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Issue Date: 19-Jul-2006
Journal: Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part VII: Cultural Geography and Geopolitics
Considering the demographic structure of the northern and southern shores of the
Mediterranean several complementary patterns can be easily defined. The states that extend
along the south are, as noted, characterised by a substantial concentration of youthful
populations, with over 30% of the population under fifteen years of age. In the north instead
the societies are distinguishable for the ageing process under way, with over 18% of the
population above 65 years of age. Equally, in Europe annual birth rates are close to the
substitution rate, while along the African-Asian coast the rate reaches 3.9% in some areas, as
for example in the Gaza Strip1.
Containment of this demographic spurt constitutes a priority for the area’s various
governments: Egypt, Iran and Turkey have begun programmes aimed at curbing births,
supported by UN programmes2. Syria and Jordan have not expressly adopted such policies.
But slowing growth is not always the goal of national population policies. Even in the highgrowth
Middle East two governments actually encourage large families, those of Saudi Arabia
and Israel3.
As is known, one of the principal declared objectives of Zionism is to make the Jewish
people into a nation like many others. The impossibility of transforming, for well-known
reasons, emergency policies into a routine has increased the weight of the demographic
question such that often the geographic dimension of the conflict is pushed into the
background, especially in the recurring debates amongst the Israeli people. The Israeli interest
in the future size, composition and age structure of the population has increased in recent
years due to the large number of immigrants – arriving primarily from the former USSR. This
interest stems from the need for economic and social policies adapted to the needs of a
quickly-growing and fast-changing population. Projections present potential developments in
the size, composition and structure of Israel’s population, based on developments in fertility,
mortality and migration patterns.
The state of Israel has been defined as a Western country that at the same time presents
characteristics typical of a developing society4. One of these aspects is of course demography,
which remains more similar to those countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean,
even excluding the birth rates of the Orthodox communities. The demographic question
remains one of the more difficult aspects of defining a scenario of peaceful co-existence
between Israel, a future Palestinian entity, and other Arab governments. A framework
summarising the entire problem can be drawn up with just a few statistics.[...]
Type: Proceedings
ISBN: 88-8303-180-6
Rights: © Copyright 2003 Edizioni Università di Trieste - EUT
Appears in Collections:The cultural turn in geography

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