Physical Geography of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia

Physical Features: The people of
Turkey’s Göreme Valley dwell in cliffside apartments carved by nature.
These mountain homes have
storerooms on lower levels and family
living quarters that include kitchens.
Telephone-like devices allow family
members to communicate from
different floors. Wind and rain, as well
as volcanoes and earthquakes, have
shaped the rock and valleys of this
land. Read on to find out about the
landforms of North Africa, Southwest
Asia, and Central Asia.
 Main
Idea This region includes a variety of
landforms that affect how and where people
Geography and You When
you hear about floods,
do you picture terrible damage and loss of
life? Read to learn why people in ancient
Egypt welcomed, rather than feared, river
 Main
Idea This region includes a variety of
landforms that affect how and where people
Geography and You When
you hear about floods,
do you picture terrible damage and loss of
life? Read to learn why people in ancient
Egypt welcomed, rather than feared, river
Look at the physical map in the Regional Atlas to see the
oceans and seas that surround North Africa, Southwest
Asia, and Central Asia. These bodies of water have
helped people trade more easily with the rest of Africa,
Asia, and Europe. Four waterways control access to
these seas. In the west, the Strait of Gibraltar—
separating Africa and Europe—links the Mediterranean
Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, the
Dardanelles (dahrd·uhn·EHLZ) Strait, the Sea of
Marmara (MAHR·mah·rah), and the Bosporus
(BAHS·puh·ruhs) Strait together link the Mediterranean
and Black Seas and separate Europe from Asia.
On North Africa’s eastern edge, there is a
human-made waterway called the Suez
Canal. Ships use this canal to pass from the
Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. North of
the Arabian Peninsula, the Strait of Hormuz
(HAWR·muhz) allows oil tankers to enter and
leave the Persian Gulf.
All three areas within the region have
somewhat similar landscapes. In North
Africa, the Atlas and Ahaggar Mountains
extend across much of the west. The rest of
North Africa is covered by low plains and
low-lying plateaus.
Because of the region’s rugged and dry land,
people have long settled in river valleys to
take advantage of the rich soil. Early
civilizations developed along Egypt’s Nile
River and Southwest Asia’s Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers
The ancient Egyptians relied on the
 Nile’s yearly flooding. The floods not only
 supplied water, but also carried silt—small
 particles of rich soil. The silt made the land
 fertile for growing crops.
Flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in a
region called Mesopotamia, also led to a
civilization based on farming. Mesopotamia
was located on an alluvial (uh·LOO·vee·uhl)
plain, an area of fertile soil left by river floods.
Farmers built channels and ditches to bring
water to their fields.
Oil and Gas
 The largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas
can be found in the area of the Persian Gulf. Oil is
common here because the land is made up of
sedimentary rock. This rock is created when layers
of material are hardened by the intense weight of
more materials piled above. Over millions of years,
heat and pressure below the Earth’s surface
helped turn the remains of sea animals and plants
into oil. The oil collected in the gaps between the
In addition to oil and natural gas, the
 region has other important resources. Both
 coal and iron ore are found in the region.
 Morocco and Kazakhstan have rich deposits
 of phosphates, which are mineral salts
 used to make fertilizer.
The region’s two inland seas, the Caspian
(KAS·pee·uhn) and the Aral, have suffered
greatly in recent decades. In the Caspian Sea,
poaching, which is illegal fishing or hunting,
has decreased the number of sturgeon, the fish
whose eggs are used to make caviar. This drop
has hurt the fishing industry in countries
around the Caspian Sea.
The Aral Sea, which is shared by Kazakhstan
and Uzbekistan, has also been badly damaged.
During the 1960s, irrigation projects, mainly for
cotton production, drained water from the two
main rivers that feed the sea. Inadequate
amounts of rainfall could not restore the sea’s
water level, and it began drying up. In addition,
the sea’s water became saltier and unfit for
drinking. This change also harmed the sea’s
fish populations.
The misuse of water has also harmed the land
throughout North Africa, Southwest Asia, and
Central Asia. Because the climate is so dry in
much of the region, irrigation water often
evaporates. This can leave behind a deposit of
salt that makes the land less fertile. In some
cases, the damage is so great that the land can
no longer be farmed.
