Difference Between Near East and Middle East

Right from the Ancient period, the naming and distribution of different parts of the world is essential for location detection.

Before the world war, the Orient area was broadly divided into two main areas. The two types are the Near East and the Middle East. Both have varied cultural differences.

Near East vs Middle East

The main difference between Near East and the Middle East is that Near East refers to the Ottoman Empire and even the Balkans while the Middle East refers to Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Turkestan, and even the Caucasus. Near East covers countries of western Asia which lie in the Mediterranean Sea and Iran while the Middle East covers the region of western Asia and North Africa.

Near East vs Middle East

Near East is a term that originated in the year the 1890s. However, the popularisation of the term was through an article written by D.G. Hogarth.

The term Near East has become obsolete after the Ottoman Empire had disappeared in the year 1918. Hence the term has only historical contexts and has been adopted by various influential agencies.

On the other hand, Middle East is a term that originated in the year the 1850s. However, the popularisation of the term was done by Alfred Thayer Mahan.

After the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East refers to the entire region which covers Near East as well as the Middle East.

Comparison Table Between Near East and the Middle East

Parameters of Comparison Near EastMiddle East
LocationIt is the area of the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea like Southwestern Asia, northeastern Africa, and even the Balkan peninsulaIt is the area in Western Asia, North Africa, and Southeastern Europe, and covers Arabian Peninsula, Levant, Anatolia Iran, Egypt, and Iraq
TimezoneFollows UTC+03:00 Follows UTC+02:00
UsageThe term is not used anymore The term is still used
Popularization of the term The term Near East was popularised by D. G. Hogarth The term the Middle East was popularised by Alfred Thayer Mahan
Natural resources Iron and farmland Petroleum

What is Near East?

Near East is a region that refers to transcontinental Western Asia. Initially, the area was a historical Fertile Crescent and later the area became the Levant section of the Byzantine and Roman empires.

Near East comprises Egypt, Turkey, and the even Sinai Peninsula. The original application of the Near East was to refer to the Ottoman empire.

In the 19th century, Near East was known as the Levant. It included areas that were in the jurisdiction of the Ottoman government or Ottoman porte.

Some other areas were also included which were beyond the Ottoman Empire. Such regions include North Africa West of Egypt, Iran, and others. The Romans used the term nearest four areas near Gaul, Spain, and its surroundings.

The general application of the term Near East is mainly in historical contexts as the term does not provide a specific indication.

In historical context, it mainly describes the countries of western Asia which begin from the Mediterranean and extend up to Iran. There is no fixed boundary of the Near East. Some agencies in the United States still have the concept of the Near East.

Exemplary agencies using the term Near East are – Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and other influential departmental agencies.

Ancient Near East is commonly abbreviated as Near East. Some inventions that have originated from Near East are investment banking, Greek fire, poison gas, metal water pipes, mirrors, and others.

What is Middle East?

The Middle East refers to the region which covers Arabian Peninsula, Levant, Anatolia Iran, Egypt, and Iraq. It mainly includes Western Asia without the Caucasus.

The Middle East has over 60 languages spoken. The largest cities of the Middle East include Baghdad, Cairo, Riyadh, Tehran, Istanbul, Jeddah, and others. Middle Eastern countries are usually a part of the Arab world.

The most populous regions of the Middle East include Turkey, Iran, and Egypt. The largest country by area of the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. The Middle East has also originated various religions like Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and various others.

Apart from Arabs, the Middle East has other socio-ethnic groups like Persian, Jews, Turks, Kurds, Greek Cypriots, Azeris, Iraqi Turkmen, Copts, and Assyrians.

The origin of the term the Middle East is in the year the 1850s by the British India office. Some major rivers of the Middle East are the Tigris, the Nile Delta, and the Euphrates. These are the source of irrigation to support agriculture.

The Middle East also has a type of hot and arid climate. The Middle East is a rich source of petroleum as the countries bordering the Persian Gulf have vast reserves of national resources.

The Middle East is also a heavy contributor to the changes in climate as it has an arid climate and solely depends on the fossil fuel industry.

The popularisation of the term the Middle East was done by American naval strategies Alfred Thayer Mahan in the year 1902. He designated the term to the area between India and Arabia.

Main Differences Between Near East and the Middle East

  1. Near east refers to southwest Asia while the Middle East refers to South-Eastern Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.
  2. Near east is no longer used and has only historical context while the middle east is still used to refer to the Orient area.
  3. The term Near East was first used in the 1890s while the term the Middle East was first used in the year 1850s.
  4. Near east covers the Ottoman Empire and the welcome while Middle-East covers the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia.
  5. The climate of the Near East ranges from semi-arid to arid type climate while the climate of the Middle East ranges from hot and arid climate.


Both Near East and the Middle East are used to refer to a specific geographical area. However, both the names of the region provide imprecisely and estimated information of the location. Both the regions are different parts of the Orient area.

The origin of both the terms is in different periods. Both Near East and the Middle East have different natural resources and abundancies.

Both the geographical areas have different political and cultural hubs. Near east has become a historical term. Presently, the Middle East combines the areas covered by Near East.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=1jE5k5qeKbgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=near+east+and+middle+east&ots=1Gl5NwYjNs&sig=dp5IAgoTx9VGrGiqR_IU8T4qTpU
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/fora38&section=62
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