Egypt is a north-African country with a deep history and heritage of 1000 km along the Nile River. Cairo is the modern capital of the country. Africa may have given rise to the first human beings, and Egypt probably gave rise to the first great civilisations, which fascinate modern societies nearly 5,000 years later. From the Library and Lighthouse of Alexandria to the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Ancient Egyptians produced several world wonders, revolutionised architecture and construction, created some of the world’s first systems of mathematics and medicine, and established language and art that spread across the globe. With world-famous leaders like King Tut and Cleopatra, it is no wonder today’s world has many Egyptologists.
- Geography of Egypt
- Military and foreign relations
- Agriculture and Food Security
- History of Egypt
- Ancient Egyptian Temples
- Ancient Egyptian Deities
- Pharaohs of Egypt
- Egyptian Pyramids
- Ancient Egyptian tombs
- Ancient Egyptian Towns
- Military of Ancient Egypt
- Museums in Egypt
- Tourist Activities and Excursions in Egypt
- Coptic Culture
- Christian Monuments in Egypt
- Egyptian Cuisine
Geography of Egypt
Egypt has an area of 1,002,450 km2 (387,050 sq mi), making it the 29th largest country in the world. The geography of Egypt relates to two regions: North Africa and Southwest Asia. The Egyptian government has coastlines on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. On the other hand, Egypt borders Libya to the west, the Gaza Strip to the northeast, Palestine to the east and Sudan to the south.
Location of Egypt
The longest straight-line distance in Egypt from north to south is 1,024 km (636 mi), while east to west measures 1,240 km (770 mi). It has more than 2,900 km (1,800 mi) of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf of Suez, and the Gulf of Aqaba. It has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 263,451 km2 (101,719 sq mi).
Due to the extreme aridity of Egypt’s climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses approximately 5.5% of the total land area. 98% of Egyptians live on 3% of the territory.
Egypt’s important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation. Libya borders it to the west, Sudan to the south, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. It possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea.
Apart from the Nile Valley, most of Egypt’s landscape is desert, with a few oases scattered. Winds create prolific dunes that peak over 30 metres (100 ft). It forms parts of the Sahara desert and the Libyan desert. These deserts protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from threats from the country’s west, and Egyptians referred to it as the “red land” in ancient Egypt.
The Nile is a majestic river that flows northwards through Northeastern Africa. This beautiful river snakes through various countries and covers 6,650 km. Most importantly, the Nile River covers the drainage basins of Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya. Also, it covers the basins of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. Above all, this river is the primary water source for Egypt and Sudan. The Nile River system begins on the East African Plateau and flows to the Mediterranean Sea. Naturally, 20% of the total watercourse goes through the Egyptian territories.
The Nile Delta is formed in Lower Egypt, where the Nile River spreads and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world’s largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east. It covers 240 km (150 mi) of the Mediterranean coastline and is a rich agricultural region. The Delta is approximately 160 km (99 mi) from north to south. The Delta begins slightly downriver from Cairo.
Western Desert of Egypt
The Western Desert of Egypt is a vast area of the Sahara situated west of the Nile River, stretching up to the Libyan border and down south from the Mediterranean Sea to the border with Sudan. It is distinct from the Eastern Desert, which extends east from the Nile to the Red Sea. The Western Desert is mainly rocky, except for a sandy desert area bordering Libya, known as the Great Sand Sea, situated to the west. The desert spans 680,650 km2 (262,800 sq mi), two-thirds of the country’s land area. The Gilf Kebir plateau on the Egypt-Sudan-Libya border is the highest point of the desert, rising to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level.
The Western Desert is generally barren and unpopulated, except for a chain of oases extending from Siwa in the northwest to Kharga in the south. The desert has been the site of conflict in modern times, particularly during World War II. The Western Desert is divided between various governorates, with the Matrouh Governorate overseeing the area from the Mediterranean south to approximately 27°40′ N latitude in the north and west, and the New Valley Governorate responsible for the region from there to the Sudan border. Additionally, parts of the Western Desert lie within the Giza, Fayyum, Beni Suef, and Minya Governorates to the east.
Towns in Egypt
The Egyptian countryside is uniform throughout the Delta and Nile valley to the High Dam, with minor variations from north to south. Rural settlements consist of compact villages surrounded by cultivated fields and range in population from 500 to over 10,000. The villages share a similar physical appearance except for minor local variations in building materials, design, and decoration. The landscape includes standard features such as date palms, sycamore and eucalyptus trees, and Casuarina species. Drinking water was once only available from the Nile, so many villages are built along its canals. Some of the older villages are situated on mounds from the days of basin irrigation and annual flooding.
