Middle East

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The Middle East, also called Southwest Asia, is a geographical region in Asia that also contains small parts of Europe and Africa. Usually, all of the Arab countries not in Africa are included in the Middle East, along with Egypt, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. Sometimes, the Maghreb (the Arabic North African countries other than Egypt and Sudan), and more rarely Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are considered to be part of the region as well. The Middle East has several defining characteristics. The entire region was conquered by the Arabs in the seventh and eighth centuries, who introduced Islam. Today most of the region is overwhelmingly Islamic, and Arab culture and Islam played huge roles in shaping modern Middle Eastern culture. Large sections of the Middle East are desert, although other climates are also present. The Middle East also has large supplies of oil, which make it very influential in modern geopolitics. The Middle East today is marked by its political instability, with ethnic tensions, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the rising sway of fundamentalist Islamic movements all contributing to the political upheaval.