Arab world

Arab world

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The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 states, territories and populations in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, Western Asia and elsewhere.

The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 stretching from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west to the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in the north to the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 and the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in the southeast, with a combined population of around 280 million people.

The sentiment of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

. The Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs, and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab worlds, a project known as Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

. The popular protests throughout the Arab world of late 2010 to early 2011 are directed against the governments and the associated political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, paired with the demand for more democratic rights.

The term "Arab world" is usually rejected by those living in the region who do not consider themselves Arabs, like non-Semitic people such as the Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, and is resisted even more strongly by ethnic Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, because it implies that the entire region is Arab in its identity, population, and origin, whereas history stipulates that the original homeland of the Arabs is limited to the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 in Asia. The term is also rejected by some minorities originating from old historical populations such as Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs, because they have been in the region for a long time and are thought to be the first peoples to settle in some regions, such as Iraq and Syria.

Definition



The linguistic and political denotation inherent in the term Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 is generally dominant over genealogical considerations. Thus, individuals with little or no direct ancestry from the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 could identify themselves or be considered as Arabs, partially by virtue of their home language
Home language
Following a widely accepted definition by Valdes , a heritage language is a language that is acquired by individuals raised in homes where the dominant language of the region, such as English in the United States, is not spoken or not exclusively spoken...

 (see Arab identity). Such an identity however, is disputed by many peoples. Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 for example, may or may not identify themselves as Arabs.

Standard territorial definition


Although no globally-accepted definition of the Arab world exists, all countries that are members
Member states of the Arab League
The Arab League has 22 member states.The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan , and Yemen...

 of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 are generally acknowledged as being part of the Arab world.

The Arab League is a regional organisation that aims (among other things) to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries and sets out the following definition of an Arab:
This standard territorial definition is sometimes seen to be inappropriate or problematic, and may be supplemented with certain additional elements (see ancillary linguistic definition below).

Member states of the Arab League

( ) (Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 are the other official languages)
(French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 is the other official language)
(Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 is the other official language (minority))
(Full member of Arab League and recognized by the majority of the World's nation states, but not recognized by the U.N., Israel, or most Western states) (Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

 is the other official language)
(English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is the other official language (minority))

Ancillary linguistic definition



As an alternative to, or in combination with, the standard territorial definition, the Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language, culture or geographic contiguity, or those states or territories in which the majority of the population speaks Arabic, and thus may also include populations of the Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora refers to Arab immigrants, and their descendants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands and now reside in non-Arab countries, primarily in Latin America, and Europe, as well as North America and South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West...

.

When an ancillary linguistic definition is used in combination with the standard territorial definition, various parameters may be applied to determine whether a state or territory should be included in this alternative definition of the Arab world. These parameters may be applied to the states and territories of the Arab League (which constitute the Arab world under the standard definition) and to other states and territories. Typical parameters that may be applied include: whether Arabic is widely spoken; whether Arabic is an official or national language; or whether an Arabic cognate language is widely spoken. These are considered below.
Arabic is an official or national language and is widely spoken

Arabic is spoken as both an official and majority language by most Arab League states.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Several states have declared Arabic to be an official or national language, although Arabic is not widely spoken. As members of the Arab League, however, they are considered part of the Arab world under the standard territorial definition.

Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 has two official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s, Arabic and Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

, both of which belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

 language family. Although Arabic is spoken by many in the north, Somali is the more widely used language and contains many Arabic loan words.

Similarly, Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 has two official languages, Arabic and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. It also has several formally recognised national languages; besides Somali, many people speak Afar
Afar language
Afar is a Lowland East Cushitic language spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It is believed to have 1.5 million speakers, the Afar. The basic word order in Afar, like in other East Cushitic languages, is subject–object–verb. Its speakers have a literacy rate of between one and three per cent...

, which is also an Afro-Asiatic language. The majority of the population speaks Somali and Afar, although Arabic is also widely used for trade and other activities.

Comoros
Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

 has three official languages: Arabic, Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French. Comorian is the most widely spoken language, with Arabic having a religious significance, and French being associated with the educational system.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 all recognise Arabic as an official language, but none of them is a member-state of the Arab League. Although Eritrea has observer status at the Arab League, and has a large number of Arabic speakers, both Eritrea and Chad are not commonly considered parts of the Arab world.

Israel is a self-professed Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

 and is not, therefore, part of the Arab world. However, according to some definitions, the population of Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

 may be considered a constituent part of the Arab world.
Arabic cognate languages are spoken but not widely

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has about 5 million arabic speakers Iranian Arabsin the area that is known as Al-Ahwaz, in Khuzestan province, Bushehr province, Hormozgan province and in the city of Qom. Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 and Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 recognize Hassaniya
Hassaniya
Hassānīya is the variety of Arabic originally spoken by the Beni Hassān Bedouin tribes, who extended their authority over most of Mauritania and the Western Sahara between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. It has almost completely replaced the Berber languages spoken in this region...

, the Arabic dialect of the Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 ethnic minority, as a national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

. Also Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 recognised Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Arabic, known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Most speakers are situated in the capital, Nicosia, while others are located in Kormakitis and Limassol...

 under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 has an official language, Maltese
Maltese
Maltese may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Malta* Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese descent* Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese peopleAs a surname:* Francesco Maltese, Italian Baroque-era painter...

, akin to Maghrebi Arabic, but is not part of the Arab world.

Population

Pos Country Population
1  Egypt 80,776,815
2  Algeria 35,423,000
3  Iraq 34,400,000
4  Morocco 32,200,000
5  Sudan 30,894,000
6  Saudi Arabia 27,136,977
7  Yemen 23,580,000
8  Syria 22,505,000
9  Tunisia 10,432,500
10  Somalia 9,359,000
11  Libya 6.597.960
12  Jordan 6,407,085
13  United Arab Emirates 4,975,593
14  Lebanon 4,224,000
15  Palestinian territories 4,136,540 (Disputed)
16  Kuwait 3,566,437
17  Mauritania 3,291,000
18  Oman 2,845,000
19  Qatar 1,696,563
20  Bahrain 1,234,596
21  Djibouti 864,000
22  Comoros 691,000
Total  Arab League 355,251,539

Area

Rank Country Area (km2)Source, unless otherwise specified:

Entries in this table giving figures other than the figures given in this source are bracketed by asterisks in the Notes field, and the rationale for the figure used are explained in the associated Note.
Area (sq mi) % of Total Notes
1  Algeria 2381741919,595.3 18.1% Largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and in the Arab world.
2  Saudi Arabia 2149690829,999.9 16.4% Largest country in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.
3  Sudan 1861484718,723 14.2% Formerly the largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.
4  Libya 1759540679,362.2 11.4%
5  Mauritania 1025520395,955.5 7.8%
6  Egypt 1002000386,874.4 7.6% Excluding the Hala'ib Triangle
Hala'ib Triangle
The Hala'ib Triangle is an area of land measuring located on the Red Sea's African coast...

 (20,580 km2/7,950 sq mi).
7  Somalia 637657246,200.7 4.9%
8  Yemen 527968203,849.6 4.0%
9  Morocco 446550172,413.9 3.4% Does not include Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 (266,000 km2/103,000 sq mi).
10  Iraq 435244168,048.6 3.3%
11  Oman 309500119,498.6 2.4%
12  Syria 18518071,498.4 1.4% Including the part of the Golan Heights (1,200 km2/460 sq mi) currently administered by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.
13  Tunisia 16361063,170.2 1.2%
14  Jordan 8934234,495.1 0.7%
15  United Arab Emirates 8360032,278.1 0.6%
16  Djibouti 232008,957.6 0.1%
17  Kuwait 178186,879.6 0.1%
18  Qatar 115864,473.4 0.08%
19  Lebanon 104524,035.5 0.08%
20  Palestinian territories 60202,324.3 0.05%
21  Comoros 2235862.9 0.01%
22  Bahrain 758292.7 0.005%

Population density

Rank Country Density
(/km2)
Density
(/mi2)
Area
(km2)
Area
(mi2)
Population Notes
1  Bahrain /km2 750289.6 1,234,596 http://www.census2010.gov.bh/results_en.php
2  Palestinian territories /km2 60202,324.3 4,100,000
3  Lebanon /km2 104524,035.5 4,224,000
4  Comoros /km2 2235862.9 676,000
5  Kuwait /km2 178186,879.6 3,566,437
6  Qatar /km2 110004,247.1 1,409,000
7  Syria /km2 18518071,498.4 21,906,000
8  United Arab Emirates /km2 8360032,278.1 8,264,070
9  Egypt
{{Contains Arabic text}}
{{For|the political alliance|Arab League}}
{{Out of date|date=February 2011}}
The Arab world ({{lang-ar|العالم العربي}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʿālam al-ʿarabī }} ) refers to Arabic-speaking
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 states, territories and populations in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, Western Asia and elsewhere.

