed terms of use and copyright information

Mideastweb: Middle East Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Issues in a Nutshell Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Brief History Zionism Zionism: Definition & brief history