Though it originated on the Arabian Peninsula, and Arabic is the language of the Quran, the Muslim holy scripture, Arabs constitute only 20 percent of Muslims around the world. More than half of all Muslims live in South Asia and Southeast Asia, distributed in four key countries-- Indonesia, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country and the world's third largest democracy.
"These books cover a wide range of topics, including the land, history, politics, economy, religion, peoples, and foreign relations. The texts contain colorful photos, illustrations, and maps. The inclusion of a wide range of material makes these titles useful resources for reports."
"In seven chapters each volume offers information about geography, history, economy, politics and religion, people and communities, and foreign relations."
Over the past four decades, Afghanistan has been torn apart by social
unrest and civil war. Most recently, the harsh government of the
Taliban, which ruled according to a strict interpretation of Islamic
law, was overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2001.
Since then, foreign assistance has helped Afghanistan begin rebuilding,
and the country has taken important steps toward democracy.
Yet difficult problems remain. In parts of the country, for example,
the elected government must still contend with various factions for
actual control, and poverty and disease are widespread.This book examines the economic and political issues facing
Afghanistan today. It provides up-to-date information about the
country's geography and climate, history, society, important cities
and communities, and relations with other countries.
Algeria is a large country with a fascinating past and a troubled
present. The nation was devastated by years of fighting between government
forces and Islamic extremists. The unrest that began in
1991 left tens of thousands dead and forced many others to flee their
homes. Fighting has also broken out between the country's Arab and
Berber populations. In addition, although this large North African
nation has great resources, including a large share of the world's oil
and natural gas reserves, today its people are quite poor by Western
standards.In recent years the violence has slowed, and the Algerian government
has attempted to improve the lives of its people. However, it
remains to be seen whether the country will have a peaceful and productive
future, or whether the internal divisions within Algeria will
ultimately fragment the nation beyond repair.
Bahrain is one of the smallest countries of the Arab world, but its
size does not reflect its importance. This tiny nation, made up of 33
islands in the Arabian Gulf, is a key regional ally of the United
States. In addition, Bahrain is one of the few countries in the Middle
East that allows its people--both men and women?to participate in
government, through an elected national assembly.Bahrain is far from a democracy, and the country has struggled
with a religious division that has led to violence in recent years. But
if Bahrain can move successfully toward a more open government, it
may inspire other Middle Eastern nations to experiment with democratic
principles as well.
Nearly 5,000 years ago, on the eastern edge of the Sahara Desert,one of the world's earliest and greatest civilizations began to flourish.That civilization, Egypt, has held a firm grip on the human imaginationever since, with its powerful pharaohs, its awe-inspiring pyramids,and its mysterious religious beliefs.But Egypt is much more than a land of unsurpassed archaeologicalwonders. Today, it is the most populous Arab country; it was alsothe first Arab nation to make peace with Israel. As this ancient landstruggles with the many problems of the 21st century, it remains avital member of the global community.
The history of the Middle East is long and complex. In the MAJOR
MUSLIM NATIONS series, the term "Middle East" refers to the region
encompassing 23 countries?Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran,
Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco,
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey,
United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.This book provides an overview of the history of the Middle
Eastern countries, along with information about the region's geography,
central religious beliefs, governments and economies of the various
states, cultural groups, and important communities.
Indonesia is an archipelago that includes more than 17,000 islands
and stretches across three time zones. It is home to the world's largest
Muslim population?more than 200 million Indonesians follow the
faith. In 1998 Indonesians replaced the rule of a dictator with democracy,
and since then the country has held free and open elections for
president as well as for members of a national assembly. However,
Indonesia is not without problems, particularly poverty and corruption.
There is an armed separatist movement in Aceh, and Islamist terrorist
groups like al-Qaeda have targeted Westerners on Bali.This book examines the economic and political issues facing
Indonesia today. It provides up-to-date information about the country's
geography and climate, history, society, important cities and
communities, and relations with other countries.
Iran--or Persia, as it was known until the 1930s--is home to one of
the world's oldest cultures. Over the years it has exerted a great
influence over its neighbors in the Middle East and Central Asia.influence over its neighbors in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Although Iran was once a close ally of the United States, in 1979
supporters of the Islamic fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini overthrew the government and instituted a new one based
on strict interpretation of Islamic law. In the years since then, U.S.-
Iranian relations have been hostile.Today, however, Iran is once again undergoing an internal struggle.
Iranians--particularly the younger generation--are trying to reconcile
the changes that followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution with
the needs and requirements of life in the 21st century. The outcome
of this struggle between religious conservatives and the reformers
will determine Iran's future.
