Why study the Middle East?

The region seems to have a much bigger share of the world problems than we can expect from its size. For example, one quarter of the world's internally displaced persons and refugees are from the Middle East while the region has only about 4% of the world's population. While in recent years the focus has been on Syrian refugees, the problem is not new. Think of the Palestinian refugee crisis and the "population exchange" between Greece and Turkey in 1923.

The map on the right (adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East) shows the countries of the Middle East in dark green. I have used light green to mark Libya and the Balkans because they share much of Middle East history and, not surprisingly, many its problems.

Map in full size

All these countries were part of the Ottoman Empire and are still suffering the consequences of the "divide and rule" policy of the sultans. On the other hand, Iran was never part of that empire and it has less internal strife than the other countries of the region.

Scope and Resources

Back to the main page of Middle East History