The "Arab world" constitutes twenty-two states spanning an area from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to the Arabian Gulf in the East, and from the Taurus mountains in the North to the Equator in the South. It has a multireligious and multiethnic population of nearly 300 million. As a mass art form, film was introduced in the main population centers of the region within the first two years of its invention in 1895. Over the following century, only seven Arab states established a significant or burgeoning film production activity. During this period Egypt, the cultural center of the Arab world, produced almost 75 percent of the total output of films in the region as well as comprising the largest share of the Arab film market. Eventually, Cairo became—and in many respects remains—the region's main center for film studios, artists, training facilities, technical support and expertise, and distribution networks. However, since the 1950s (and particularly since the mid-1980s) filmmaking activity in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian community, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, as well as in Arab immigrant centers, has led to an increasingly heterogeneous and progressively more interactive Arab film culture.
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