In the spring of 2003, the United States and its allies invaded Iraq to
remove one of the world's most brutal dictators, Saddam Hussein, from
power. But when the Hussein regime fell, Iraqis wondered whether their
country would hold together, or if it would disintegrate under the force of
long-standing ethnic and religious rivalries. The international community
also watched closely. With the world's second-largest proven oil reserves,
Iraq holds great economic importance for an energy-hungry globe. As one
of the largest Arab states, Iraq is politically important in the Middle East
region as well.Some American policymakers believed that with Saddam gone, Iraq could
become an example of democracy and progress for the other Arab states.
However, a period of sectarian violence prevented that from occurring. Despite
the conflict, Iraqis took steps toward developing a parliamentary democracy,
approving a constitution in October 2005 and holding several subsequent
elections for government officials. In addition, new military strategies have significantly
reduced the level of violence. While the future remains uncertain,
Iraqis hope their country is on a path to peace and promise.
Many Westerners associate Islam primarily with the Middle East. But
in fact, four countries have larger Muslim populations than Egypt,
the largest Arab state. Those four countries?Indonesia, Pakistan,
India, and Bangladesh--all lie within Asia.This volume presents a wealth of statistical and background
information on more than 20 Asian nations with significant Muslim
populations. The book also provides a valuable overview of the
Islamic faith and chronicles the history of Islam's spread into Asia.
Many Americans associate Islam?and Islamist terrorism--exclusively
with the greater Middle East. Yet the countries with the largest
Muslim populations are actually located in Asia, where Islamic
extremism is also a significant and growing concern.This volume provides essential background and surveys recent
trends. It examines a variety of homegrown Asian terrorist groups,
detailing their goals, methods, and links with international organizations
such as al-Qaeda. It also outlines the options available to U.S.
policymakers and to Asian governments as they attempt to stem the
tide of militant Islam.
In 1948 the world witnessed an extraordinary event: the birth of
Israel. After two millennia as a stateless people scattered across the
globe and frequently persecuted by the societies in which they
lived--most tragically during the Holocaust of World War II--Jews
finally had a homeland. And the New Jersey--sized country was in
Palestine, the ancestral land of the Jewish people. In the years since
1948, Israel has become the Middle East's most powerful, and most
democratic, country.But the foundation and defense of the Jewish state ultimately
came at the expense of a state for the Palestinians, another people
with ancient ties to Palestine. For decades Israeli and Palestinian
blood has stained the land, a string of peace initiatives collapsing
amid the seemingly endless cycle of attack and retaliation. Resolving
the conflict in a manner that preserves Israel's security remains an
elusive goal not just for Israel, but also for the many countries with
interests in the strategic Middle East, including the United States.
Though small and resource poor, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
plays a crucial role in the affairs of the volatile Middle East. A moderate
Arab country, Jordan borders not only Israel and the West
Bank, but also Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This strategic location-
along with the nuanced and forward-looking foreign policy
crafted by its longtime monarch, King Hussein, and carried on by his
son and successor, King Abdullah II?has made Jordan a key to
peace and stability in the Middle East.Domestically, Jordan faces many of the same economic hurdles
developing nations all over the world must confront. But it also enjoys
a tremendous advantage: a highly educated, adaptable workforce.
Kuwait came to the world's attention in the summer of 1990, when
Iraq invaded the tiny emirate. Though Kuwait was liberated within
eight months, it took more than 10 years and $160 billion for the
country to recover from the devastation caused by the Iraqi occupation.The citizens of Kuwait are among the most prosperous in the world,
thanks to the country's oil wealth. Beneath Kuwait's sands is an estimated
10 percent of the world's oil reserves. After the 1991 Gulf War,
Kuwait's rulers spoke about the possibility of bringing democracy to
their country, but this has not happened?only about one-third of
Kuwaitis are eligible to vote, and the ruling al-Sabah family holds great
power over the nation's elected assembly. However, Kuwait remains a
key U.S. ally in the turbulent Middle East.
In the 1980s Lebanon-and particularly its capital, Beirut?was considered
one of the most dangerous places in the world, particularly
for Americans. Today, as the country continues to rebuild after its
devastating 15-year civil war, tourists are beginning to return to
Lebanon's Mediterranean resorts.Yet Lebanon has many problems. Years of political domination by
Syria made progress difficult, and various political factions have
struggled for control of Lebanon's government. In addition, more than
380,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, and terrorist organizations such
as Hezbollah and Hamas operate freely inside the country. As a
result, Lebanon's future remains uncertain.
