Region - Central Asia
Central Asia is an area that can well be described as the "crossroads of the world". This is an area, today composed of many newly created states that historically have seen the rise and fall of many civilizations, while its underlying tribal and nomadic structure has continued. This area, which has controlled the overland routes between the East, the West, and the South, the historic "Silk Road", has been fought over for millennia. Whoever controlled this area controlled the vast wealth carried back and forth by caravan between China, India and the West. Many conquerors, from Alexander the Great, of Greece, to Genghis Khan of Mongolia, to the Russians of the Soviet era have sought to control this area, to reap the benefits of trade and wealth. In addition to the independent countries belonging to this regions, two areas of the political Chinese state: the Western province of Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as the East Asian country of Mongolia, also fit culturally into this region as does part of Pakistan.
Central Asia is characterized by populations with strong tribal affinities; to many, the tribal ties are uppermost, far more important and more historical, than any recently imposed state borders. Nomads are mobile, moving back and forth across national borders, with strong ties to tribal members in these areas. In addition to traveling with their flocks, they have traditionally been leaders of trading caravans, and derived much of their wealth and importance from their success in this exchange of goods. Religions, like trade goods, have moved across and influenced this area: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism have all been part of the religious mix of this area. Today the entire area (with the exception of Tibet) is firmly Islamic in religion and culture.