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Article

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyyah al-Jazā‛iriyyah al-Dimuqrāṭiyyah al-Sha‛biyya; Al-Jazā’ir]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Algiers.

Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, with an area of c. 2,400,000 sq. km. Extending south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sahara, it is bordered to the west by Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania, to the south by Mali and Niger and to the east by Libya and Tunisia. Geographically Algeria can be divided into three regions: the most populated region of the coastal Atlas range (including the Kabylie Mountains) and small plains in the north; the salt flats and high plateau of the Saharan Atlas range; and the desert (including the Hoggar Mountains), which comprises four-fifths of the country. Most of the population (33 million, 2006 estimate) is Arab or Arabized, although about 20% have retained their Berber identity and language. Nearly all are Sunni Muslim. Many people from the old-established Jewish and more recent European communities left when independence from France was won in ...

Article

Lucy Der Manuelian, Armen Zarian, Vrej Nersessian, Nonna S. Stepanyan, Murray L. Eiland and Dickran Kouymjian

[Hayasdan; Hayq; anc. Pers. Armina]

Country in the southern part of the Transcaucasian region; its capital is Erevan. Present-day Armenia is bounded by Georgia to the north, Iran to the south-east, Azerbaijan to the east and Turkey to the west. From 1920 to 1991 Armenia was a Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR, but historically its land encompassed a much greater area including parts of all present-day bordering countries (see fig.). At its greatest extent it occupied the plateau covering most of what is now central and eastern Turkey (c. 300,000 sq. km) bounded on the north by the Pontic Range and on the south by the Taurus and Kurdistan mountains. During the 11th century another Armenian state was formed to the west of Historic Armenia on the Cilician plain in south-east Asia Minor, bounded by the Taurus Mountains on the west and the Amanus (Nur) Mountains on the east. Its strategic location between East and West made Historic or Greater Armenia an important country to control, and for centuries it was a battlefield in the struggle for power between surrounding empires. Periods of domination and division have alternated with centuries of independence, during which the country was divided into one or more kingdoms....

Article

E. R. Salmanov and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[anc. Athropatena, Azarbaijan]

Transcaucasian republic on the west side of the Caspian Sea, bounded by the Dagestan republic of the Russian Federation to the north, the Republic of Georgia and the Republic of Armenia to the west, and Caucasus Mountains to the north and west (see fig.). Armenian territories separate the region of Nakhchyvan from the rest of Azerbaijan. To the south, the Araks River (anc. Araxes) forms the border with Iran. The capital, Baku, is a natural port on the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian coast. Other major towns are Gandja, Shamakhy, Quba, Shaki, Qazakh, Lankaran, Nakhchyvan, in the centre of Nakhchyvan region, and Khankandi, in the centre of Daghly Qarabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) district.

Azerbaijan is located on the principal route from Europe to Asia along the Caspian Sea. Its origins date from the 5th century bc, when it was the 11th district of a Persian empire dominated by Caspian tribes (Herodotus III.93). At the beginning of the Christian era, the kingdom known as Albania by the Greeks was formed by tribes that were probably of Indo-European origin, to judge from the white skin indicated by the name ‘Albanian’. They lived along the Kura and Arax rivers (Strabo: ...

Article

Mariana Katzarova, Kara Hattersley-Smith, Tania Velmans, Juliana Nedeva-Wegener, Maria Vassileva, Tatyana Yankova and Dotchka Kisijova

Country in the Balkan peninsula, in south-eastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Its capital is Sofia. Its capital is Sofia. The territory of Bulgaria covers c. 111,720 sq. km and extends from the shores of the Black Sea in the east to the River Struma in the west. Its northern frontier is formed by the River Danube and the southern frontier by the southern slopes of the Rodopi Mountains (see fig.). Other geographic regions include a plain stretching east–west to the south of the Danube, succeeded further south by the Stara Planina (‘the Old Mountain’); the latter is separated from the Rodopi Mountains to the south by another fertile plain. This is watered by the River Maritsa and its tributary the River Tundzha, which empty into the Aegean. Bulgaria lies at the core of what was a much larger area inhabited by the ...

Article

Caria  

Ancient country in south-west Asia Minor (now Turkey), south of the Maeander (Menderes) River and west of modern Fethiye (excepting the coastal cities of Ionia). The Carians claimed to be an indigenous people of mainland Asia Minor, though in Greek tradition they were originally islanders. Until the 4th century bc they lived mainly in mountain villages organized into local federations and grouped around sanctuaries such as that of Carian Zeus at Mylasa (Milas). The Carian language is imperfectly understood, owing to a paucity of surviving inscriptions. The script is alphabetic, and some forms are the same as Greek letters, but surviving fragments are virtually unintelligible, and it is not even certain that the language is Indo-European.

