A Middle East Historical Overview, to 1947



The Middle East* has historically been of great strategic importance as a land bridge between three continents — a traditional route of empire. To this already key position was added [in 1869] the Suez Canal, permitting sea passage across shorter routes and, more recently, were made available landing and transit rights for intercontinental air flights. The area is also the single greatest repository of oil in the world, possessing 70 per cent of proven world reserves and yielding 34 per cent of world production. The importance of Middle East defence results from the unique combination of these strategic factors.


Middle East Middle Eastern Suez Canal Seventh Century Arab State 
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© George McGhee 1990

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