Dams built to control flooding have both
benefited and harmed the environment. In
1968 Egypt’s government opened the Aswˉan
High Dam on the upper Nile River. By
controlling the river’s floodwaters, crops can be
grown and harvested throughout the year. In
addition, the dam provides electric power to
Egypt’s growing cities and industries.
also is a growing problem. A large number of
cars in the region are older, and they release
more polluting fumes. Refineries, the facilities
that turn petroleum into gasoline and other
products, also pollute the air.
A Dry Region
 Main
Idea Large areas of desert greatly affect
life in the region.
Geography and You What
would it be like to live
through a long period without rain? Read to
find out how a generally dry climate affects
vegetation and human activities.
Dry continental air masses warmed by the
sun blow over much of North Africa,
Southwest Asia, and Central Asia. As a
result, much of the land is desert with a dry,
hot climate.
The vast Sahara, the world’s largest desert,
covers much of North Africa. Summer
temperatures can reach scorching highs. The
highest temperature ever recorded, 136°F
(58°C), was measured at Al-‘Azˉızˉıyah
(al·a·ZEE·zee·yuh), in Libya. Winter temperatures
are cooler, averaging about 55°F (13°C).
Only about 3 inches (8 cm) of rain fall each
year in the Sahara. Rain usually falls in the
winter months, but occasional violent
thunderstorms in summer can cause flooding.
Dry riverbeds called wadis fill with water when
it rains.
Most of the Sahara is dry land covered with
rock or gravel. About 20 percent of the desert is
covered by large sand dunes, which are called
ergs. The Sahara also contains oases where
the land is fertile as a result of water from a
spring or well. Villages, towns, and cities have
grown around many Saharan oases.
The region has other desert areas besides the
Sahara. The Arabian Peninsula is nearly covered
by deserts. In the south lies the vast Rub’ al
Khali, or Empty Quarter. About the size of Texas,
this sandy area averages only about 4 inches (10
cm) of rainfall per year.
rain shadow areas created by high peaks along
with dry continental winds have formed large
deserts—the Kara-Kum and the Kyzyl Kum.
Both deserts have hot summers but very cold
winters. That is because these areas are in the
middle latitudes.
Bordering the region’s deserts are dry, treeless,
but grassy plains called steppes.
 Steppes are found in areas north of the Sahara,
Turkey, and to the east in Central Asia. Steppe
areas receive more rainfall— between 4 and 16
inches (10 and 41 cm) per year—than do deserts.
Some people on the steppes live as nomads,
moving across steppe areas to find food and water
for their herds. Others practice dry farming, a
method in which land is left unplanted every few
years so that it can store moisture.
Coastal areas in North Africa, the eastern
Mediterranean, and Turkey have Mediterranean
climates. These warm areas receive enough
rain to support agriculture and therefore have
more people than other parts of the region.
 Main
Idea The lack of water is a growing
problem in this region.
Geography and You How
much water do you use
each day? How might your life be different if
the amount of water you used daily was
limited? Read to learn how people try to
make the best use of limited water
Rainfall is sparse
Rainfall is sparse over much of the region. Also,
high temperatures cause surface water to
evaporate rapidly. As a result, the growing
population does not have adequate water to meet
its needs. A large amount of water is used to
irrigate dry farmland. Some countries, such as
Libya, now draw water from aquifers, or
underground rock layers through which water
flows. Figure 1 on the previous page shows
aquifers in a part of the region.
In addition, countries often compete for scarce
water resources, increasing the chance of conflict.
For example, dams that Turkey is building on the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers redirect water that in
the past would have flowed to Syria and Iraq.
Some governments, such as those of Jordan and
Syria, are dealing with water shortages by
rationing. Rationing means that a resource is
made available to people in only limited amounts.
Another approach to managing water use is
desalinization. This process treats seawater to
remove salts and minerals and make it
drinkable. Oil-rich countries have built
desalinization plants, making Southwest Asia
the world’s leader in creating usable water from
seawater. Desalinization is costly, however, so
poor countries are not able to use this process
and will continue to face water shortages.
