JordanJordan (country) or Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, kingdom in the MiddleEast. Its full official name is Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic AlMamlakah al Urdunniyah al Hashimiyah). The term Hashemite refers to theJordanian monarchys claim of descent from Hashim, the grandfather ofMuhammad, the prophet of Islam.Jordans arid desert landscape and few natural resources belie itsimportance in the history of the modern Middle East. The territory waspart of the Ottoman Empire, which was dismantled after World War I(1914-1918) and replaced, in this part of the Middle East, by British andFrench control. Transjordanthe territory east of the Jordan Rivercameunder British control, as did Palestine to the west of the Jordan River.Transjordans status as an independent kingdom was recognized in 1946(the kingdoms name was changed to Jordan in 1949).
Jordan RiverThe Jordan River (American English) or RiverJordan (British English) (Hebrew: NeharhaYarden, Arabic: Nahr al-Urdun) is a 251kilometres (156 mi) long river in West Asia flowing tothe Dead Sea. Currently, the river serves as the easternborder of the State of Israel and of the disputed PalestinianTerritories. In Christian tradition, Jesus was baptised in itby John the Baptist. The Hashemite Kingdom ofJordan takes its name from this river.
IranIran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, country in southwesternAsia, located on the northeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. One of theworlds most mountainous countries, Iran contains Mount Damvand, thehighest peak in Asia west of the Himalayas. The countryspopulation, while ethnically and linguistically diverse, is almost entirelyMuslim. For centuries, the region has been the center of the Shia branch ofIslam (see Shia Islam). Iran ranks among the worlds leaders in its reservesof oil and natural gas. As is the case in other countries in the petroleum-richPersian Gulf region, the export of oil has dominated Irans economy sincethe early 20th century. In the 6th century BC the territory of present-dayIran was the center of the Persian Empire, the worlds preeminent power atthat time. For more than 2,000 years, the regions inhabitants have referredto it by the name Iran, derived from the Aryan tribes who settled the arealong ago. However, until 1935, when the Iranian ruler demanded that thename Iran be used, the English-speaking world knew the country asPersia, a legacy of the Greeks who named the region after its mostimportant province, Pars (present-day Frs). Iran was a monarchy ruled bya shah, or king, almost without interruption from 1501 until 1979, when ayearlong popular revolution led by the Shia clergy culminated in theoverthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic republic.
Elburz Mts.Elburz Mountains, mountain range, northern Iran, extending along thesouthern shore of the Caspian Sea. The range marks the northern limit ofthe Iranian Plateau. The Elburz have an average altitude of about 1524 m(about 5000 ft). The highest peak in the system, Mount Damvand, is 5,610m (18,406 ft) above sea level.
Mt. DamavandMount Damvand, also called MountDemavend, extinct volcano in northern Iran, nearTehrn (Teheran). It rises 5,610 m (18,406 ft) abovesea level and is the loftiest peak of the ElburzMountains. The summit is conical and the crater stillintact. At the base are many hot springs, givingevidence of volcanic heat comparatively near thesurface of the earth. Mount Damvand was firstascended by a European, W. Taylor Thomson, in1837. The nearby town of Damvand is a popularsummer resort.
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia, monarchy in southwestern Asia, occupying most ofthe Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is a land of vast deserts andlittle rainfall. Huge deposits of oil and natural gas lie beneath thecountrys surface. Saudi Arabia was a relatively poor nationbefore the discovery and exploitation of oil, but since the 1950sincome from oil has made the country wealthy. The religion ofIslam developed in the 7th century in what is now Saudi Arabia.The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Abdul Azizibn Saud, and it has been ruled by his descendants ever since.Saudi Arabia is bounded on the north by Jordan, Iraq, andKuwait; on the east by the Persian Gulf and Qatar; on thesoutheast by the United Arab Emirates and Oman; on the south byYemen; and on the west by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Thecountrys border with the United Arab Emirates is not preciselydefined. Saudi Arabia has an area of about 2,240,000 sq km (about864,900 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Riyadh.
RiyadhRiyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia, as well as its most populous city. Aninfusion of wealth from petroleum sales beginning in the 1940s helpedtransform Riyadh into a major metropolitan center, with a moderninfrastructure and transportation system.
MeccaAlso Makkah (ancient Macoraba), city in western Saudi Arabia, located in the Al ijz (Hejaz)region, near Jiddah. Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (the founder ofIslam), the center of pilgrimage for Muslims, and the focal point of their daily prayers. InArabic, the city is known as Makkah al-mukkaramah (Mecca the blessed). Pilgrimage to thecity is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is required of all able adult Muslims at least once intheir lifetimes. The pilgrimage (hajj in Arabic) is the defining factor in the growth and life ofthe city. The influx of close to 2 million pilgrims each year during the last month of the Islamiccalendar is a grand human spectacle as well as one of the largest logistical and administrativeundertakings in the world.
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates (UAE), federation of seven independent states located in the southeasterncorner of the Arabian Peninsula, part of the Middle East region. Once known as the TrucialStates, the UAE became an independent country in 1971.Each emirate (small state ruled by a hereditary chief called an emir) is centered on a coastalsettlement and named for that settlement. The seven member emirates are Abu Dhabi (alsoknown as Ab Zaby), Ajmn, Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Ras al Khaymah, Ash Shriqah, and Umm alQaywayn. The city of Abu Dhabi is the federal capital, and Dubai is the largest city in thecountry.
DubaiDubai, also Dubayy, city on the northeastern coast of the United Arab Emirates(UAE), and the capital of the emirate of Dubai. The city is divided in half by DubaiCreek, which is actually an inlet of the Persian Gulf. The eastern side of the creek, thetraditional city center, is called Deira (or Dayrah), and the western side is referred tosimply as Dubai. Dubai is the chief port and commercial center of the UAE, and theprincipal shipping, trading, and communications hub of the Persian Gulf region. PortRashid, a large artificial port, lies within Dubai on the western side of the creek, andJebel Ali, the largest artificial port in the world, is located 37 km (23 mi) down thecoast to the southwest.
YemenYemen, country in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern corner of the ArabianPeninsula (Arabia). Tall mountains divide Yemens coastal stretches from a desolatedesert interior. Yemen is sparsely populatedhalf of the country is uninhabitableandits Arab people are largely rural. The site of several prosperous civilizations in ancienttimes, Yemen declined in importance and was a poor and forgotten land for more than athousand years. The discovery of oil in the area in the late 20th century held out theprospect of economic development and an easier life for the people of Yemen.The Republic of Yemen was created in 1990 out of the unification of the Yemen ArabRepublic (YAR) and the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The YAR wascommonly called North Yemen, and the PDRY was generally referred to as SouthYemen, although South Yemen was actually less to the south than to the east andsoutheast of North Yemen. Sanaa (Sanaa) is the Republic of Yemens capital and largestcity.
SanaaCity and political capital of Yemen, located in Sanaa Province, on a plateaunortheast of the port of Al udaydah. Sanaa is the commercial center of afruit-growing region. It is divided into two sections with the junctionformed by the palace of the former imams, or rulers, of Yemen. The easternsection, known as the old city, has several mosques and a market wherejewelry, silver and leather goods, silks, and carpets are made and sold.
LebanonRepublic on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Southwest Asia.Lebanons coastal location, high mountain backbone, and climate havegreatly influenced the countrys history, peoples, and economy. The coastalarea of present-day Lebanon was settled more than 7,000 years ago and laterevolved as the heart of seafaring Phoenicia. To help conduct their seatrade, the Phoenicians developed the first alphabet and colonized thewestern Mediterranean. In the early centuries AD, a largely Christianpopulation and culture arose, which later blended withthough was notoverwhelmed byIslamic influences. Following