The Middle East is often referred to as a region, but it is actually a somewhat loosely defined geopolitical area that generally includes 17 countries across parts of two continents (western Asia and northeastern Africa). The definition of the region is not absolute; other countries are sometimes described as being part of the Middle East. Explore the nations that make up the region known as the Middle East.
Arabic-Speaking Middle Eastern Countries
Arabic is the official language of most countries in the Middle East. These 13 Middle Eastern countries are ones where Arabic is the official language or, in the case of Iraq, one of two official languages. The population statistics are accurate as of 2021.
- Bahrain - Bahrain is an absolute monarchy. The capital is Manama. The country has a population of more than 1.7 million people.
- Egypt - The government in Egypt is a presidential republic. The country's capital is Cairo. With a population of more than 104 million, Egypt is the largest country in the region.
- Iraq - In addition to Arabic, Kurdish is also an official language of Iraq. The country is a parliamentary republic. Its capital is Baghdad. Iraq's population is over 41 million people.
- Jordan - The government of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. Amman is the country's capital. Jordan's population exceeds 10 million people.
- Kuwait - Organized as a constitutional monarchy, Kuwait has a population of more than 4.3 million. Its capital is Kuwait City.
- Lebanon - The government of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. Beirut is the capital of Lebanon. The country's population exceeds 6.7 million individuals.
- Oman - The country of Oman is an absolute monarchy. Its capital city is Muscat. The country's population is just over 5.2 million people.
- Palestine - Organized as a semi-presidential republic, Palestine's government is located in Ramallah, though the disputed proclaimed capital is East Jerusalem. More than 5.2 million people live in Palestine.
- Qatar - The nation of Qatar is an absolute monarchy. Its capital city is Doha. The country's population exceeds 2.9 million individuals.
- Saudi Arabia - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. Its capital is the city of Riyadh. The country's population is more than 35 million people.
- Syria - The Republic of Syria is a presidential republic. Its capital is Damascus. More than 18 million people live in Syria.
- United Arab Emirates - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation that consists of seven emirates organized as a federal absolute monarchy. Abu Dhabi is the capital. The UAE's population exceeds 9.9 million people.
- Yemen - The country of Yemen is a provisional presidential republic. Its government is currently seated in Ataq, though the constitutional capital is Sana'a, which has been controlled by Houthi forces since 2014. The country's population is more than 30 million people.
Middle East Countries With Other Official Languages
The other four countries in the Middle East don't all have the same official language. It is quite common for people who live in this region of the world to speak multiple languages.
- Cyprus - The country of Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish. It is a presidential republic. Nicosia is the capital. With a population of just over 1.2 million people, Cyprus is the smallest Middle Eastern country.
- Iran - Persian is the official language of Iran. The country is an Islamic republic. Its capital is Tehran. The country's population is just over 85 million people.
- Israel - In Israel, Hebrew is the official language. The country's government is a parliamentary republic. Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital of Israel, though this is disputed by the Palestinians. The country's population is more than 8.7 million people.
- Turkey - Turkish is the official language of Turkey, which is a presidential republic. The capital of Turkey is Ankara. The country's population exceeds 85 million people.
Other Countries Sometimes Included
Since the phrase Middle East is more of a political term than a true regional descriptor, other nations are sometimes included in discussions of this region. For example, Afghanistan and Pakistan are often discussed as being part of the New Middle East, but they are more accurately classified as South Asian countries.
Now that you are familiar with what nations comprise the Middle East, expand your knowledge about the area by reviewing a glossary of the Middle East. Then, explore another part of the world with a list of Asian countries and regions.