Geographic and cultural region; collective term for the Arabic-speaking countries of Asia and Africa, or of Asia only
Top 10 Arab world related articles
- 1 Definition
- 2 Arab League states
- 3 Demographics
- 4 History
- 4.1 Early history
- 4.2 Ottoman and colonial rule
- 4.3 Rise of Arab nationalism
- 4.4 Modern conflicts
- 4.5 Petroleum
- 4.6 Recent history
- 5 States and territories
- 6 Geography
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
|Area||13,132,327 km2 (5,070,420 sq mi)|
|Population density||29.839/km2 (70.37/sq mi)|
|GDP (nominal)||$2.782 trillion|
|GDP per capita||$6,647|
|Time zones||UTC+0 to UTC+4|
|Internet TLD||.africa, .asia|
|Largest cities||Major cities of Arab world|
The Arab world (Arabic: العالم العربي al-ʿālam al-ʿarabī), formally the Arab homeland (الوطن العربي al-waṭan al-ʿarabī), also known as the Arab nation (الأمة العربية al-ummah al-ʿarabīyyah), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Arab countries which are members of the Arab League. A majority of these countries are located in Western Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa; the southernmost member, the Comoros, is an island country off the coast of East Africa. The region stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Indian Ocean in the southeast. The eastern part of the Arab world is known as the Mashriq, and the western part as the Maghreb. Arabic is used as the lingua franca throughout the Arab world.
Malta, an island country in Southern Europe whose national language also derives from Arabic (through Sicilian Arabic), is not included in the region. Similarly, Chad, Eritrea, and Israel recognize Arabic as one of their official or working languages but are not included in the region because they are not members of the Arab League (although Chad and Eritrea applied for full membership in 2014). The Arab world has a combined population of around 422 million inhabitants (as of 2012) and a gross domestic product of $2.782 trillion (2018).
In post-classical history, the Arab world was synonymous with the historic Arab empires and caliphates. Arab nationalism arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire. The Arab League was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of Arab people and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab countries; a project known as Pan-Arabism.
Arab world Intro articles: 20
The linguistic and political denotation inherent in the term Arab is generally dominant over genealogical considerations. In Arab states, Modern Standard Arabic is used by the government. The language of an individual nation is called Darija, which means "everyday/colloquial language" or Aammiyya. The majority of Darija's cognates are shared with standard Arabic, but it also significantly borrows from Berber (Tamazight) substrates, as well as extensively from French, the language of the historical colonial occupier of the Maghreb. Darija is spoken and, to various extents, mutually understood in the Maghreb countries, especially Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, but it is unintelligible to speakers of other Arabic dialects, mainly for those in Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.
Standard territorial definition
The Arab League is a regional organisation that aims (among other things) to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries and sets out the following definition of an Arab:
An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic people.
This standard territorial definition is sometimes seen to be inappropriate or problematic, and may be supplemented with certain additional elements (see ancillary linguistic definition below).
Member states of the Arab League
Ancillary linguistic definition
As an alternative to, or in combination with, the standard territorial definition, the Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language, culture or geographic contiguity, or those states or territories in which the majority of the population speaks Arabic, and thus may also include populations of the Arab diaspora.
When an ancillary linguistic definition is used in combination with the standard territorial definition, various parameters may be applied to determine whether a state or territory should be included in this alternative definition of the Arab world. These parameters may be applied to the states and territories of the Arab League (which constitute the Arab world under the standard definition) and to other states and territories. Typical parameters that may be applied include: whether Arabic is widely spoken; whether Arabic is an official or national language; or whether an Arabic cognate language is widely spoken.
While Arabic dialects are spoken in a number of Arab League states, Literary Arabic is official in all of them. Several states have declared Arabic to be an official or national language, although Arabic is not as widely spoken there. As members of the Arab League, however, they are considered part of the Arab world under the standard territorial definition.
Somalia has two official languages, Arabic and Somali, both of which belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic language family. Although Arabic is widely spoken by many people in the north and urban areas in the south, Somali is the most widely used language, and contains many Arabic loan words.
