OBJECTIVES OF THIS CHAPTER Having completed our survey of the Western Hemisphere's realms, we now return to the Eastern Hemisphere, whose remaining Old World realms will occupy our attention for the rest of the book. Historically, the North Africa/Southwest Asia realm is properly regarded as the world culture hearth. Following a brief introduction and definitional discourse on the complexity of this realm, its historical evolution is traced emphasizing the prominence of religion, particularly Islam. Traditional culture, of course, stills weighs heavily on the daily affairs of this realm, and even its vast oil production is influenced by these considerations. An in-depth regional treatment follows, highlighting such major trouble spots as Israel, Iraq, Iran, Cyprus, Lebanon, the Horn of Africa, and the Persian Gulf. Turkestan is the realm's seventh region; this is former Soviet Central Asia, (now constituted by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan), to which we have added Afghanistan.
Having learned the regional geography of North Africa/Southwest Asia, students should be able to:
1. Appreciate the complexities involved in defining and naming this realm.
2. Understand the realm’s basic cultural geography.
3. Describe the history of this realm, stressing its role in the development of many of the world's leading religions, particularly Islam.
4. Appreciate the significance of Islam for this realm as a whole, and the internal geographic variations of that faith.
5. Explain the major processes of spatial diffusion and be aware of the broad geographic patterns they shape.
6. Describe the production of oil in this realm, and the impact it has had on the development of countries that contain petroleum supplies.
7. Understand the major trends within each of this realm's regions, and why so many global political problems have arisen here.
8. Locate the major physical, cultural, and economic-spatial features of the realm on an outline map.
GLOSSARY Qanats (282) An underground tunnel built to carry irrigation water by gravity flow from nearby mountains (where orographic precipitation occurs) to the arid flatlands below.
Cultural geography (285) The wide-ranging and comprehensive field of geography that studies spatial aspects of human cultures.
Culture hearth (285) A source area or innovation center from which cultural traditions are transmitted.
Cultural diffusion(285) The outward spreading of a culture trait from its hearth to other places.
Cultural ecology (285-286) The multiple relationships between human cultures and their natural environments.
Mesopotamia (286) The Tigris-Euphrates Plain of present-day Iraq—literally “land amidst the rivers”—which is the hearth of civilization.
Fertile Crescent (286) An arc stretching from the eastern Mediterranean coast to near the Persian Gulf, site of early plant domestications and farming innovations (see Fig. 6-3).
Hydraulic civilization theory (286) Civilizations able to control irrigated farming over large hinterlands; often held power over others in less fortuitous locations.
Climate change theory (287) An alternative to the hydraulic civilization theory; holds that changing climate (rather than a monopoly over irrigation methods) could have provided certain cities in the ancient Fertile Crescent with advantages over others.
Spatial diffusion (289-box) The spatial spreading or dissemination of a phenomenon across space and through time.
Expansion diffusion (289-box) The spreading of an idea or innovation through a fixed population in such a way that the number of those adopting grows continuously larger.
Relocation diffusion (289-box) Diffusion by migration wherein innovations are carried by a relocating population.
Contagious diffusion(289-box) Local-scale diffusion, strongly controlled by distance from the point of origin.
Hierarchical diffusion (289-box) Macro-scale diffusion through a national or continental-scale urban hierarchy, involving the “trickling down” of an innovation from atop a hierarchy to each of the lower levels in turn.
Culture region(291) A distinct, culturally discrete spatial unit; a region within which certain cultural norms prevail.
Religious fundamentalism (292) Religious movement whose objectives are to return to the foundations of that faith and to influence state policy.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)(296-297-map;298) The international cartel constituted by eleven member states; the North Africa/Southwest Asia OPEC countries are mapped in Fig. 6-8.
Cultural revival (299) The regeneration of a long-dormant culture through internal renewal and external infusion.
Basin irrigation (302) An ancient irrigation method of the lower Nile Valley involving the trapping and later release of floodwaters.
Perennial irrigation (302) The more modern Egyptian irrigation technique, using dams and levees to store and regulate the use of floodwater throughout the year.
Fellaheen(302) Egypt's peasant farmers, who still struggle to eke out a subsistence level of existence.
Maghreb (305) The western region of this realm, consisting of the northwesternmost African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The name itself means “Isle of the West.”
Tell (306) The lower slopes and coastal plains of northwesternmost Africa between the Atlas Mountains and the sea.
Sahel (307) Arabic for "border," refers to an east-west belt stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara (the heart of the African Transition Zone).
Muslim Front (308) A term used by certain scholars for the African Transition Zone of northern Africa, which is primarily regarded as a still-expanding frontier of Islam that affects countries from Guinea in the west to the African Horn in the east.
Stateless nation (310) A national group that aspires to become a nation-state but lacks the territorial means to do so; the Palestinians and Kurds of Southwest Asia are classic examples.
Nomadism (326) A way of life pursued by people who migrate cyclically among a set of places, usually practicing pastoralism.
Buffer state (332) Part of a buffer zone–a set of countries separating ideological or political adversaries. In southern Asia, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan were parts of a buffer zone between British and Russian-Chinese imperial spheres. Thailand was a buffer state between British and French colonial domains in mainland Southeast Asia.