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(in Russian, Western, or Anterior, Asia), a group of natural lands, including Asia Minor, the Armenian and Iranian uplands, Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant. Located within its bounds are the Caucasus and the Kopet Dag (USSR), the Asiatic part of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, the Asiatic part of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni Arab Republic, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrein.
The northern regions of Southwest Asia (the Anterior Asian Uplands) constitute one of the links in the Mediterranean geosynclinal belt, in which young folded structures frame older stable interior massifs. This factor also led to the formation of a typical upland terrain with higher rim ranges and comparatively lower interior plateaus. The Arabian Peninsula and the Levant are related to the ancient platform structure of Gondwana, and in their geological and geomorphological characteristics they are close to the adjacent regions of Africa. The plains of Mesopotamia were formed on the site of the piedmont downwarp that originated between alpine structures in the north and platform structures in the south.
A commonly shared natural trait is the predominance of arid landforms with a broad expanse (particularly in the south) of deserts, semideserts, and dry steppes, as well as the presence of enormous areas without internal drainage. Only the shores of the Mediterranean, Black, and the southern part of the Caspian seas, as well as the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula and certain mountain regions, are characterized by better moisture conditions, which determine the spread of subtropical and (in the Arabian Peninsula) tropical forest and shrub formations.
Outstanding among the valuable minerals in Southwest Asia are the major deposits of petroleum (for the most part, in the basin of the Persian Gulf and on the Apsheron Peninsula). Pastureland plays an important role in the agriculture of most of the Southwest Asian countries by determining the development of extensive livestock raising (which in many regions is nomadic).
The Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia form what is called Southwest Asia in Russian geography.