Arabia is essentially a desert country comprising an area of roughly 1,000,000 square miles and inhabited for the most part by nomadic Bedouin tribes eking out a precarious pastoral existence by the breeding of camels, sheep and goats. Bounded on the north by the mandated territories of Iraq, Syria and Trans-Jordan (Palestine), it is enclosed on the other three sides by the sea—the Red Sea on the west, the Indian Ocean on the south and the Persian (Gulf on the east. The land-surface of the peninsu a enclosed within these limits slopes down steadily from the elevated mountain barrier, which runs down the whole length of its western side parallel with the Red Sea to sea-level on the Persian Gulf, and the uniformity of this slope is only interrupted in the extreme south-eastern corner of the peninsula, where the mountains of the Oman district rear their crests to an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea-level. With the exception of this mountainous district and the similar district of Yemen, which occupies a considerable area in the south-western corner of the peninsula—both of them enjoy a degree of agricultural prosperity which completely differentiates them physically from the rest of the country of which they form geographical parts—Arabia is a barren country consisting of vast tracts of steppe-desert, sand-waste and mountainous wilderness. It is a country of insignificant rainfall (Yemen and Oman excepted), but such rain as falls collects at greater or less depths below the surface in favoured localities and gives rise to cultivation in scattered ouses and, here and there, in considerable districts or oasis-groups.
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