Egypt

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Egypt

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This article is about the modern country. For the ancient realm, see Ancient Egypt.
For other uses, see Egypt (disambiguation).
Arab Republic of Egypt
جمهورية مصر العربية 
Jumhūriyyat Miṣr al-ʿArabiyyah (Arabic)
Gomhūriyyet Maṣr el-ʿArabiyyah (Egyptian Arabic)
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Bilady, Bilady, Bilady
My country, my country, my country
Capital
and largest city
Cairo
30°2′N 31°13′E / 30.033°N 31.217°E / 30.033; 31.217
Official languages Arabic[a]
National language Egyptian Arabic
Demonym Egyptian
Government Unitary semi-presidential
republic
 -  President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
 -  Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab
Legislature Legislation by presidential decree (Temporarily until the House of Representatives is elected)
Establishment
 -  Unification of Upper
and Lower Egypt
12
[c]
c. 3150 BC 
 -  Muhammad Ali Dynasty inaugurated 9 July 18053 
 -  Independence from
the United Kingdom
28 February 1922 
 -  Republic declared 18 June 1953 
 -  Revolution Day 23 July 1952 
 -  Current Constitution 18 January 2014 
Area
 -  Total 1,002,450 km2 (30th)
387,048 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.632
Population
 -  2014 estimate 87,342,0004 (15th)
 -  2006 census 72,798,0005
 -  Density 84/km2 (126th)
218/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $576.350 billion6
 -  Per capita $6,7146
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $275.748 billion6
 -  Per capita $3,2136
Gini (2008) 30.87
medium
HDI (2013) Decrease 0.6828
medium · 110th
Currency Egyptian pound (EGP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3[b])
Drives on the right
Calling code +20
ISO 3166 code EG
Internet TLD
a. ^ Literary Arabic is the sole official language.9 Egyptian Arabic is the national spoken language. Other dialects and minority languages are spoken regionally.
b. ^ Summer time was reintroduced in 2014.
c. "Among the peoples of the ancient Near East, only the Egyptians have stayed where they were and remained what they were, although they have changed their language once and their religion twice. In a sense, they constitute the world's oldest nation".1011 Arthur Goldschmidt Jr.

Egypt (Listeni/ˈɪpt/; Arabic: مِصرMiṣr, Egyptian Arabic: مَصر Maṣr) is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia, making it an Afro-Asiatic country via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Most of Egypt's territory of 1,010,000 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi) lies within the Nile Valley of North Africa, but it is also considered a Mediterranean country as it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north. It is also bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

With over 87 million inhabitants, Egypt is a large country in Eastern North Africa and the Arabic speaking countries with its smaller part in the Middle East, making it the third-largest African country, and the fifteenth-most populous nation in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara Desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern country, arising in the tenth millennium BCE as one of the world's first nation states.12 Considered a cradle of civilization, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government in history. Its iconic monuments, such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings outside Luxor, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest all over the world. Egypt's rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, having endured and at times assimilated various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European.

Modern Egypt is considered to be a regional and middle power, with significant cultural, political, and military influence in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world.13 Its economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and services at almost equal production levels. In 2011, long term President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid mass protests, following elections saw the rise of Muslim Brotherhood but was ousted by the army a year later amid mass protests.

Names

The English name Egypt is derived from the Ancient Greek Aígyptos (Αἴγυπτος), via Middle French Egypte and Latin Aegyptus. It is reflected in early Greek Linear B tablets as a-ku-pi-ti-yo. The adjective aigýpti-, aigýptios was borrowed into Coptic as gyptios, and from there into Arabic as qubṭī, back formed into قبط qubṭ, whence English Copt. The Greek forms were borrowed from Late Egyptian (Amarna) Hikuptah "Memphis", a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hwt-ka-Ptah (ḥwt-k-ptḥ), meaning "home of the ka (soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis.14 Strabo attributed the word to a folk etymology in which Aígyptos (Αἴγυπτος) evolved as a compound from Aigaiou huptiōs (Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως), meaning "below the Aegean".

Miṣr (IPA: [mesˤr]) is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while Maṣr (IPA: [mɑsˤɾ]) is the Egyptian-local pronunciation in the Egyptian Arabic. The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew מִצְרַיִם (Mitzráyim).15 The word originally connoted "metropolis" or "civilization" and means "country", or "frontier-land".

The ancient Egyptian name of the country was 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖 km.t, which means black ground or black soil, referring to the fertile black soils of the Nile flood plains, distinct from the deshret (dšṛt), or "red land" of the desert.16 This name is commonly vocalised as Kemet, but was probably pronounced [kuːmat] in ancient Egyptian.17 The name is realised as kēme and kēmə in the Coptic stage of the Egyptian language, and appeared in early Greek as Χημία (Khēmía, which in modern Greek means chemistry).18 Another name was tꜣ-mry "land of the riverbank".19 The names of Upper and Lower Egypt were Ta-Sheme'aw (tꜣ-šmꜥw) "sedgeland" and Ta-Mehew (tꜣ mḥw) "northland", respectively.

History

Main article: History of Egypt

Prehistory and Ancient Egypt

Main articles: Prehistoric Egypt and Ancient Egypt

There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society.20

By about 6000 BC, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley.21 During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.22

The Giza Necropolis is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence

A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 2700–2200 BC., which constructed many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza pyramids.

The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years.23 Stronger Nile floods and stabilisation of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

The New Kingdom c. 1550–1070 BC began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Tombos in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first historically attested expression of monotheism came during this period as Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded and conquered by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.24

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle.

Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

The Greek Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra VII and her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion at the Temple of Dendera.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to Cyrene to the west, and south to the frontier with Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a center of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.2526

The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide following the burial of her lover Mark Antony who had died in her arms (from a self-inflicted stab wound), after Octavian had captured Alexandria and her mercenary forces had fled. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest.