Similarly, Djibouti has two official languages, Arabic and French. It also has several formally recognized national languages; besides Somali, many people speak Afar, which is also an Afro-Asiatic language. The majority of the population speaks Somali and Afar, although Arabic is also widely used for trade and other activities.
The Comoros has three official languages: Arabic, Comorian and French. Comorian is the most widely spoken language, with Arabic having a religious significance, and French being associated with the educational system.
Chad, Eritrea and Israel all recognize Arabic as an official or working language, but none of them is a member-state of the Arab League, although both Chad and Eritrea are observer states of the League (with possible future membership) and have large populations of Arabic speakers.
Iran has about 1.5 million Arabic speakers. Iranian Arabs are mainly found in Ahvaz, a southwestern region in the Khuzestan Province; others inhabit the Bushehr and Hormozgan provinces and the city of Qom. Mali and Senegal recognize Hassaniya, the Arabic dialect of the Moorish ethnic minority, as a national language. Greece and Cyprus also recognize Cypriot Maronite Arabic under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Additionally, Malta, though not part of the Arab world, has as its official language Maltese. The language is grammatically akin to Maghrebi Arabic.
Arab world Definition articles: 54
Arab League states
|Country||Area (Rank)||Area (km2)[Note 1]||Area (sq mi)||Area (% of Total)||Area (Notes)||Population
|Pop (World rank)||Density (rank)||Density (/km2)||Density (/mi2)|
|Algeria||1||2,381,741||919,595||18.1%||Largest country in Africa and in the Arab world.||42,228,408||34||17||16||41|
|Egypt||6||1,002,000||387,000||7.6%||Excluding the Hala'ib Triangle (20,580 km2/7,950 sq mi).||98,423,598||16||9||104||269|
|Morocco||9||446,550||172,410||3.3%||including Western Sahara (266,000 km2/103,000 sq mi).||36,029,093||35||10||82||212|
|Saudi Arabia||2||2,149,690||830,000||16.4%||Largest country in Western Asia.||33,702,756||45||19||13||34|
|Somalia||7||637,657||246,201||5.0%||Longest Coastline in Africa and the Arab League.||15,008,226||80||18||14||36|
|Sudan||3||1,861,484||718,723||14.2%||Formerly the largest country in Africa.||41,801,533||39||16||16||41|
|Syria||12||185,180||71,500||1.4%||Including the part of the Golan Heights (1,200 km2/460 sq mi) currently occupied by Israel.||16,945,057||55||7||118||306|
|United Arab Emirates||15||83,600||32,300||0.6%||9,630,959||93||8||99||256|
|Arab League total||#||13,130,695||5,069,790||#||#||406,691,829|
In the Arab world, Modern Standard Arabic, derived from Classical Arabic (symptomatic of Arabic diglossia), serves as an official language in the Arab League states, and Arabic dialects are used as lingua franca. Various indigenous languages are also spoken, which predate the spread of the Arabic language. This contrasts with the situation in the wider Islamic world, where, in contiguous Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Perso-Arabic script is used and Arabic is the primary liturgical language, but the tongue is not official at the state level or spoken as a vernacular.
The majority of people in the Arab world adhere to Islam, and the religion has official status in most countries. Shariah law exists partially in the legal system in some countries (especially in the Arabian peninsula), while others are legislatively secular. The majority of the Arab countries adhere to Sunni Islam. Iraq and Bahrain, however, are Shia majority countries, while Lebanon, Yemen, and Kuwait have large Shia minorities. In Saudi Arabia, Ismailite pockets are also found in the eastern Al-Hasa region and the southern city of Najran. Ibadi Islam is practiced in Oman, where Ibadis constitute around 75% of Muslims.
There are also Christian adherents in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. Coptic, Maronite and Assyrian Christian enclaves exist in the Nile Valley, Levant and northern Iraq respectively. There are also Assyrian, Armenian, Syriac-Aramean and Arab Christians throughout Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.