Minoan, Mycenaean and Greek colonization of the region touched only the coasts, leaving the interior Carian until the arrival of the Romans. At Muskebi, near Halikarnassos (Bodrum), there is evidence of Mycenaean settlement, possibly refugees from the upheavals of the Greek mainland at the end of the Bronze Age; Minoan imports found at ...

Article

[Arab. Jumhūriyya Miṣr al-‛Arabiyya.]

Country in North Africa extending into Asia at the south-eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, with its capital at Cairo. It is bounded in the west by Libya, in the south by Sudan and in the east by the Gaza Strip, Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Although its total area is over one million sq. km, this is largely desert; the cultivated and settled part, the Nile Valley and Delta and the oases, is only a quarter of the country’s area. (For a description of its geography see Egypt, ancient, §I, 1.) It is the most populous state in the Arab world, with more than 80 million people (2007 estimate). Traditionally the majority have been fellahin, peasant farmers; despite massive rural migration to the towns, about half the working population is still engaged on the land. The majority are Sunni Muslim and perhaps 10–15% are Copts, the largest Christian minority. Many Jews emigrated in the 1940s and 1950s. At the beginning of the 20th century there were over 100,000 Europeans, but many left in the 1960s....

Article

V. Beridze and Antony Eastmond

[Sakartvelos Respublika]

Caucasian country covering an area of 69,700 sq. km in the central and western part of Transcaucasia. In the early 1990s it had a population of c. 5 million. It borders Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and south-east, Armenia and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the west (see fig.). Its capital is Tbilisi. Having been incorporated into the USSR in 1921, Georgia became a separate Soviet republic from 1936 but became independent in 1991.

The earliest traces of material culture in Georgia have been recovered from early Palaeolithic contexts in caves in, for example, Abkhazeti, Imereti and Kakheti. A complex tribal society existed by the 5th millennium bc. In the late 2nd millennium bc and the early 1st there is evidence for the formation of two clearly defined regions with homogeneous material cultures in western Georgia (...

Article

Evita Arapoglou, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Alexander Koutamanis, Maria Katsanaki, Tonia P. Giannoudaki, Roderick Taylor and Natasha Lemos

[Elliniki Dimokratia]

Country in south-east Europe, comprising the southern part of the Balkan peninsula and bordering the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, Albania and the Ionian Sea to the west, Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The principal cities are the capital, Athens (including Peiraeus), Thessaloniki, Larisa, Volos, Patras, and Herakleion. The country’s area is 130,833 sq. km and includes hundreds of islands in the Aegean and the Ionian seas. The central region of Thessaly has large plains, but most of the country is mountainous, with such ranges as the Pindus in the west. The coastline is rocky and indented, and there are few navigable rivers. One of Greece’s chief industries is agriculture, although only a third of its land is cultivable. Other industries include fishing, shipping, and tourism. Greece was under Turkish rule from 1453 to 1821...

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Pers. Jumhūrī-yi Islāmī-yi Īrān]

Country in the Middle East with its capital at Tehran. Iran has an area of c. 1,648,000 sq. km, bordered in the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, in the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and in the west by Turkey and Iraq (see fig.). Large areas of the country consist of mountainous regions or desert; only about 10% of the land is arable and habitable. Iran has a population of more than 65 million (2007 estimate), the majority being Shi‛a Muslim (the religion of the State) and the remainder comprising Sunni Muslims, Armenian Christians and other religious minorities. The official language is Farsi (Persian), and about 25% of Iranians speak Turkic languages. The principal Turkic groups are the Turkmen in the north-east and the Qashgaاi in the Shiraz region. In the north-west the Kurds, who constitute about 5% of the population, have a distinct culture and language, and distinct traditions are also maintained by the Lur and Bakhtyari tribes in the west and the Baluchs in the east. Oil, discovered in the early 20th century, is an important source of revenue, and there are reserves of natural gas, coal, copper and iron ore. As well as oil refining, the manufacture of carpets is a major industry....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyya al-‛Irāqiyya]

Country in the Middle East with its capital at Baghdad. Iraq has an area of c. 437,500 sq. km, encompassing the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and it is bordered in the west by Syria and Jordan, in the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in the north by Turkey and in the east by Iran. The economy was largely dependent on the export of oil, but lavish spending and warfare in the late 20th century led to a sharp drop-off in production, such that by 2004 Iraq was $42 billion dollars in debt. The Paris Club of creditor nations, an informal group of financial officials from 19 of the world’s richest countries, agreed to write off 80%, and in 2005–6 Iraq had to restructure about $20 billion of commercial debt on comparable terms. The population of some 27 million (2006 estimate) consists of Arabs, Turks, Kurds and other minority groups. Islam is the predominant religion, with some 60% of the population being Shi‛a Muslim and the remainder largely Sunni Muslim with a small minority of Christians....