Christianity was brought to Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century.27 Diocletian's reign marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.28

Middle Ages

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Persian invasion early in the 7th century, until 639–42, when Egypt was invaded and conquered by the Islamic Empire by the Muslim Arabs. When they defeated the Byzantine Armies in Egypt, the Arabs brought Sunni Islam to the country. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices, leading to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day.27 These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.29

Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, with Cairo as the seat of the Caliphate under the Fatimids. With the end of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about AD 1250. By the late 13th century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies.30 The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 40% of the country's population.31

Egypt Eyalet

Main article: Egypt Eyalet
Napoleon defeated Mamluk troops in the Battle of the Pyramids, 21 July 1798, painted by Lejeune

Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarisation damaged its civil society and economic institutions.30 The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade.30 Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines.32 The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.33

Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control, due in part to the continuing power and influence of the Mamluks, the Egyptian military caste who had ruled the country for centuries. As such, Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon I in 1798. After the French were expelled, power was seized in 1805 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian military commander of the Ottoman army in Egypt.

Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty remained nominally an Ottoman province. It was granted the status of an autonomous vassal state or Khedivate in 1867. Isma'il and Tewfik Pasha governed Egypt as a quasi-independent state under Ottoman suzerainty until the British occupation of 1882. Nevertheless, the Khedivate of Egypt (1867–1914) remained a de jure Ottoman province until 5 November 1914,34 when it was declared a British protectorate in reaction to the decision of the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers.

Muhammad Ali dynasty

Muhammad Ali Pasha is founder Muhammad Ali dynasty and first khedive of the Egypt and Sudan.

After the French were defeated by the British, a power vacuum was created in Egypt, and a three-way power struggle ensued between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans. It ended in victory for the Albanians led by Muhammad Ali.

While he carried the title of viceroy of Egypt, his subordination to the Ottoman porte was merely nominal.citation needed Muhammad Ali established a dynasty that was to rule Egypt until the revolution of 1952. In later years, the dynasty became a British puppet.35

Female nationalists demonstrating in Cairo, 1919

The introduction in 1820 of long-staple cotton transformed its agriculture into a cash-crop monoculture before the end of the century, concentrating land ownership and shifting production towards international markets.35

Muhammad Ali annexed Northern Sudan (1820–1824), Syria (1833), and parts of Arabia and Anatolia; but in 1841 the European powers, fearful lest he topple the Ottoman Empire itself, forced him to return most of his conquests to the Ottomans. His military ambition required him to modernise the country: he built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.35

Muhammad Ali Pasha evolved the military from one that convened under the tradition of the corvée to a great modernised army. He introduced conscription of the male peasantry in 19th century Egypt, and took a novel approach to create his great army, strengthening it with numbers and in skill. Education and training of the new soldiers was not an option; the new concepts were furthermore enforced by isolation. The men were held in barracks to avoid distraction of their growth as a military unit to be reckoned with. The resentment for the military way of life eventually faded from the men and a new ideology took hold, one of nationalism and pride. It was with the help of this newly reborn martial unit that Muhammad Ali imposed his rule over Egypt.36

Muhammad Ali was succeeded briefly by his son Ibrahim (in September 1848), then by a grandson Abbas I (in November 1848), then by Said (in 1854), and Isma'il (in 1863).

The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. Its construction led to enormous debt to European banks, and caused popular discontent because of the onerous taxation it required. In 1875 Ismail was forced to sell Egypt's share in the canal to the British Government. Within three years this led to the imposition of British and French controllers who sat in the Egyptian cabinet, and, "with the financial power of the bondholders behind them, were the real power in the Government."37

British infantry near El Alamein, 17 July 1942

Local dissatisfaction with Ismail and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmad Urabi a prominent figure. Fearing a reduction of their control, the UK and France intervened militarily, bombarding Alexandria and crushing the Egyptian army at the battle of Tel el-Kebir.38 They reinstalled Ismail's son Tewfik as figurehead of a de facto British protectorate.39 In 1906, the Dinshaway Incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement.

In 1914, the Protectorate was made official, and the title of the head of state was changed to sultan, to repudiate the vestigial suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, who was backing the Central powers in World War I. Abbas II was deposed as khedive and replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as sultan.40

After the First World War, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on 8 March 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. The revolt led the UK government to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on 22 February 1922.41

The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability due to remaining British influence and increasing political involvement by the king led to the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d'état known as the 1952 Revolution. The Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad. British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.42

Republic

Egyptian tanks advancing in the Sinai desert during the Yom Kippur War, 1973

Following the 1952 Revolution by the Free Officers Movement, the rule of Egypt passed to military hands. On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic.

Reign of president Nasser

Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser – the real architect of the 1952 movement – and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President in June 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on 13 June 1956. He nationalised the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956, prompting the 1956 Suez Crisis.

In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed a sovereign union known as the United Arab Republic. The union was short-lived, ending in 1961 when Syria seceded, thus ending the union. During most of its existence, the United Arab Republic was also in a loose confederation with North Yemen (formerly the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen), known as the United Arab States. In 1959, the All-Palestine Government of the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian client state, was absorbed into United Arab Republic under the pretext of Arab union, and was never restored.

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Mansoura, 1960

In early 1960s, Egypt became fully involved in the North Yemen Civil War. The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, supported the Yemeni republicans with as many as 70,000 Egyptian troops and chemical weapons. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egyptian commitment in Yemen was greatly undermined later.

In mid May 1967, the Soviet Union issued warnings to Nasser of an impending Israeli attack on Syria. Although the chief of staff Mohamed Fawzi verified them as "baseless",4344 Nasser took 3 successive steps that made the war virtually ineviteable: On 14 May he deployed his troops in Sinai near the border with Israel, On 19 May expelled the UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel, and on 23 May closed Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.45 On 26 May Nasser declared, "The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel".46 Israel re-iterated that the Straits of Tiran closure was a Casus belli. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel attacked Egypt, and occupied Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which Egypt had occupied since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. During the 1967 war, an Emergency Law was enacted, and remained in effect until 2012, with the exception of an 18-month break in 1980/81.47 Under this law, police powers were extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship is legalised.citation needed

At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor.48 Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, and most of them being boys. Nasser's policies changed this. Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From academic year 1953-54 through 1965-66, overall public school enrolments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class. Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser.48 During the 60's, the Egyptian economy went from sluggishness to the verge of collapse, the society became less free, and Nasser's appeal waned considerably.49

Reign of president Sadat

Celebrating the signing of the Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, Anwar Al Sadat.