For more than three decades, most countries of the world have viewed
Libya as a radical, unstable nation. Under the leadership of Muammar
al-Qaddafi, Libya has sponsored international terrorism and supported
efforts to overthrow the governments of its African neighbors. This has
led to confrontations with the West, particularly with the United States
during the 1980s.Beneath the sands of Libya lies a valuable resource--vast amounts
of oil. Despite this, the people of Libya have remained poor during
Qaddafi's rule. Although in recent years Libyan society appears to
have become more open, and Qaddafi seems to have moderated some
of his extremist views, the future of the country remains uncertain.
By almost any standard, Malaysia has become one of the most prosperous
and successful nations in the Islamic world. The Malaysian
economy has grown steadily, thanks to a focus on new technology
and manufacturing. Although Malaysia's government is not fully
democratic, it permits an increasing degree of public participation.This book examines the economic and political issues facing
Malaysia today. It provides up-to-date information about the country's
geography and climate, history, society, important cities and
communities, and relations with other countries.
Early Arab geographers referred to Morocco as Al-Maghreb al-Aqsa--
"the farthest land of the setting sun." Today this country in the
northwest corner of Africa--long a crossroads for trade from Europe,
sub-Saharan Africa, and the East--retains a distinctly exotic feel,
with its colorful mix of Middle Eastern, African, and Western cultures.But Morocco is also a nation struggling to emerge from a difficult
colonial past and a recent history of human-rights violations. If the
country succeeds in its quest to develop stable and democratic political
institutions as well as a vibrant economy--and to accomplish
these goals without violence?Morocco may serve as a powerful
example to the Arab world.
When the British Empire partitioned its Indian colony in 1947, it created
two independent states: India, where most people were Hindus,
and Pakistan, where most were Muslims. Violence immediately broke
out, during which approximately 250,000 people were killed and a
million became refugees. Since then Pakistan and India have fought
several wars, and tensions between the two countries during the late
1990s nearly led to another conflict--one that might have been devastating,
as both countries now possess nuclear weapons.This book examines the economic and political issues facing
Pakistan today. It provides up-to-date information about the country's
geography and climate, history, society, important cities and
communities, and relations with other countries.
At the center of one of the world's most intractable conflicts are a
people who number fewer than 10 million worldwide: the
Palestinians. For centuries these people of Arab ancestry lived in the
eastern Mediterranean region known as Palestine or, because of its
significance to the Christian faith, as the Holy Land. In 1948 a
United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab
states led to what Palestinians call al-Nakba ("the disaster")--an
Arab-Israeli war that produced hundreds of thousands of refugees
and left Palestinians without a homeland.Another war, in 1967, brought hundreds of thousands of
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas under Israeli
military rule. Since that time, Palestinians and Israelis have been
locked in bloody conflict. This continued violence has prevented the
establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Throughout history tiny Qatar (pronounced "cutter" or "gutter") has
at times been overlooked or forgotten. Today, however, this small
country, located on a peninsula that juts into the Arabian Gulf, has
become an important strategic partner of the United States.In recent years Qatar has gained international stature in part
because of its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Since coming to
power in 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has made Qatar
one of the more liberal Gulf states. Though the country is by no
means a democracy in the Western sense, Qatar appears to be moving
slowly in that direction. One day Qatar may provide a successful
example of democracy for the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia is a young kingdom with an ancient legacy. King Abd
al-Aziz brought the divided land into one entity in 1932. His family,
the Al-Saud, named the country and still rules it today.Every year millions of Muslims travel across the Saudi Arabian
border to Mecca, the sacred city of Islam and the birthplace of its
holy prophet, Muhammad. As custodian of key Islamic traditions,
Saudi Arabia enjoys a leading status among its Muslim neighbors.But as the world's largest single exporter of oil, it also has forged
relationships with the United States and other powerful countries of
the West. Saudi Arabia's divided loyalties have created an unsteady
international balance that is a continual source of concern and
Wrapped along the edge of northeastern Africa lies the dry, dusty
land of Somalia. Only two permanent rivers run through its arid
plateaus, which for centuries belonged to clans of pastoral nomads
traveling in search of food and water for their herds. Somalis are a
resilient people, renowned for their nomad culture of vibrant oral
poetry traditions and their reliance on camels.Like its climate, Somalia's history is harsh--a short-lived democracy
in the early 1960s was replaced first by a brutal, 21-year dictatorship,
and then by anarchy, as clan groups refused to accept the national
government. For more than a decade, severe droughts and factional
warfare have forced many Somalis from their homes, and even from
their country. Despite Somalia's uncertain future, its people continue to
strive to revitalize businesses and return tranquility to a land that has
lived too long without peace.