The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 stretching from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west to the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in the north to the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 and the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in the southeast, with a combined population of around 280 million people.

The sentiment of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

. The Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs, and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab worlds, a project known as Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

. The popular protests throughout the Arab world of late 2010 to early 2011 are directed against the governments and the associated political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, paired with the demand for more democratic rights.

The term "Arab world" is usually rejected by those living in the region who do not consider themselves Arabs, like non-Semitic people such as the Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, and is resisted even more strongly by ethnic Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, because it implies that the entire region is Arab in its identity, population, and origin, whereas history stipulates that the original homeland of the Arabs is limited to the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 in Asia. The term is also rejected by some minorities originating from old historical populations such as Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs, because they have been in the region for a long time and are thought to be the first peoples to settle in some regions, such as Iraq and Syria.

Definition


{{see|Arab|Arab nationalism|Pan-Arabism}}
The linguistic and political denotation inherent in the term Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 is generally dominant over genealogical considerations. Thus, individuals with little or no direct ancestry from the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 could identify themselves or be considered as Arabs, partially by virtue of their home language
Home language
Following a widely accepted definition by Valdes , a heritage language is a language that is acquired by individuals raised in homes where the dominant language of the region, such as English in the United States, is not spoken or not exclusively spoken...

 (see Arab identity). Such an identity however, is disputed by many peoples. Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 for example, may or may not identify themselves as Arabs.

Standard territorial definition



{{Main|Arab League}}

Although no globally-accepted definition of the Arab world exists, all countries that are members
Member states of the Arab League
The Arab League has 22 member states.The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan , and Yemen...

 of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 are generally acknowledged as being part of the Arab world.

The Arab League is a regional organisation that aims (among other things) to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries and sets out the following definition of an Arab:
{{cquote|An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic-speaking country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic-speaking peoples.}}

This standard territorial definition is sometimes seen to be inappropriate or problematic, and may be supplemented with certain additional elements (see ancillary linguistic definition below).

Member states of the Arab League

({{lang-ar| الجزائر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Ǧazāʾir}}) ({{lang-ar|البحرين}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Baḥrayn}}) ({{lang-ar|جزر القمر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Ǧuzur al-Qamar}}) (Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 are the other official languages)
({{lang-ar|جيبوتي}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Ǧībūtī }}) (French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 is the other official language)
({{lang-ar|مصر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Miṣr}}) ({{lang-ar|العراق}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʿIrāq}}) (Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 is the other official language (minority))
({{lang-ar|الأردن}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʾUrdun}}) ({{lang-ar|الكويت}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Kuwayt}}) ({{lang-ar|لبنان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Lubnān}}) ({{lang-ar|ليبيا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Lībyā}})
({{lang-ar|موريتانيا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Mūrītānyā}}) ({{lang-ar|المغرب}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Maġrib}}) ({{lang-ar|عمان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|ʿUmān}}) ({{lang-ar|فلسطين}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Filasṭīn}}) (Full member of Arab League and recognized by the majority of the World's nation states, but not recognized by the U.N., Israel, or most Western states) ({{lang-ar|قطر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Qaṭar}}) ({{lang-ar|المملكة العربية السعودية}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Mamlakah al-ʿArabiyyah as-Saʿūdiyyah}}) ({{lang-ar|الصومال}} {{transl|ar|DIN|aṣ-Ṣūmāl}}) (Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

 is the other official language)
({{lang-ar|السودان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|as-Sūdān}}) (English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is the other official language (minority))
({{lang-ar|سوريا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Sūryā}}) ({{lang-ar|تونس}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Tūnis}}) ({{lang-ar|الإمارات العربيّة المتّحدة}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabiyyah al-Muttaḥidah}}) ({{lang-ar|اليمن}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Yaman}})

Ancillary linguistic definition


{{Main|Arabic language}}
As an alternative to, or in combination with, the standard territorial definition, the Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language, culture or geographic contiguity, or those states or territories in which the majority of the population speaks Arabic, and thus may also include populations of the Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora refers to Arab immigrants, and their descendants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands and now reside in non-Arab countries, primarily in Latin America, and Europe, as well as North America and South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West...

.

When an ancillary linguistic definition is used in combination with the standard territorial definition, various parameters may be applied{{Citation needed|date=August 2011}}{{Clarify|this sounds WP:OR. The language must be changed or a very reliable source added|date=August 2011}} to determine whether a state or territory should be included in this alternative definition of the Arab world. These parameters may be applied{{Clarify|sounds WP:OR|date=August 2011}} to the states and territories of the Arab League (which constitute the Arab world under the standard definition) and to other states and territories. Typical parameters that may be applied include: whether Arabic is widely spoken; whether Arabic is an official or national language; or whether an Arabic cognate language is widely spoken. These are considered below.
Arabic is an official or national language and is widely spoken

Arabic is spoken as both an official and majority language by most Arab League states.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Several states have declared Arabic to be an official or national language, although Arabic is not widely spoken. As members of the Arab League, however, they are considered part of the Arab world under the standard territorial definition.

Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 has two official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s, Arabic and Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

, both of which belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

 language family. Although Arabic is spoken by many in the north, Somali is the more widely used language and contains many Arabic loan words.

Similarly, Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 has two official languages, Arabic and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. It also has several formally recognised national languages; besides Somali, many people speak Afar
Afar language
Afar is a Lowland East Cushitic language spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It is believed to have 1.5 million speakers, the Afar. The basic word order in Afar, like in other East Cushitic languages, is subject–object–verb. Its speakers have a literacy rate of between one and three per cent...

, which is also an Afro-Asiatic language. The majority of the population speaks Somali and Afar, although Arabic is also widely used for trade and other activities.

Comoros
Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

 has three official languages: Arabic, Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French. Comorian is the most widely spoken language, with Arabic having a religious significance, and French being associated with the educational system.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 all recognise Arabic as an official language, but none of them is a member-state of the Arab League. Although Eritrea has observer status at the Arab League, and has a large number of Arabic speakers, both Eritrea and Chad are not commonly considered parts of the Arab world.

Israel is a self-professed Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

 and is not, therefore, part of the Arab world. However, according to some definitions, the population of Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

 may be considered a constituent part of the Arab world.
Arabic cognate languages are spoken but not widely

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has about 5 million arabic speakers Iranian Arabsin the area that is known as Al-Ahwaz, in Khuzestan province, Bushehr province, Hormozgan province and in the city of Qom. Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 and Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 recognize Hassaniya
Hassaniya
Hassānīya is the variety of Arabic originally spoken by the Beni Hassān Bedouin tribes, who extended their authority over most of Mauritania and the Western Sahara between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. It has almost completely replaced the Berber languages spoken in this region...

, the Arabic dialect of the Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 ethnic minority, as a national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

. Also Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 recognised Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Arabic, known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Most speakers are situated in the capital, Nicosia, while others are located in Kormakitis and Limassol...

 under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 has an official language, Maltese
Maltese
Maltese may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Malta* Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese descent* Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese peopleAs a surname:* Francesco Maltese, Italian Baroque-era painter...

, akin to Maghrebi Arabic, but is not part of the Arab world.

