Sunday, October 29, 2006


In the Western world, the Middle East is generally thought of as a predominantly Islamic Arabic community defined by frequent war although these criteria can not be applied to all states in the region. The ethnic groups in the region may include the Africans, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Azeris, Berbers, Chaldeans, Druze, Greeks, Jews, Kurds, Maronites, Persians, Tajiks and Turks. The main language groups include: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Azeri, Armenian, Assyrian (also known as Aramaic, Syriac), Urdu (Greater Middle East) and Hebrew. The corresponding adjective is Middle-Eastern and the derived noun is Middle-Easterner.

Many Western definitions of the "Middle East" — in both established reference books and common usage — define the region as 'nations in Southwest Asia, from Iran to Egypt' Egypt, with its Sinai Peninsula in Asia, is often considered part of the 'Middle East', although most of the country lies geographically in North Africa. North African nations without Asian links, such as Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, are increasingly being called North African — as opposed to Middle Eastern (Iran to Egypt-Asia) — by international media outlets. However, North African countries can also be considered part of the middle east.

One widely used definition of "Middle East" is that of the airline industry, maintained by the IATA standards organization. This definition — as of early 2006 — includes Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. This definition is used in world-wide airfare and tax calculations for passengers and cargo.