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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines the region similarly, but also includes Afghanistan while excluding the countries of North Africa and the Palestinian territories.At the beginning of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire included all of the Balkan Peninsula south to the southern edge of the Hungarian Plain, but by 1914 had lost all of it except Constantinople and Eastern Thrace to the rise of Balkan nationalism, which saw the independence of Greece, Serbia, the Danubian Principalities and Bulgaria.In the 1890s the term tended to focus on the conflicts in the Balkan states and Armenia.The demise of the sick man of Europe left considerable confusion as to what was to be meant by "Near East".By the time of John Seller's Atlas Maritima of 1670, "India Beyond the Ganges" had become "the East Indies" including China, Korea, southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific in a map that was every bit as distorted as Ptolemy's, despite the lapse of approximately 1500 years.That "east" in turn was only an English translation of Latin Oriens and Orientalis, "the land of the rising Sun", used since Roman times for "east".

Both terms were used before then with local British and American meanings: the near or far east of a field, village or shire.

Before them the Greeks had the habit, which appears in Linear B, the oldest known script of Europe, referring to the near province and the far province of the kingdom of Pylos.

Usually these terms were given with reference to a geographic feature, such as a mountain range or a river.

Up until 1912 the Ottomans retained a band of territory including Albania, Macedonia and Southern Thrace, which were lost in the two Balkan Wars of 1912–13.

The Ottoman Empire, believed to be about to collapse, was portrayed in the press as the "sick man of Europe".

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