The Arab World consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa:
- the Comoros Islands
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Arab League countries are defined by an Arab majority; the Arabic language forms the unifying feature of the Arab world. Though different areas use local varieties of Arabic, all share in the use of the modern standardized language, derived from Classical Arabic (symptomatic of Arabic diglossia). This contrasts with the situation in the wider Islamic world, where in contiguous Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Arabic maintains its use in a similar script and retains its cultural prestige primarily as the language of religion and theological scholarship, but where Arabic is not spoken as a vernacular. Arabs make up about one quarter of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, a group sometimes referred to as the Islamic world. The average population growth rate in Arab countries is 2.3%.
The majority of people in the Arab world adhere to Islam and the religion has official status in most countries. Shariah law exists partially in the legal system in some countries, especially in the Arabian peninsula, while others are secular. The majority of the Arab countries adhere to Sunni Islam. Iraq and Bahrain, however, are Shia majority countries, while Lebanon, Yemen, and Kuwait have large Shia minorities. In Arabia, the eastern province Al-Hasa region has Shia minority and the southern province city Najran has an Ismalia Shiite minority also. Ibadi Islam is practiced in Oman and Ibadis make up 75% population of the country. Most of the Muslims in the Arab League are ethnic Arabs, though there are also significant minorities of Berbers, Tuaregs, Kurds, Turks (see Turks in the Arab world), Turkmen, Persians, Roma (Dom people), Nubians and Circassians.
There are sizeable minority populations in the Arab countries of the Middle East, living primarily in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the State of tine. The largest atheist populations are Egyptian and Lebanese: Arabic-speaking populations with pre-Arab origins. There are also smaller numbers of Assyrians, Armenians and Arab Christians. With the Lebanese Civil War, the Iraq War and most recently the Syrian Civil War, Christian populations of the Middle East have been greatly diminished.
Less dominant ethno-religious minorities across the Arab League include the Yezidis and Shabaks (mainly in Iraq), the Druzes (mainly in Syria and also in Lebanon, Jordan) and Mandaeans (in Iraq). Formerly, there were significant minorities of Jews throughout the Arab World. However, the Arab-Israeli conflict prompted their mass exodus between 1948-72. Today small Jewish communities remain, ranging anywhere from just 10 in Bahrain, to more than 1,000 in Tunisia and some 3,000 in Morocco.