Region in the Eastern Mediterranean / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Levant (/ləˈvænt/) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is equivalent to a stretch of land bordering the Mediterranean in southwestern Asia, i.e. the historical region of Syria ("Greater Syria"), which includes present-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and most of Turkey southwest of the middle Euphrates. Its overwhelming characteristic is that it represents the land bridge between Africa and Eurasia. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the Eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica in eastern Libya.
|Countries and regions||Narrow definition:
|Population||Narrow definition: 44,550,926[lower-alpha 1]|
|Languages||Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Circassian, Domari, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, Turkish|
|Time Zones||UTC+02:00 (EET) and UTC+03:00 (TRT/AST)|
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the term levante was used for Italian maritime commerce in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt, that is, the lands east of Venice. Eventually the term was restricted to the Muslim countries of Syria-Palestine and Egypt. The term entered English in the late 15th century from French. It derives from the Italian levante, meaning "rising", implying the rising of the Sun in the east, and is broadly equivalent to the term al-Mashriq (Arabic: ٱلْمَشْرِق, [ʔal.maʃ.riq]), meaning "the eastern place, where the Sun rises".
In 1581, England set up the Levant Company to monopolize commerce with the Ottoman Empire. The name Levant States was used to refer to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War I. This is probably the reason why the term Levant has come to be used more specifically to refer to modern Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Some scholars mistakenly believed that it derives from the name of Lebanon. Today the term is often used in conjunction with prehistoric or ancient historical references. It has the same meaning as "Syria-Palestine" or Ash-Shaam (Arabic: ٱلشَّام, /ʔaʃ.ʃaːm/), the area that is bounded by the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the north Arabian Desert and Mesopotamia in the east, and Sinai in the south (which can be fully included or not). Typically, it does not include Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), the Caucasus Mountains, or any part of the Arabian Peninsula proper. Cilicia (in Asia Minor) and the Sinai Peninsula (Asian Egypt) are sometimes included.
As a name for the contemporary region, several dictionaries consider Levant to be archaic today. Both the noun Levant and the adjective Levantine are now commonly used to describe the ancient and modern culture area formerly called Syro-Palestinian or Biblical: archaeologists now speak of the Levant and of Levantine archaeology; food scholars speak of Levantine cuisine; and the Latin Christians of the Levant continue to be called Levantine Christians.
The Levant has been described as the "crossroads of Western Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Northeast Africa", and in geological (tectonic) terms as the "northwest of the Arabian Plate". The populations of the Levant share not only the geographic position, but cuisine, some customs, and history. They are often referred to as Levantines.