MENA is an English-language acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa, which corresponds to the Greater Middle East. Another name for the same group of countries is WANA (Western Asia and North Africa). The term covers an extensive region stretching from Morocco in the west to Pakistan in the east. The population of the MENA region, at its least extent, is estimated to be about 381 million. This constitutes about 6% of the total world population. The MENA acronym is often used in academia, military planning, disaster relief, media planning as a broadcast region, and business writing.
VoMENA (Voices of the Middle East and North Africa) is a weekly program originating at Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California which deals with the history, politics, culture and social issues of countries in the MENA region.
Due to the geographic ambiguity and Eurocentric nature of the term "Middle East", some people prefer use of the terms WANA (West Asia and North Africa) or the less common NAWA (North Africa-West Asia). MENA region remains the most common term and is used by most organizations, academia, and political entities flexibly, including those in the region itself.
MENA has no standardized definition; different organizations define the region as consisting of different territories. The following is a list of commonly included countries and territories.
Other countries sometimes counted as part of MENA:
The MENA region has vast reserves of petroleum and natural gas that make it a vital source of global economic stability. According to the Oil and Gas Journal (January 1, 2009), the MENA region has 60% of the world's oil reserves (810.98 billion barrels (128.936 km3)) and 45% of the world's natural gas reserves ( 2,868,886 billion cubic feet (81,237.8 km3) ).
As of 2011, 8 of the 15 OPEC nations are within the MENA region.
According to Pew Research Center, 40% of the adult population in MENA has completed less than a year of primary school. The fraction is higher for women, of whom half have been to school for less than a year.
Islam is by far the dominant religion in nearly all of the MENA territories; 91.2% of the population is Muslim. The Middle East-North Africa region comprises 20 countries and territories with an estimated Muslim population of 315 million or about 23% of the world's Muslim population. The term "MENA" is often defined in part in relation to majority Muslim countries that based on the countries located in the region, although several nations in the region are not majority Muslim-dominated.
Due to rich resources, mainly oil and gas, combined with its location between three continents, (Asia, Africa and Europe), the MENA region has been in conflict since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire; notably due to the creation of Israel, a Jewish state among Arab and Muslim countries; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the Iran-Iraq War; Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy conflict; and the rise of terrorism. Conflict in the region had come to its highest peak so far in the 21st century, with incidents such as the U.S. intervention of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent Iraq War and the rise of ISIS; the Arab Spring, which spread war to throughout the region such as the Syrian Civil War, Libyan Civil War and Yemeni Civil War.
From April 2013, the International Monetary Fund started using a new analytical region called MENAP (Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), which adds Afghanistan and Pakistan to MENA countries. Now MENAP is a prominent economic grouping in IMF reports.