In 1970, President Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while clamping down on religious and secular opposition. In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack to regain part of the Sinai territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. it presented Sadat with a victory that allowed him to regain the Sinai later in return for peace with Israel.50

In 1975, Sadat shifted Nasser's economic policies and sought to use his popularity to reduce government regulations and encourage foreign investment through his program of Infitah. Through this policy, incentives such as reduced taxes and import tariffs attracted some investors, but investments however were mainly directed at low risk and profitable ventures like tourism and construction, abandoning Egypt's infant industries.51 Even though Sadat's policy was intended to modernise Egypt and assist the middle class, it mainly benefited the higher class, and, because of the elimination of subsidies on basic foodstuffs, led to the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots.

Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat's initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by most Egyptians.52 However, Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist.

Reign of president Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Sadat in a referendum in which he was the only candidate.53

Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Vice President Hosni Mubarak in 1981

Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed Egypt's relationship with Israel yet eased the tensions with Egypt's Arab neighbours as well. Domestically, Mubarak faced many serious problems. Even though farm and industry output expanded, the economy could not keep pace with the population boom. Mass poverty and unemployment led rural families to stream into cities like Cairo where they ended up in crowded slums, barely managing to survive.

In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, terrorist attacks in Egypt became numerous and severe, and began to target Christian Copts and foreign tourists as well as government officials.54 In the 1990s an Islamist group, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, engaged in an extended campaign of violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners. Serious damage was done to the largest sector of Egypt's economy—tourism55—and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depended for support.56

During Mubarak's reign, the political scene was dominated by the National Democratic Party, which was created by Sadat in 1978. It passed 1993 Syndicates Law, 1995 Press Law, and 1999 Nongovernmental Associations Law which hampered freedoms of association and expression by imposing new regulations and draconian penalties on violations. As a result, by the late 1990s parliamentary politics had become virtually irrelevant and alternative avenues for political expression were curtailed as well.57

Cairo grew into a metropolitan area with a population of over 20 million

On 17 November 1997, 62 people, mostly tourists, were massacred near Luxor. In late February 2005, Mubarak announced a reform of the presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls for the first time since the 1952 movement.58 However, the new law placed restrictions on the candidates, and led to Mubarak's easy re-election victory.59 Voter turnout was less than 25%.60 Election observers also alleged government interference in the election process.61 After the election, Mubarak imprisoned Ayman Nour, the runner-up.62

Human Rights Watch's 2006 report on Egypt detailed serious human rights violations, including routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.63 In 2007, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Egypt had become an international center for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror.64 Egypt's foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report.65

Constitutional changes voted on 19 March 2007 prohibited parties from using religion as a basis for political activity, allowed the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law, authorised broad police powers of arrest and surveillance, and gave the president power to dissolve parliament and end judicial election monitoring.66 In 2009, Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal Dessouki, Media Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), described Egypt as a "pharaonic" political system, and democracy as a "long term goal". Dessouki also stated that "the real center of power in Egypt is the military".67

Revolution

Celebrations in Tahrir Square after Omar Suleiman's statement announcing Hosni Mubarak's resignation

On 25 January 2011, widespread protests began against Mubarak's government. On 11 February 2011, Mubarak resigned and fled Cairo. Jubilant celebrations broke out in Cairo's Tahrir Square at the news.68 The Egyptian military then assumed the power to govern.6970 Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, became the de facto interim head of state.7172 On 13 February 2011, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.73

A constitutional referendum was held on 19 March 2011. On 28 November 2011, Egypt held its first parliamentary election since the previous regime had been in power. Turnout was high and there were no reports of major irregularities or violence.74 Mohamed Morsi was elected president on 24 June 2012.75 On 2 August 2012, Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35 member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers including four from the Muslim Brotherhood.76

Liberal and secular groups walked out of the constituent assembly because they believed that it would impose strict Islamic practices, while Muslim Brotherhood backers threw their support behind Morsi.77 On 22 November 2012, President Morsi issued a declaration immunising his decrees from challenge and seeking to protect the work of the constituent assembly.78

The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt.79 On 5 December 2012, tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of president Morsi clashed, in what was described as the largest violent battle between Islamists and their foes since the country's revolution.80 Mohamed Morsi offered a "national dialogue" with opposition leaders but refused to cancel the December 2012 constitutional referendum.81

Protesters hold a poster of ousted Egyptian President Morsi, Cairo, 20 September 2013

On 30 June 2013, massive protests were organised across Egypt against Morsi's rule, leading to the ousting of Morsi by the military on 3 July 2013, where the military removed Morsi from power in a coup d'état and installed an interim government.82

On 4 July 2013, 68-year old Egyptian judge Adly Mansour was sworn in as acting president over the new government following the removal of Morsi. The military-backed Egyptian authorities cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, jailing thousands and killing hundreds of street protesters.8384 Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists have either been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a series of mass trials.858687

On 18 January 2014, the interim government institutionalised a new constitution following a referendum in which 98.1% of voters were supportive. Participation was low with only 38.6% of registered voters participating88 although this was higher than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi's tenure.89 On 26 March 2014 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, who at this time was in control of the country, resigned from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.90 The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a landslide victory for el-Sisi.91 Sisi sworn into office as President of Egypt on 8 June 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood and some liberal and secular activist groups boycotted the vote.92 Even though the military-backed authorities extended voting to a third day, the 46% turnout was lower than the 52% turnout in the 2012 election.93

Geography

Main article: Geography of Egypt
A branch of the Nile near Aswan

Egypt lies primarily between latitudes 22° and 32°N, and longitudes 25° and 35°E. At 1,001,450 square kilometres (386,660 sq mi),94 it is the world's 30th-largest country. Nevertheless, due to the aridity of Egypt's climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses only about 5.5% of the total land area.95 98% of Egyptians live on 3% of the territory.96

Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, the Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt's important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, 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 by way of the Red Sea.

Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt's landscape is desert, with a few oases scattered about. Winds create prolific sand dunes that peak at more than 100 feet (30 m) high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara Desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats and were referred to as the "red land" in ancient Egypt.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, the second largest city; Aswan; Asyut; Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital and largest city; El-Mahalla El-Kubra; Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu; Hurghada; Luxor; Kom Ombo; Port Safaga; Port Said; Sharm el Sheikh; Suez, where the south end of the Suez Canal is located; Zagazig; and Al-Minya. Oases include Bahariya, el Dakhla, Farafra, el Kharga and Siwa. Protectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa.

See Egyptian Protectorates for more information.

Climate

Satellite image of Egypt
Main article: Climate of Egypt

Most of Egypt's rain falls in the winter months.97 South of Cairo, rainfall averages only around 2 to 5 mm (0.1 to 0.2 in) per year and at intervals of many years. On a very thin strip of the northern coast the rainfall can be as high as 410 mm (16.1 in),98 mostly between October and March. Snow falls on Sinai's mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as Damietta, Baltim, Sidi Barrany, etc. and rarely in Alexandria. A very small amount of snow fell on Cairo on 13 December 2013, the first time Cairo received snowfall in many decades.99 Frost is also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt.

Temperatures average between 80 and 90 °F (26.7 and 32.2 °C) in summer, and up to 109 °F (43 °C) on the Red Sea coast. Winter temperatures average between 55 and 70 °F (13 and 21 °C). A steady wind from the northwest helps lower temperatures near the Mediterranean coast. The Khamaseen is a wind that blows from the south in spring, bringing sand and dust, and sometimes raises the temperature in the desert to more than 100 °F (38 °C).

Prior to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Nile flooded annually (colloquially The Gift of the Nile) replenishing Egypt's soil. This gave the country consistent harvest throughout the years.

The potential rise in sea levels due to global warming could threaten Egypt's densely populated coastal strip and have grave consequences for the country's economy, agriculture and industry. Combined with growing demographic pressures, a significant rise in sea levels could turn millions of Egyptians into environmental refugees by the end of the 21st century, according to some climate experts.100101

Biodiversity

Coral reef in Ras Muhammad near the southern coast of Sinai with schooling coloured fish in the scene.

Egypt signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 2 June 1994.102 It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 31 July 1998.103 Where many CBD National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans neglect biological kingdoms apart from animals and plants,104 Egypt's plan was unusual in providing balanced information about all forms of life.

The plan stated that the following numbers of species of different groups had been recorded from Egypt: algae (1483 species), animals (about 15,000 species of which more than 10,000 were insects), fungi (more than 627 species), monera (319 species), plants (2426 species), protozoans (371 species). For some major groups, for example lichen-forming fungi and nematode worms, the number was not known. Apart from small and well-studied groups like amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles, the many of those numbers are likely to increase as further species are recorded from Egypt. For the fungi, including lichen-forming species, for example, subsequent work has shown that over 2200 species have been recorded from Egypt, and the final figure of all fungi actually occurring in the country is expected to be much higher.105

Politics

Main article: Politics of Egypt
General Sisi ousted Morsi from power after mass demonstrations against Morsi.
Mohamed Morsi was the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history.

The House of Representatives, whose members are elected to serve five-year terms, is Specialized in the Legislature power.106 Elections were last held between November 2011 and January 2012 which was later dissolved. The next parliamentary election will be held within 6 months of the constitution's ratification on 18 January 2014. Originally, the parliament was to be formed before the president was elected, but interim president Adly Mansour pushed the date.107 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 96.91% compared to 757,511 (3.09%) for Hamdeen Sabahi.108

On 3 July 2013 following millions of protesters demonstrated across Egypt against Morsi reported as one of the biggest protests in world history.109 then-General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi announced the removal of President Morsi from office and suspending the constitution for modification. 50-member constitution committee was formed for modifying the constitution which was later published for public voting and was adopted in 18 January 2014.110

In 2013, the Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt at "5" (with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least), civil liberties as "5" which gave it the freedom rating of "Partly Free."111

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.112 The ideology espoused by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood is mostly supported by the lower-middle strata of Egyptian society.113

Egypt has the oldest continuous parliamentary tradition in the Arab world.114 The first popular assembly was established in 1866. It was disbanded as a result of the British occupation of 1882, and the British allowed only a consultative body to sit. In 1923, however, after the country's independence was declared, a new constitution provided for a parliamentary monarchy.114

Law

Main article: Law of Egypt

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.42

Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation. Sharia courts and qadis are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice.115 The personal status law that regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody is governed by Sharia. In a family court, a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's testimony.116

On 26 December 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to institutionalise a controversial new constitution. It was approved by the public in a referendum held 15–22 December 2012 with 64% support, but with only 33% electorate participation.117 It replaced the 2011 Provisional Constitution of Egypt, adopted following the revolution.

