The Middle East

What is the Middle East? It’s a silly name, so “Western”-centric. It’s been called the Orient (meaning “east”, and also referring to the Far East – East Asia) and even the Near East. If it’s in the middle of anything, it’s the gigantic supercontinent of AfroEurAsia. And this truly is the best description of it, as it lies at the nexus of trade and travel between these three supposed continents.

The Middle East consists of these actual places: Arabia, Persia, the Levant, Kurdistan and Turkey, as well as the Stans. Arabia includes North Africa, where the Berbers and Moors now identify as Arabs. Persia and Turkey extend beyond their borders into Central Asia, where the nomadic Turkic people claim the -Stans. It even encapsulates Northern Africa, the Berbers now identifying as Arabs themselves.

This mega-region – I’d call it an actual continent – is bordered by the Sahara Desert’s southern boundary, the foothills of the Himalayas, the Caucasus to the north and the Arabian Sea to the south. It includes many people groups, and is often thought of as the Muslim World.

This map helps point out the actual people of the region, ignoring the British- and French-made borders that cause so much strife. In any case, here is a wonderfully detailed (yet simple) map of “the middle east”.

middle east

And here’s the proper “objective” view of the region, clearly centered on the mega-continent: