Southwest Asia


Explain how Turkey's location affected its development and show how Turkey blends ancient and modern ways.
Describe how Israel has developed its resources and note how the past affects Israel today.
Compare the geography of Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Evaluate the impact of Islam and oil on the lives of the people of the Arabian Peninsula.
Summarize the major geographical features of Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 16: Southwest Asia

The country of Turkey bridges the continents of Asia and Europe. The main part of Turkey lies in Asia and is a broad plateau rimmed by mountains. From the mountains low-lying plains curve on three sides along the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the Turkish Straits. Turkey is becoming more industrialized, particularly in the areas of textiles and clothing.

Israel is a small, narrow country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a homeland for Jews. Since that time there have been numerous violent conflicts with its Arab neighbors. The city of Jerusalem is a holy place for people of three religions: Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Today Israel is a democratic republic with the most modern economy in Southwest Asia.

Some of the world's oldest civilizations developed in the areas of present day Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Although large parts of Syria are desert, farming is still the main economic activity. The country of Lebanon was torn apart by a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1991. Today the Lebanese are working to rebuild.

For most of its history, Saudi Arabia was a poor, desert country. The discovery of oil in the twentieth century, however, has helped to boost the standard of living. Several million Muslims travel to the city of Makkah every year as part of a religious pilgrimage. The prophet Muhammad first preached the religion of Islam in the cities of Arabia. Several small countries, known as the Persian Gulf States, have strong economies based on oil.

The world's first known cities were built between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the present day country of Iraq. Oil is Iraq's major export. Its people have suffered through several recent wars and an international trade embargo. Oil rich Iran is ruled by Muslim religious leaders. Afghanistan is a landlocked mountainous country. Throughout its history is has been invaded by foreign armies.

     Quick Notes


Turkey is located in both Europe and Asia.
Highlands and plateaus make up most of Turkey's land area.
Most of Turkey's people live in cities and towns.


Israel is the only Jewish nation in the world.
Despite its small size, Israel has a well-developed economy.
Israel and its Arab neighbors are moving toward peace after a long period of tension and warfare (maybe?).

Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan

Syria has a coastal plain, mountains, and deserts.
Lebanon is one of the smallest countries of Southwest Asia.
Jordan's farmers grow crops in the rich Jordan River valley.

The Arabian Peninsula

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is the largest country of Southwest Asia.
Most of Saudi Arabia's people live in coastal areas.
Persian Gulf countries have strong economies based on oil.

Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan

Iraq has recently fought wars to increase its power in Southwest Asia.
Iran is governed by Muslim religious leaders.
Afghanistan's land area is largely mountainous.

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