Egypt lies in Africa's northeast corner. The Nile River, which supplies 85 percent of the country's water, is Egypt's lifeline. Most of the people live along the river or in its delta, and about 40 percent of Egypt's people are farmers. Petroleum products and tourism are important industries. The other countries of North Africa are Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The landscape of these countries is mostly desert and mountains. Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco form a region known as the Maghreb.
The country of Turkey bridges the continents of Asia and Europe. Istanbul, its largest city, is the only city in the world located on two continents. About 98 percent of Turkey's people are Muslims, and nearly 70 percent live in cities or towns. Israel is the most industrialized country in Southwest Asia, producing electronic products, clothing, food products, and machinery. Israel has been home to different groups of people over the centuries, and the ancient traditions of these groups have led to conflict among their descendants today.
Syria's land includes fertile coastal plains and valleys along the Mediterranean Sea. Agriculture is its main economic activity. Nearly half of Syria's people live in rural areas, and a few are Bedouins. The capital city, Damascus, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Lebanon is the most densely wooded of all the Southeast Asian countries. More than 80 percent of its people live in urban areas. Today the country is rebuilding after a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1991. The country of Jordan lacks water and energy resources. The majority of its people work in service and manufacturing industries, and most are Arab Muslims. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in Southwest Asia. It holds about 25 percent of the world's oil, the sale of which has helped boost its economy.
Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are located in a region where some of the world's oldest civilizations developed. Each of the countries has recently fought a war and undergone sweeping political changes.