History and Cultures of North Africa, Southwest
Asia, and Central Asia
 Place: The region of North Africa, Southwest Asia,
and Central Asia is the birthplace of three world
religions— Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Since
their beginnings thousands of years ago, these
religions have spread throughout the world. They
also have had a great impact on the history of the
region. How does religion affect the lives of people
BIG IDEA The characteristics and movement of
people affect physical and human systems. The
people of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia built
civilizations in fertile river valleys. They made
many advances that spread to neighboring
areas. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have
greatly influenced culture and politics over the
centuries. In recent times, political unrest and
conflict have troubled the region.
The words and pictures that are carved into the
stone describe a great famine on the Egyptian
island of Sehel. Stone markers, called stelae
(STEE∙lee), were often used in ancient Egypt to
honor the dead or to remember special events.
Egypt is one of the world’s earliest civilizations
and is known for its achievements in language,
arts, and trade. To learn more about Egypt’s
history, read Section 1.
 Main
Idea The early civilizations of Mesopotamia
and Egypt had a great impact on later civilizations.
Geography and You What
do you view as the
greatest human achievement? Sending
people to the moon, perhaps, or inventing
the computer? Read to learn about the
accomplishments of two early civilizations.
Two of the world’s oldest
civilizations arose in
Southwest Asia and North
Africa about 5,000 years
ago. Egypt, in North Africa,
developed along the banks
of the Nile River. The other
civilization, Mesopotamia
in Southwest Asia, arose on
a flat plain between the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Mesopotamia— located in present-day Iraq—lay in the
Fertile Crescent, a strip of land that curves from the
Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. Around 4000
_._., people began settling along the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers. There they farmed the fertile soil left
behind by yearly floods. To control flooding and carry
water to their fields, they built walls, waterways, and
ditches. This method of watering crops is called
irrigation. Irrigation allowed the people to grow a larger,
more stable supply of food. More food, in turn,
supported a larger population. By 3000 _._., cities had
developed in southern Mesopotamia in a region known
as Sumer (SOO_muhr).
Sumerian city
Each Sumerian city and the land around it
formed its own government and came to be called
a city-state. At the center of each city was a
large, step like temple dedicated to the city’s chief
god. Mesopotamia’s religion was based on
polytheism, or the worship of many gods and
goddesses. At first, each city-state was a
theocracy, or a government controlled by
religious leaders. Later, military leaders took
The Sumerians developed a number of
remarkable inventions. They created one of the
first calendars and were the first people known
to use the wheel and the plow. They also
developed cuneiform, which was an early
form of writing. Cuneiform consists of wedgeshaped markings made with sharp reeds on
clay tablets.
Religion was at the center of Egyptian society.
Egyptians worshiped many gods and goddesses.
Like Mesopotamia, Egypt was a theocracy.
Egyptian rulers were called pharaohs, and the
Egyptians believed that they were gods as well as
rulers. The pharaohs owned the land and ordered
thousands of people to build temples and tombs.
The largest tombs, the pyramids, belonged to the
pharaohs. Later, pharaohs were buried in tombs
built into cliffs.
The Egyptians also developed a system of
writing called hieroglyphics, which used
pictures for words or sounds. The Egyptians
carved and painted these symbols on the walls
of the magnificent stone temples they built to
honor their gods.
Trade was very important to the people of
Mesopotamia. They traded with people from
the eastern Mediterranean region to India.
Through trade and conquest, the achievements
and ideas of Mesopotamia spread to other
lands. Some still shape life today. For example,
the 60-second minute, 60-minute hour, 24-hour
day, and 12-month year that we use today were
developed by the Sumerians.
One of the greatest trading empires of the
ancient world developed in the land of
Phoenicia. Around 1000 b.c., the Phoenicians—
who lived in what is now Lebanon—engaged in
trade all across the Mediterranean Sea. They
traveled and traded as far west as present-day
 Main
Idea Three major world religions
began in Southwest Asia.
Geography and You Is there a synagogue, a
church, or a mosque in your community? These
places of worship represent three major religions:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Read to find out
about these three religions that began in
Southwest Asia.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have become
major world faiths. All three religions are
examples of monotheism, or the belief in one
The oldest of the three religions is Judaism. It
was first practiced by a small group of people in
Southwest Asia called the Israelites. The
followers of Judaism today are known as Jews.
We know about the early history of the Jewish
people and their religion from their holy book—
the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible.
