Middle East Map: Regions, Geography, Facts & Figures

The Middle East is a region that spans parts of Western Asia and North Africa. It is home to several countries that are culturally, historically, and religiously significant. The region is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including deserts, mountains, and coasts. The Middle East has a rich history and is known for its contributions to art, science, and literature. The region is also known for its political tensions, including conflicts related to religion, resources, and borders. Some major conflicts include World War I, World War II, the Arab-Israeli Wars , the Iran-Iraq War, and the Persian Gulf Wars. Overall, the Middle East is a fascinating and complex region with a rich cultural heritage.

If you want to discover more in-depth information on the Middle East as a region, check out our Profiles of Middle Eastern Countries!

Test your regional knowledge with our arts and culture quiz on Middle Eastern Mythological Creatures!

Click on a country for a more detailed map, or try our map index.

History of the Middle East

The Middle East has a rich and complex history that spans thousands of years. It is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world, including Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Persia (modern-day Iran), and Egypt. Throughout history, the Middle East has been marked by numerous power changes, with many different empires vying for control over the region, like the Ottoman Empire. The region has also been the site of numerous conflicts and wars throughout history, including the Crusades, World War I, and the Gulf War.

Geography of the Middle East

The Middle East is situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is bordered by multiple oceans and seas: the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Red Sea to the south, the Caspian Sea to the east, and the Arabian Peninsula to the south. Several countries also border the Persian Gulf, namely, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The entire region is home to a diverse range of landscapes, including deserts, mountains, and coastal plains.

Middle Eastern Exceptions

It should be noted that although countries like Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Pakistan, and select other Levant countries do share a similar cultural heritage and historic importance, they are not actually categorized as “Middle Eastern” countries. Instead, their position on the world map allows them to fall under the jurisdiction of South or Central Asia.

Additionally, areas like the Gaza Strip and West Bank have long been contested between Palestinian and Israeli politics, as well as other partially recognized states in the Middle East that have had close historic ties with Asian countries, such as India or other nations from Southeast Asia.

Other countries in Africa, namely Sudan and Tunisia, lie at the boundary of the Middle East and North Africa, with many of their cultural practices and backgrounds being heavily influenced by both regions. As such, they have been classified as “transition countries” due to their connection to two distinct areas.

Tourist Attractions in the Middle East

The Middle East is a region that has a lot to offer to tourists, with a wide variety of attractions that cater to different interests. From ancient ruins that offer a glimpse into the region's rich history to modern cities that showcase its bustling contemporary culture, there is something for everyone.


A small country in the Middle East, rich in culture, including:

  • Jerusalem Old City: Holy site for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

  • Masada: Ancient fortress with stunning desert views.

  • Tel Aviv Beaches: Sandy beaches with a vibrant nightlife.

  • Dead Sea: Salt lake with healing properties.


An ancient civilization on the Nile River, with fascinating historic sites, including:

  • Pyramids of Giza: Ancient wonders of the world.

  • Luxor Temple: Ancient temple with impressive hieroglyphics.

  • Abu Simbel Temples: Massive rock-cut temples built by Ramses II.

  • Red Sea Resorts: Crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs.


A country in Eurasia, with incredible historic sites, including:

  • Hagia Sophia: Stunning Byzantine architecture and Islamic mosaics.

  • Blue Mosque: Iconic mosque with intricate tilework and domes.

  • Pamukkale Thermal Pools: Natural hot springs with stunning white terraces.

  • Cappadocia: Otherworldly landscape with cave dwellings and hot air balloons.


Iran has a rich cultural history dating back thousands of years, including:

  • Persepolis: Ancient capital of the Persian Empire.

  • Naqsh-e Jahan Square: Beautiful square with stunning Islamic architecture.

  • Caspian Sea Resorts: Seaside resorts with beautiful beaches.

  • Yazd Historic City: Ancient city with stunning mud-brick architecture.

United Arab Emirates

A modern, wealthy, and diverse country with many sights, including:

  • Burj Khalifa: Tallest building in the world.

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: A stunningly beautiful mosque in Abu Dhabi.

  • Dubai Mall: Largest mall in the world.

  • Abu Dhabi Corniche: Beautiful waterfront promenade in Abu Dhabi.


Known for ancient sites, natural wonders, and a vibrant culture, including:

  • Petra: Ancient city carved into the rock.

  • Wadi Rum: Red desert with stunning rock formations.

  • Dead Sea: Salt lake with healing properties, located between Israel and Jordan.

  • Amman Citadel: Ancient ruins with panoramic views of the city.


A Mediterranean and Middle Eastern country with rich history, including:

  • Byblos: Ancient Phoenician port city.

  • Jeita Grotto: Underground caves with stunning limestone formations.

  • National Museum of Beirut: Museum showcasing Lebanese history and culture.

  • Beirut Souks: High-end shopping district in downtown Beirut.

Saudi Arabia

A vast desert kingdom with historic sites and breath-taking landscapes, including:

  • Mecca: Holiest city in Islam.

  • Medina: Second holiest city in Islam.

  • Al Ula: Ancient city with stunning rock formations.

  • Red Sea Beaches: Beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters.

Middle Eastern Major Cities

Some of the most vibrant and bustling cities in the Middle East include:

  • Baghdad, Iraq.

  • Jerusalem, Israel.

  • Amman, Jordan.

  • Beirut, Lebanon.

  • Cairo, Egypt.

  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

  • Tehran, Iran.

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

  • Istanbul, Turkey.

Petra by night, Jordan
Image Source: Getty Images

People Also Ask...

If you're inspecting our map of the Middle East, you may have some queries about the region. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, along with their answers.

What Nationality Are Middle Eastern?

The Middle East is a diverse region, and there is no single nationality that can be considered "Middle Eastern." The people of the Middle East come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and may identify with different nationalities depending on their country of origin. Some of the most common nationalities in the Middle East include Arab, Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish, among others.

What Are the 17 Countries of the Middle East?

The Middle East and North Africa (or MENA) is composed of 17 countries, including Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen. These countries are located in Western Asia and North Africa, and are characterized by their diverse cultures, histories, and landscapes.

What Is Arab vs Middle Eastern?

The term "Middle Eastern" refers to the region that spans parts of Western Asia and North Africa. On the other hand, the term "Arab" refers to people who speak Arabic as their first language, and who are typically from the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, or Egypt.

While many Arabs live in the Middle East, not all people in the Middle East are Arab. The region is home to several different ethnic and cultural groups, like Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish nationalities.

What Major Cities Are in the Middle East?

The Middle East is a region with a rich and fascinating history, spanning thousands of years. Some of the most notable cities within this region include Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, Riyadh, Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad. Each of these cities boasts a unique identity, shaped by a rich cultural heritage and a complex geopolitical landscape, and is home to millions of people.