The Penal code was unique as it contains a "Blasphemy Law."118 The present court system allows a death penalty including against an absent individual tried in absentia. Several Americans and Canadians were sentenced to death in 2012.119

On 18 January 2014, the interim government successfully institutionalised a more secular constitution sets up a president and parliament.120 The president is elected to a four year term and may serve 2 terms.120 The parliament may impeach the president.120 Under the constitution, there is a guarantee of gender equality and absolute freedom of thought.120 The military retains the ability to appoint the national Minister of Defence for the next 8 years.120 Under the constitution, political parties may not be based on "religion, race, gender or geography".120

Military

Main article: Egyptian Armed Forces

The Egyptian Armed forces have a combined troop strength of around 468,500 active personnel in addition 1,000,000 reservists for a total of 1,468,500 strong.121

According to the former chair of Israel's Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, the Egyptian Air Force has roughly the same number of modern warplanes as the Israeli Air Force and far more Western tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and warships than the IDF.122 Egypt is speculated by Israel to be the second country in the region with a spy satellite, EgyptSat 1123 in addition to EgyptSat 2 launched on 16 April 2014.124

The Egyptian military has dozens of factories manufacturing weapons as well as consumer goods. The Armed Forces' inventory includes equipment from different countries around the world. Equipment from the former Soviet Union is being progressively replaced by more modern US, French, and British equipment, a significant portion of which is built under license in Egypt, such as the M1 Abrams tank.

The Egyptian Navy is the largest navy in Africa and Middle East and the Arab World, and is the seventh largest in the world measured by the number of vessels.125

The United States of America provides Egypt with annual military assistance, which in 2009 amounted to US$1.3 billion (inflation adjusted US$ 1.43 billion in 2014).126

The military has a lot of influence in the political life of Egypt as well as the economy and it exempts itself from laws that apply to other sectors. It also enjoys considerable power, prestige and independence within the state and has been widely considered part of the Egyptian "deep state".53127

Human rights

Main article: Human rights in Egypt

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt.128 In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights.129 The council came under heavy criticism by local activists, who contend it was a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its own violations130 and to give legitimacy to repressive laws such as the Emergency Law.131

Protesters from the Third Square movement: "Neither Morsi nor the military", 31 July 2013

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranks Egypt as the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom.132133 The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent agency of the US government, has placed Egypt on its watch list of countries that require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.134 According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 84% of Egyptians polled supported the death penalty for those who leave Islam; 77% supported whippings and cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 82% support stoning a person who commits adultery.135

Coptic Christians face discrimination at multiple levels of the government, ranging from disproportionate representation in government ministries to laws that limit their ability to build or repair churches.136 Intolerance of Bahá'ís and non-orthodox Muslim sects, such as Sufis, Shi'a and Ahmadis, also remains a problem.63 When the government moved to computerise identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bahá'ís, could not obtain identification documents.137 An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths may obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognised.138

Clashes continue between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, at least 595 civilians were killed in Cairo on 14 August 2013,139 the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history.140

Egypt actively practises capital punishment. Egypt’s authorities do not release figures on death sentences and executions, despite repeated requests over the years by human rights organisations.141 The United Nations human rights office142 and various NGOs141143 expressed "deep alarm" after an Egyptian Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 people to death in a single hearing on 25 March 2014. Sentenced supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi will be executed for their alleged role in violence following his ousting in July 2013. The judgment was condemned as a violation of international law.144 By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count),145 mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned after the coup 146 after the Muslim Brotherhood was labeled as terrorist organization by the post-coup interim Egyptian government.147

Foreign relations

Top: Former President Hosni Mubarak with US President Barack Obama in Cairo, 4 June 2009; Bottom: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, August 2014.

The permanent headquarters of the Arab League are located in Cairo and the body's secretary general has traditionally been Egyptian. This position is currently held by former foreign minister Nabil el-Araby. 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.

Following the 1973 war and the subsequent peace treaty, Egypt became the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Despite that, Israel is still widely considered as a hostile state by the majority of Egyptians.148 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.149 Egypt's ceasefire and truce brokering efforts in Gaza have been hardly challenged following Israel's evacuation of its settlements from the strip in 2005, despite increasing animosity towards the Hamas government in Gaza after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, and despite recent attempts by countries like Turkey and Qatar to take over this role.150

Ties between Egypt and other non-Arab Middle Eastern nations, including Iran and Turkey, have often been tense: Iran, partly due to its rivalry with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states151 who have traditionally maintained strong ties with Egypt;152153 and Turkey due to its government's support for the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.154

In 1989, Egypt was designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. In 2011, the U.S. provided a military assistance of US$ 1.3 billion, and an economic assistance of US$ 250 million.155 Nevertheless, ties between the two countries have temporarily soured since the July 2013 military coup that deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.156 The Obama administration condemned Egypt's violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, cancelling future military exercises and halting the delivery of F-16 fighters to the Egyptian Armed Forces.157 However, both countries have started to normalize relations in mid-2014, calling for each other's support in the fight against regional and international terrorism.158159

Simultaneously, relations with Russia have improved significantly following Mohamed Morsi's removal160 and both countries have worked since then to strengthen military161 and trade ties162 among other aspects of bilateral cooperation.

Egypt is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

In the 21st century, Egypt has had a major problem with immigration, as millions of persons from other African nations flee poverty and war. Border control methods can be "harsh, sometimes lethal."163

Administrative divisions

Governorates of Egypt

Egypt is divided into 27 governorates. The governorates are further divided into regions. The regions contain towns and villages. Each governorate has a capital, sometimes carrying the same name as the governorate.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Egypt
Graphical depiction of Egypt's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum imports, natural gas, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Europe. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress the economy.164

The government has invested in communications and physical infrastructure. Egypt has received United States foreign aid since 1979 (an average of $2.2 billion per year) and is the third-largest recipient of such funds from the United States following the Iraq war. Egypt’s economy mainly relies on these sources of income: tourism, remittances from Egyptians working abroad and revenues from the Suez Canal.165

Egypt has a developed energy market based on coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro power. Substantial coal deposits in the northeast Sinai are mined at the rate of about 600,000 tonnes (590,000 long tons; 660,000 short tons) per year. Oil and gas are produced in the western desert regions, the Gulf of Suez, and the Nile Delta. Egypt has huge reserves of gas, estimated at 1,940 cubic kilometres (470 cu mi), and LNG up to 2012 exported to many countries. In 2013, the Egyptian General Petroleum Co (EGPC) said the country will cut exports of natural gas and tell major industries to slow output this summer to avoid an energy crisis and stave off political unrest, Reuters has reported. Egypt is counting on top liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter Qatar to obtain additional gas volumes in summer, while encouraging factories to plan their annual maintenance for those months of peak demand, said EGPC chairman, Tarek El Barkatawy. Egypt produces its own energy, but has been a net oil importer since 2008 and is rapidly becoming a net importer of natural gas.166

San Stefano Grand Plaza in Alexandria (left) and view from Cairo.