Population

Pos Country Population
1  Egypt 80,776,815
2  Algeria 35,423,000
3  Iraq 34,400,000
4  Morocco 32,200,000
5  Sudan 30,894,000
6  Saudi Arabia 27,136,977
7  Yemen 23,580,000
8  Syria 22,505,000
9  Tunisia 10,432,500
10  Somalia 9,359,000
11  Libya 6.597.960
12  Jordan 6,407,085
13  United Arab Emirates 4,975,593
14  Lebanon 4,224,000
15  Palestinian territories 4,136,540 (Disputed)
16  Kuwait 3,566,437
17  Mauritania 3,291,000
18  Oman 2,845,000
19  Qatar 1,696,563
20  Bahrain 1,234,596
21  Djibouti 864,000
22  Comoros 691,000
Total  Arab League 355,251,539

Area

Rank Country Area (km2){{anchor|**}}Source, unless otherwise specified: {{Cite document url=http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2008/Table03.pdf format=PDF title=Demographic Yearbook—Table 3: Population by sex, rate of population increase, surface area and density publisher=United Nations Statistics Division year=2008 accessdate = 2010-09-24 postscript=
}}

Entries in this table giving figures other than the figures given in this source are bracketed by asterisks in the Notes field, and the rationale for the figure used are explained in the associated Note.
Area (sq mi) % of Total Notes
1  Algeria 2381741919,595.3 18.1% Largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and in the Arab world.
2  Saudi Arabia 2149690829,999.9 16.4% Largest country in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.
3  Sudan 1861484718,723 14.2% Formerly the largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.
4  Libya 1759540679,362.2 11.4%
5  Mauritania 1025520395,955.5 7.8%
6  Egypt 1002000386,874.4 7.6% Excluding the Hala'ib Triangle
Hala'ib Triangle
The Hala'ib Triangle is an area of land measuring located on the Red Sea's African coast...

 (20,580 km2/7,950 sq mi).
7  Somalia 637657246,200.7 4.9%
8  Yemen 527968203,849.6 4.0%
9  Morocco 446550172,413.9 3.4% Does not include Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 (266,000 km2/103,000 sq mi).
10  Iraq 435244168,048.6 3.3%
11  Oman 309500119,498.6 2.4%
12  Syria 18518071,498.4 1.4% Including the part of the Golan Heights (1,200 km2/460 sq mi) currently administered by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.
13  Tunisia 16361063,170.2 1.2%
14  Jordan 8934234,495.1 0.7%
15  United Arab Emirates 8360032,278.1 0.6%
16  Djibouti 232008,957.6 0.1%
17  Kuwait 178186,879.6 0.1%
18  Qatar 115864,473.4 0.08%
19  Lebanon 104524,035.5 0.08%
20  Palestinian territories 60202,324.3 0.05%
21  Comoros 2235862.9 0.01%
22  Bahrain 758292.7 0.005%

Population density

Rank Country Density
(/km2)
Density
(/mi2)
Area
(km2)
Area
(mi2)
Population Notes
1  Bahrain {{#expr: 1234596 / 750 round 0}} /km2 750289.6 1,234,596 http://www.census2010.gov.bh/results_en.php
2  Palestinian territories {{#expr: 4100000 / 6020 round 0}} /km2 60202,324.3 4,100,000
3  Lebanon {{#expr: 4224000 / 10452 round 0}} /km2 104524,035.5 4,224,000
4  Comoros {{#expr: 676000 / 2235 round 0}} /km2 2235862.9 676,000
5  Kuwait {{#expr: 3566437 / 17818 round 0}} /km2 178186,879.6 3,566,437
6  Qatar {{#expr: 1409000 / 11000 round 0}} /km2 110004,247.1 1,409,000
7  Syria {{#expr: 21906000 / 185180 round 0}} /km2 18518071,498.4 21,906,000
8  United Arab Emirates {{#expr: 8264070 / 83600 round 0}} /km2 8360032,278.1 8,264,070
9  Egypt
{{Contains Arabic text}}
{{For|the political alliance|Arab League}}
{{Out of date|date=February 2011}}
The Arab world ({{lang-ar|العالم العربي}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʿālam al-ʿarabī }} ) refers to Arabic-speaking
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 states, territories and populations in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, Western Asia and elsewhere.

The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 stretching from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west to the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in the north to the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 and the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in the southeast, with a combined population of around 280 million people.

The sentiment of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

. The Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs, and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab worlds, a project known as Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

. The popular protests throughout the Arab world of late 2010 to early 2011 are directed against the governments and the associated political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, paired with the demand for more democratic rights.

The term "Arab world" is usually rejected by those living in the region who do not consider themselves Arabs, like non-Semitic people such as the Kurds
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, and is resisted even more strongly by ethnic Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, because it implies that the entire region is Arab in its identity, population, and origin, whereas history stipulates that the original homeland of the Arabs is limited to the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 in Asia. The term is also rejected by some minorities originating from old historical populations such as Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs, because they have been in the region for a long time and are thought to be the first peoples to settle in some regions, such as Iraq and Syria.

Definition


{{see|Arab|Arab nationalism|Pan-Arabism}}
The linguistic and political denotation inherent in the term Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 is generally dominant over genealogical considerations. Thus, individuals with little or no direct ancestry from the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 could identify themselves or be considered as Arabs, partially by virtue of their home language
Home language
Following a widely accepted definition by Valdes , a heritage language is a language that is acquired by individuals raised in homes where the dominant language of the region, such as English in the United States, is not spoken or not exclusively spoken...

 (see Arab identity). Such an identity however, is disputed by many peoples. Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 for example, may or may not identify themselves as Arabs.

Standard territorial definition



{{Main|Arab League}}

Although no globally-accepted definition of the Arab world exists, all countries that are members
Member states of the Arab League
The Arab League has 22 member states.The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan , and Yemen...

 of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 are generally acknowledged as being part of the Arab world.

The Arab League is a regional organisation that aims (among other things) to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries and sets out the following definition of an Arab:
{{cquote|An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic-speaking country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic-speaking peoples.}}

This standard territorial definition is sometimes seen to be inappropriate or problematic, and may be supplemented with certain additional elements (see ancillary linguistic definition below).

Member states of the Arab League

({{lang-ar| الجزائر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Ǧazāʾir}}) ({{lang-ar|البحرين}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Baḥrayn}}) ({{lang-ar|جزر القمر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Ǧuzur al-Qamar}}) (Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 are the other official languages)
({{lang-ar|جيبوتي}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Ǧībūtī }}) (French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 is the other official language)
({{lang-ar|مصر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Miṣr}}) ({{lang-ar|العراق}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʿIrāq}}) (Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 is the other official language (minority))
({{lang-ar|الأردن}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʾUrdun}}) ({{lang-ar|الكويت}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Kuwayt}}) ({{lang-ar|لبنان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Lubnān}}) ({{lang-ar|ليبيا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Lībyā}})
({{lang-ar|موريتانيا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Mūrītānyā}}) ({{lang-ar|المغرب}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Maġrib}}) ({{lang-ar|عمان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|ʿUmān}}) ({{lang-ar|فلسطين}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Filasṭīn}}) (Full member of Arab League and recognized by the majority of the World's nation states, but not recognized by the U.N., Israel, or most Western states) ({{lang-ar|قطر}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Qaṭar}}) ({{lang-ar|المملكة العربية السعودية}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Mamlakah al-ʿArabiyyah as-Saʿūdiyyah}}) ({{lang-ar|الصومال}} {{transl|ar|DIN|aṣ-Ṣūmāl}}) (Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

 is the other official language)
({{lang-ar|السودان}} {{transl|ar|DIN|as-Sūdān}}) (English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is the other official language (minority))
({{lang-ar|سوريا}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Sūryā}}) ({{lang-ar|تونس}} {{transl|ar|DIN|Tūnis}}) ({{lang-ar|الإمارات العربيّة المتّحدة}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabiyyah al-Muttaḥidah}}) ({{lang-ar|اليمن}} {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Yaman}})

Ancillary linguistic definition


{{Main|Arabic language}}
As an alternative to, or in combination with, the standard territorial definition, the Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language, culture or geographic contiguity, or those states or territories in which the majority of the population speaks Arabic, and thus may also include populations of the Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora
Arab diaspora refers to Arab immigrants, and their descendants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands and now reside in non-Arab countries, primarily in Latin America, and Europe, as well as North America and South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West...