According to Jewish belief, the Jews are
descended from Abraham, a herder who lived
in Mesopotamia about 1800 b.c. The Tanakh
states that God made a covenant, or
agreement, with Abraham. If Abraham moved
to the land of Canaan, he and his descendants
would be blessed. Abraham’s descendants,
later called the Israelites, believed they would
continue to be blessed as long as they followed
God’s laws.
Jews believe that God revealed the most
important of these laws to a prophet, or
messenger of God, named Moses. According to
the Hebrew Bible, Moses led the Israelites from
Egypt. The Israelites had moved to Egypt to
escape a long drought and were forced into
slavery there. On their way from Egypt, at the
top of Mount Sinai (SY∙ny) in the desert, Moses
, including those known as the Ten
Commandments. These rules differed from the
laws of neighboring peoples because they were
based on the worship of one god. The Israelites
were not to worship other gods or human-made
images. Also, all people—whether rich or poor—
were to be treated fairly.
King David
About 1000 b.c., the Israelites under King
David created a kingdom in the area of presentday Israel. The kingdom’s capital was the city of
Jerusalem. By 922 b.c., the Israelite kingdom
had split into two states—Israel and Judah. The
people of Judah came to be called Jews. In
later centuries, the Jews were conquered and
many were forced to leave their homeland.
Eventually, many Jewish people moved to
countries in other parts of the world.
This scattering of the Jews was called the
Diaspora (dy∙AS∙pruh). In many areas, the Jews
were treated cruelly. In other areas, they were
treated with tolerance and understanding.
Judaism gave rise to another monotheistic
religion—Christianity. About a.d. 30, a Jewish
teacher named Jesus began preaching in what
is today Israel and the West Bank. Jesus taught
that God loved all people, even those who had
sinned. He told people that if they placed their
trust in God, their sins would be forgiven.
Some Jews greeted Jesus as a savior sent by
God to help them. This acceptance worried
other Jews, as well as the Romans who ruled
their land. Jesus was convicted of treason
under Roman law and was crucified, or
executed on a cross. Soon afterward, Jesus’
followers declared that he had risen from the
dead and was the Son of God.
Jesus’ followers spread his message throughout
the Mediterranean world. Jews and non-Jews
who accepted this message became known as
Christians. They formed churches or
communities for worship. Stories about Jesus
and the writings of early Christians—known as
the New Testament— became part of the
Christian Bible. Today, it is the world’s largest
religion, with about 2.1 billion followers.
Islam The third major monotheistic religion to
develop in Southwest Asia was Islam. Islam
began in the a.d. 600s in the Arabian Peninsula
with the teachings of Muhammad. Muslims, or
followers of Islam, believe that Muhammad was
the last and greatest prophet of Islam—
following Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
Born about a.d. 570, Muhammad was a
merchant in Makkah (Mecca), a trading center
in western Arabia. According to Islamic
teachings, Muhammad heard messages from
an angel telling him to preach about God. He
told people that there is only one God, Allah,
before whom all believers are equal. Muslims
later wrote down Muhammad’s messages.
These writings became the Quran (kuh∙RAN), or
holy book of Islam.
After Muhammad died in a.d. 632, leaders
known as caliphs ruled the Muslim community.
Under their leadership, Arab Muslim armies
conquered neighboring lands and created a
vast empire. Over several centuries, Islam
expanded into areas of Asia, North Africa, and
parts of Europe, as shown in Figure 2. As time
passed, many of the people in these areas
accepted Islam and the Arabic language.
ISLAM: leading merchants
From the _._. 700s to the _._. 1400s, Muslims
were the leading merchants in many parts of Asia
and Africa. Muslim caravans passed overland from
Southwest Asia to China, and Muslim ships sailed
the Indian Ocean to India and Southeast Asia.
Muslim traders enjoyed success for several
reasons. Merchants all across the Islamic Empire
used coins, which made trade easier. Also, Muslim
merchants kept detailed records of their business
deals and profits. In time, these practices
developed into a new business—banking.
ISLAM: leading merchants
Trade helped leading Muslim cities grow. Located on
important trade routes, the cities of Baghdad, Cairo, and
Damascus became centers of government and learning.
