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GEO Year Book 2004/5  
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West Asia


Two environmental issues dominated in West Asia in 2004: water scarcity in cities and the impact of conflict on the environment. Despite these difficulties, the year also saw increased commitment to biodiversity conservation in the region, highlighted by the re-flooding of the Mesopotamian Marshlands.

Key Facts

  • Some 80 per cent of the land area of West Asia is classified as semi-desert or desert.
  • Five of the 12 countries of West Asia have a per capita water use of less than 500 m3 a year, indicating chronic water scarcity.
  • The annual per capita availability of water resources in West Asia is decreasing at an alarming rate. If these resources are developed on a business-as-usual basis, the region will suffer serious water shortages. In the Arabian Peninsula the annual water deficit could increase to as much as 67 per cent of demand by 2015.
  • Forest areas cover only 52.6 million ha in West Asia, representing 3.9 per cent of the total land area of 1 352 million ha.
  • The total irrigated agricultural area in West Asia is about 7 345 thousand ha, of which 48 per cent is in Iraq.
  • There are 293 critically endangered and vulnerable species in West Asia with the highest number in Yemen.
  • The population of the region in 2005 is 116 million. By 2020 it is projected to reach 167 million - a 69 per cent increase.
  • The average population density in the region is 29 inhabitants per km2. The Kingdom of Bahrain has the highest population density of 1 066 inhabitants/km2, while Oman has the lowest, at 10 inhabitants/km2.


Sources: ACSAD 1997, AOAD 1995 and 2003, IUCN 2004, UNDP 2004a, UNEP 2000, UNDESA 2004, WRI and others 1996


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