.

When an ancillary linguistic definition is used in combination with the standard territorial definition, various parameters may be applied{{Citation needed|date=August 2011}}{{Clarify|this sounds WP:OR. The language must be changed or a very reliable source added|date=August 2011}} to determine whether a state or territory should be included in this alternative definition of the Arab world. These parameters may be applied{{Clarify|sounds WP:OR|date=August 2011}} to the states and territories of the Arab League (which constitute the Arab world under the standard definition) and to other states and territories. Typical parameters that may be applied include: whether Arabic is widely spoken; whether Arabic is an official or national language; or whether an Arabic cognate language is widely spoken. These are considered below.
Arabic is an official or national language and is widely spoken

Arabic is spoken as both an official and majority language by most Arab League states.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Several states have declared Arabic to be an official or national language, although Arabic is not widely spoken. As members of the Arab League, however, they are considered part of the Arab world under the standard territorial definition.

Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 has two official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s, Arabic and Somali
Somali language
The Somali language is a member of the East Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Its nearest relatives are Afar and Oromo. Somali is the best documented of the Cushitic languages, with academic studies beginning before 1900....

, both of which belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic
Afro-Asiatic languages
The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

 language family. Although Arabic is spoken by many in the north, Somali is the more widely used language and contains many Arabic loan words.

Similarly, Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 has two official languages, Arabic and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. It also has several formally recognised national languages; besides Somali, many people speak Afar
Afar language
Afar is a Lowland East Cushitic language spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It is believed to have 1.5 million speakers, the Afar. The basic word order in Afar, like in other East Cushitic languages, is subject–object–verb. Its speakers have a literacy rate of between one and three per cent...

, which is also an Afro-Asiatic language. The majority of the population speaks Somali and Afar, although Arabic is also widely used for trade and other activities.

Comoros
Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

 has three official languages: Arabic, Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

 and French. Comorian is the most widely spoken language, with Arabic having a religious significance, and French being associated with the educational system.
Arabic is an official or national language but is not widely spoken

Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 all recognise Arabic as an official language, but none of them is a member-state of the Arab League. Although Eritrea has observer status at the Arab League, and has a large number of Arabic speakers, both Eritrea and Chad are not commonly considered parts of the Arab world.

Israel is a self-professed Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

 and is not, therefore, part of the Arab world. However, according to some definitions, the population of Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

 may be considered a constituent part of the Arab world.
Arabic cognate languages are spoken but not widely

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has about 5 million arabic speakers Iranian Arabsin the area that is known as Al-Ahwaz, in Khuzestan province, Bushehr province, Hormozgan province and in the city of Qom. Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 and Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 recognize Hassaniya
Hassaniya
Hassānīya is the variety of Arabic originally spoken by the Beni Hassān Bedouin tribes, who extended their authority over most of Mauritania and the Western Sahara between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. It has almost completely replaced the Berber languages spoken in this region...

, the Arabic dialect of the Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 ethnic minority, as a national language
National language
A national language is a language which has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a people and perhaps by extension the territory they occupy. The term is used variously. A national language may for instance represent the national identity of a nation or country...

. Also Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 recognised Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Arabic, known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Most speakers are situated in the capital, Nicosia, while others are located in Kormakitis and Limassol...

 under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 has an official language, Maltese
Maltese
Maltese may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Malta* Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese descent* Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese peopleAs a surname:* Francesco Maltese, Italian Baroque-era painter...

, akin to Maghrebi Arabic, but is not part of the Arab world.

Population

Pos Country Population
1  Egypt 80,776,815
2  Algeria 35,423,000
3  Iraq 34,400,000
4  Morocco 32,200,000
5  Sudan 30,894,000
6  Saudi Arabia 27,136,977
7  Yemen 23,580,000
8  Syria 22,505,000
9  Tunisia 10,432,500
10  Somalia 9,359,000
11  Libya 6.597.960
12  Jordan 6,407,085
13  United Arab Emirates 4,975,593
14  Lebanon 4,224,000
15  Palestinian territories 4,136,540 (Disputed)
16  Kuwait 3,566,437
17  Mauritania 3,291,000
18  Oman 2,845,000
19  Qatar 1,696,563
20  Bahrain 1,234,596
21  Djibouti 864,000
22  Comoros 691,000
Total  Arab League 355,251,539

Area

Rank Country Area (km2){{anchor|**}}Source, unless otherwise specified: {{Cite document url=http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dyb2008/Table03.pdf format=PDF title=Demographic Yearbook—Table 3: Population by sex, rate of population increase, surface area and density publisher=United Nations Statistics Division year=2008 accessdate = 2010-09-24 postscript=
}}

Entries in this table giving figures other than the figures given in this source are bracketed by asterisks in the Notes field, and the rationale for the figure used are explained in the associated Note.
Area (sq mi) % of Total Notes
1  Algeria 2381741919,595.3 18.1% Largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and in the Arab world.
2  Saudi Arabia 2149690829,999.9 16.4% Largest country in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.
3  Sudan 1861484718,723 14.2% Formerly the largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.
4  Libya 1759540679,362.2 11.4%
5  Mauritania 1025520395,955.5 7.8%
6  Egypt 1002000386,874.4 7.6% Excluding the Hala'ib Triangle
Hala'ib Triangle
The Hala'ib Triangle is an area of land measuring located on the Red Sea's African coast...

 (20,580 km2/7,950 sq mi).
7  Somalia 637657246,200.7 4.9%
8  Yemen 527968203,849.6 4.0%
9  Morocco 446550172,413.9 3.4% Does not include Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 (266,000 km2/103,000 sq mi).
10  Iraq 435244168,048.6 3.3%
11  Oman 309500119,498.6 2.4%
12  Syria 18518071,498.4 1.4% Including the part of the Golan Heights (1,200 km2/460 sq mi) currently administered by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.
13  Tunisia 16361063,170.2 1.2%
14  Jordan 8934234,495.1 0.7%
15  United Arab Emirates 8360032,278.1 0.6%
16  Djibouti 232008,957.6 0.1%
17  Kuwait 178186,879.6 0.1%
18  Qatar 115864,473.4 0.08%
19  Lebanon 104524,035.5 0.08%
20  Palestinian territories 60202,324.3 0.05%
21  Comoros 2235862.9 0.01%
22  Bahrain 758292.7 0.005%

Population density

Rank Country Density
(/km2)
Density
(/mi2)
Area
(km2)
Area
(mi2)
Population Notes
1  Bahrain {{#expr: 1234596 / 750 round 0}} /km2 750289.6 1,234,596 http://www.census2010.gov.bh/results_en.php
2  Palestinian territories {{#expr: 4100000 / 6020 round 0}} /km2 60202,324.3 4,100,000
3  Lebanon {{#expr: 4224000 / 10452 round 0}} /km2 104524,035.5 4,224,000
4  Comoros {{#expr: 676000 / 2235 round 0}} /km2 2235862.9 676,000
5  Kuwait {{#expr: 3566437 / 17818 round 0}} /km2 178186,879.6 3,566,437
6  Qatar {{#expr: 1409000 / 11000 round 0}} /km2 110004,247.1 1,409,000
7  Syria {{#expr: 21906000 / 185180 round 0}} /km2 18518071,498.4 21,906,000
8  United Arab Emirates {{#expr: 8264070 / 83600 round 0}} /km2 8360032,278.1 8,264,070
9  Egypt {{#expr:(72798031 + 4241 * {{Age in days 2006 1001449386,661.6 80,436,072
10  Morocco {{#expr: (31514000 + 923 * {{Age in days 2009 446550172,413.9 32,287,474
11  Jordan {{#expr: 6316000 / 89342 round 0}} /km2 8934234,495.1 6,316,000
12  Iraq {{#expr: 30747000 / 438317 round 0}} /km2 438317169,235.1 30,747,000
13  Tunisia {{#expr: 10327000 / 163610 round 0}} /km2 16361063,170.2 10,327,800
14  Yemen {{#expr: 23580000 / 527968 round 0}} /km2 527968203,849.6 23,580,000
15  Djibouti {{#expr: 864000 / 23200 round 0}} /km2 232008,957.6 864,000
16  Sudan {{#expr: 31894000 / 1886068 round 0}} /km2 1886068728,214.9 31,894,000
17  Algeria {{#expr: 34895000 / 2381741 round 0}} /km2 2381741919,595.3 34,895,000
18  Somalia {{#expr: 9133000 / 637657 round 0}} /km2 637657246,200.7 9,133,000
19  Saudi Arabia {{#expr: 25721000 / 2149690 round 0}} /km2 2149690829,999.9 28,146,658
20  Oman {{#expr: 2845000 / 309500 round 1}} /km2 309500119,498.6 2,845,000
21  Libya {{#expr: 6420000 / 1759540 round 1}} /km2 1759540679,362.2 6,420,000
22  Mauritania {{#expr: 3291000 / 1025520 round 1}} /km2 1025520395,955.5 3,291,000

Demographics


{{Main|Demographics of the Arab League}}
The Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 forms the unifying feature of the Arab world. Though different areas use local varieties of Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

, all share in the use of the modern standardized language, derived from Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic , also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times . It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes...