Muslim scholars made many contributions to
mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, and medicine. They
also preserved the writings of the ancient Greek
philosophers. Later, Muslims passed on this knowledge.
In fact, the system we use today for writing numbers and
the concept of zero were brought by Muslims from India
to Europe. Muslims also introduced the compass and
several foods, including rice and sugar, to Europe.
Main Idea In modern times, ethnic, cultural,
and economic differences have led to conflict
in the region.
 Geography and You Do you think people of very
different backgrounds can live together
peacefully? Read to see how this issue affects
the region today.
By the end of the a.d. 900s, the Arab Empire
had broken up into smaller kingdoms. During
the next few centuries, waves of Mongol
invaders swept into the Muslim world from
Central Asia, ending the Arab Empire. In the
late 1200s, another Muslim empire arose, led
by a people known as the Ottoman Turks. The
Ottoman Empire lasted until the early 1900s.
The discovery of oil brought wealth to several of
these new nations. Disputes within the region
affected the rest of the world because of the
global demand for oil and the region’s
importance as a crossroads, or meeting point,
of trade.
At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire broke
apart as a result of its defeat in that conflict. By this
time, European powers had gained control of large areas
of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia. The
region’s people, however, resented European rule and
cultural influences. They turned to nationalism, or the
belief that every ethnic group has a right to have its own
independent nation. Through wars and political
struggles, most countries in Southwest Asia and North
Africa won political freedom by the 1970s. After the
Soviet Union’s fall in 1991, several Muslim nations in
Central Asia also gained their independence.
Today, some groups in the region see themselves
as stateless nations, or people with strong ethnic
loyalties but no country of their own. For example,
an ethnic group known as the Kurds has long
sought nationhood. Some Kurds dream of creating
a Kurdish nation that would unite the 25 million
Kurds living in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and other lands.
Palestinian Arabs also want to create an
independent nation of Palestine. This wish has led
to conflict with Israel, which was formed as a
country for the Jews in part of the same area.
In recent years, the region has been torn by
conflict between Arab countries and Israel, which
was founded in 1948. As you read earlier, most
Jews were driven from their homeland centuries
ago and settled in other lands, where they often
suffered hardships. In the late 1800s, some
European Jews moved back to the area where
Judaism began, which was called Palestine at the
time. These settlers, known as Zionists, wanted to
set up a safe homeland for the Jews.
Steps toward peace began when Israel signed
peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in
1994. In a 1993 agreement, Palestinian Arab
leaders said they would accept and work with
Israel. Israel in return agreed to give the
Palestinians control of the Gaza Strip and some
areas of the West Bank. Both sides were to reach
a permanent peace agreement within five years,
but many issues remained unsettled. As
frustration grew, peace efforts had halted by
2000. Violence and distrust continue between
Israelis and Palestinians.
In 1979 an Islamic revolution in Iran overthrew
that country’s shah, or king. Muslim religious
leaders, such as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
(eye·uh·TOH·luh ru·HAWL·la koh·MAY·nee), then
made Iran an Islamic republic. They enforced
the strict laws of a traditional Islamic society.
Iran clashed with Iraq, which was led by a
dictator named Saddam Hussein (hoo∙SAYN).
From 1980 to 1988, Iran and Iraq fought a war
in which 1 million people died.
Terrorism Since the 1990s, both Southwest Asia
and other areas of the world have seen the
dramatic growth of terrorism. Terrorism is the use
of violence against civilians to achieve a political
goal. A Muslim terrorist group called al-Qaeda
(al∙KY∙duh) was formed by a Saudi Arabian named
Osama bin Laden (oh∙SAHM∙uh bihn LAHD∙uhn). Its
goal is to remove American and European
influences from the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda
trained its fighters in the country of Afghanistan.
There, it was helped by a militant Muslim
government called the Taliban.
In 2001 troops from the United States and
other countries attacked Afghanistan. They
defeated the Taliban and helped set up a
democratic Afghan government.
 In 2003 a group of countries led by the United
States invaded Iraq. The Iraqi army was quickly
defeated. Saddam Hussein was later captured,
put on trial, and executed.
BIG IDEA Culture groups shape human
 Throughout North Africa, Southwest Asia, and
Central Asia, religious beliefs and traditions have
influenced the language, arts, and daily lives of
 Main
Idea Religion, especially Islam, remains
extremely important throughout the region.
