Egypt on the world map. Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt with cities. Where Egypt is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Egypt - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Egypt Fact File
Official name Arab Republic of Egypt
Form of government Republic with two legislative bodies (Advisory Council and People's Assembly)
Capital Al Qahirah (Cairo)
Area 1,001,450 sq km (386,660 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 2 hours
Projected population 2015 84,425,000
Population density 70.6 per sq km (182.9 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 64.1
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 58.6
Official language Arabic
Other languages English, French, ethnic languages Literacy rate 51.4%
Religions Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, other (including Coptic Christian) 10%
Ethnic groups Eastern Hamitic (Egyptian, Bedouin, and Berber) 99%; other (including Greek, Nubian, Armenian, Italian, and French) 1 %
Currency Egyptian pound
Economy Services 54%, agriculture 34%, industry 12%
GDP per capita US$ 3,700
Climate Mainly arid, with mild winters and hot, dry summers
Highest point Jabal KatrTna 2,629 m (8,625 ft) Map reference Pages 362-63
Egypt is sometimes known as "the gift of the Nile" (An Nil) because the waters of this famous river have always been the lifeblood of the country. Every year until the Aswan High Dam was built, the Nile would flood, spreading fertile silt across the floor of the valley. It was in the Nile Valley that Egyptian civilization began, 6,000 years ago, and the country was the first to have a society organized along political lines. The Great Pyramid itself, still one of the largest structures in the world, was built 5,000 years ago. Since then innumerable rulers and conquerors have come and gone— Persians, Greeks, and Romans being followed by the seventh-century conquests of Mohammed's followers and the conversion of the region to Islam. During the nineteenth century, after the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt came increasingly under the influence of the French and the British. Britain made it a protectorate from 1914 to 1922. It was not until 1952 that Egypt became an independent republic.
Physical features and land use Egypt
Egypt is defined by the valley of the Nile and the spreading deserts on either side. The Nile rises at Lake Victoria, further south, and enters the country across the southern border, from Sudan. It first fills huge Lake Nasser, formed by the Aswan High Dam, which was completed in 1965. It then makes an eastward bend near Luxor before flowing steadily north. At Cairo the river fans out into a broad delta before entering the Mediterranean. The area north of Cairo is often known as Lower Egypt and the area south of Cairo as Upper Egypt.
Although the lands of the valley and the delta constitute only three percent of Egypt's total land area, this is where 99 percent of the people live and where nearly all agricultural activity takes place. West of the Nile, extending to the Libyan border, lies the Western (or Libyan) Desert. This arid limestone region consists of low valleys and scarps, and in the north contains a large area below sea level called the Qattara Depression. Scattered across the desert are isolated fertile oases where date palms grow. It is hoped to increase the agricultural production of these oases by using deep artesian bores.
Between the Nile and the Red Sea is the Eastern (or Arabian) Desert. Here, grasses, tamarisks, and mimosas grow, providing desert nomads with feed for their sheep, camels, and goats. Between the Gulf of Suez and the border with Israel is the almost uninhabited triangular limestone plateau of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt's highest peak, Jabal Katrina, is found in Sinai's mountainous south.
People and culture Egypt
While there are significant cultural differences between the ninety percent of the population who are Hamitic and the Afro-Nubian peoples of the Upper Nile near Sudan, Egypt has a long tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance. In Cairo and Alexandria there have always been sizeable colonies of Greeks and Armenians, and although most Jews have now left for Israel, there is still a small Jewish community in Cairo. The small number of desert Bedouin divide into two main groups. In the southern part of the Eastern Desert live the Arabdah and Bisharin (Hamitic Beja), while Saadi and Murabatin (of Arab and Berber ancestry) are found throughout the Western Desert.
Ancient Egypt's art, architecture, pyramids and tombs are among the treasures of civilization. Evidence from tombs shows that even at the time of the first recorded dynasty, about 4400 bc, furniture inlaid with ivory and ebony was being made, along with alabaster vessels and fine work in copper and gold. In the pyramid-building period between 3700 bc and 2500 bc the Great Pyramid of Cheops was erected, a project thought to have occupied 100,000 men for twenty years. The pyramids were themselves immense tombs, containing chambers in which dead kings were buried, supplied with all they might need—food, clothing, and furniture—in the afterlife. It is not known when exactly Christianity began in Egypt, but it was very early, around ad 40. The new faith was readily accepted since the hope of a future life coincided with the views of the Egyptians themselves.
Today about eight to ten percent of the people are Coptic Christians. The Copts claim to have received the gospel directly from St Mark, the first bishop of Alexandria. Their community has always valued education highly, and has contributed many figures to Egyptian public life. About ninety percent of the population are Muslim, mainly Sunni.
With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the most bitter conflict within Egypt is between the modernizing political elite and the fundamentalist Moslem Brotherhood. The latter is held responsible for terrorist activities, but today seems to be under control. Arabic is the official language, but several other languages are used by ethnic minorities, from Hamito-Sudanic among the Nubians to the Berber-related language of the Siwah tribe east of the Qattara Depression.
Economy and resources Egypt
Food crops have been grown in the fertile soils of the Nile floodplain and delta for many thousands of years. But a population of around 71 million, increasing by over one million per year, is placing considerable pressure on Egypt's agricultural resources. In addition, salination of land below the High Aswan Dam, land lost to growing urbanization, and desertification as a result of wind-blown sand, are all reducing the amount of arable land. Today much of Egypt's food is imported.
In manufacturing, textiles are by far the largest industry, and include spinning, weaving, and the dyeing and printing of cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic-fiber materials. Along with finished textiles, raw cotton remains one of the main exports, only exceeded in value by petroleum. There are plans to restore the Suez Canal's earning capacity by deepening and widening it for modern shipping. Most large-scale industrial plants in Egypt remain state-owned, overstaffed, and over-regulated, in need of both technical improvements and investment. This hampers the country's economic performance and is a challenge to governmental efforts at reform.