The Middle East and North Africa region is made up of 24 nations, ranging from Western Sahara in the extreme west to Iran in the east, with Turkey as the northern border and Somalia at the southern tip (see map). While seemingly geographically diverse, these countries are grouped together due to significant commonality of language and religion, Arabic and Islam, but also because of climatic similarities. Much of the area is desert (approximately 60 percent) with annual precipitation of less than 10 inches per year.
The total population is more than 540 million people in 15.4 million square kilometres which is about 35 people per square km, compared to the Prairie province’s three people per square kilometre. While some of the 24 nations are wealthy due to oil and gas revenues, the majority of the populace is not; the average per capita income is about US$8,500 per year.