3 1Historical OverviewThe agricultural revolution began in the Fertile Crescent around 8000 B.C.The Sumerians developed a complex civilization, and later Judaism and Christianity emerged as religions based on monotheism.The Arabic-speaking peoples of the Arabian peninsula, inspired by Islam, conquered most of the region and founded an Islamic empire.European powers divided Ottoman lands into a number of nations and protectorates after World War I.The formation of the Jewish state of Israel was at the center of a number of clashes between Jews and Palestinian Arabs.Muslim countries of the region are divided between supporters of Western-style democracy and supporters of Islamic rule.
5 Physical Characteristics 2Physical CharacteristicsTowering mountains and vast, arid plains dominate Central and Southwest Asia.Mountains that experience frequent earthquakes ring the plateaus of Turkey and Iran.The plains of Southwest Asia are covered with deserts, except where rivers provide water for irrigation.In Central Asia, deserts cover the plains in the southwest, and rolling grasslands cover the plains in the north.
7 3ClimatesMost of this region has arid and semiarid climates, with little precipitation.Arid stretches across the Arabian Peninsula, much of Central Asia, and central Iran.Semiarid covers most of Turkey and Iran, and rings the deserts of Central Asia.Mediterranean lies along the coasts of the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian seas.Several other climate zones lie at the edges of the region.
9 Desert, grassland, and chaparral ecosystems cover parts of the region. 4EcosystemsDesert, grassland, and chaparral ecosystems cover parts of the region.Deserts cover the Arabian Peninsula, much of Central Asia, and central Iran.Chaparral stretches along the coasts of the Mediterranean and Black seas.Temperate grasslands cover much of northern Southwest Asia and the edges of Central Asia.Forest ecosystems cover much of the highland areas.
10 5People and CulturesWater is a scarce resource across much of the region, and the population is concentrated in river valleys and coastal areas.The region’s nomadic livestock herders, who have for centuries lived in moveable tents called yurts, earn additional money by making fine rugs and carpets.Mosques are the region’s most visible signs of Islamic heritage, where five times a day the muezzin, or crier, climbs the minaret to call the people to prayer.Jerusalem is a city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and a site of conflict for centuries as each group has fought for control of the region.
11 Economics, Technology, and Environment 6Economics, Technology, and Environment
12 Economics, Technology, and Environment 6Economics, Technology, and EnvironmentMost of the people in the region live in cities, where services and industry are the main economic activities.Commercial and subsistence farming are the main activities in areas with fertile soils and water.Livestock raising and nomadic herding are practiced in most of the region.Oil and natural gas extraction provide most of the region’s wealth.Hydroelectric dams provide water and electricity, but also cause disputes with countries downstream.
13 7DatabaseAzerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, has a trade deficit, exports mostly oil and machinery, and could reduce the trade imbalance by expanding oil production.Kazakhstan, another former Soviet republic, has a trade surplus, exporting mostly oil and metals and importing manufactured goods.Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum products, and despite the nation’s need to import food and manufactured goods, petroleum exports give it an immense trade surplus.Israel has an advanced technological economy, but has a trade deficit because it imports raw materials and military equipment.