The Arabian Peninsula, also known as Arabia, is the largest peninsula in the world. At 1,250,005 square miles (3,237,500 square kilometers), the Arabian Peninsula is located in western Asia to the northeast of Africa. The peninsula is home to over 77.9 million people in seven countries. The Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by the Red Sea to the west and southwest, with the Persian Gulf located to the north. The Peninsula consists of a range of deserts, mountains, marshy coastlines, oases, and a central plateau called the Najd, which has fertile valleys.
All seven Arabian Peninsula countries have previously been monarchies or are still monarchies, and have been working to change their political landscape as well as achieve economic growth. These nations are experiencing greater access to healthcare and education, urbanization, and secularization, all of which are helping their economic and social advancement. The Peninsula initially had close military, social, political, and religious ties with the Middle East, especially with the advent of Islam in the seventh century. Because of the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the Peninsula in the 20th century, the region started increasing its contact with the West as well.
The peninsula plays a large geopolitical role in the Middle East due to the vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The Peninsula contains the world’s largest reserve of oil, most of which lie within Saudi Arabia. Because of the high desire and demand for these natural resources by industrialized nations all over the world, the Peninsula countries can leverage their resources to direct political action. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) unites the Peninsula countries to consolidate their oil withholding power in order to guide political action.
The seven Arabian Peninsula countries are:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Saudi Arabia is the largest of these countries by both area and population. Officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country spans over 830,000 square miles (2,150,000 square kilometers) and is home to over 33.4 million people. Saudi Arabia has the largest economy in the Middle East, thanks to the abundant oil reserves allowing the country to be the second-largest oil producer in the world behind the United States. Modern-day Saudi Arabia is believed to be where Islam emerged in the seventh century. Mecca and Medina, vital cities in the Islamic religion, are located in Saudi Arabia.
Yemen is the second-largest Arab sovereign state and is unfortunately in the middle of a civil war. The Yemen Civil War started on March 19th, 2015 between the Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement. Both factions claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.