The Middle East is an area of land and group of countries in Southwest Asia and north Africa. Today, people usually call these countries "Middle Eastern" since they are in the Eastern Mediterranean or west of Central Asia.
Sometimes, people also include these countries as part of a Greater Middle East: Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, and the countries Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Somalia and Uzbekistan in Central Asia.
Ancient civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. These were Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria in the area called Mesopotamia, and Ancient Egypt. The three Abrahamic religions that believe in one God also came from the Middle East. Judaism and Christianity began in ancient Israel and Islam began in Arabia.
Today, the Middle East is very important because a lot of the petroleum that other countries need comes from here. There are also many arguments and fights here, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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