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The Near East is a eurocentric term that covers different countries for archeologists and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other. The term originally applied to the Balkan states in Eastern Europe, but now generally describes the countries of Western Asia between the Mediterranean Seamarker and Iranmarker, especially in historical contexts.

The term, as used by Western archaeologists, geographers, and historians, refers to the region encompassing Anatoliamarker (the Asian portion of modern Turkeymarker), the Levant (Syriamarker, Lebanonmarker, Jordanmarker, Cyprusmarker, Israelmarker and the Palestinian territoriesmarker), Mesopotamia (Iraqmarker) and, occasionally, Transcaucasia (Georgiamarker, Armeniamarker and Azerbaijanmarker). In modern political and journalistic contexts, this region is usually subsumed into the wider Middle East, while the terms Near East or West Asia are preferred in archaeological, geographic and historical contexts.


The term Near East came into use in the 1890s, when European powers were faced with two critical situations in the "east". The Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 occurred in the Far East. British archaeologist D.G. Hogarth published The Nearer East in 1902, which helped to define the term and its extent, including the Balkan Pennisula (Albaniamarker, Montenegromarker, southern Serbiamarker, Bulgariamarker and Greecemarker), Egyptmarker, all the Ottoman lands, the entire Arabian Peninsula, and western parts of Iranmarker.

There is general agreement concerning the list of Near East countries in the current geo-political context, as can be seen from the scope of activity of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. All North African countries are included, whilst the South Caucasus countries (Armeniamarker, Georgiamarker and Azerbaijanmarker) are not considered part of the Near East in the modern context. USAID puts the South Caucasus countries in its Europe and Eurasia regional bureau. The Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprusmarker is also included in several definitions of the Near East, based on its geographical location as well as its cultural and historical background. USAID places Cyprus in their reports on the Near East. Additionally, the Near East University is situated in the country's capital, Nicosiamarker.

Territories and regions

The Near East is an ambiguous term which may apply to different territories and regions depending on specific interpretations.

Country Bureau of Near East

Washington Institute

for Near East Policy
United States Agency for

International Development
The Library of Congress:

Near East Section
Cyprusmarker + +
Egyptmarker + + + +
Iranmarker + + +
Iraqmarker + + +
Israelmarker + + +
Jordanmarker + + + +
Lebanonmarker + + + +
North Africa + + + +
Omanmarker + + +
Palestinian Authority + + +
Persian Gulf States + + +
Saudi Arabiamarker + + +
Turkeymarker + +
Yemenmarker + + + +
Legend: + included; – excluded

See also


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