|1.||another term for the Middle East|
|2.||(formerly) the Balkan States and the area of the Ottoman Empire|
usually the lands around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, including northeastern Africa, southwestern Asia, and, occasionally, the Balkan Peninsula. The term Near East was used by the first modern Western geographers to refer to the nearer part of the Orient, a region roughly coextensive with the Ottoman Empire. Since World War II, the name has been largely supplanted by Middle East (q.v.), though frequently they are used interchangeably.
Learn more about Near East with a free trial on Britannica.com.