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Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's All About Turmekistan

a rant by Jennifer Neff

I'm riding in the car with my husband (Tim) on our way home and he begins discussing Middle Eastern countries and their laws. He starts talking about this country called "Turmekistan" and how they only have partial freedom of the press and I couldn't help laughing at him. Then he followed up by mentioning a country called "Azbukistan". I had to laugh at him again. I know it's kind of childish, but I just can't help myself. I'm sensitive to how words are spoken.

There are probably some people reading this blog who don't know why that's so funny. Part of the reason it's funny to me is because the real name of the first country in question is Turkmenistan. I'm not sure what the second country really is. I thought it might either be Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan, but Tim insisted that it began with and "A" and ended with a "stan". I'm still looking on maps for that country. Another reason this is funny is because Tim consistently speaks an English-based language that I can partially understand.

After Tim called me a jerk for making fun of him I realized that he's not the only one who's bad at Middle Eastern geography. I once got a call from my sister and her boyfriend so I could settle a bet they made. My sister's boyfriend said that Egypt and Baghdad (capital city of Iraq) were both in Saudi Arabia (large country bordering Iraq), while my sister bet that they were both right next to Russia. Needless to say it was a tie.

Because some of the more important people in my life are having trouble with their geography, I have decided that everyone needs a short lesson. The topic will be the geography of Middle Eastern Countries. We'll start at the southern most tip of the Middle East and work our way north and east.

In the south we have the country of Yemen, which is bordered to the east by Oman. Northwest of Oman is the United Arab Emirates. Bordering to the northwest is Qatar, which extends into the Persian Gulf, and to the north of which is the island of Bahrain. West of Bahrain is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is bordered to the northeast by Kuwait, to the north by Iran and Jordan, and to the northwest by Israel. Bordering north of Israel is Lebanon, which is bordered to the east by Syria. North of Syria is Turkey. Bordering both Turkey and Iraq to the east is Iran. To the southeast of Iran is Pakistan (one of many stans). North of Pakistan and east of Iran is Afghanistan. Afghanistan is bordered to the northwest by Turkmenistan (also bordering Iran to the east), to the north by Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and to the northeast by Kyrgyzstan.

What about Azerbaijan you ask? Well, Azerbaijan borders Iran to the north and is on the west bank of the Caspian Sea. It's actually too far north to be considered part of the Middle East. It lies in the southern most part of an area considered to be "European Russia". Sorry Tim.

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