Smaller ethno-religious minorities across the Arab League include the Yezidis, Yarsan and Shabaks (mainly in Iraq), the Druzes (mainly in Syria and also in Lebanon, Jordan) and Mandaeans (in Iraq). Formerly, there were significant minorities of Jews throughout the Arab World. However, the Arab–Israeli conflict prompted their mass exodus between 1948 and 1972. Today small Jewish communities remain, ranging anywhere from just 10 in Bahrain, to more than 1,000 in Tunisia and some 3,000 in Morocco.
According to UNESCO, the average rate of adult literacy (ages 15 and older) in this region is 76.9%. In Mauritania and Yemen, the rate is lower than the average, at barely over 50%. Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan record a high adult literacy rate of over 90%. The average rate of adult literacy shows steady improvement, and the absolute number of adult illiterates fell from 64 million to around 58 million between 1990 and 2000–2004. Overall, the gender disparity in adult literacy is high in this region, and of the illiteracy rate, women account for two-thirds, with only 69 literate women for every 100 literate men. The average GPI (Gender Parity Index) for adult literacy is 0.72, and gender disparity can be observed in Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen. Above all, the GPI of Yemen is only 0.46 in a 53% adult literacy rate. According to a UN survey, in the Arab world, the average person reads four pages a year and one new title is published each year for every 12,000 people. The Arab Thought Foundation reports that just above 8% of people in Arab countries aspire to get an education.
Literacy rate is higher among the youth than adults. Youth literacy rate (ages 15–24) in the Arab region increased from 63.9 to 76.3% from 1990 to 2002. The average rate of GCC States *Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) was 94%, followed by the Maghreb at 83.2% and the Mashriq at 73.6%.
The United Nations published an Arab human development report in 2002, 2003 and 2004. These reports, written by researchers from the Arab world, address some sensitive issues in the development of Arab countries: women empowerment, availability of education and information among others.
Gender equality and women's rights
Women in the Arab world are still denied equality of opportunity, although their disenfranchisement is a critical factor crippling the Arab nations' quest to return to the first rank of global leaders in commerce, learning and culture, according to a United Nations-sponsored report in 2008.
According to the United Nations, 14% of Arab girls are married by the age of 18.
Rapists are often treated leniently or acquitted in the Arab region if they marry their victims. 37% of Arab women experienced violence in their lifetime but the numbers may be higher according to indicators. In some countries, the share of women experiencing violence and abuse by intimate partner reaches 70%.
Largest cities in the Arab world
|3||Saudi Arabia||Riyadh||6,030,000||100–200 AD|
|7||Kuwait||Kuwait City||4,660,000||1613 AD|
|9||Saudi Arabia||Jeddah||3,875,000||600 BC|
|10||United Arab Emirates||Dubai||3,805,000||1833 AD|
Arab world Arab League states articles: 59
The Arabs historically originate as a Central Semitic group in southern Levant and northern Arabian peninsula. Arab tribes and federations such as Nabataeans, Tanukhids, Salihids, Ghassanids, and numerous other groups were prevalent in southern Levant (Syrian Desert) and northern Arabia. Their expansion beyond Arabia and the Syrian desert is due to the Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. Iraq was conquered in 633, Levant (modern Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon ) between 636 and 640 CE.
Ottoman and colonial rule
By 1570, the Turkish Ottoman Empire controlled most of the Arab world. However, Morocco remained under the rule of the Zenata Wattasid dynasty, which was succeeded by the Saadi dynasty in the 16th to 17th centuries. The Ajuran Sultanate also held sway in the southern part of the Horn region.
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed as a result of World War I, much of the Arab world came to be controlled by the European colonial empires: Mandatory Palestine, Mandatory Iraq, British protectorate of Egypt, French protectorate of Morocco, Italian Libya, French Tunisia, French Algeria, French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon and the so-called Trucial States, a British protectorate formed by the sheikhdoms on the former "Pirate Coast".
These Arab states only gained their independence during or after World War II: the Republic of Lebanon in 1943, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, the Kingdom of Libya in 1951, the Kingdom of Egypt in 1952, the Kingdom of Morocco and Tunisia in 1956, the Republic of Iraq in 1958, the Somali Republic in 1960, Algeria in 1962, and the United Arab Emirates in 1971.
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen also seceded directly from the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Oman, apart from brief intermittent Persian and Portuguese rule has, been self-governing since the 8th century.
Rise of Arab nationalism
The Arab League was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs, and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab world, a project known as Pan-Arabism. There were some short-lived attempts at such unification in the mid-20th century, notably the United Arab Republic of 1958 to 1961. The Arab League's main goal is to unify politically the Arab populations so defined. Its permanent headquarters are located in Cairo. However, it was moved temporarily to Tunis during the 1980s, after Egypt was expelled for signing the Camp David Accords (1978).
Pan-Arabism has mostly been abandoned as an ideology since the 1980s, and was replaced by Pan-Islamism on one hand, and individual nationalisms on the other.
Unification of Saudi Arabia
The unification of Saudi Arabia was a 30-year-long military and political campaign, by which the various tribes, sheikhdoms, and emirates of most of the Arabian Peninsula were conquered by the House of Saud, or Al Saud, between 1902 and 1932, when the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed. Carried out under the charismatic Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, this process created what is sometimes referred to as the Third Saudi State, to differentiate it from the first and second states that existed under the Al Saud clan.
The Al-Saud had been in exile in Ottoman Iraq since 1893 following the disintegration of the Second Saudi State and the rise of Jebel Shammar under the Al Rashid clan. In 1902, Ibn Saud recaptured Riyadh, the Al Saud dynasty's former capital. He went on to subdue the rest of Nejd, Al-Hasa, Jebel Shammar, Asir, and Hejaz (location of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina) between 1913 and 1926. The resultant polity was named the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz from 1927 until it was further consolidated with Al-Hasa and Qatif into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
The Arab states in changing alliances were involved in a number of wars with Israel and its western allies between 1948 and 1973, including the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. An Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in 1979.
The Iran–Iraq War (also known as the First Gulf War and by various other names) was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the second longest conventional war of the 20th century. It was initially referred to in English as the "Gulf War" prior to the "Gulf War" of 1990.
The war began when Iraq invaded Iran, launching a simultaneous invasion by air and land into Iranian territory on 22 September 1980 following a long history of border disputes, and fears of Shia Islam insurgency among Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority influenced by the Iranian Revolution. Iraq was also aiming to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state. Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of the revolutionary chaos in Iran (see Iranian Revolution, 1979) and attacked without formal warning, they made only limited progress into Iran and were quickly repelled by the Iranians who regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982. For the next six years, Iran was on the offensive.
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an estimated 120,000 fatalities. Another one million people (a quarter of the population) were wounded, and today approximately 76,000 people remain displaced within Lebanon. There was also a mass exodus of almost one million people from Lebanon.
Western Sahara conflict
The Western Sahara War was an armed struggle between the Sahrawi Polisario Front and Morocco between 1975 and 1991, being the most significant phase of the Western Sahara conflict. The conflict erupted after the withdrawal of Spain from the Spanish Sahara in accordance with the Madrid Accords, by which it transferred administrative control of the territory to Morocco and Mauritania, but not the sovereignty. In 1975, Moroccan government organized the Green March of some 350,000 Moroccan citizens, escorted by around 20,000 troops, who entered Western Sahara, trying to establish Moroccan presence. While at first met with just minor resistance by the Polisario, Morocco later engaged a long period of guerilla warfare with the Sahrawi nationalists. During the late 1970s, the Polisario Front, desiring to establish an independent state in the territory, successively fought both Mauritania and Morocco. In 1979, Mauritania withdrew from the conflict after signing a peace treaty with the Polisario. The war continued in low intensity throughout the 1980s, though Morocco made several attempts to take the upper hand in 1989–1991. A cease-fire agreement was finally reached between the Polisario Front and Morocco in September 1991.
