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Egypt

                                   Official Flag of Egypt bearing the national emblem of the shield of Saladin

          The Land of the Pharaohs

Facts on Egypt

Overview

How big is Egypt?

Although Egypt is a large country, (about the size of Texas and New Mexico combined) encompassing over a million square kilometers.  Much of the country is not inhabited due to aridity and high temperatures.  Large areas of Egypt are desert with scattered oases providing islands of settlement within vast expanses of sandy or rocky soil.

What’s the population of Egypt?

Egypt’s population is approximately 82 million people and it grows by about 1 million every ten months. The greater Cairo area is thought to have a population of from 15 to 18 million, while Alexandria is home to  around 6 million Egyptians.

What is Egypt's History?

Kings and their kingdoms started to form in the area that became known as Egypt around 3,200 BC. The Age of the Pharaohs dates from approximately 3,000 BC to the time that Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC. The Pharaohs’ reign extended over 30 dynasties that reached their peak in the Golden Age during the 18th and 19th dynasties around 1500 BC.

Alexander the Great ended the reign of the "true" Egyptian pharaohs when he conquered the country in 332 BC. After his death, the line of "foreigners" known as the Ptolemies, ruled Egypt  by blending Egyptian and Greek heritages.  In order to placate the Egyptians, the Ptolemies acted, dressed and lived as true pharaohs.   Later, the Romans accepted the lead of the Greeks and, also, ruled as pharaohs. Many of the temples in Luxor and along the Nile bear Egyptian, Greek and Roman imprints, although the pyramids are distinctly Egyptian.

Arabs introduced Islam and the Arabic language to Egypt in the 7th century and they ruled the country for the next six centuries. The Mamluks (then a military class of Egyptian society) took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of its British-backed monarchy in 1952.

From 1952 until 2012 the country was ruled by the military. Elections for a new parliament took place between November 2011 and January 2012. Presidential elections held in May and June witnessed the victory of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi over former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Egypt is predominately Muslim (90%) with Coptic Christians accounting for 10% of the population.

Arabic is the official language of the country, although English and French are spoken in most tourist destinations.

Why is Egypt is considered the “Gift of the Nile?"

The majority of Egypt’s population lives in the Nile Valley, a narrow strip of land along the banks of the Nile River that extends from the Delta, where the Nile enters the Mediterranean Sea, south to Aswan. The Nile valley is the historical, cultural, economic  and agricultural forge that helped to create Egypt as we know it today.

    The Nile provides irrigation for its valley, but the desert is an implacable presence throughout the country

Egypt’s agriculture is tied to the Nile which provides water to irrigate crops. This agricultural valley drew its incredible fertility from the replenishment of the soil during the Nile’s annual flooding, which allowed irrigated crops to flourish in midst of a desert. It was within this cradle of Egyptian civilization that centers of power were able to evolve. These rulers, whom we call the pharaohs, were able create powerful kingdoms and began building extravagant and amazing palaces, as well as unusual monuments to their gods and, in many cases, to themselves.

What is the history behind Upper and Lower Egypt?

Historic Egypt was considered as being comprised of Upper and Lower Egypt. The names derive from the direction of the flow of the Nile from north to south through the county. Lower Egypt encompassed the Nile Delta to just south of modern Cairo, where the historic capital of Memphis once existed. Upper Egypt ran south to Luxor (near the historic capital of Thebes) and from there to Aswan. To the south of Aswan was an country known as Nubia that eventually  was subjugated by the pharaohs. Early in Egypt’s history a pharaoh, thought to be Narmer united Upper and Lower Egypt. From this point on Pharaohs wore a double crown to symbolize they were rulers of Upper and Lower Egypt.

What is south of Aswan and what is the Significance of the Aswan Dam ?

Egypt from Aswan south to the border with Sudan is desolate and now dominated by Lake Nasser, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.  This massive water body extends beyond the border with Sudan, where it is called Lake Nubia. In the past, the Nile River flowed uninterrupted  from its source in tropical Africa though Aswan (which was the site of a cataract in the Nile) and north to the Mediterranean Sea.  Today, the Nile flows into Lake Nubia in Sudan and begins to flow again as a river, only after it passes through the Aswan High Dam.

Lake Nasser was formed by the construction of the High Dam at Aswan in the 1960s. Building the High Dam controlled the Nile, helped regulate water for irrigation, removed the threat of the annual flood, and created a hydroelectric facility that generates considerable amounts of electricity.

    The Power Station at the High Dam generates a great deal of electricty for the country

Unfortunately, the filling of Lake Nasser flooded areas of large areas of Egypt and Sudan that were the home of the Nubian people, who were relocated, but lost much of their heritage.

Another influence of the construction of the Aswan Dam was that regulating the flow of the Nile stopped the replenishment of the soil that accompanied the annual flood, although doing so prevented significant damage and numerous deaths.   As a result of the lack of the  replenishment of the soil during the annual floods, today’s farmers in the Nile Valley use chemical fertilizers to enrich the lands used for agriculture.

Finally, many historic temples, that were located along the course of Nile south of Aswan, such as Abu Simbel, had to be moved to preserve them from flooding. Numerous temples and several monuments were not rescued due to time, condition and economic constraints.  However, these issues were known before the construction of the dam, which was approved in a referendum voted on by the Egyptian people.

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Best Places To Visit in Egypt

Overview
Cairo
Giza
Luxor
Nile - Luxor to Aswan
Aswan Area
Abu Simbel
Lake Nasser Temples

Other Topics

Nile River Cruising
Travel Tips
Things to know about Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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