Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Islamic World

Columbia University's Gulf/2000 Project was created as a service to scholars, journalists, politicians and other professionals working in the Persian Gulf region. The web site for this project contains some fantastic maps created by Dr. Mehrdad Izady showing population, religion, language and other divisions that affect the region.

His large map of the Islamic World is particularly striking. Many of the recent conflicts in the world have occurred along the boundaries of Islam and other religions such as in Mail, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Sudan/South Sudan, the Caucasus region and in parts of India and Pakistan.
http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/maps/Islamic_World_Basic_lg.png
The lower right corner of the map contains a 1907 map depicting the extent of the "Moslem World." The overall pattern is largely the same as today.

"Syria Ethnic Composition" is another very detailed map showing how diverse that country is. The text on the right describes how much of this complexity is lost when language is considered the defining ethnic characteristic. The commonly used "Arab" ethnic stamp glosses over these divisions but the current conflict in Syria has shown their significance. 
http://gulf2000.columbia.edu/images/maps/Syria_Ethnic_Detailed_lg.png

The maps page has many other highly detailed maps not just of the Gulf region, but the entire Middle East as well as parts of Africa and Asia. You can spend hours looking at these. I did. 

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