Desperate poverty, famine, and civil war--these are the images that
most people have of Sudan. In fact, for nearly all of its modern history
as an independent nation the people of Sudan have been at war with
themselves.Sudan's Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has attempted
to impose Islamic law on the entire population--including black
Africans in the south who practice Christianity and native religions.
This has led to a civil war in which 2 million people have been killed
and 4 million forced to leave their homes. In recent years both sides
have agreed to stop fighting and attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement
to the long-running conflict. However, a new crisis has developed
in the western region known as Darfur. Only time will tell
whether efforts to bring the people of Sudan together will succeed.
Established in 1946, the Syrian Arab Republic is at the heart of the
Middle East. The ancient region encompassing this young country
was once the heart of the civilized world.Dotting Syria's landscape are ancient ruins dating back to the
major periods of Middle Eastern history. These relics bear witness to
Syria's troubled past under the rule of competing empires and colonial
powers. Over the centuries, the Syrians lived under the Greeks,
the Ottoman Turks, and the French, from whom they eventually
gained independence following the Second World War.As a modern nation, Syria has consistently pushed for a unified
Arab front against its longtime rival, Israel, which since 1967 has
occupied the Golan Heights, located in the southwestern corner of
Syria. Decades of failed alliances and costly wars have taken their
toll on Syria, and a lasting peace remains a must for its leaders.
The Kurds are considered the largest ethnic group without a state of
their own. Most live in the mountainous region historically known as
Kurdistan; however, this region, which includes parts of Turkey, Iraq,
and Syria, never existed as a political entity. Under the rule of others,
the Kurds were discriminated against and sometimes persecuted--
most infamously by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. As a result the
dream of autonomy or a national home holds a powerful grip on the
Kurdish imagination.This book examines the economic and political issues facing the
Kurdish people today. It provides up-to-date information about the
geography and climate of the areas in which the Kurds live, the history
of this ethnic group and its society, important Kurdish cities and
communities, and the Kurds' relations with the governments of the
countries in which they live.
Tunisia is a small nation on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.
An Arab country in which the people are predominantly Muslim,
Tunisia nonetheless maintains strong ties to Europe and good relations
with its African neighbors. Among the countries of the Arab
world Tunisia is considered a moderate state; its policies, unlike
those of neighboring Libya, are generally favorable to the United
States and the West.The country is not without its problems, however. Religious fundamentalists,
who want Tunisia to impose strict Islamic laws on the
country, have caused unrest since the 1980s. In addition, political
power is concentrated in the hands of a few people. Many hope that
one day Tunisia will create a truly democratic society, in which all of
the people can participate in improving their country.
A strategically located land that links southwestern Asia with southeastern
Europe and commands the waters connecting the Black Sea
and the Mediterranean, Turkey has for millennia been a prize for
conquerors and a seat of empires. The Hittites, the Persians, the
Greeks, the Romans, and the Ottoman Turks all left their mark on
this fascinating land.The modern Republic of Turkey, which emerged from the ruins of
the Ottoman Empire after World War I, is unusual among the
nations of the Middle East. A democracy in a region rife with autocrats,
a Muslim country that enforces strict separation between religion
and public life and that has always maintained cordial relations
with Israel, Turkey is also a member of NATO and an important ally
of the United States. Yet the nation is not without problems, including
recurrent ethnic conflict and a military with a history of intervening
in government affairs.
The United Arab Emirates is a federation made up of seven small
kingdoms--Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, al-
Fujairah, and Ras al-Khaimah--located on the coast of the Arabian
Peninsula. The UAE is considered one of the more liberal countries
in the Gulf, and it has become a key ally of the United States and
other Western nations.Though the UAE is small compared with its Arab neighbors, it
has become important for several reasons, among them the oil controlled
by the UAE and the strategic location it occupies along the
Arabian Gulf, one of the world's major shipping lanes.
Like its neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, the Republic of Yemen
has a long and rich history. The southern Arabian region, which
present-day Yemen shares, was once the home of the Sabaean kingdom.
Led by the queen of Sheba, the kingdom formed an alliance
with King Solomon, as recorded in the Old Testament.In the era of the burgeoning spice trade, the people of the Yemen
region, which was advantageously located along the sea routes to
Asia, had opportunities to attain great wealth. However, the British
and other powers to the north eventually made their own claims on
trade in the region.In the years after losing control of their great ports, the Yemenis
have endured long periods of poverty and armed conflict, much of
which has been waged between their rival northern and southern
states. A much-needed unification between the north and south
finally occurred in 1990, but Yemen still struggles to resolve its
regional differences and compete with the oil-rich states of the
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