Geography and History of the World © 2010 Indiana Edition
Physical Geography of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia
The continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia meet in this region, which has been
a crossroads for travelers and traders for centuries. The Mediterranean Sea dominates
the region. Although some areas receive plentiful rainfall,
water is scarce across much of the region. Vegetation varies widely depending
upon the climate.
The Land Three tectonic plates come together in the region, forming mountains and causing earthquakes. Several mountain ranges have fertile areas along their slopes. The region is dominated by deserts and mountains, but fertile coastal plains such as those bordering the Mediterranean Sea form rich agricultural areas. The region consists of many seas and peninsulas. Rivers flow through fertile valleys that once were the birthplaces of early civilizations. Major petroleum, natural gas, and other mineral deposits have enriched the region. However, some countries that suffered economically during times of price fluctuations of these resources are now diversifying their economies.
Climate and Vegetation A desert climate predominates in the region,
and the scarcity of makes a precious resource. The vast precipitation/water expanse of
the Sahara covers most of North Africa and supports only drought-resistant shrubs
and cacti. The semiarid steppe climate extends throughout the region and supports
short grasses suitable for pasture. Fruit crops are grown in countries with
a Mediterranean climate, and food grains are produced in the wetter, colder