• Probably because when people say 'the middle East' they are usually referring to the troubles in Israel, Egypt definitely being part of that, being involved in the war with Israel in 1967. Part of Egypt is also in the middle East, between the Suez canal and Southern Israel.
  • You're in good company with this question! In his book The Hinge of Fate, Churchill slammed the sloppy thinking of people who didn't know that the Near East was the Fertile Crescent, Egypt and Arabia (I think), the Middle East was Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the East was like Burma and India, and the Far East was China, Southeast Asia and Japan.
  • today the middle east is used to describe the predominantly Muslim areas of Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, and so on. The countries on the Northern coast of Africa (especially Egypt) get lumped in that category because of the religious influences and political alliances it shares with these countries.
  • Culturally, Egypt is part of the same region as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq etc. It is the largest Arab country by far. If you are talking politically, Egypt has to be lumped in with its fellow Arabs. Geographically, of course, it is part of Africa. It depend therefore whether you are talking politically or geographically. In this messy world, things don't always divide on the same neat lines.
  • Since Biblical times, Egypt has been a cross roads, between continents and cultures. Its identity as a culture places it with its Muslim neighbors. But its location places it in Africa. I would say culture trumps location. Are the US, UK and Australia not considered to be "English" countries, though not located within a continental border?
  • "Middle East" is a region that encompasses countries on several continents; the two identities are not mutully exclusive. Morocco is also a Middle Eastern country in Africa. The other Middle Eastern countries belong to continents, too - Europe (Turkey) and Asia (the rest).
  • Thanks for the heads-up, jbarbie; it made me look at something I studied thirty years ago. I'd remembered it as a crescent around the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, but Wikipedia shows that it's an upside-down crescent including Iran, Iraq, Israel, and the Nile Valley. Isn't the Internet wonderful? I'd have had to go the library to find this out, and by that time we'd both have forgotten about it.

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