Article

Israel  

Michael Turner, Monica Bohm-Duchen, Dalia Manor, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom and Lia Koffler

Country on the east Mediterranean coast. It was established as an independent nation on land that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Israel occupies an area of c. 27,000 sq. km, bordering to the north with Lebanon and Syria, to the east with Jordan and to the south-west with Egypt (see fig.). It also occupies the territories of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (still disputed 1996), and in 1980 it proclaimed Jerusalem, previously divided between Israel and Jordan, as its capital (see also Jerusalem, §I, 4). Its terrain and climate include the temperate and fertile Mediterranean coastal plain, the hill regions of northern Galilee and central Israel, where rainfall is heaviest, the dry Great Rift Valley and the southern, arid Negev Desert. Israel’s main water resource, the River Jordan, flows into the Dead Sea, which, at 400 m below sea level, is the lowest point on earth....

Article

[Arab. Dawlat al-Kuwayt]

Middle Eastern country at the north-western end of the Persian Gulf. The capital, Kuwait City, was traditionally a caravan crossroads town and a port for fishing and pearling. The country has been governed since 1756 by the al-Sabah dynasty. In a treaty of 1899 Britain became responsible for foreign relations, but this treaty was terminated in 1961 and national sovereignty declared. The population of c. 2,080,000 (1990 estimate) is largely Sunni Muslim, with a Shi‛a minority numbering about 20% of the total. The main source of revenue in the country is oil, which was discovered in 1938, and there is a large foreign expatriate workforce. This article deals with art in Kuwait from the 18th to the 20th century. For the earlier history of this region see Arabia, pre-Islamic, and Islamic art.

The earliest record of a settlement in Kuwait City dates to c. 1670. The settlement expanded and in the late 18th century was a prosperous trading centre between the Middle East and India. By ...

Article

[Arab. Al-Jumhūriyya al-Lubnāniyya]

Country in the Middle East c. 10,400 sq. km in area, with a coastline along the eastern Mediterranean Sea, bordered in the north and east by Syria and in the south by Israel. The limestone Mt Lebanon range runs from north to south, dividing the coastal plain from the fertile Beqa‛a Valley. The modern state, with its capital at Beirut, was created out of the Ottoman province of Lebanon with additional Syrian territory. Formerly with a Christian majority, the population was estimated in 1983 as 34% Christian (the largest sects are Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic), 33% Shi‛a Muslim, 25% Sunni Muslim and 8% Druze; the total population (1990 estimate) is c. 3,340,000. The division of political power on a sectarian basis, dominated by the Christians, and factional rivalries exacerbated by the Palestinian issue were at the root of the conflicts that erupted into civil war in ...

Article

Libya  

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya; Arab. Al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‛Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah al-Sha‛biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‛Uẓmā]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Tripoli. Libya has an area of c. 1,760,000 sq. km, extending from the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea into the Sahara; it is bordered by Tunisia and Algeria to the west, Niger and Chad to the south, and Sudan and Egypt to the east. Apart from two narrow coastal strips and the oases of Fezzan in the south-west, most of Libya is desert. The six million people (2007 estimate) are mainly Arabs, with Berber tribes in the west and aboriginal tribes in the Fezzan. The majority are Sunni Muslim; most of the old-established Jewish population and 20th-century Italian settlers left in the decades after World War II. Oil was discovered in the south in 1959, which, together with gas, is Libya’s main export. Oil wealth and the military coup of 1969 created radical change; in the 1980s the economy began to decline and large numbers of foreign workers left or were expelled....

Article

David Trump, Quentin Hughes, Mario Buhagiar, Michael Ellul, J. Cassar-Pullicino and Stanley Fiorini

Island country located 93 km south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and North Africa. The three inhabited islands—Malta, Gozo and Comino—comprise an area of 316 sq. km.

The five Maltese islands were settled in the 5th millennium bc and are rich in prehistoric remains (see §II below andsee fig.). Malta was colonized by the Phoenicians in the 7th century bc and was later ruled by the Carthaginians until it became part of the Roman Empire in 218 bc. Many architectural and sculptural remains testify to the peace and prosperity of the Roman period. After ad 395 the islands came under Byzantine rule, which lasted until the Arab conquest of 870. From 1090, as part of the kingdom of Sicily, Malta was ruled by the Normans, the Angevins and the Aragonese. In 1530 Charles I, King of Spain (reg 1516–56), granted the islands to the Knights of St John Hospitaller, under whose rule Malta flourished, attracting artists and architects from mainland Italy (...