Economic conditions have started to improve considerably, after a period of stagnation, due to the adoption of more liberal economic policies by the government as well as increased revenues from tourism and a booming stock market. In its annual report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms.167 Some major economic reforms undertaken by the government since 2003 include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs. A new taxation law implemented in 2005 decreased corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulting in a stated 100% increase in tax revenue by the year 2006.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Egypt increased considerably before the removal of Hosni Mubarak, exceeding $6 billion in 2006, due to economic liberalisation and privatization measures taken by minister of investment Mahmoud Mohieddin.citation needed Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has experienced a drastic fall in both foreign investment and tourism revenues, followed by a 60% drop in foreign exchange reserves, a 3% drop in growth, and a rapid devaluation of the Egyptian pound.168

Although one of the main obstacles still facing the Egyptian economy is the limited trickle down of wealth to the average population, many Egyptians criticise their government for higher prices of basic goods while their standards of living or purchasing power remains relatively stagnant. Corruption is often cited by Egyptians as the main impediment to further economic growth.169170 The government promised major reconstruction of the country's infrastructure, using money paid for the newly acquired third mobile license ($3 billion) by Etisalat in 2006.171 In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Egypt was ranked 114 out of 177.172

Egypt's most prominent multinational companies are the Orascom Group and Raya Contact Center. The information technology (IT) sector has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with many start-ups selling outsourcing services to North America and Europe, operating with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and other major corporations, as well as many small and medium size enterprises. Some of these companies are the Xceed Contact Center, Raya, E Group Connections and C3. The IT sector has been stimulated by new Egyptian entrepreneurs with government encouragement.

An estimated 2.7 million Egyptians abroad contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances (US$7.8 billion in 2009), as well as circulation of human and social capital and investment.173 Remittances, money earned by Egyptians living abroad and sent home, reached a record US$21 billion in 2012, according to the World Bank.174

Egyptian society is moderately unequal in terms of income distribution, with an estimated 35 - 40% of Egypt's population earning less than the equivalent of $2 a day, while only around 2–3% may be considered wealthy.175

Tourism

Main article: Tourism in Egypt
Al Muizz Street has the greatest concentration of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world

Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Egypt's economy. More than 12.8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion. The tourism sector employs about 12% of Egypt's workforce.176 Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou told industry professionals and reporters that tourism generated some $9.4 billion in 2012, a slight increase over the $9 billion seen in 2011.177

White Knight Bay, Sharm el Sheikh

The Giza Necropolis is Egypt's most iconic site. It is also Egypt's most popular tourist destination since antiquity, and was popularised in Hellenistic times when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today it is the only one of those wonders still in existence.

Egypt has a wide range of beaches situated on the Mediterreanean and the Red Sea that extend to over 3,000 km. The Red Sea has serene waters, coloured coral reefs, rare fish and beautiful mountains. The Akba Gulf beaches also provide facilities for practising sea sports. Safaga tops the Red Sea zone with its beautiful location on the Suez Gulf. Last but not least, Sharm el-Sheikh (or City of Peace), Hurghada, Luxor (known as world's greatest open air museum/ or City of the 1/3 of world monuments), Dahab, Ras Sidr, Marsa Alam, Safaga and the northern coast of the Mediterranean are major tourist’s destinations of the recreational tourism.

With a lot of touristic activities in Egypt it's considered a fun place for historical, religious, medical and entertainment tourism.

Transport

Main article: Transport in Egypt

Transport in Egypt is centred in Cairo and largely follows the pattern of settlement along the Nile.

Railway

The main line of the nation's 40,800-kilometer (25,400 mi) railway network which is the second oldest railway network in the history runs from Alexandria to Aswan and is operated by Egyptian National Railways. The badly maintained vehicle road network has expanded rapidly to over 21,000 miles, consisting of 28 line, 796 stations, 1800 train covering the Nile Valley and Nile Delta, the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, the Sinai, and the Western oases.

Metro

Main article: Cairo Metro
The Cairo Metro (line 2)

The Cairo Metro in Egypt is the first of only two full-fledged metro systems in Africa and the Arab World. It is considered one of the most important recent projects in Egypt which cost around 12 billion Egyptian pounds. The system consists of three operational lines with a fourth line expected in the future.

Air Transport

Main article: EgyptAir

Egypt is considered one of the pioneer countries in using air transport having established its most important and main flag carrier airline of Egypt, EgyptAir in 1932, 100% owned by the Egyptian Government. The airline is based at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, operating scheduled passenger and freight services to more than 75 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The Current EgyptAir fleet includes 80 aeroplane.

Suez Canal

Main article: Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt considered the most important center of the maritime transport in the Middle East, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows ship transport between Europe and Asia without navigation around Africa. The northern terminus is Port Said and the southern terminus is Port Tawfiq at the city of Suez. Ismailia lies on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) from the half-way point. the canal is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep and 205 metres (673 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km (14 mi), the canal itself of 162.25 km (100.82 mi) and the southern access channel of 9 km (5.6 mi). The canal is a single lane with passing places in the "Ballah By-Pass" and the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through the canal. In general, the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.

