CHAPTER 18
Cultural Geography of North Africa, Southwest
Asia, and Central Asia
1. NORTH AFRICA
•Birthplace
•Rich
of earliest civilizations
cultural heritage
•Traditions
and cultures have changed with
modernization and urbanization
POPULATION PATTERNS
Indigenous ethnic groups, migrations, and the
dramatic climate have shaped population
patterns in North Africa
 Indigenous cultures in North Africa have mixed
with those from Arabian Peninsula and Europe

THE PEOPLE
Primary
influence on the sub
region is a mix of indigenous and
Arab cultures
 Indigenous
people of North Africa
called Berbers
Most are farmers today
Previously they were pastoral
nomads, groups of people who move
from place to place grazing their
animals

THE PEOPLE
Other
principal ethnic group in
North Africa - Arabs
Spread throughout North Africa in the
600’s
 Bedouin - nomadic, Arabic-speaking
people, migrated from deserts of
Southwest Asia, herd animals in
deserts

DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION
 Geographic
factors, such as
availability of water, influenced
settlement in North Africa
 People settled along seacoasts and in
river deltas, or mouths, such as
along Nile River in Egypt

Nile Delta region one of world's most
densely populated areas
 Major
population centers in North
Africa are urban
EARLY PEOPLES AND CIVILIZATIONS

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1.
2.
3.
4.
Hunters and gatherers settled in North Africa about
10,000 years ago
By 6000 BC, farming communities rise up along Nile
River and Mediterranean Sea
Region’s farmers among the first to domesticate
plants and animals
Egyptian civilization developed along the Nile River
about 6000 years ago
Egyptians:
Created a calendar year with 365 days
Used sophisticated irrigation systems
Built pyramids as tombs to for their rules
Invented form of picture writing called
hieroglyphics
INDEPENDENCE
 During
1800’s, well-educated urban
middle class adopts nationalism, or a
belief in the right of an ethnic group to
have its own independent country
Egypt gained independence from UK in
1922
 Libya won independence from Italy in
1951

Then ruled by strong, Western-friendly
monarchy
 In 1969, coup led by Colonel Muammar alQaddafi overthrew the monarchy
 Qaddafi has ruled the oil rich country to this day

RELIGION AND LANGUAGE
Religion

Arabs brought religion of
Islam to North Africa
when they invaded
Most were Sunni, which
makes up 85% of 1.5 billion
Muslims world wide
 Sunnis believe that
leadership should be in the
hands of the Islamic
community at large
 Calls to worship occur five
times each day in countries
with large Muslim
populations

Language

Arabic language also
spread across North
Africa
Non-Arab Muslims
learned Arabic in order
to read the Quran, the
Islamic holy book
 Arabic became the
regions main language

EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE
Education
Most young people in
North Africa attend
school
 Primary education is
free
 Literacy rates range
widely, from 52
percent in Morocco to
82 percent in Libya

Health Care
Health care has also
improved recently
 People often go to
government-owned
hospitals for medical
treatment, but doctor
shortages mean
limited care for rural
people

THE ARTS
Egyptians built towering pyramids to serve as
royal tombs for their leaders
 Arts of weaving, embroidery and metalworking in
the region are highly influenced by Islam

THE EASTERN
MEDITERRANEAN
2.
•Eastern
Mediterranean birthplace of three
major world religions; Judaism, Christianity
and Islam
•Different peoples have laid claim to the
lands for religious reasons
•Periods of conflict and war have resulted
•In Israel today, Jewish and Palestinian
people both claim rights to the same lands
POPULATION PATTERNS
Migrations, claims to ancestral homes, boundary
disputes have influenced pop. patterns in the
eastern Mediterranean
 Inhabited by millions of Arab and Jewish people
 Jewish people speak Hebrew, and if they are
religious, practice Judaism
 Arabs speak Arabic, and primarily practice Islam

THE PEOPLE
7.1 million people living in E. Mediterranean are
Israelis living in Israel and 80% are Jewish
 In 1948, Israel founded as a Jewish state
 Arabs in the region did not want a Jewish state
 Tensions between Arabs and Jews have led to
many wars
 Palestinians – Arabs displaced from their
homes during wars with Israel, forced to live as
refugees in neighboring countries such as Syria,
Lebanon and Jordan

DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION
Dry climate causes majority in Eastern
Mediterranean to live along Euphrates River
 Region is primarily urban
 Israel has experienced intense immigration since
founding in 1948
 1 million Jews have migrated from former Soviet
Union since 1989
 People of Israel have migrated from more than
100 countries, making it ethnically diverse

HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
 Eastern
Mediterranean home to three of
the world's major religions
 Has shaped politics and culture here for
centuries
 Due to proximity to Europe, Africa and
Asia, Eastern Mediterranean has been
occupied throughout history
RELIGION AS HISTORY
Three major religions began here: Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam
 All share many beliefs, particularly monotheism,
or belief in one god
 Jerusalem is of special importance to all three
religions