 (symptomatic of Arabic diglossia
Diglossia
In linguistics, diglossia refers to a situation in which two dialects or languages are used by a single language community. In addition to the community's everyday or vernacular language variety , a second, highly codified variety is used in certain situations such as literature, formal...

). This contrasts with the situation in the wider Islamic world, where in contiguous Iran, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Afghanistan, Arabic maintains its use in a similar script
Perso-Arabic script
The Persian or Perso-Arabic alphabet is a writing system based on the Arabic script. Originally used exclusively for the Arabic language, the Arabic alphabet was adapted to the Persian language, adding four letters: , , , and . Many languages which use the Perso-Arabic script add other letters...

 and retains its cultural prestige primarily as the language of religion and theological scholarship, but where Arabic is not spoken as a vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

.

The majority of people in the Arab World adhere to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and the religion has official status in most countries. Shariah law exists partially in the legal system in some countries, especially in the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, while others are secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

. The majority of the Arab countries adhere to Sunni Islam. Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, however, are Shia majority countries, while Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 have large Shia minorities. In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, the eastern province Al-Hasa region has Shia minority and the southern province city Najran has an Ismalia Shiite minority also. Ibadi
Ibadi
The Ibāḍī movement, Ibadism or Ibāḍiyya is a form of Islam distinct from the Sunni and Shia denominations. It is the dominant form of Islam in Oman and Zanzibar...

 Islam is practised in Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

 and Ibadis make up 75% population of the country.

There are sizable numbers of Christians, living primarily in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

. Formerly, there were significant minorities of Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 throughout the Arab World. However, the Partition of Palestine, and establishment of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 prompted their subsequent mass emigration
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 and expulsion
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

 within a few decades. Today small Jewish communities remain, ranging anywhere from ten in Bahrain, to more than 1,000 in Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and 7,000 in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Overall, Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s make up less than one quarter of the world's 1.4 billion Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, a group sometimes referred to as the Islamic world.

According to UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, the average rate of adult literacy (ages 15 and older) in this region is 76.9%. In Mauritania and Yemen, the rate is lower than the average, at barely over 50 %. On the other hand, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 record a high adult literacy rate of over 90%. The average rate of adult literacy shows steady improvement, and the absolute number of adult illiterates fell from 64 million to around 58 million between 1990 and 2000-2004. Overall, the gender disparity in adult literacy is high in this region, and of the illiteracy rate, women account for two-thirds, with only 69 literate women for every 100 literate men. The average GPI (Gender Parity Index) for adult literacy is 0.72, and gender disparity can be observed in Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen. Above all, the GPI of Yemen is only 0.46 in a 53% adult literacy rate. According to a UN survey, in the Arab world, the average person reads four pages a year and one new title is published each year for every 12,000 people. The Arab Thought Foundation
Arab Thought Foundation
The Arab Thought Foundation is an international, independent and non-governmental organization founded in 2000, with a guiding mission to help advance the economic, social and cultural development of the Arab region...

 reports that just above 8% of people in Arab countries aspire to get an education.

Literacy rate is higher among the youth than adults. Youth literacy rate (ages 15–24) in the Arab region increased from 63.9 to 76.3 % from 1990 to 2002. The average rate of GCC States Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) was 94 %, followed by the Maghreb at 83.2% and the Mashriq
Mashriq
Mashriq or Mashreq is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east"...

 at 73.6 %. However, more than one third of youth remain illiterate in the Arab least developed countries (Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen). In 2004, the regional average of youth literacy is 89.9% for male and 80.1 % for female.

The average population growth rate in Arab countries is 2.3%.{{Citation needed|date=July 2011}}

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 published an Arab human development report
Arab Human Development Report
The Arab Human Development Report is an independent report sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme , providing leading Arab scholars a platform through which to analyze the challenges and opportunities for human development in the Arab Region...

 in 2002, 2003 and 2004. These reports, written by researchers from the Arab world, address some sensitive issues in the development of Arab countries: women empowerment, availability of education and information among others.

Women in the Arab world are still denied equality of opportunity
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, although their disempowerment is a critical factor crippling the Arab nations' quest to return to the first rank of global leaders in commerce, learning and culture, according to a new United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

-sponsored report in 2008.

Within the most common definition of the Arab World, there are substantial populations who are not Arab either by ethnic or linguistic affiliation, and who often or generally do not consider themselves Arab as such. Nevertheless, most are as indigenous to their areas and many, if not most, actually resided in the area before the arrival of true Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula during which the spread of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 took place. Certain populations have expressed resentment towards the term "Arab World," and believe that their national and political rights have been unjustly brushed aside by modern governments' focus on Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

 and promoting an Arab identity.

Early history


{{see|Arabization}}
The Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s historically originate as a Central Semitic
Central Semitic languages
The Central Semitic languages are a proposed intermediate group of Semitic languages, comprising Arabic and the Northwest Semitic languages ....

 group in the Arabian peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

.
Their expansion beyond Arabia and the Syrian desert
Syrian Desert
The Syrian Desert , also known as the Syro-Arabian desert is a combination of steppe and true desert that is located in the northern Arabian Peninsula covering 200,000 square miles . also the desert is very rocky and flat...

 is due to the Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

 of the 7th and 8th centuries.
Egypt
Arab Egypt
Arab Egypt may refer to*Egypt after the Arab conquest of AD 639, see History of Muslim Egypt*modern Egypt under a state doctrine of Pan-Arabism, see**United Arab Republic **Arab Republic of Egypt...

 was conquered in AD 639, and gradually Arabized during the medieval period. A distinctively Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic
Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by contemporary Egyptians.It is more commonly known locally as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect ....

 language emerged by the 16th century.
The Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 was also conquered in the 7th century, and gradually Arabized under the Fatimids.
Islam was brought to Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 from Egypt during the 8th to 11th centuries, and the culture of Northern Sudan today is a mixture of Arab and Nubian elements (Southern Sudan is predominantly Christian and divided between regional languages, but Juba Arabic serves as lingua franca).

Islam became predominant in the Kanem Empire
Kanem Empire
The Kanem Empire was located in the present countries of Chad, Nigeria and Libya. At its height it encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad, but also parts of southern Libya , eastern Niger and north-eastern Nigeria...

 in Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

 and the Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate or the Kingdom of Adal was a medieval multi-ethnic Muslim state located in the Horn of Africa.-Overview:...

 in Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 by the late medieval period, but no Arabic-speaking majority developed, even though Arabic came to be used as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

.

Ottoman and colonial period


The Arab Abbasid Caliphate fell to the Mongol invasions
Mongol invasions
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

 in the 13th century. Egypt came under Turkic rule
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 by 1570 controlled most of the Arab world, although Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 remained under the rule of Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 dynasties, succeeded by the Saadi dynasty
Saadi Dynasty
The Saadi dynasty of Morocco , began with the reign of Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh in 1554, when he vanquished the last Wattasids at the Battle of Tadla....

 in the 16th to 17th centuries.

