2.1.2 Global Connections: The Middle East

Major ethnic groups and subgroups in northern Africa and Middle East. US Library of Congress, 1989.

Culture, a shared set of traditions, belief systems, and behaviors, is shaped by history, religion, ethnic identity, language, and nationality, among other factors. The Middle East consists of approximately 20 countries, with many different religions and a variety of ethnic and linguistic groups. Given this diversity, we should not be surprised to find a multitude of different cultures coexisting in the region (PBS).


This webpage provides a brief and accessible window into the cultures of the geographic Middle East. It is curated by the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to showcase the diversity of cultures in the Islamic heartlands. Not only is the Middle East the birthplace of the three major Abrahamic traditions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–we see that each of these are embedded within rich cultural systems tied to diverse histories and geographies. The piece also attempts to isolate cultural patterns common to all traditions of the region such as family values. You are welcome to browse through related entries from the side menu.


Read: Global Connections: Culture of the Middle East // PBS


Guiding Questions:
  1. What role does religion play in the politics of the Middle East?
  2. What are the three language groups in the Middle East and how have they influenced one another?
  3. How did globalization change the Middle East?

Map: “Major ethnic groups in predominantly Muslim areas.” Map Credit: United States, Central Intelligence Agency, held at the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. 1989. Public domain.