geography, culture, cuisine and history. the middle east

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  • Geography, culture, cuisine and history
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  • The Middle East
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  • Israel lies on the Mediterranean coast of southwest Asia, with most people living along the coastal plain. The eastern interior is dry and includes the Dead Sea the lowest point on the Earth's surface. North are the rugged hills of Galilee, and south lies the Negev, a desert plateau. Israel's population is about 81 percent Jewish; most of the rest is Arab. The Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories have some 3.5 million inhabitantsabout 11 percent Jewish, 89 percent Palestinian. ISRAEL Area 22,145 sq km (8,550 sq mi) Population 6,707,000 Capital Jerusalem 692,300 Religion Jewish, Muslim, Christian Languages Hebrew, Arabic, English Literacy 95% life Expectancy 79 Currency new Israeli shekel
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  • Jordan Located on desert plateaus in southwest Asia, Jordan is almost landlocked but for a short coast on the Gulf of Aqaba. In 1923, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Transjordan was designated a British mandate. Independence came in 1946. Following the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948- 49, the country annexed the West Bankbut lost it to Israel in the 1967 war. The Arab- Israeli wars have brought this small, poor country some 1.5 million Palestinian refugees. Jordan has a constitutional monarchy, with an economy based on agriculture and phosphates. Area 89,342 sq km (34,495 sq mi) Population 5,480,000 Capital Amman 1,237,000 Religion Sunni Muslim, Christian Languages Arabic, English Literacy 91% Life Expectancy 69 Currency Jordanian dinar GDP Per Capita U.S. $4,300 Economy Industry: phosphate mining, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refining, cement, potash
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  • Iran Iran is a southwest Asian country of mountains and deserts. Eastern Iran is dominated by a high plateau, with large salt flats and vast sand deserts. The plateau is surrounded by even higher mountains, including the Zagros to the west and the Elburz to the north. Farming and settlement are largely concentrated in the narrow plains or valleys in the west or north, where there is more rainfall. Iran's huge oil reserves lie in the southwest, along the Persian Gulf. Area 1,648,000 sq km (636,296 sq mi) Population 66,582,000 Capital Tehran 7,352,000 Religion Shiite and Sunni Muslim Languages Persian, Turkic, Kurdish, various local dialects Literacy 79% Life Expectancy 69 Currency Iranian rial GDP Per Capita U.S. $6,800 Economy Industry: petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials In 1978 Ayatollah Khomeini imposed a fundamentalist theocracy, under which an estimated 70,000 critics were executed. The official state religion is the Shiite branch of Islam, practiced by most Iranians.
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  • Iraq Iraq occupies the ancient region of Mesopotamia, "land amidst the rivers," a fertile lowland created by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Today these rivers sustain large areas of irrigated farmland and one of the highest populations in the Middle East. Beneath the land, Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia in rich oil reserves. Temperatures range from below freezing in winter to higher than 49C (120F) in the summer. Iraq's diverse population includes some 20 million Arabs consisting of Shiite Muslims (60%), Sunni Muslims (35%), and Christians (3%). Most Shiites live in the southeast, and most Sunnis live in central Iraq. About four million Kurds, a non- Arab Muslim people, live in the mountainous northeast. Area 437,072 sq km (168,754 sq mi) Population 24,205,000 Capital Baghdad 5,620,000 Religion Shiite and Sunni Muslim Languages Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian Literacy 40% Life Expectancy 58 Currency Iraqi dinar GDP Per Capita U.S. $2,400 Economy Industry: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials.
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  • Egypt A Middle Eastern country in northeast Africa, Egypt is at the center of the Arab world. Egypt controls the Suez Canal, the shortest sea link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The country is defined by desert and the Nile, the longest river on Earth. The Nile flows north out of central Africa, cascading over the cataracts (waterfalls) through Upper (southern) Egypt and Lower (northern) Egypt to the Mediterranean Seawith a mountainous desert to the east, a rolling drier desert to the west, and the vast Sahara to the south. Area 1,002,000 sq km (386,874 sq mi) Population 72,062,000 Capital Cairo 11,146,000 Religion Sunni Muslim, Coptic Christian Languages Arabic, English, French Literacy 58% Life Expectancy 68 Currency Egyptian pound GDP Per Capita U.S. $4,000 Economy Industry: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals.
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  • Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula and is the largest country in area in the Middle Eastbut 95 percent of the land is desert. Mountains running parallel to the Red Sea slope down to plains along the Persian Gulf (called the Arabian Gulf by Arab states). Below the arid landscape, oil has made this desert kingdom one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Area 1,960,582 sq km (756,985 sq mi) Population 24,070,000 Capital Riyadh 5,126,000 Religion Muslim Languages Arabic Literacy 79% Life Expectancy 72 Currency Saudi riyal GDP Per Capita U.S. $11,400 Economy Industry: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, cement. Relations with the U.S. were strained after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attackscarried out mainly by Saudi citizens. In this conservative society, underpinned by Islamic law, women live in veiled segregation. Saudi Arabia is keeper of Islam's most sacred cities: Mecca, where the Prophet Muhammad received the word of Allah, and Medina, where Muhammad died in A.D. 632.
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  • Other Middle East countries Lebanon Lebanon Turkey Turkey Syria Syria Kuwait Kuwait Dubai Dubai Quatar Quatar Afghanistan Afghanistan Yemen Yemen Armenia Armenia
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  • Images of the Middle East
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  • Food Terms to Know Middle Eastern Cuisine Baba Ghannouj Egg plant puree Burghul cracked wheat Falafel chick pea fried patties Haleeb Milk Hummus chick pea puree Kafta ground meat patties Kibbeh ground meat with wheat
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  • Maamoul easter cakes Mamounia semolina pudding Meza appetizers Tahini sesame paste Tanzine Moroccan cooking pot Tabbouleh salad with bulgar, mint and parsley Common foods: lamb, yogurt, lemons, dates, figs, mint, parsley, rice, cracked wheat, almonds, rose water, filo dough, chick peas, fava beans,, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, olives, coffee, tea (no alcohol)