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”The Arab world”


The commonly used term "Arab world" refers to Arabic-speaking countries stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. It consists of 24 countries and territories with a population of some 325 million people. The Arab World stretches across more than 12.9 million square kilometers (5 million square miles) – an area larger than Europe, Canada, China, the United States or Brazil. The Asian part of the Arab world is called the Mashriq (sharq in Arabic means east). The North African part of the Arab World to the west of Egypt and Sudan is known as the Maghreb (gharb meaning west).

The term "Arab" often connotes the Middle East, but a significant part of the Arab World is found in North Africa, including the two largest countries in Africa, Sudan and Algeria. The largest country in the Arab Middle East is Saudi Arabia.



The so called Arab World, united by the Arabic language, includes however substantial populations who are not Arab either by ethnic or linguistic affiliation. Many, if not most, actually resided in the area before the arrival of the Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula, at the time of the spread of Islam.

In the Maghreb (North West Africa) most of the population speaks Arabic although there is a significant Berber minority. In the northern regions of Iraq and Syria live the Kurds, an ethnic group speaking Kurdish. The Arab world is also home to significant populations of Turkmen, Assyrians/Syriacs, and Armenians. In Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti you also find an abundance of ethnic and linguistic minorities. Many Arab countries in the Persian Gulf have sizable non-Arab populations, such as Persian and Hindi-Urdu speakers and Filipinos.

Likewise many non-Arab countries bordering the core Arab world have large Arab populations, as is the case in Chad, Israel, Turkey, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. Significant Arab populations also reside in non-Arab countries, such as the Turkish province of Hatay, populated mainly by indigenous Iskanderun Syrians, and the Iranian province of Khuzestan.

The ´Arabic-speaking countries´ or the ´Arab world´ comprise a cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and artistic multitude and richness - a diversity grasping the mind and senses. The Arabic language is one essential key to opening the door of the histories, cultures and peoples of this vast region.

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