The sentiment of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalisms within the failing Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed as a result of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, much of the Arab world came to be controlled by the European colonial empires: British Mandate for Palestine, British Mandate of Mesopotamia, British protectorate of Egypt, French protectorate of Morocco,
Italian Libya
Italian Libya
Italian Libya was a unified colony of Italian North Africa established in 1934 in what represents present-day Libya...

, French Tunisia
French occupation of Tunisia
The French conquest of Tunisia occurred in two phases in 1881: the first consisting of the invasion and securing of the country before the signing of a treaty of protection, and the second consisting in the suppression of a rebellion...

, French Algeria, French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon
French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

 and the so-called Trucial States
Trucial States
The Trucial States were a group of sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf.-General aspects:The sheikdoms included:*Abu Dhabi *Ajman...

, a British protectorate formed by the sheikhdoms on the former "Pirate Coast".

These Arab states only gained their independence during or after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Republic of Lebanon in 1943, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 in 1951, the Republic of Egypt in 1952, the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 in 1956, the Republic of Iraq  in 1958, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 in 1962 and the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

  in 1971.
By contrast, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 had fragmented with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and was unified
Unification of Saudi Arabia
The unification of Saudi Arabia was the process by which the various tribes, sheikhdoms, and emirates of most of the Arabian Peninsula were consolidated under the control of the House of Saud, or Al Saud, between 1902 and 1932, when the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed...

 under Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia
Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia
King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia was the first monarch of the Third Saudi State known as Saudi Arabia. He was commonly referred to as Ibn Saud....

 by 1932.
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen , sometimes spelled Mutawakelite Kingdom of Yemen, also known as the Kingdom of Yemen or as North Yemen, was a country from 1918 to 1962 in the northern part of what is now Yemen...

 also seceded directly from the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

 apart from brief intermittent Persian and Portuguese rule has been self-governing since the 8th century.

Pan-Arabism


The Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs, and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab worlds, a project known as Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

.
There were some short-lived attempts at such unification in the mid-20th century, notably the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

 of 1958 to 1961.
The Arab League's main goal is to unify politically the Arab populations so defined. Its permanent headquarters are located in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

. However, it was moved temporarily to Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 during the 1980s, after Egypt was expelled for signing the Camp David Accords (1978).

Pan-Arabism has mostly been abandoned as an ideology since the 1980s, and was replaced by Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

 on one hand, and individual nationalisms on the other.
Arab-Israeli conflict

{{see|Arab League and the Arab–Israeli conflict|South Lebanon conflict (1982–2000)}}
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 has given rise to the Arab–Israeli conflict
Arab–Israeli conflict
The Arab–Israeli conflict refers to political tensions and open hostilities between the Arab peoples and the Jewish community of the Middle East. The modern Arab-Israeli conflict began with the rise of Zionism and Arab Nationalism towards the end of the nineteenth century, and intensified with the...

, one of the major unresolved geopolitical conflicts.

The Arab states in changing alliances were involved in a number of wars with Israel and its western allies between 1948 and 1973, including the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the 1956 Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 of 1967, and the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 of 1973.
An Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in 1979.
Civil war in Yemen

{{main|North Yemen Civil War}}
{{see|Shi’ite Insurgency in Yemen|1994 civil war in Yemen}}

Petroleum


While the Arab world had been of limited interest to the European colonial powers, the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 being mostly interested in the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 as a route to British India, the economic and geopolitical situation changed dramatically after the discovery of large petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 deposits in the 1930s, coupled with the vastly increased demand for petroleum in the west as a result of the Second Industrial Revolution
Second Industrial Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, was a phase of the larger Industrial Revolution corresponding to the latter half of the 19th century until World War I...

.

The Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 is particularly well-endowed with this strategic raw material
Raw material
A raw material or feedstock is the basic material from which a product is manufactured or made, frequently used with an extended meaning. For example, the term is used to denote material that came from nature and is in an unprocessed or minimally processed state. Latex, iron ore, logs, and crude...

: four Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar, are among the top ten oil or gas exporters worldwide. In addition, Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Sudan all have smaller but significant reserves. Where present, these have had significant effects on regional politics, often enabling rentier state
Rentier state
A rentier state is a term in political science and international relations theory used to classify those states which derive all or a substantial portion of their national revenues from the rent of indigenous resources to external clients.- Usage :...

s, leading to economic disparities between oil-rich and oil-poor countries, and, particularly in the more sparsely populated states of the Persian Gulf and Libya, triggering extensive labor immigration.

Islamism
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 and Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

 were on the rise during the 1980s.
The Hezbollah, a militant Islamic party in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, was founded in 1982.
Islamic terrorism became a problem in the Arab world in the 1970s to 1980s. While the Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 had been active in Egypt since 1928, their militant actions were limited to assassination attempts on political leaders.
But during the 1980s to 2000s, terrorism in Egypt
Terrorism in Egypt
Terrorism in Egypt refers to terrorist attacks in Egypt, many of them linked to Islamic extremism. Targets have included government officials, police, tourists and the Christian minority...

 has targeted the Christian minority as well as tourists
Tourism in Egypt
Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Egypt's economy. More than 12.8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion. The sector employs about 12 percent of Egypt's workforce. -History:...

.

Recent history (1990 to present)


Today, Arab states are characterized by their autocratic rulers and lack of democratic control
Democracy in the Middle East
According to the "Democracy Index" , the country in the Middle East with the highest Democracy Index score is Israel, with a score of 7.48, corresponding to the status of "flawed democracy"; the only one in the region.The next highest scores of countries of in the region are held by Lebanon and...

. The 2010 Democracy Index
Democracy Index
The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit that claims to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states...

 classifies Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and the Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 as "hybrid regimes", and all other Arab states as "authoritarian regimes". Similarly, the 2011 Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 report classifies Comoros
Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

 and Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 as "electoral democracies", Lebanon and Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 as "partly free", and all other Arab states as "not free".

The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq forces, led to the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 joined a multinational coalition that opposed Iraq. Displays of support for Iraq by Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 and the Palestinians resulted in strained relations between many of the Arab states. After the war, a so-called "Damascus Declaration" formalized an alliance for future joint Arab defensive actions between Egypt, Syria, and the GCC states.

A chain of events leading to the destabilization of the authoritarian regimes established during the 1950s throughout the Arab world became apparent during the early years of the 21st century. The 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 led to the collapse of the Baathist regime and ultimate execution of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

.
A growing class of young, educated, secular citizens with access to modern media such as Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

 (since 1996) and communicating via the internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 began to form a third force besides the classical dichotomy of Pan-Arabism vs. Pan-Islamism that had dominated the second half of the 20th century.
In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kefaya, was launched to oppose the Mubarak regime and to establish democratic reforms and greater civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

 in Egypt.
In Syria, the Damascus Spring
Damascus Spring
The Damascus Spring was a period of intense political and social debate in Syria which started after the death of President Hafiz al-Asad in June 2000 and continued to some degree until autumn 2001, when most of the activities associated with it were suppressed by the government.- Background...

 of 2000 to 2001 heralded the possibility of democratic change, but the Baathist regime managed to suppress the movement.

The popular protests throughout the Arab world of late 2010 to early 2011 are directed against these authoritarian and the associated political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, paired with the demand for more democratic rights.

States and territories


For the states and territories constituting the Arab world, see Arab world#Definition above.

Forms of government


Different forms of government are represented in the Arab World: Some of the countries are monarchies
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

: Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The other Arab countries are all republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s. With the exception of the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, and recently Mauritania, democratic elections throughout the Arab World are generally viewed as compromised, due to outright vote rigging, intimidation of opposition parties, and severe restraints on civil liberties and political dissent.

