The Arab states include 22 countries spanning Asia and Africa. Almost all have strong identification with Islam and are characterized by dictatorship, monarchy or oligarchy. There is no Arab democracy. Many Arab states have vast petroleum resources, very low levels of public literacy and great disparity between social classes.
The following are Arab states:
- Palestine (only recognized by the Arab League)
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Western Sahara
The borders of the various states were drawn up by European colonial powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are often straight lines drawn on a map with complete disregard to the geographic and demographic characteristics of the land. After World War II, there was a movement called Pan-Arabism that sought to unite all Arab countries into one political entity. Only Syria, Iraq and Egypt attempted the short-lived unification.
The various Arab states maintain close ties. Various national identities have been greatly strengthened by political realities in the past 60 years, making a single Arab nation less and less feasible.