The Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt, “The Gift of the Nile,” and along that life-giving river, the ancient Egyptians built their amazing civilization, one they ruled for three millennia.
Conquered by the Persians in 341 B.C., the Greeks and Romans followed, but it was the Arabs that introduced Islam and Arabic, and subsequently dominated this ancient land for many centuries.
In 1517 the Ottoman Turks invaded, and took control. Besides a brief French incursion (1798-1806), the Ottomans remained until the mid-19th century.
Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt developed into a vital transportation hub, but fell heavily into debt. To protect its investments, Britain seized control in 1882.
Egypt then became a British protectorate in 1914, achieving partial independence in 1922, and full sovereignty in 1945.
A rapidly growing population, limited arable land, and on-going dependence on the Nile River, all continue to overtax resources.
The Egyptian government still struggles through economic reforms in the 21st century, and the pressing need for massive investment in communications and infrastructure.
Regardless, Egypt remains one of the favorite destinations of archaeologists, historians and tourists from around the world.
- Official Name Arab Republic of Egypt
- Population 81,731,000
- Capital City Cairo (17,856,000)
- Largest Cities Cairo, Alexandria, El Qahira
- Currency Egyptian Pound
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- Languages Arabic (official), English, French
- National Day 23 July; Revolution Day
- Religions Muslim (94%)
- Egyptian Flag
- Flags of all countries
- Land Area 995,450 sq km (384,343 sq miles)
- Highest Point Mt. Catherine (2,637 m) (8,652 ft)
- Lowest Point Qattara Depression (-133 m)
- Land Divisions 26 governorates; including Ad Daqahliyah, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Al Buhayrah, Al Fayyum, Al Gharbiyah, Al Iskandariyah, Al Isma’iliyah, Al Jizah, Al Minufiyah, Al Minya, Al Qahirah, Al Qalyubiyah, Al Wadi al Jadid, Ash Sharqiyah, As Suways, Aswan, Asyut, Bani Suwayf, Bur Sa’id, Dumyat, Janub Sina’, Kafr ash Shaykh, Matruh, Qina, Shamal Sina’ and Suhaj
Most of Egypt is covered by the low-lying sand dunes and depressions of the Western and Libyan Deserts. East of the Nile River, the semi-arid Arabian Desert extends to the edges of the Red Sea.
In the far southwest, the land rises into the Gilf Kebir Plateau, with elevations near 2000 ft. Sandstone plateaus front the Nile and the Red Sea, with cliffs as high as 1,800 ft. In the far southeast, the Red Sea Mountains, an extension of the Ethiopian Highlands, continue on into Sudan.
The country is dissected by the amazing Nile River, as it flows north to the Mediterranean Sea from it source in central Africa. The surrounding Nile Valley, 5-10 miles wide, is the country’s only fertile land. and home to 98% of the population.
The Red Sea is extended into the Mediterranean by the man-made Suez Canal. The Sinai Peninsula lies east of the canal, and this limestone plateau rises to Mt Catherine in the south.
Lake Nassar, the largest lake, is man-made, and created when the Aswan dam was constructed, then finished in 1970.
Latitude/Longitude 30º 06 N, 31º 25 E