Geography and You What are the main
religions in your community? What practices
do their believers follow? Read to find out
how religion influences life in North Africa,
Southwest Asia, and Central Asia.
As in the past, religion plays an important role
in the region today. Islam is the major faith. It is
divided into two major groups: Sunni (SU∙nee)
and Shia (SHEE∙ah). Both groups follow the
Quran and share many beliefs, but they
disagree on how the Muslim faithful should be
governed. Most Muslims in the region and
throughout the world are Sunni. In Iran, Iraq,
Azerbaijan, and parts of Lebanon and Syria,
however, most Muslims are Shia.
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have some
beliefs in common. They all believe in one God
who holds all power and who created the
universe. They also believe that God
determines right and wrong. People are
expected to love God, obey God’s will, and show
kindness to others.
Religious Practices Each of the three religions has its own
unique practices. Muslims strive to fulfill the Five Pillars of
Islam—acts of worship that are required from the faithful.
The first duty is to make the statement of faith: “There is no
God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” Second,
Muslims must pray five times a day while facing Makkah.
The third duty is to give money to help people in need. The
fourth duty is to fast, or not eat or drink, during daylight
hours of the holy month of Ramadan. This is the month,
according to Muslim beliefs, in which Muhammad received
the first message from God. The last pillar of faith is to
undertake a holy journey, or hajj. Once in each Muslim’s life,
he or she must, if able, journey to Makkah to pray.
Christians in the region celebrate Easter as
their major holy day. They also set aside special
days to honor saints, or Christian holy people.
In Israel, where three-quarters of the population is
Jewish, people follow the traditional practice of marking
the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on
Saturday. For Jews, the Sabbath is the weekly day of
worship and rest. The holiest of Jewish holy days is Yom
Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, Jews fast
from sunset to sunset and attend services, asking God’s
forgiveness for their sins. Both Jews and Muslims have
dietary laws that state which foods they can and cannot
eat and how food should be prepared and handled. For
instance, people of both religions are forbidden to eat
pork. Muslims are also banned from drinking alcohol.
A number of great works of literature have been
written in the languages of the region. Many of
these works are exciting epics—tales or poems
about heroes and heroines. The Thousand and
One Nights, a well-known collection of Arab,
Indian, and Iranian stories, reflects life during
the period of the Arab Empire.
Main Idea Living standards vary widely in the
region, as do the effects of European and
American culture.
 Geography and You How different do you think
urban and rural families are in your community
or state? Read on to find out more about
lifestyles in North Africa, Southwest Asia, and
Central Asia today.
Rural and Urban Lifestyles In the past, most
people in the region lived in small villages and
farmed the land. During the last century, many
people moved to cities. Today, more than 50
percent of the region’s people live in urban areas.
In the region’s largest cities, many people live in
high-rise apartments. In older city neighborhoods,
however, people may live in stone or mud-brick
buildings that are hundreds of years old. Some of
these dwellings still lack running water and
Israel, for example, has a strong economy. Its
workers are highly skilled, and the country exports
a number of high-technology products. In other
wealthy countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar
(KAH•tuhr), citizens have prospered from oil
production. Their governments have used oil
revenues, or income, to build schools, hospitals,
roads, and airports. Many people in these
prosperous nations live in modern cities, work in
manufacturing or service jobs, and receive free
education and health care from their governments.
People in this region place great value on family
life. Many families gather at midday for their main
meal. In many countries of the region, men
traditionally have the dominant role in the family.
Wives are expected to obey their husbands, stay
home, and raise children. Marriages arranged by
parents are quite common. Also, women are
expected to dress modestly. Many Muslim women,
for example, wear a head scarf or veil in public, a
practice that began in the area long before the rise
of Islam.
Some countries are more traditional than others in
their attitudes toward women. In Saudi Arabia, for
example, women are not allowed to vote, to drive,
or to travel unless accompanied by a male relative.
Women are allowed to attend universities but must
go to classes separate from men. Although women
are allowed to work, they can do so only in
professions such as teaching and medicine in
which they can avoid close contact with men.
Children go to school primary school but girls are
often separate from boys

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