After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism
Pan-Arabism is an ideology espousing the unification--or, sometimes, close cooperation and solidarity against perceived enemies of the Arabs--of the countries of the Arab world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea. It is closely connected to Arab nationalism, which asserts that the Arabs...

 sought to unite all Arabic-speaking countries into one political entity. Only Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and North Yemen
North Yemen
North Yemen is a term currently used to designate the Yemen Arab Republic , its predecessor, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen , and their predecessors that exercised sovereignty over the territory that is now the north-western part of the state of Yemen in southern Arabia.Neither state ever...

 considered the short-lived unification of the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

. Historical divisions, competing local nationalisms, and geographical sprawl were major reasons for the failure of Pan-Arabism. Arab Nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 was another strong force in the region which peaked during the mid-20th century and was professed by many leaders in Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Arab Nationalist leaders of this period included Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

 of Egypt, Ahmed Ben Bella
Ahmed Ben Bella
Mohamed Ahmed Ben Bella was a soldier and Algerian revolutionary, who became the first President of Algeria.-Youth:...

 of Algeria, Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq
Michel Aflaq was a Syrian philosopher, who is credited with being the ideological founder of ba'athism, a hybrid of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism.-Early life:...

, Salah al-Din al-Bitar
Salah al-Din al-Bitar
Salah ad-Din al-Bitar , was a Syrian politician who, with Michel Aflaq, founded the Arab Ba'th Party in the early 1940s. During their student days in Paris in the early 1930s, the two worked together to formulate a doctrine that combined aspects of nationalism and socialism...

, Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zaki al-Arsuzi
Zakī al-Arsūzī born Latakia June 1899, died Damascus July 1968) was a Syrian political activist and writer, and is widely regarded as a main inspiration for the Ba'ath Party...

, Constantin Zureiq
Constantin Zureiq
Constantin Zureiq was a prominent and influential Syrian Arab intellectual who was one of the first to pioneer and express the importance of Arab nationalism. He stressed the urgent need to transform stagnate Arab society by means of rational thought and radical modification of the methods of...

 and Shukri al-Kuwatli
Shukri al-Kuwatli
Shukri al-Quwatli was the president of Syria from 1943 to 1949 and from 1955 to 1958.-Political life:He was born in Damascus into a Turkish family, originally from Konya....

 of Syria, Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr of Iraq, Habib Bourguiba
Habib Bourguiba
Habib Bourguiba was a Tunisian statesman, the Founder and the first President of the Republic of Tunisia from July 25, 1957 until 7 November 1987...

 of Tunisia, Mehdi Ben Barka
Mehdi Ben Barka
Mehdi Ben Barka was a Moroccan politician, head of the left-wing National Union of Popular Forces and secretary of the Tricontinental Conference...

 of Morocco, and Shakib Arslan
Shakib Arslan
Shakib Arslan was a Druze prince from Lebanon who was known as because in addition to being a politician, he was also an influential writer, poet and historian, among other things. Influenced by the ideas of al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, Arslan became a strong supporter of the Pan-Islamic...

 of Lebanon.

Later and current Arab Nationalist leaders include Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 of Libya, Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 and Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

 of Syria and Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 of Iraq. The diverse Arab states generally maintained close ties but distinct national identities developed and strengthened with the social, historical and political realities of the past 60 years. This has made the idea of a pan-Arab nation-state increasingly less feasible and likely. Additionally, an upsurge in political Islam has since led to a greater emphasis on pan-Islamic rather than pan-Arab identity amongst some Arab Muslims
Arab Muslims
Arab Muslims are adherents of the religion of Islam who identify linguistically, culturally, or genealogically as Arabs. They greatly outnumber other ethnic groups in the Middle East. Muslims who are not Arabs are called mawali by Arab Muslims....

. Arab nationalists who once opposed Islamic movements as a threat to their power, now deal with them differently for reasons of political reality.

Modern boundaries


Many of the modern borders of the Arab World were drawn by Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an imperial powers during the 19th and early 20th century. However, some of the larger states (in particular Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

) have historically maintained geographically definable boundaries, on which some of the modern states are roughly based. The 14th century Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi
Al-Maqrizi
Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrizi ; Arabic: , was an Egyptian historian more commonly known as al-Maqrizi or Makrizi...

, for instance, defines Egypt's boundaries as extending from the Mediterranean in the north to lower Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 in the south; and between the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 in the east and the oases of the Western/Libyan desert
Libyan Desert
The Libyan Desert covers an area of approximately 1,100,000 km2, it extends approximately 1100 km from east to west, and 1,000 km from north to south, in about the shape of a rectangle...

. The modern borders of Egypt, therefore, are not a creation of European powers, and are at least in part based on historically definable entities which are in turn based on certain cultural and ethnic identifications.

At other times, kings, emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

s or sheikh
Sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

s were placed as semi-autonomous rulers over the newly created nation states, usually chosen by the same imperial powers that for some drew the new borders, for services rendered to European powers like the British Empire, e.g. Sherif Hussein ibn Ali. Many African states did not attain independence until the 1960s from France after bloody insurgencies for their freedom. These struggles were settled by the imperial powers approving the form of independence given, so as a consequence almost all of these borders have remained. Some of these borders were agreed upon without consultation of those individuals that had served the colonial interests of Britain or France. One such agreement solely between Britain and France (to the exclusion of Sherif Hussein ibn Ali), signed in total secrecy until Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 released the full text, was the Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

. Another influential document written without the consensus of the local population was the Balfour Declaration.

As former director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, Efraim Halevy, now a director at the Hebrew University said,

{{cquote|The borders, which if you look on the maps of the middle-east are very straight lines, were drawn by British and French draftsmen who sat with maps and drew the lines of the frontiers with rulers. If the ruler for some reason or other moved on the map, because of some person's hand shaking, then the frontier moved (with the hand).}}

He went on to give an example,

{{cquote|There was a famous story about a British consul, a lady named Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. Along...

 who drew the map between Iraq and Jordan, using transparent paper. She turned to talk to somebody and as she was turning the paper moved and the ruler moved and that added considerable territory to the (new) Jordanians.}}

Historian Jim Crow, of Newcastle University, has said:

{{cquote|Without that imperial carve-up, Iraq would not be in the state it is in today...Gertrude Bell was one of two or three Britons who were instrumental in the creation of the Arab states in the Middle East that were favourable to Britain.http://www.sundayherald.com/31563{{dead link|date=February 2011}}}}

Modern economies


As of 2006, the Arab World accounts for two-fifths of the gross domestic product and three-fifths of the trade of the wider Muslim World
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

{{Citation needed|date=November 2007}}.

The Arab states are mostly, although not exclusively, developing economies and derive their export revenues from oil and gas, or the sale of other raw materials. Recent years have seen significant economic growth in the Arab World, due largely to an increase in oil and gas prices, which tripled between 2001 and 2006, but also due to efforts by some states to diversify their economic base. Industrial production has risen, for example the amount of steel produced between 2004 and 2005 rose from 8.4 to 19 million tonnes. (Source: Opening speech of Mahmoud Khoudri, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

's Industry Minister, at the 37th General Assembly of the Iron & Steel Arab Union, Algiers, May 2006). However even 19 million tons pa still only represents 1.7% of global steel production, and remains inferior to the production of countries like Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

.

The main economic organisations in the Arab World are the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising the states in the Persian Gulf, and the Union of the Arab Maghreb (UMA), made up of North African States. The GCC has achieved some success in financial and monetary terms, including plans to establish a common currency in the Persian Gulf region. Since its foundation in 1989, the UMA's most significant accomplishment has been the establishment of a 7000 km highway crossing North Africa from Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 to Libya's
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 border with Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. The central stretch of the highway, expected to be completed in 2010, will cross Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. In recent years a new term has been coined to define a greater economic region: the MENA region (standing for Middle East and North Africa) is becoming increasingly popular, especially with support from the current US administration.

As of August 2009 it was reported that Saudi Arabia is the strongest Arab economy according to World Bank.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 remains the top Arab economy in terms of total GDP. It is Asia's eleventh largest economy, followed by Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, which were also the second and third largest economies in Africa (after South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

), in 2006. In terms of GDP per capita, Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 is the richest developing country in the world.

The total GDP of all Arab countries in 1999 was US$531.2 billion. By contrast, the GDP of Spain that year was US$595.5 billion.

Geography


The Arab World stretches across more than 13000000 square kilometres (5,019,328.1 sq mi) of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and the part of North-East Africa and South-West Asia. The Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n part of the Arab world is called the Mashriq
Mashriq
Mashriq or Mashreq is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east"...