Many towns in Egypt are considered urban for census purposes but are overgrown villages with large numbers of residents engaged in agriculture and rural enterprises. Some towns remain primarily rural, but their residents include government officials, people involved in trade and commerce, industrial workers, technicians, and professionals. Towns and cities have grown at the expense of agricultural land, with urban dwellings and apartments built among the fields. Urban planning and adherence to building regulations are often lacking, and mud village houses are sometimes included within the confines of a city.
Egypt borders the Red Sea in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the north. The Red Sea coast stretches 800 km from Suez to the Sudanese border. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea coast spans about 1,050 km along the northern coast. It extends from the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula at the Egypt – Gaza frontiers to the western village of Sallum on the Egyptian border with Libya. Indeed, these extended maritime areas have several sea islands. These islands are natural, except for the artificial island in the Gulf of Aqaba.
Oases of Egypt
Egyptian oases are still among the most sacred places globally, each with a unique character. For the best Egypt safari adventure, you can explore the majesty of the desert by camel or jeep, spend a night under the stars, and enjoy a morning dip in the hot springs. Wherever travellers stay, they can enjoy the tranquillity of the Bedouin lifestyle, date woods, pigeon towers, and blue-washed mud houses.
The House of Representatives, whose members are elected to serve five-year terms, specialises in legislation. The Egyptian government last held elections between November 2011 and January 2012 but later dissolved. The next parliamentary election was announced within six months of the constitution’s ratification on 18 January 2014 and was held in two phases, from 17 October to 2 December 2015. Initially, the parliament was to be formed before the President was elected, but interim president Adly Mansour pushed the date. The Egyptian presidential election 2014 took place on 26–28 May 2014. Official figures showed a turnout of 25,578,233 or 47.5%, with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi winning with 23.78 million votes or 96.9%, compared to 757,511 (3.1%) for Hamdeen Sabahi.
After a wave of public discontent with the autocratic excesses of the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi, on 3 July 2013, then-General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi from office and the suspension of the constitution. A 50-member constitution committee was formed to modify the constitution, later published for public voting and adopted on 18 January 2014.
In 2013, Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt at 5 (with 1 representing the freest and seven the least) and civil liberties at 5, which gave it the freedom rating of “Partly Free”.
Egyptian nationalism predates its Arab counterpart by many decades, having roots in the 19th century and becoming the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists and intellectuals until the early 20th century. The lower-middle strata of Egyptian society mainly support the ideology espoused by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt has the oldest continuous parliamentary tradition in the Arab world. The first popular assembly was established in 1866. It was disbanded due to the British occupation of 1882, and the British allowed only a consultative body to sit. In 1923, however, a new constitution provided for a parliamentary monarchy after the country’s independence was declared.
The legal system is based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes) and judicial review by a Supreme Court, which accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction only with reservations.
Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation. Sharia courts and qadis are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice. Sharia governs the personal status law regulating marriage, divorce and child custody. A woman’s testimony is worth half a man’s testimony in a family court.
On 26 December 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to institutionalise a controversial new constitution. It replaced the 2011 Provisional Constitution of Egypt, adopted following the revolution. In a referendum held on 15–22 December 2012, with 64% support, only 33% of the electorate participated.
The Penal Code was unique as it contains a “Blasphemy Law.” The present court system allows the death penalty against an absent individual tried in absentia. Several Americans and Canadians were sentenced to death in 2012.
On 18 January 2014, the interim government successfully institutionalised a more secular constitution. The President is elected to a four-year term and may serve two terms. The parliament may impeach the President. Since the constitution took effect, the military can appoint the national Minister of Defence for the successive two full presidential terms. Under the constitution, there is a guarantee of gender equality and absolute freedom of thought. Under the constitution, political parties may not be based on “religion, race, gender or geography”.
Military and foreign relations
The military influences Egypt’s political and economic life and exempts itself from laws that apply to other sectors. It enjoyed considerable power, prestige and independence within the state and was widely part of the Egyptian “deep state”.
Israel speculates Egypt to be the second country in the region with a spy satellite, EgyptSat 1 and EgyptSat 2, launched on 16 April 2014.
Military Cooperation with the United States
The United States provides Egypt with annual military assistance, which in 2015 amounted to US$1.3 billion. In 1989, Egypt was designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. Nevertheless, ties between the two countries have partially soured since the July 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The Obama administration denounces Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and cancelling future military exercises involving the two countries.
