Southwestern Asia (also called the "Middle East") is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. An incredible amount of recorded world history concerns this area. Though recorded history goes back millennia, Southwestern Asia is known more recently for being the birthplace of three major historic world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and many others like Zoroastrianism and Bahá'í (mainly in Persia), Yazdânism (mainly in Kurdistan and Turkey). Southwestern Asia is still a very variegated place.
However, largely because of its the variation, especially in religion, parts of the region are extremely troubled. The Middle East has a long-standing stereotype of being the most radically religious of all regions, and indeed, that seems to be the case in certain areas, where religious tolerance is a new idea and has not made many inroads. Such is the case in countries like Nejd and Hejaz (which suppress internal minorities) and Iraq and Basra (which constantly threaten each other). Interestingly, the largest disputes these days are between Muslims and Muslims, that is Sunni and Shi'a Muslims. However, majority Muslim countries such as Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Transjordan have tried and largely succeeded in creating peaceful multicultural societies.
The northern and western areas are more European than elsewhere. Generally, Byzantia and Cyprus are grouped with Europe, since their cultures are almost completely European. Turkey and Armenia and very Westernized, and Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, though Semitic in overall character, are also quite Westernized. The Persian Gulf Tigers (PGTs) have very modern cities, but are still very Arabic in spirit. Persia and Kurdistan have their own cultures, which while resembling surrounding cultures, are quite unique in certain ways, too. The island of Socotra, a British Dominion, has a small population of around 10,000, which is mostly split between British and Christian Arabs.
Most of Southwestern Asia is arid. Especially on the Arabian Peninsula, people mostly reside very near the coast. The northern areas receive more rain, and the Mediterranean Sea lends a nice climate to the areas surrounding it.
The Middle East is also known for its huge oil reserves, including the two largest in the world, "Ghawar" and "Burgan". Ghawar, under the Bahrain, Qatar, and a little of the U.E., and Burgan, under Kuwait, are a large reason for the rapid takeoff of the Persian Gulf Tiger economies. However, as the world started to move to alternative sources of energy in the late 1970s and 1980s, oil prices started to fall (though taxes in many nations meant that the prices at the pump stayed high) and the PGTs successfully found other ways to make money. However, oil still contributes a large percentage to their economies.
- (Byzantia) (Generally thought of as European)
- (Cyprus) (Generally thought of as European)
- (Jerusalem) (League of Nations Territory)
- (Socotra) (British Territory)
- United Emirates