. The North African part of the Arab World to the west of Egypt and Sudan is known as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

. The status of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 itself, geographically in the center of the Arab world, is disputed; although on the African continent, it has stronger cultural connections to the Mashriq.


The term "Arab" often connotes the Middle East, but the larger (and more populous) part of the Arab World is North Africa. Its eight million square kilometers include two of the largest countries of the African continent, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 (2.4 million km²) in the center of the region and Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 (1.9 million km²) in the southeast. Algeria is about three-quarters the size of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, or about one-and-a-half times the size of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, the largest state in the United States. The largest country in the Arab Middle East is Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 (2 million km²).

At the other extreme, the smallest autonomous mainland Arab country in North Africa and the Middle East is Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 (10,452 km²), and the smallest island Arab country is Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

 (665 km²).

Notably, every Arab country borders a sea or ocean, with the exception of the Arab region of northern Chad, which is completely landlocked. Iraq is actually nearly landlocked, as it has only a very narrow access to the Persian Gulf.

Historical boundaries


The political borders of the Arab world have wandered, leaving Arab minorities in non-Arab countries of the Sahel
Sahel
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....

 and the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

 as well as in the Middle Eastern countries of Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and also leaving non-Arab minorities in Arab countries. However, the basic geography of sea, desert, and mountain provide the enduring natural boundaries for this region.

The Arab world straddles two continents, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Asia, and is oriented mainly along an east-west axis, dividing it into African and Asian areas.

Arab Africa


Arab Africa—or more commonly Arab North Africa, though this is redundant—is roughly a long trapezoid, narrower at the top, that comprises the entire northern third of the continent. It is surrounded by water on three sides (west, north, and east) and desert or desert scrubland on the fourth (south).

In the west, it is bounded by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. From northeast to southwest, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 (annexed
Annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 and occupied
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

 by Morocco), and Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 make up the roughly 2,000 kilometers of Arab Atlantic coastline. The southwestern sweep of the coast is gentle but substantial, such that Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott
Nouakchott
-Government:The town was first divided into districts in 1973. First it was divided into four. From 1986, the city has been split into nine districts.* Arafat* Dar Naim* El Mina* Ksar* Riad* Sebkha* Tevragh-Zeina* Teyarett* Toujounine...

 (18°N, 16°W), is far enough west to share longitude with Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 (13–22°W). Nouakchott is the westernmost capital of the Arab World and the third-westernmost in Africa, and sits on the Atlantic fringe of the southwestern Sahara. Next south along the coast from Mauritania is Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, whose abrupt border belies the gradient in culture from Arab to Negroid African that historically characterizes this part of West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

.

Arab Africa's boundary to the north is again a continental boundary, the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. This boundary begins in the west with the narrow Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

, the thirteen kilometer wide channel that connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic to the west, and separates Morocco from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 to the north. East along the coast from Morocco are Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, followed by Egypt, which forms the region's (and the continent's) northeastern corner. The coast turns briefly but sharply south at Tunisia, slopes more gently southeastward through the Libyan capital of Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

, and bumps north through Libya's second city, Benghazi
Benghazi
Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the main city of the Cyrenaica region , and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. The wider metropolitan area is also a district of Libya...

, before turning straight east again through Egypt's second city, Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, at the mouth of the Nile. Along with the spine of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 to its north, Tunisia thus marks the junction of western and eastern Mediterranean, and a cultural transition as well: west of Egypt begins the region of the Arab World known as the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 include (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania).

Historically the 4,000-kilometer Mediterranean boundary has fluttered. Population centers north of it in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 have invited contact and Arab exploration—mostly friendly, though sometimes not. Islands and peninsulas near the Arab coast have changed hands. The islands of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 lie just a hundred kilometers east of the Tunisian city of Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, which has been a point of contact with Europe since its founding in the first millennium BCE; both Sicily and Malta at times have been part of the Arab World. Just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco, regions of the Iberian peninsula were part of the Arab World throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, extending the northern boundary at times to the foothills of the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 and leaving a substantial mark on local and wider European and Western culture.

The northern boundary of the African Arab world has also fluttered briefly in the other direction, first through the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 and later through the imperial involvement of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, and Italy. Another visitor from northern shores, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, controlled the east of the region for centuries, though not as a colonizer. Spain still maintains two small enclaves, Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (called "Morocco Espanol"), along the otherwise Moroccan coast. Overall this wave has ebbed, though like the Arab expansion north it has left its mark. The proximity of North Africa to Europe has always encouraged interaction, and this continues with Arab immigration to Europe and European interest in the Arab countries today. However, population centers and the physical fact of the sea keeps this boundary of the Arab World settled on the Mediterranean coastline.

To the east, the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 defines the boundary between Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and thus also between Arab Africa and the Arab Middle East. This sea is a long and narrow waterway with a northwest tilt, stretching 2,300 kilometers from Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

's Sinai peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 southeast to the Bab-el-Mandeb
Bab-el-Mandeb
The Bab-el-Mandeb meaning "Gate of Grief" in Arabic , is a strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, Djibouti and Eritrea, north of Somalia, in the Horn of Africa, and connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden...

 strait between Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 in Africa and Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 in Arabia but on average just 150 kilometers wide. Though the sea is navigable along its length, historically much contact between Arab Africa and the Arab Middle East has been either overland across the Sinai or by sea across the Mediterranean or the narrow Bab al Mendeb strait. From northwest to southeast, Egypt, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, and Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 form the African coastline, with Djibouti marking Bab al Mendeb's African shore.

Southeast along the coast from Djibouti is Somalia, but the Somali coast soon makes a 90-degree turn and heads northeast, mirroring a bend in the coast of Yemen across the water to the north and defining the south coast of the Gulf of Aden. The Somali coast then takes a hairpin turn back southwest to complete the horn of Africa. For six months of the year the monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 winds blow from up equatorial Somalia, past Arabia and over the small Yemeni archipelago of Socotra
Socotra
Socotra , also spelt Soqotra, is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some east of the Horn of Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through...

, to rain on India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

; they then switch directions and blow back. Hence the east- and especially southeast-coast boundary of Arab Africa has historically been a gateway for maritime trade and cultural exchange with both East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 and the subcontinent. The trade winds also help explain the presence of the Comoros islands, an Arab-African country, off the coast of Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

, near Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, the southernmost part of the Arab World.

The southern boundary of Arab North Africa is the strip of scrubland known as the Sahel
Sahel
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....

 that crosses the continent south of the Sahara, dipping further south in Sudan in the east.

Arab Western Asia


{{Main|Western Asia}}

The West Asian Arab region comprises the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, Bilad al-Sham (the Arab name for what was Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria is a European reference to the area that during European Renaissance from the late 15th to early 18th century was called the Levant within the early period of the Ottoman Empire, the Orient until the early 19th century, and Greater Syria until 1918...

 which included Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, most of Jordan and parts of Iraq, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, more broadly or narrowly defined. The peninsula is roughly a tilted rectangle that leans back against the slope of northeast Africa, the long axis pointing toward Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

See also


{{Portal box|Middle East}}
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  • Afro-Arab
    Afro-Arab
    Afro-Arab refers to people of mixed Black African and genealogical Arab ancestral heritage and/or linguistically and culturally Arabized Black Africans...

  • Arab diaspora
    Arab diaspora
    Arab diaspora refers to Arab immigrants, and their descendants who, voluntarily or as refugees, emigrated from their native lands and now reside in non-Arab countries, primarily in Latin America, and Europe, as well as North America and South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and West...

  • Arabic influence on the Spanish language
    Arabic influence on the Spanish language
    Arabic influence on the Spanish language has been significant due to the Islamic presence in the Iberian peninsula between 711 and 1492 A.D. ....

  • Arabic literature
    Arabic literature
    Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

  • English exonyms of Arabic speaking places
    English exonyms of Arabic speaking places
    The list includes countries and territories, and their capitals or administrative centres, where at least one official language is Arabic. Standard Arabic pronunciation was chosen.-Countries/territories and capitals/administrative centres:-Egypt:...

  • Islamic empire
  • List of countries where Arabic is an official language

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Further reading


External links



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