Demographics

Main articles: Demographics of Egypt and Egyptians
Historical populations in thousands
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1882 6,712 —    
1897 9,669 +2.46%
1907 11,190 +1.47%
1917 12,718 +1.29%
1927 14,178 +1.09%
1937 15,921 +1.17%
1947 18,967 +1.77%
1960 26,085 +2.48%
1966 30,076 +2.40%
1976 36,626 +1.99%
1986 48,254 +2.80%
1996 59,312 +2.08%
2006 72,798 +2.07%
2013 84,314 +2.12%
Source: Population in Egypt5
Egypt population density (people per km2)

Egypt is the most populated country in the Middle East, and the third most populous on the African continent, with about 84 million inhabitants as of 2013.4 Its population grew rapidly from 1970 to 2010 due to medical advances and increases in agricultural productivity 178 enabled by the Green Revolution.179 Egypt's population was estimated at only 3 million when Napoleon invaded the country in 1798.180

Egypt's people are highly urbanised, being concentrated along the Nile (notably Cairo and Alexandria), in the Delta and near the Suez Canal. Egyptians are divided demographically into those who live in the major urban centres and the fellahin, or farmers, that reside in rural villages.

Ethnic Egyptians are by far the largest ethnic group in the country, constituting 91% of the total population.42 Ethnic minorities include the Abazas, Turks, Greeks, Bedouin Arab tribes living in the eastern deserts and the Sinai Peninsula, the Berber-speaking Siwis (Amazigh) of the Siwa Oasis, and the Nubian communities clustered along the Nile. There are also tribal Beja communities concentrated in the south-eastern-most corner of the country, and a number of Dom clans mostly in the Nile Delta and Faiyum who are progressively becoming assimilated as urbanisation increases.

According to the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 2.7 million Egyptians live abroad. Approximately 70% of Egyptian migrants live in Arab countries (923,600 in Saudi Arabia, 332,600 in Libya, 226,850 in Jordan, 190,550 in Kuwait with the rest elsewhere in the region) and the remaining 30% reside mostly in Europe and North America (318,000 in the United States, 110,000 in Canada and 90,000 in Italy).173

Egypt also hosts an unknown number of refugees and asylum seekers, estimated to be between 500,000 and 3 million.181 There are some 70,000 Palestinian refugees,181 and about 150,000 recently arrived Iraqi refugees,182 but the number of the largest group, the Sudanese, is contested.nb 1 The once-vibrant and ancient Greek and Jewish communities in Egypt have almost disappeared, with only a small number remaining in the country, but many Egyptian Jews visit on religious or other occasions and tourism. Several important Jewish archaeological and historical sites are found in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities.

Among the people of the ancient Near East, only the Egyptians have stayed where they were and remained what they were, although they have changed their language once and their religion twice. In a sense, they constitute the world's oldest nation. For most of their history, Egypt has been a state, but only in recent years has it been truly a nation-state, with a government claiming the allegiance of its subjects on the basis of a common identity.

Languages

Main article: Languages of Egypt

The official language of the Republic is Modern Standard Arabic.9 The spoken languages are: Egyptian Arabic (68%), Sa'idi Arabic (29%), Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic (1.6%), Sudanese Arabic (0.6%), Domari (0.3%), Nobiin (0.3%), Beja (0.1%), Siwi and others. Additionally, Greek, Armenian and Italian are the main languages of immigrants. In Alexandria in the 19th century there was a large community of Italian Egyptians and Italian was the "lingua franca" of the city.

The main foreign languages taught in schools, by order of popularity, are English, French, German and Italian.

Historical Egyptian languages, also known as Copto-Egyptian, consist of ancient Egyptian and Coptic, and form a separate branch among the family of Afro-Asiatic languages. The "Koiné" dialect of the Greek language, though not native to Egypt, was important in Hellenistic Alexandria. It was used extensively in the philosophy and science of that culture. Later translations from Greek to Arabic became the subject of study by Arab scholars.

Religion

Main article: Religion in Egypt
Religions in Egypt (Pew Research)183184
Religions Percent
Muslim
  
90%
Orthodox Christian
  
9%
Other
  
1%
Mosque of Muhammad Ali was built between 1828 and 1848 by order of Egypt's ottoman wāli Muhammad Ali Pasha in the memory of his dead son Tusun Pasha.

Egypt is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country with Islam as its state religion. The percentage of adherents of various religions is a controversial topic in Egypt. An estimated 90% are identified as Muslim, 9% as Coptic Christians, and 1% as other Christian denominations. nb 2 Non-denominational Muslims form roughly 12% of the population.185

After Islam arrived in the 7th century, Egypt emerged as a center of politics and culture in the Muslim world. Under Anwar Sadat, Islam became the official state religion and Sharia the main source of law.186 It is estimated that 15 million Egyptians follow Native Sufi orders,187188189page needed with the Sufi leadership asserting that the numbers are much greater as many Egyptian Sufis are not officially registered with a Sufi order.188 There is also a minority of Shi'a. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs estimates the Shia population at one to 2.2 million190 and could measure as much as three million.191 The Ahmadiyya population is estimated at less than 50 thousand,192 whereas the Salafi (ultra-conservative) population is estimated at five to six million.193 Cairo is famous for its numerous mosque minarets and has been dubbed "The City of 1,000 Minarets".194

Church of The Virgin Mary, Ismailia

Of the Christian minority in Egypt over 90% belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Christian Church.195 Other native Egyptian Christians are adherents of the Coptic Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church of Egypt and various other Protestant denominations. Non-native Christian communities are largely found in the urban regions of Cairo and Alexandria, the largest formerly being the Christians of Syro-Lebanese, or "Levantine", descent who belong to Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Maronite Catholic denominations.196 Syro-Lebanese Christians formerly had a much larger community in Egypt before the Nasser regime and the adoption of laws of nationalisation. Ethnic Greeks also made up a large Greek Orthodox population in the past. Likewise Armenians made up the then larger Armenian Orthodox and Catholic communities, with Italian Egyptians largely making up the Roman Catholic community.

Egypt hosts two major religious institutions, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, established in the middle of the 1st century CE by Saint Mark the Evangelist, and Al-Azhar University, founded in 970 CE by the Fatimids as the firstdubious Islamic School and University in the world.