Article

S. J. Vernoit and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiyya]

Country in North Africa with its capital at Rabat. Morocco has an area c. 458,700 sq. km with coastlines along the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Atlantic Ocean to the west, bounded in the east by Algeria and in the south by Western Sahara. Geographically Morocco is divided into distinct regions: the populous plains and plateaux of the west; the Rif Mountains along the Mediterranean coast; the Atlas Mountains, which cross the country from south-west to north-east; the pre-Sahara region in the south; and the high plateau in the east. The population of 23,000,000 (1987 estimate) consists of a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, the majority of which is Sunni Muslim; there is also a small Jewish community and some Christians. Arabic is the official language; about half the population speak Berber dialects, and French and Spanish are also spoken. The economy is based on agriculture, fishing and minerals, particularly phosphates. Since the 1970s the tourist industry has been a major source of revenue. Morocco’s Berber–Arab heritage (being the only Arab country that did not come under Ottoman rule), its historical ties with France and Spain (which possesses the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla) and its situation in Africa have produced a distinct cultural character. This article covers the art produced in the country in the 20th century. For its earlier history ...

Article

[Arab. Salṭana ‛Umān; formerly Muscat and Oman]

Independent state in the south-eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula, including several islands, with its capital at Muscat. It is bounded by the Gulf of Oman to the east, the Arabian Sea to the south, Yemen to the south-west, Saudi Arabia to the west and the United Arab Emirates, which separates the main portion of the country from the Musandam Peninsula, to the north. The country has an area of c. 212,380 sq. km and can be divided into four regions: the limestone massif of the Musandam Peninsula extending into the Strait of Hormuz; the arid Hajar Mountains, wadis, oasis towns and fertile coastal plain of northern Oman; the desert, which comprises two-thirds of the country and separates north from south; and southern Oman, Dhofar, a largely mountainous region with a tropical climate, which became more firmly part of Oman in the 19th century. The former name of Muscat and Oman (until ...

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Dawlat Qaṭar]

Country in the Persian/Arabian Gulf comprising the Qatar peninsula and a few small islands, with its capital at Doha. The semi-desert, limestone peninsula extends c. 180 km north from mainland Arabia, with which it has long-standing links and rivalry, as it has with nearby Bahrain and Iran. The indigenous population (c. 850,000; 2007 estimate) is mainly Sunni Muslim, and includes many people originally from Iran and East Africa. There is also a large expatriate workforce. Evidence for occupation exists from about the 8th millennium bc, and Qatar was probably involved in the flourishing Gulf trade in the 3rd millennium bc and certainly in the medieval Islamic period, when the pearling industry flourished. European domination in the Gulf from the early 16th century led to the decline of the old trading centres, and the origins of the present state can be traced to the settlement of certain tribes in the 1730s. The Ottomans arrived in ...

Article

[Arab. Al-Mamlaka al-‛Arabiyya al-Sa‛ūdiyya]

Country occupying the greater part of the Arabian peninsula, with its capital at Riyadh. It has an area of c. 2,250,000 sq. km, extending from the Red Sea to the Gulf, and has borders in the north with Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait; in the east with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman; and in the south with Yemen. In the west of the country is the Hijaz, a narrow coastal plain rising to an escarpment that extends the length of the Red Sea and contains the cities of Mecca, Medina and Jiddah; it is bordered in the south by the hilly plateau of the ‛Asir. East of the Hijaz, desert encircles the Tuwayq escarpment and the plateau of the Najd where the capital is situated; in the north lies the Nafud Desert; in the south the sand dunes of the Dahna extend into the Rub‛ al-Khali, a sand desert that covers a quarter of the kingdom. The indigenous population of ...

Article

Amir I. M. Nour and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. Al-Jamhuryat es-Sudan Al-Democratica]

Country in north-east Africa bordered by Libya and Egypt to the north, by the Red Sea and Ethiopia to the east, by Kenya, Uganda and Zaïre to the south and by the Central African Republic and Chad to the west. The capital is Khartoum. This article covers art in Sudan since colonial times. For the arts of the area in earlier times, see Africa §VII 2.; Nubia; Nuba; and Zande.

Sudan has a uniform relief, most of its 2,505,913 sq. km lying 1000 m below sea level. The terrain ranges from desert in the north to swamp, savannah grasslands and equatorial rain forest in the south. Arabic is the official language and Islam the state religion, although about 4% of the population are Christians and many more follow traditional African religions. The population of c. 40 million (2007 estimate) comprises more than 50 ethnic groups (with c. 600 subgroups), and some 115 languages are spoken. Although most Sudanese are subsistence farmers, nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists occupy large areas. Only 15% live in urban areas. Geographically and culturally, Sudan links North Africa, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its diverse cultures are a complex mix of African and Islamic traditions, showing patterns of continuity from such ancient cultures as Kush (...