A World of Words: The Middle East and Central Asia - Introductory

Practice this list to learn all about the geography of the Middle East and Central Asia. Discover the countries, religious traditions, and natural resources of this part of the world. Explore features of the desert, learn about Middle Eastern architecture and clothing, and familiarize yourself with different types of rulers, including emirs, sheiks, and sultans.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. abaya
    a loose black robe from head to toe
  2. Abu Dhabi
    a sheikhdom of eastern Arabia and capital of the United Arab Emirates
  3. accord
    a written agreement between two states or sovereigns
  4. Afghanistan
    a mountainous landlocked country in central Asia
  5. agriculture
    the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
  6. Anatolia
    a peninsula in southwestern Asia that forms the Asian part of Turkey
  7. aqueduct
    a conduit that carries water over a valley
  8. aquifer
    underground layer of rock or sand that yields groundwater
  9. Arab
    a member of a Semitic people from the Middle East
  10. Arabian Desert
    a desert on the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia
  11. Arabian Peninsula
    a peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf
  12. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  13. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
  14. autonomy
    political independence
  15. Baghdad
    capital and largest city of Iraq
  16. Bahrain
    an island country in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia; oil revenues funded progressive programs until reserves were exhausted in 1970s
  17. basin
    the geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries
  18. Beirut
    capital and largest city of Lebanon
  19. burka
    a loose garment (usually with veiled holes for the eyes) worn by Muslim women especially in India and Pakistan
  20. canal
    long and narrow strip of water for boats or for irrigation
  21. caravan
    a procession traveling together in single file
  22. caravanserai
    an inn in some eastern countries with a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans
  23. Christianity
    a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior
  24. civil law
    the non-criminal legal code established by a state or nation
  25. civil war
    a war between factions in the same country
  26. clan
    group of people related by blood or marriage
  27. coastal
    located on or near or bordering on a shore
  28. conquest
    the act of defeating and taking control of
  29. conservation
    careful management of the environment and natural resources
  30. constitution
    law determining the fundamental principles of a government
  31. crusade
    fight a holy war
  32. dam
    a barrier constructed to contain the flow of water
  33. Dead Sea
    a saltwater lake on the border between Israel and Jordan
  34. deforestation
    the removal of trees
  35. democracy
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  36. democratic
    representing or appealing to the people at large
  37. demonstration
    a public display of group feelings
  38. desalinization
    the removal of salt, especially from sea water
  39. desert
    arid land with little or no vegetation
  40. development
    making some area of land or water more profitable or useful
  41. domesticate
    adapt something wild to the environment
  42. drought
    a shortage of rainfall
  43. Dubai
    port city in the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf
  44. election
    a vote choosing the winner of a position or political office
  45. elevation
    distance of something above a reference point
  46. emir
    an independent ruler or chieftain
  47. emirate
    the domain controlled by an emir
  48. empire
    the domain ruled by a single authoritative sovereign
  49. erosion
    the process of wearing or grinding something down
  50. Euphrates River
    a river in southwestern Asia
  51. export
    sell or transfer abroad
  52. extraction
    taking out something
  53. faction
    a dissenting clique
  54. Farsi
    the language of Persia (Iran) in any of its ancient forms
  55. Fertile Crescent
    a geographical area of fertile land in the Middle East stretching in a broad semicircle from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates
  56. free trade
    the exchange of goods without governmental interference
  57. Gaza Strip
    a coastal region at the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean bordering Israel and Egypt
  58. globalization
    growth to a worldwide scale
  59. Gulf War
    a war fought between Iraq and a coalition led by the United States that freed Kuwait from Iraqi invaders; 1990-1991
  60. habitat
    the type of environment in which an organism normally lives
  61. hajj
    a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a religious duty for Muslims
  62. highland
    elevated (e.g., mountainous) land
  63. homeland
    the country where you were born
  64. human right
    any basic freedom to which all people are entitled
  65. hydroelectric
    of or relating to or used in the production of electricity by waterpower
  66. idol
    a material effigy that is worshipped
  67. imam
    the person who leads prayers in a mosque
  68. import
    bring in from abroad
  69. infrastructure
    basic facilities needed for the functioning of a country
  70. Iraq
    a republic in the Middle East in western Asia
  71. irrigation
    the act of supplying dry land with water by artificial means
  72. Islam
    the monotheistic religious system of Muslims
  73. Israel
    Jewish republic in southwestern Asia at eastern end of Mediterranean; formerly part of Palestine
  74. Jerusalem
    capital and largest city of the modern state of Israel
  75. Jordan
    an Arab kingdom in southwestern Asia on the Red Sea
  76. Judaism
    the monotheistic religion of the Jews having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Torah and in the Talmud
  77. Kazakhstan
    a landlocked republic to the south of Russia and to the northeast of the Caspian Sea; the original Turkic-speaking inhabitants were overrun by Mongols in the 13th century; an Asian soviet from 1936 to 1991
  78. kibbutz
    a collective farm or settlement in modern Israel
  79. Kuwait
    an Arab kingdom in Asia on the northwestern coast of the Persian Gulf; a major source of petroleum
