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Word from Latin, which indicates the lands where the sun rises, as seen from Europe. The original designation were for the eastern parts of the Roman empire, the regions that later were turned into the Eastern Roman empire, and even later the Byzantine empire. This included parts of Balkan in Europe, Minor Asia, the Levant, and eastern parts of North Africa.
In modern times, 'Orient' has been used to designate areas that do not belong to the Western cultural hemisphere, and has been expanded to cover the regions of East Asia, with China and Japan as the principal countries.
'Orient' is to some extent also used by people outside the Western countries, and there are many different views on what constitute the content of the word. Sometimes the word is used for the entire Muslim world, as stretching from Morocco in west to Indonesia in east.
At times, 'Orient' has been used more for indicating exotic culture, and the quality of having a cultural difference compared to European cultures. This usage of 'Orient' has been addressed by Edward W. Said in his book Orientalism.

By Tore Kjeilen