Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



FROM: Endangered Peoples of Africa and the Middle East : Struggles to Survive and Thrive. Edited by Robert K. Hitchcock and Alan J. Osborn (Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002).


Copyright 2002 Robert K. Hitchcock and Alan J. Osborn


Endangered Peoples of Africa and the Middle East: Struggles to Survive and Thrive is about human populations residing in Africa and the Middle East, a diverse region that is connected geographically, culturally, and historically. The African continent is vast and covers 11.7 million square miles, or an area slightly larger than the combined area of the United States and South America (Table 1). Today, the African continent is home to some 771 million people distributed within fifty-four separate countries. Of the world's continents, Africa is by far the most diverse culturally. In Sudan, for example, there are over 200 ethnic groups speaking some 134 languages, while in Nigeria there are some 600 or more ethnic groups who speak as many as 505 different languages. The Middle East, for purposes of this volume, is taken to include fifteen countries, ranging from Afghanistan in the east to Turkey and Syria in the west. Together, these countries cover a total of 2,704,730 square miles and support a population of 254,428,629 (Table 2). The Middle East includes large, petroleum-rich countries (e.g., Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia) and small countries such as Bahrain (an island monarchy) and a federation of seven small monarchies (the United Arab Emirates).