In the Middle East, where borders and allegiances and names have been shifting since civilization began, even something as straightforward as geography is full of conflict. Take, for instance, the matter of the Persian Gulf, which the Arabs call the Gulf of Arabia. Two different names for the same body of water symbolize a centuries-old struggle.

Geography, in fact, is a good place to start to understand a region of the world where turmoil is a way of life -- turmoil that now spills over into our lives.This is National Geographic Awareness Week, a good time to remember that most Americans don't know much about the world beyond our borders. Before Aug. 12, 1990 most of us had never given much thought to Kuwait or the Gulf of Oman or the daytime temperature of Saudi Arabia.

It's time to take a closer look at the map -- at names that are at once familiar and exotic -- and see how much you know about the Middle East and the Arab world.

1. Match the following old and new names:

a. Mesopotamia e. Iran

b. Babylonia f. Iraq

c. Persia g. Istanbul

d. Constantinople h. Morocco

2. The 19 nations of the Arab world, including the Middle East and North Africa, cover an area that is:

a. roughly the size of the U.S. b. 1 1/2 times the size of the U.S. c. the size of the western half of the U.S.

3. The Dead Sea is how many times saltier than the ocean?

4. What 1942 film classic took place in a city on the Barbary Coast?

5. What does "Islam" mean?

6. What percentage of the Arab world is made up of desert?

7. By what year had Islam spread through most of the Arabian Peninsula?

a. 300 A.D. b) 570 A.D. c) 632 A.D. d) 1492

8. Which of the following countries were once under British rule?

a. Qatar b. Bahrain c. Iraq d. Kuwait

9. What is the Trucial Coast?

10. What two rivers flow into the Persian Gulf?

11. Match these areas with their per capita income (prior to Aug. 2, 1990): a) $19,000 f) Utah

b) $6,000 g) Kuwait

c) $14,000 h) U.S.

d) i) Saudia Arabia

e) j) Iraq

12. Which of the following NEVER invaded or ruled what is now Iraq:

a. Alexander the Great b. Persia c. Mongols d. Romans e. France f. Assyria g. Ottoman Turks h. Britian

13. Where was the ancient city of Troy and what archaeologist discovered it?

14. The Middle East has what percent of the world's known oil reserves?

15. Why are the borders between Saudi Arabia and South Yemen, Oman and the United Arab Emirates often shown as dotted lines on maps?

16. What do the following English words have in common: albatross, alcohol, alfalfa and algebra?

17. In what present day country did the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians live?

18. Why are the cultures of Northern Africa more like those of the Middle East than those of tribal Africa?

19. In what year did Mesopotamia become known as Iraq?

20. Which of the following countries would least likely be characterized as Islamic?

a. Pakistan b. Indonesia c. Ethiopia d. Egypt

21. Which of the following is true about Kuwait.

a. It has no rivers of lakes

b. It had few settled inhabitants before 1700.

c. The first oil well was drilled there in 1936.



1. a (f); b (h); c (e); d (g)

2. b

3. nine times

4. Casablanca

5. submission to God

6. 50 percent

7. about 50 percent

8. c (the year Mohammed died)

9. Seven Arab sheikdoms known since 1971 as the United Arab Emirates. They were called the Trucial States beginning in 1820, when a British attach on Ras al Khayman forced Arab rulers to sign a truce with Great Britain.

10. Tigris and Euphrates

11. Troy was located on the Aegean Sea in what is now northwest Turkey. The Greeks believe the city fell in 1184 B.C. The site was discovered by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870.

12. e

13. all of them

14. The area, known as The Empty Quarter, consists almost entirely of sand. Even nomads don't travel here; no one cares where the border is.

15. They all derive from Arabic words. Al means the in Arabic.

16. Iraq

17. officially in 1921

18. c. (The Ethiopian Christian Church is the official church of Ethiopia, although many Moslems live in the eastern part of the country).

19. Northern Africa is seperated from tribal Africa by the great expanse of the Sahara, which made north-south travel difficult.

20. Abu al-Qasim Mohammed ibn 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim

21. All are true