However, there have been recent attempts to normalise relations between the two, with both governments frequently calling for mutual support in the fight against regional and international terrorism. Following the election of Republican Donald Trump as the President of the United States, the two countries were looking to improve Egyptian-American relations. On 3 April 2017, al-Sisi met with Trump at the White House, marking the first visit of an Egyptian president to Washington in 8 years. Trump praised al-Sisi in what was reported as a public relations victory for the Egyptian President and signalled it was time to normalise the relations between Egypt and the US.
Military Cooperation with Russia
Relations with Russia have improved significantly following Mohamed Morsi’s removal, and both countries have worked since then to strengthen military and trade ties, among other aspects of bilateral cooperation. Relations with China have also improved considerably. 2014, Egypt and China established a bilateral “comprehensive strategic partnership”. In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including Egypt, signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China’s treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.
Headquarters of the Arab League
The permanent headquarters of the Arab League lies in Cairo, and the body’s secretary-general has traditionally been Egyptian. Former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit currently holds this position. The Arab League briefly moved from Egypt to Tunis in 1978 to protest the Egypt–Israel peace treaty, but it later returned to Cairo in 1989. Gulf monarchies, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have pledged billions of dollars to help Egypt overcome its economic difficulties since the overthrow of Morsi.
Middle East mediator
Egypt has played a historical role as a mediator in resolving various disputes in the Middle East, most notably its handling of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the peace process. Following the 1973 war and the subsequent peace treaty, it became the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Despite that, religiously motivated people still consider Israel a hostile state by most Egyptians. Egypt’s ceasefire and truce brokering efforts in Gaza have hardly been challenged following Israel’s evacuation of its settlements from the strip in 2005, despite increasing animosity towards the Hamas government in Gaza following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and despite recent attempts by countries like Turkey and Qatar to take over this role.
Ties between Egypt and non-Arab Middle Eastern nations, including Iran and Turkey, have often been strained. Tensions with Iran are mainly due to its peace treaty with Israel and Iran’s rivalry with traditional Egyptian allies in the Gulf. Turkey’s recent support for the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian country and its alleged involvement in Libya made both countries bitter regional rivals.
Membership in International Institutions
Egypt is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. It is also a member of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie, since 1983. Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.
In 2008, Egypt was estimated to have two million African refugees, including over 20,000 Sudanese nationals registered with UNHCR as refugees fleeing armed conflict or asylum seekers. Therefore, the country adopted “harsh, sometimes lethal” border control methods.
Agriculture and Food Security
Egypt has increased agricultural export revenue by 1,500 per cent since the late 1990s. Agriculture contributes 11.3 per cent of the Egyptian gross domestic product and employs 28 per cent of all jobs, with over 55 per cent of employment in Upper Egypt being agriculture-related. USAID’s programs enhance the productivity of the entire agriculture value chain, from farm to table, by incorporating innovative technologies and working with local associations and cooperatives.
History of Egypt
It is important to note that Egypt is now a part of the Arab world, also called the Arab nation, Arab sphere, or Arab states. This region comprises many countries located mainly in Western Asia and Northern Africa. Although the majority of the population in the Arab world is ethnically Arab, there are also significant populations of other ethnic groups, such as Berbers, Kurds, Somalis, and Nubians, among others. Arabic is used as the lingua franca throughout the Arab world.
Egypt was governed by the Ottomans as an eyalet of the Ottoman Empire (known in Ottoman Turkish as ایالت مصر, romanised as Eyālet-i Mıṣr) from 1517 until 1867, with a brief interruption during the period of French occupation from 1798 to 1801.
Egypt gained independence from the British Empire as a monarchy in 1922. However, after the 1952 revolution, it became a republic. Later, in 1958, Egypt merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Egypt faced political instability social and religious conflicts and engaged in several armed conflicts with Israel. It intermittently occupied the Gaza Strip until 1967. 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords and officially withdrew from the Gaza Strip, recognising Israel. After the Arab Spring and the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the country faced prolonged political unrest. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has led the current semi-presidential republic government since 2014. However, some watchdogs describe the government as authoritarian and responsible for perpetuating poor human rights in the country.
Ancient Egyptian Temples
Built on the west bank of the Nile River, between the first and second cataracts of the Nile, the site of Abu Simbel is one of the most recognisable ancient sites in Egypt. It contains two temples carved into a mountainside built by Pharaoh Ramses II (1303-1213 BCE), also known as Ramses the Great.
Ancient Egyptian Deities
Pharaohs of Egypt
Native pharaohs continually governed Egypt for approximately 2500 years. The Kingdom of Kush interrupted this continuity of independent rule and conquered Egypt in the late 8th century BC. However, these rulers adopted the traditional pharaonic titulature as the native pharaohs. Following the Kushite conquest, the Egyptian country experienced another period of independent rule before the Achaemenid Empire interrupted it. The Achaemenid rulers also adopted the title of “Pharaoh”. Nectanebo II was the last native pharaoh to rule Egypt before the Achaemenids reoccupied it for a second time.
