When it comes to social progress and sustainability, the Near East faces many challenges. In this region where three major religions--Christianity, Judaism, and Islam--originated, Islam is the mostly widely followed. Religious differences have caused tensions throughout the region's history--even among those of the Islamic faith. Religion is a driving force in the governments, and some leaders have used religion to justify authoritative control--limiting democracy, individualism, and freedom. In recent years, millions of people have fled political violence in hope of better lives elsewhere. Nonetheless, some countries are progressing toward tolerance and greater personal rights.
The Near East is also characterized by great economic differences, from very rich oil-producing countries to very poor nations experiencing political instability. Wealth distribution is very uneven, as in many parts of the globe. Moreover, fresh water is scarce in this part of the Earth. Because of these religious, economic, and environmental issues, the Near East is weaker in terms of social progress and sustainability compared to other areas, but if balance and tolerance can be maintained, this area, which is rich in culture and religious history, may thrive and prosper. Each title in this series contains a forward from the Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, color photos throughout, maps, charts, and back matter including: a special "Countries at a Glance" statistical section, an index, and further reading lists for books and internet resources. Key Icons appear throughout the books in this series in an effort to encourage library readers to build knowledge, gain awareness, explore possibilities and expand their viewpoints through our content rich non-fiction books. Key Icons in this series are as follows: Words to Understand are shown at the front of each chapter with definitions. These words are set in boldfaced type in that chapter, so that readers are able to reference back to the definitions--building their vocabulary and enhancing their reading comprehension. Sidebars are highlighted graphics with content rich material within that allows readers to build knowledge and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Text-Dependent Questions are placed at the end of each chapter. They challenge the reader's comprehension of the chapter they have just read, while sending the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects are provided at the end of each chapter as well and provide readers with suggestions for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. And a Series Glossary of Key Terms is included in the back matter containing terminology used throughout the series. Words found here broaden the reader's knowledge and understanding of terms used in this field."
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