JUDAISM
One of the oldest of the monotheistic faiths
 Trace origin to the ancient Israelites, who created
kingdom of Israel along the eastern Mediterranean
coast
 Jerusalem was their capital and religious center
 Jews recorded their history in the Hebrew Bible,
consisting of the Torah, the prophets and the sacred
writings

CHRISTIANITY
In 30 AD, Jewish teacher named Jesus began
preaching and gathering followers
 Followers believed they would go to heaven after
death
 Became basis for Christianity
 Christian Scriptures included the Hebrew Bible
(Old Testament), the New Testament (writings
and teachings of Jesus and early Christian
communities)

ISLAM
States that AD 610, revelations from God came to
Muhammad
 Muhammad a merchant in the city of Mecca in
the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia)
 Followers claimed he was last in line of
prophets, or messengers, that included Abraham
and Jesus
 By AD 700, Islam spread through the region and
into Europe
 Muslims built mosques, or houses of worship

ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT

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Jews expelled from their homeland by the Romans
and settled in communities all over the world, often
experiencing persecution
Many Jews, called Zionists, began to call for a return
to Palestine
After WWII, wars broke out among Jews, Arabs and
British forces in the region
UN decided in 1947 to divide Palestine into a Jewish
state and an Arab state
When British withdrew form the area, the Jews
proclaimed the Independent state of Israel in 1948
Arabs and Israelis fought 6 wars in next 25years
In 1948 and 1967 conflicts, victorious Israeli forces
occupied Arab lands
RELIGION AND LANGUAGE





Majority who practice
Islam follow Sunni branch
Arabs in Syria and
Lebanon follow the Shia
branch
Jews and Christians make
up only a small percentage
of the population
Most Jews live in Israel
Christians live in Lebanon
and Syria

Primary language is
Arabic
EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE
Compulsory and free
 Literacy rates vary
from 76 percent in
Syria to 96 percent in
Israel


Hospitals are often
government owned
3. THE NORTHEAST
•Primarily
Turkey, Iraq and Iran
•Region where cultures are fundamentally tied to
religions
•Islam is the most practiced of them all.
•Islam now the fastest growing religion in the world.
THE PEOPLE
Ethnic populations in Northeast migrated from
Central Asia and Arabian Peninsula
 Religion of Islam has become a dominant aspect
of these cultures

TURKS
Present day Turkey (formerly Anatolia) has been
occupied by many different peoples in past 8000
years
 Turks migrated to the peninsula around AD 1000
from Central Asia
 One group, known as Ottoman Turks, built the
Ottoman Empire
 Most Turks practice Islam, speak Turkish

IRANIANS
Appr. 67 million people live in Iran (formerly
Persia)
 Iran means “land of the Aryans”, or IndoEuropeans who came from Southern Russia
 Iranians speak Farsi, or Persian
 Approximately 90 percent practice Shia Islam

ARABS
Majority of people living in Iraq are Arabs
(migrated from Arabian peninsula)
 Most Arabs in Iraq are Shia Musliams
 Only about 35 percent are Sunni
 Iraqi’s mostly speak Arabic

KURDS
Have lived for more than 2000 years in the
mountainous border areas of Turkey, Iraq and
Iran
 Most are Sunni Muslims
 Most speak Kurdish, language related to Farsi
 Kurds call their territory Kurdistan
 Kurds have not gained independence, despite
several tries

DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION
Most populous countries in Northeast are Turkey
and Iran (around 70 million each)
 Large cities and towns are common
 These cities dominate social and cultural life in
their respective countries

CIVILIZATIONS AND EMPIRES
Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers (present day Iraq) known as the
Fertile Crescent
 This area became one of the worlds first culture
hearths, or centers where cultures developed
and spread outward
 Mesopotamia was home to the Sumerian
civilization


Developed a writing system call cuneiform, using
wedge shaped symbols written on clay tablets
CIVILIZATIONS AND EMPIRES
Phoenician civilization, began along eastern
Mediterranean coast, around 3000 BC
 500 BC, Persian Empire extended across the
region
 Persians built ganats ,or underground canals,
meant to prevent water from evaporating in
surface canals

CIVILIZATIONS AND EMPIRES
Ottoman Empire, 1000 – 1600, present day
Turkey
 Spanned an area that covered northern Africa,
western Asia and southeastern Europe

THE ERA OF OIL
Oil discovered in Persian Gulf in early 1900s
 In late 1950’s, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,
and Venezuela formed OPEC (Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries)
 In 1973, OPEC placed an embargo, or ban on
trade, to the US after becoming angry at US
support of Israel in Arab-Israeli War

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION
Most people who live
in this region speak
Arabic
 This is not the case in
Iran and Turkey,
however
 In Turkey, Turkic
peoples speak Turkish
 In Iran, Persians
speak Persian or Farsi

Shia Muslims are the
most populous
religious group in both
Iraq and Iran
 In Turkey, majority of
Muslims are Sunni,
but Turkey is more
secular

EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE
Education
Required through
grade 6 in Iraq and
grade 8 in Turkey
 Literacy rate 80
percent in Iran and 86
percent in Turkey
 Since the 1979 Islamic
Revolution, education
in Iran has become
more religious in focus

Health Care

Hospitals are
government owned
and often suffer from
doctor shortages
4. THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
A mix of tradition and modernity, religion and
growing commerce
People of the peninsula have adapted to this
climate, especially the nomadic peoples
POPULATION PATTERNS

Harsh desert climate of Arabian Desert has led
most people to live along the coasts.
THE PEOPLE
Most people in the subregion are Arabs
 Most Arabs are Muslims
 Descent from ancient groups such as Egyptians,
Phoenicians, Saharan Berbers
 Today, many immigrants have come to the
Arabian Peninsula from Pakistan, India,
Bangladesh and Iran in search of good jobs

DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION
Harsh desert, lush coastal climates dictate where
the majority of people live on the AP
 Discovery of oil in the early 1900s led to
increased wealth, modernization and
immigration in many Arab countries

HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
Conquering empires have imposed cultures on
peoples of the Arabian Peninsula that remain
influential to this day
 People of the region sought protection from Great
Britain in fighting off rule by other outsiders,
such as the Ottoman Empire

INDEPENDENCE

Independence
Kuwait gains independence from GB - mid 1900s
 United Arab Emirates - established in 1971
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UAE formed from a group of tribal sheikhdoms, or
territories ruled by an Islamic religious leader
Kuwait and Qatar are ruled by emirs, or princes
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman are monarchies
Saudi Arabia follows sharia’ah, or Islamic law,
based on the Quran
Standards of living vary widely across AP

Urban countries with oil wealth have relatively high
standards of living
CULTURE
Foreign workers are bringing their own cultures
to the area
 Large cities are growing in need for more foreign
workers to support growing industries

RELIGION
Sunni and Shia Muslims dominant on the
peninsula
 Many believe in making a pilgrimage, or haji, to
Mecca at least once in their life

EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE
Most children and young people attend school
 Health care varies widely from country to
country, and even more widely from urban to
rural
 Government owned hospitals are not always fully
staffed
 Private health care available, but often
associated with a particular social or religious
group

5. CENTRAL ASIA
A crossroads of cultures and empires
A destination for people emigrating from their
homelands to escape harsh political or economic
situations
POPULATION PATTERNS
Challenges for Central Asia:
 Invasions
 Domination by numerous empires
 Rugged landscape

THE PEOPLE
Afghanistan, located at southern tip of Central
Asia
 Mountainous country
 Home to many ethnic groups due to migrations
and invasions
 Pashtun is the predominant ethnic group

DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION
Afghanistan – 30 million people, most populous
country in Central Asia
 Population has been shaped by conflict
 1915, 1 million Armenians in Turkey killed,
deported or died of illness at hands of Ottoman
Turks
 20 percent of Armenia's people left looking for
better life
 Georgia, 300,000 have left or been displaced
 Majority of Tajikistan’s people live and work in
river valleys

HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT
Location of C.A. has left people vulnerable to
centuries of invasion
 After centuries of foreign domination, countries
of C.A. working to find economic and political
stability

CULTURES AND CONQUEST
Cultural roots go back 2500 years
 Kingdom of Urartu dates back to 800 BC
 Ruled the entire Caucasus region
 Beginning in 100BC, parts of CA prospered from
the Silk Road, trade route connecting China with
the Mediterranean Sea
 Many cities along this route thrived as trading
centers

CULTURES AND CONQUEST
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In 1200s AD, Genghis Khan and Mongol forces invade area
and establish empire
Negatives: killed many
Positives: Brought paper money and safer trade routes
Armenia resisted
Today, Armenia is an enclave - territory that is culturally
or ethnically different from surrounding larger cultures
Over 90 percent of Armenians practice Christianity
People of Azerbaijan, Islamic, surrounded by Christian
Caucasus, form an exclave, or a distinct group of people
who are isolated from the main or larger part of the
country
During 1900’s, Central Asia dominated by Soviet Union
INDEPENDENCE
Numerous CA countries declared independence
when Soviet Union dissolved in 1991
 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 prompted
fighting by the mujahedeen, or freedom fighters
 After Soviets left, the fundamentalist Islamic
Taliban took control of most of country
 Poverty and unemployment widespread across
CA
 2001, US overthrows Taliban in Afghanistan in
retaliation for 9/11
 New Afghan government still faces many
challenges, corruption, resurgent Taliban

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION
Majority speak Turkic languages
 Islam dominant religion, with most practicing
Sunni branch
 Christianity majority in two countries, Armenia
and Georgia

EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE
Public education, mandatory through secondary
school in a few countries
 Tajikistan – 88 % literacy
 Armenia and Georgia – 99% literacy
 Health care weakened by breakup of Soviet
Union

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Chapter 18