North Yemen Civil War
The North Yemen Civil War was fought in North Yemen between royalists of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and factions of the Yemen Arab Republic from 1962 to 1970. The war began with a coup d'état carried out by the republican leader, Abdullah as-Sallal, which dethroned the newly crowned Imam al-Badr and declared Yemen a republic under his presidency. The Imam escaped to the Saudi Arabian border and rallied popular support.
Somali Civil War
Various factions began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed, which precipitated an aborted UN peacekeeping attempt in the mid-1990s. A period of decentralization ensued, characterized by a return to customary and religious law in many areas as well as the establishment of autonomous regional governments in the northern part of the country. The early 2000s saw the creation of fledgling interim federal administrations, culminating in the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004. In 2006, the TFG, assisted by Ethiopian troops, assumed control of most of the nation's southern conflict zones from the newly formed Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU subsequently splintered into more radical groups, notably Al-Shabaab, which have since been fighting the Somali government and its AMISOM allies for control of the region. In 2011, a coordinated military operation between the Somali military and multinational forces began, which is believed to represent one of the final stages in the war's Islamist insurgency.
The popular protests throughout the Arab world of late 2010 to the present have been directed against authoritarian leadership and associated political corruption, paired with demands for more democratic rights. The two most violent and prolonged conflicts in the aftermath of the Arab Spring are the Libyan Civil War and Syrian Civil War.
While the Arab world had been of limited interest to the European colonial powers, the British Empire being mostly interested in the Suez Canal as a route to British India, the economic and geopolitical situation changed dramatically after the discovery of large petroleum deposits in the 1930s, coupled with the vastly increased demand for petroleum in the west as a result of the Second Industrial Revolution.
The Persian Gulf is particularly well-endowed with this strategic raw material: five Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar, are among the top ten petroleum or gas exporters worldwide. In Africa, Algeria (10th world) and Libya are important gas exporters. In addition Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Sudan all have smaller but significant reserves. Where present, these have had significant effects on regional politics, often enabling rentier states, leading to economic disparities between oil-rich and oil-poor countries, and, particularly in the more sparsely populated states of the Persian Gulf and Libya, triggering extensive labor immigration. It is believed that the Arab world holds approximately 46% of the world's total proven oil reserves and a quarter of the world's natural-gas reserves.
Islamism and Pan-Islamism were on the rise during the 1980s. The Hezbollah, a militant Islamic party in Lebanon, was founded in 1982. Islamic terrorism became a problem in the Arab world in the 1970s to 1980s. While the Muslim Brotherhood had been active in Egypt since 1928, their militant actions were limited to assassination attempts on political leaders.
Today, Arab states are characterized by their autocratic rulers and lack of democratic control. The 2016 Democracy Index classifies Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine as "hybrid regimes", Tunisia as a "flawed democracy" and all other Arab states as "authoritarian regimes". Similarly, the 2011 Freedom House report classifies the Comoros and Mauritania as "electoral democracies", Lebanon, Kuwait and Morocco as "partly free", and all other Arab states as "not free".
The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq forces, led to the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War. Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia joined a multinational coalition that opposed Iraq. Displays of support for Iraq by Jordan and Palestine resulted in strained relations between many of the Arab states. After the war, a so-called "Damascus Declaration" formalized an alliance for future joint Arab defensive actions between Egypt, Syria, and the GCC states.
A chain of events leading to the destabilization of the authoritarian regimes established during the 1950s throughout the Arab world became apparent during the early years of the 21st century. The 2003 invasion of Iraq led to the collapse of the Baathist regime and ultimate execution of Saddam Hussein.
A growing class of young, educated, secular citizens with access to modern media such as Al Jazeera (since 1996) and communicating via the internet began to form a third force besides the classical dichotomy of Pan-Arabism vs. Pan-Islamism that had dominated the second half of the 20th century.
In Syria, the Damascus Spring of 2000 to 2001 heralded the possibility of democratic change, but the Baathist regime managed to suppress the movement.