The Middle East and the Far East stretch across half the world and are home to some of the most diverse cultures and people on Earth.
Some of the first civilizations sprang up there, and some of the world’s greatest empires had their origin in the East. In modern times, countries like China and India influence the economics of the world. Middle Eastern resources, namely oil, are highly coveted by all nations. Apart from the fun of learning about interesting traditions and unique cultures, understanding Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures is vital in the modern, globalized world.
Middle Eastern Culture in Modern Times
The Middle East encompasses the region from the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to the border with India. It is right in the middle between Europe and Asia, hence its name. As one might expect from a region situated in the middle of things, Middle Eastern culture is a unique blend of elements, at times influenced by Asian, African and even European cultures — not to mention aspects that are unique to the cultures of the Middle East.
Modern Times The modern Middle East is an area of great interest and often tumultuous change. Between border wars, negotiations, and foreign pressures, the people must adapt their traditional customs to modern times while still holding on to their cultural identity. While some aspects such as women’s position in society are changing, other old traditions like the Turkish public bath are being revived, and the Middle East still retains its reputation for stringent rules on courtesy and hospitality.
- Countries and Capitals of the Middle East
- Public Baths in Turkey from Ottoman Times to Today
- Turkish Women’s Fashion: Modern and Traditional Items
- Salam! Greetings and Introductions in Arabic
- Belly Dancing, Then and Now
- Body Language Mix-ups and Cultural Differences
History and Culture in the Middle East
The history of the Middle East — empires, nations, literature and language — is just as important as the customs and practices of modern times. Mesopotamia, the “cradle of civilization,” was located in the Middle East. Throughout history, Middle Eastern innovations in science and engineering have advanced human civilization, while their ancient achievements still awe the modern world.
- Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs About Astronomy
- Ancient Innovations: The Mesopotamian Sailboat
- Aramaic, an Ancient Language
- A Look at the Life of the Ancient Persians
- The Harem: Slave Pen or Women’s Powerhouse?
- The Teachings and Beliefs of Zoroastrianism
- Religion of Ancient Babylon
- Achievements of the Ancient Babylonians
- The Literary Tradition of Turkey
Culture of Different Middle Easter Countries
Explore in detail the specific customs and cultural traits of several Middle Eastern countries! Many of these characteristics and customs apply as much today as they did in ancient times, while other traditions have died out.
- Turkish Weddings: Colorful and Lavish Traditions
- What is the Traditional Dress of Israel?
- Yiddish vs. Hebrew: What’s the Difference?
- Lace, Fabric, and Fashion Design in Turkey
- Turkish Birth and Death Rituals and Ceremonies
- A People Without a Country: Language, Origin and Travels of the Gypsies
- Folklore and Superstitions of the Balkans
Far Eastern Culture
China, India, Japan, Korea — these and other countries comprise the culture and people of the Far East. Asian culture is often elaborate and complex, with thousands of years of tradition and development. Classical China and India were two of the great ancient civilizations; Japan’s culture developed in almost complete isolation. Some Eastern cultures are strongly patriarchal, but Vietnamese women are notably independent. It is important to learn about these differences. While they share some similar characteristics, all the Eastern cultures are unique.
Modern Times With the revived modern interest in the ancient learning of the Far East, traditional Eastern medicine and philosophy are becoming more popular. More and more people are also learning Eastern languages as second languages. Others look to the traditional Mongolian yurt as a way to live efficiently. Many Eastern countries are also popular travel destinations, and Eastern cuisine is savored by many in Asia and around the world.
- Enjoy Traditional Indian Cuisine on Your Travels
- Major Holidays in India
- Humorous Chinese Expressions
- Electricity-Free Green Homes: Yurts
Culture and History in the Far East
Some of humanity’s most important discoveries and accomplishments came from the East. Chess, a worldwide game still played in modern times, was invented in India. Latin and Greek are linguistic descendants of Sanskrit. Genghis Khan’s cast empire may be no more, but his genetic legacy lives on. Whatever the year, topic, or discovery, a country’s history is hugely important to its culture.
- How Chess Made History
- The Genetic Legacy of Genghis Khan
- Astronomy in Ancient China
- Japanese History: An Overview
Culture by Country: The Far East
Perhaps you are interested in the cultures of specific countries. Learn about traditions unique to India, Japan, Korea and China. Each has its own music, rites of passage and special holy days and festivals. Most of these traditional practices are still very much a part of modern life in their respective countries.
- Strings, Flutes and Drums: Instruments of Korea
- Important Korean Festivals
- Bride, Meet Groom: Traditional Chinese Weddings
- Symbolism of the Cherry Blossom
- Common Korean Customs and Beliefs
Whether you are learning about these cultures as part of studying for a test, needing a project topic, travelling to one of these countries, or fulfilling curiosity, I hope you learned something new about Eastern and Middle Eastern culture!
- Country Fast Facts: Far East Asia from CBS News.