The Fertile Crescent (also known as the cradle of civilization ) is a crescent -shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia , the Nile Valley and Nile Delta. Having originated in the study of ancient history , the concept soon developed and today retains meanings in international geopolitics and diplomatic relations. In current usage, all definitions of the Fertile Crescent include Mesopotamia , the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; and the Levant , the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea . The modern-day countries with significant territory within the Fertile Crescent are Iraq , Syria , Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, beside the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran .