What Is Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)?

Europe, Middle East and Africa is a geographical division used by many multinational corporations.

Understanding Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is a label that many global firms use when dividing their operations by geography. A multinational might, for example, break out its financial results by region, reporting sales and profits in the Americas, the EMEA region, and Asia Pacific and Japan. It might also assign leadership roles based on these divisions. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), for example, has a Vice-President for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

EMEA is a common geographical division in international business, but it is not precisely defined. It may or may not include Russia (shown below) or Kazakhstan (not shown), for example. European overseas territories on other continents are generally excluded (though French Guiana is shown below). Since few firms have operations in anything close to every country that might be considered EMEA, the list of nations comprising an individual firm's EMEA region will be idiosyncratic. 

Besides being widely recognized, the EMEA is useful for operational purposes because most of the region – Russia's far east excluded – falls within four time zones, facilitating communication and travel. 

Other than longitude, however, little unites the EMEA region. It contains incredible political, economic, linguistic, cultural, religious and climatic diversity. Some of the world's richest countries are lumped in with some of the poorest. Political systems range from stable democracies to autocracies to failed states. Regions where the lingua franca is Swahili are lumped in with ones where it is Arabic, French, Russian or English. Local languages number in the hundreds. 

EMEA, in other words, is a creature of corporate boardrooms, not an intuitive designations with its roots in history, culture, or politics.