  80. Kyrgyzstan
    a landlocked republic in west central Asia bordering on northwestern China; formerly an Asian soviet but became independent in 1991
  81. landlocked
    surrounded entirely or almost entirely by land
  82. Lebanon
    an Asian republic at east end of Mediterranean
  83. livestock
    any animals kept for use or profit
  84. lowland
    low level country
  85. Mecca
    joint capital of Saudi Arabia
  86. Mediterranean Sea
    the largest inland sea; between Europe and Africa and Asia
  87. Mesopotamia
    the land between the Tigris and Euphrates
  88. Middle East
    the area around the eastern Mediterranean
  89. minaret
    a slender tower with balconies, especially on a mosque
  90. mineral
    a solid inorganic substance occurring in nature
  91. monarchy
    autocracy governed by a ruler who usually inherits authority
  92. monotheism
    belief in a single God
  93. mosque
    a Muslim place of worship that usually has a minaret
  94. mountainous
    containing many mountains
  95. Mount Ararat
    the mountain peak that Noah's ark landed on as the waters of the great flood receded
  96. Muhammad
    the Arab prophet who, according to Islam, was the last messenger of Allah (570-632)
  97. Muslim
    a believer in or follower of Islam
  98. natural gas
    a fossil fuel in the gaseous state
  99. natural resource
    material in the environment that can be used by people
  100. nomad
    a member of a people who have no permanent home
  101. oasis
    a fertile tract in a desert
  102. Oman
    a strategically located monarchy on the southern and eastern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula; the economy is dominated by oil
  103. Ottoman Empire
    a Turkish sultanate of southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa and southeastern Europe; created by the Ottoman Turks in the 13th century and lasted until the end of World War I; although initially small it expanded until it superseded the Byzantine Empire
  104. Palestine
    a former British mandate on the east coast of the Mediterranean; divided between Jordan and Israel in 1948
  105. Persian Gulf
    a shallow arm of the Arabian Sea between Iran and the Arabian peninsula; the Persian Gulf oil fields are among the most productive in the world
  106. petroleum
    a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons
  107. pilgrim
    someone who journeys to a sacred place as an act of devotion
  108. pilgrimage
    a journey to a sacred place
  109. pipeline
    a pipe used to transport liquids or gases
  110. plateau
    a relatively flat raised area of land
  111. pollution
    contamination of the natural environment
  112. population growth
    increase in the number of people who inhabit a territory or state
  113. port
    where people and merchandise can enter or leave a country
  114. precipitation
    the falling to earth of any form of water
  115. protest
    a public manifestation of dissent
  116. Qatar
    an Arab country on the peninsula of Qatar
  117. Quran
    the sacred writings of Islam revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad during his life at Mecca and Medina
  118. Red Sea
    a long arm of the Indian Ocean between northeast Africa and Arabia; linked to the Mediterranean at the north end by the Suez Canal
  119. refinery
    an industrial plant for purifying a crude substance
  120. reform
    a change for the better as a result of correcting abuses
  121. refugee
    an exile who flees for safety
  122. republic
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  123. reservoir
    lake used to store water for community use
  124. salt flat
    a flat expanse of salt left by the evaporation of a body of salt water
  125. sanction
    the act of punishing
  126. Saudi Arabia
    an absolute monarchy occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula in southwest Asia; vast oil reserves dominate the economy
  127. secular
    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  128. settlement
    people far from home who maintain ties with their homeland
  129. Shah
    title for the former hereditary monarch of Iran
  130. sharia
    the code of religious law derived from the Quran
  131. sheik
    the leader of an Arab village or family
  132. shrine
    a place of worship associated with something sacred
  133. Silk Road
    an ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean
  134. Sinai Peninsula
    a peninsula in northeastern Egypt; at north end of Red Sea
  135. standard of living
    the level of material goods and services available
  136. steppe
    an extensive plain without trees
  137. sultan
    the ruler of a Muslim country
  138. sultanate
    country or territory ruled by a sultan
  139. Syria
    an Asian republic in the Middle East at the east end of the Mediterranean; site of some of the world's most ancient centers of civilization
  140. Tajikistan
    a landlocked mountainous republic in southeast central Asia to the north of Afghanistan; formerly an Asian soviet
  141. temple
    the place of worship for a Jewish congregation
  142. terrace
    make land into level shelves, as for cultivation
  143. theocracy
    a political unit governed by a deity
  144. Tigris River
    an Asian river; a tributary of the Euphrates River
  145. trade
    the commercial exchange of goods and services
  146. Turkey
    a Eurasian republic in Asia Minor and the Balkans
  147. Turkmenistan
    a republic in Asia to the east of the Caspian Sea and to the south of Kazakhstan and to the north of Iran; an Asian soviet from 1925 to 1991
  148. unemployment
    the state of not having a job
  149. United Arab Emirates
    a federation of seven Arab emirates on the eastern Arabian peninsula; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1971; rich in oil reserves
  150. uranium
    a heavy toxic silvery-white radioactive metallic element
  151. urbanization
    the social process whereby cities grow
  152. Uzbekistan
    a landlocked republic in west central Asia
  153. wadi
    a gully that remains dry except during the rainy season
  154. warlord
    a military leader who controls a region or territory
  155. water right
    right of access to water
  156. Yemen
    a republic on the southwestern shores of the Arabian Peninsula on the Indian Ocean; formed in 1990
Created on February 28, 2017 (updated March 31, 2017)

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