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient masonry structures located in Egypt. Sources cite at least 118 identified “Egyptian” pyramids. Ancient Egyptians built approximately 80 pyramids within the Kingdom of Kush, now in the modern country of Sudan. At the same time, most of those pyramids in modern Egypt represented tombs for their pharaohs and consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
The earliest-known Egyptian pyramids lay at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. Archaeologists found at least one step-pyramid-like structure dating to the First Dynasty at Saqqara. Mastaba 3808 belonged to the reign of Pharaoh Anedjib, with inscriptions and other archaeological remains suggesting there may have been others. The otherwise earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser, built c. 2630–2610 BCE during the Third Dynasty. This pyramid and surrounding complex are generally the world’s oldest monumental structures, constructed of dressed masonry.
The most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. Several Giza pyramids are counted among the most significant structures ever built. The Pyramid of Khufu is the largest Egyptian pyramid. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, despite being the oldest wonder by about 2,000 years.
Ancient Egyptian tombs
Many years could be spent building and preparing Ancient Egyptian tombs, known to the ancient Egyptians as houses of eternity. Master builders and supervisors were instructed to perform rituals during construction, and guidelines were provided on where to build the design and the materials to use.
Ancient Egyptian Towns
This is a list of known ancient Egyptian towns and cities. The list is for sites intended for permanent settlement and does not include fortresses and other locations of intermittent habitation.
Military of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was unified under one government for most of its long history. The main ancient Egyptian military concern for the nation was to keep enemies out. The arid plains and deserts surrounding the country were inhabited by nomadic groups who occasionally tried to raid or settle in the fertile Nile River valley. Nevertheless, the great expanses of the desert formed a barrier that protected the river valley, and it was almost impossible for massive armies to cross. The Egyptians built fortresses and outposts along the borders east and west of the Nile Delta, in the Eastern Desert, and Nubia to the south. Small garrisons could prevent minor incursions, but a message was sent to the main army corps if a large force was detected. Most Egyptian cities lacked city walls and other defences.
Museums in Egypt
Egypt has one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Accordingly, it has been in contact with many other civilisations and nations. It has been through many eras, from the prehistoric age to the modern age, passing through many generations, such as Pharaonic, Roman, Greek, Islamic and many other periods. Because of this wide variation of ages and the continuous contact with other nations, many museums in this country cover a wide area of these ages.
Tourist Activities and Excursions in Egypt
Tourists in Egypt choose our group excursions, as this type of excursion, in the first place, saves large sums spent on entertainment during the holiday stay. Usually, we organise these trips on big buses or luxury yachts and cruises. Equally, our tourists receive this excursion service according to the agreed-upon conditions.
Diving is one of the exciting activities that scuba divers can enjoy in Egypt. Indeed, Egypt is a scuba diver’s paradise, boasting more than 1,800 miles of coastline, crystal clear waters, mysterious wrecks, and a myriad of multicoloured reefs teeming with marine life. Lapped by the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the ‘Land of the Pharaohs’ has spectacular underwater environments offering some of the best diving in the world.
This article deals with the Coptic culture and its effect on Christians living in the Egyptian country. “Copt” refers to the Egyptian Christians evangelised by St. Mark the Apostle in the first century AD. The word probably originates from the old Egyptian Hwt-Ka-Ptah, which means the “House of the God Ptah “. While the Greeks used Aigyptos for Egypt, the Copts used the Coptic term Kyptos.
Christian Monuments in Egypt
The Christian religion holds a fascinating Egyptian history. It has changed and adapted over time but ultimately survived thousands of years. Amid the bustling streets of Cairo and out amid the wind-blown sands of the desert, trippers will still find Christian churches, monasteries, and monuments. Many of these sites are still working and in use. Wherever tourists and pilgrims travel, they will discover Christian monuments in Egypt.
Egyptian cuisine makes heavy legumes, vegetables and fruit from the Egyptian-rich Nile Valley and Delta. Dishes include rice-stuffed vegetables and grape leaves; hummus, falafel, shawarma, kebab and kofta; ful medames, mashed fava beans, kushari, lentils and pasta; and molokhia, bush okra stew. Pita bread, known locally as Eish Baladi, is a staple of Egyptian cuisine. Cheesemaking in Egypt dates back to the old Egyptian First Dynasty, with Domiaty today’s most famous cheese.