Geographically, the area covered in this chapter defies easy description. The designation Middle East is conventional and convenient-but it is also ethnocentric, as are Near East and Far East. After all, the regions these terms describe are only “near” or “far” from the perspective of the West. On the other hand, referring to the “Middle East” as “West Asia and North Africa” is clumsy. For this reason, we have chosen to adhere to the conventional term, whatever its drawbacks.