Egypt recognises only three religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Other faiths and minority Muslim sects practised by Egyptians, such as the small Bahá'í and Ahmadi community, are not recognised by the state, and face persecution.197198 Individuals, particularly Baha'is and atheists, wishing to include such religions on their mandatory state issued identification cards are denied this ability (see Egyptian identification card controversy), and are put in the position of either not obtaining required identification or lying about their faith. A 2008 court ruling allowed members of unrecognised faiths to obtain identification and leave the religion field blank.137138

Largest cities

Culture

Main article: Culture of Egypt
Al-Azhar Park is listed as one of the world's sixty great public spaces by the Project for Public Spaces
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a commemoration of the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt's second largest city.

Egypt is a recognised cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world, and contemporary Arabic and Middle-Eastern culture is heavily influenced by Egyptian literature, music, film and television. Egypt gained a regional leadership role during the 1950s and 1960s, giving a further enduring boost to the standing of Egyptian culture in the Arabic-speaking world.199

Egyptian identity evolved in the span of a long period of occupation to accommodate Islam, Christianity and Judaism; and a new language, Arabic, and its spoken descendant, Egyptian Arabic which is also based on many Ancient Egyptian words.200

The work of early 19th-century scholar Rifa'a al-Tahtawi renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.201

Egypt's renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad Abduh, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Muhammad Loutfi Goumah, Tawfiq el-Hakim, Louis Awad, Qasim Amin, Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to personal freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring progress.202

Arts

Weighing of the heart scene from the Book of the Dead

The Egyptians were one of the first major civilisations to codify design elements in art and architecture. Egyptian blue, also known as calcium copper silicate is a pigment used by Egyptians for thousands of years. It is considered to be the first synthetic pigment. The wall paintings done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Egyptian civilisation is renowned for its colossal pyramids, temples and monumental tombs. Well-known examples are the Pyramid of Djoser designed by ancient architect and engineer Imhotep, the Sphinx, and the temple of Abu Simbel. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene, from the vernacular architecture of Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef, to Mahmoud Mokhtar's sculptures, to the distinctive Coptic iconography of Isaac Fanous. The Cairo Opera House serves as the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital.

Literature

Main article: Egyptian Literature
Naguib Mahfouz the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Egyptian literature traces its beginnings to ancient Egypt and is some of the earliest known literature. Indeed, the Egyptians were the first culture to develop literature as we know it today, that is, the book.203 It is an important cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Middle East.204 The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular.205 Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition.

Vernacular poetry is perhaps the most popular literary genre among Egyptians, represented by the works of Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.

Popular culture

Egypt's media industry has flourished, today with more than thirty satellite channels and over one hundred motion pictures produced each year.

Egyptian media are highly influential throughout the Arab World, attributed to large audiences and increasing freedom from government control.206207 Freedom of the media is guaranteed in the constitution; however, many laws still restrict this right.206208

Omar Sharif is considered the most famous actor in Egypt starring in Hollywood and winning two Golden Globe Awards

Cinema in Egypt

Egyptian cinema became a regional force with the coming of sound. In 1936, Studio Misr, financed by industrialist Talaat Harb, emerged as the leading Egyptian studios, a role the company retained for three decades.209 For more than 100 year, more than 4000 films have been produced in Egypt, three quarters of the total Arab production.citation needed Egypt in considered the leading country in the field of cinema in the Middle East. Actors from all over the Arab World seeks for appearing in the Egyptian Cinema for the sake of fame. The Cairo International Film Festival has been rated as one of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations.210

Music of Egypt

Main article: Music of Egypt
Umm Kulthum is widely regarded as the greatest female Arabic singer in history.

Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. It has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians credited one of their gods Hathor with the invention of music, which Osiris in turn used as part of his effort to civilise the world. Egyptians used music instruments since then.211 Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu El Hamouli, Almaz and Mahmoud Osman, who influenced the later work of Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez whose age is considered the golden age of music in Egypt and the whole Middle East and North-Africa. Prominent contemporary Egyptian pop singers include Amr Diab and Mohamed Mounir.

Tanoura dancer performing in Wekalet el Ghoury, Cairo.

Dance in Egypt

Today, Egypt is often considered the home of belly dance. Egyptian belly dance has two main styles - raqs baladi and raqs sharqi. There are also numerous folkloric and character dances that may be part of an Egyptian-style belly dancer's repertoire, as well as the modern shaabi street dance which shares some elements with raqs baladi.

Museums

Egypt has one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Thus, it has been in contact with many other civilisations and nations and also has been through so many eras, starting from pre-historic age to the modern age, passing through so many ages such as; Pharonic, Roman, Greek, Islamic and many other ages. Because of this wide variation of ages, the continuous contact with other nations and the big number of conflicts Egypt had been through, at least 60 museums may be found in Egypt, mainly covering a wide area of these ages and conflicts.

Tutankhamun's burial mask is The Egyptian Museum's major attraction

The Three main museums in Egypt are; The Egyptian Museum which has more than 120,000 items, the Egyptian National Military Museum and the 6th of October Panorama.

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), also known as the Giza Museum, is a planned museum of artefacts of ancient Egypt. Described as the largest archaeological museum in the world,212 the museum is scheduled to open in 2015. The museum will be sited on 50 hectares (120 acres) of land approximately two kilometres from the Giza Necropolis and is part of a new master plan for the plateau.

Festivals

Egypt celebrates many festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulid. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavour in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt to witness during Ramadan.

The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Coptic: Ϭⲱⲙ‘ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ shom en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.

Cuisine

Main article: Egyptian cuisine
Kushari, one of Egypt's national dishes.

Egyptian cuisine is notably conducive to vegetarian diets, as it relies heavily on vegetable dishes. Though food in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, so a great number of vegetarian dishes have been developed.

Some consider koshari (a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni) to be the national dish. Fried onions can be also added to koshari. In addition, ful medames (mashed fava beans) is one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (also known as "ta'meyya"), which may have originated in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Middle East. Garlic fried with coriander is added to mulukhiyya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit.

Sports

Crowd in Cairo Stadium

Football is the most popular national sport of Egypt. The Cairo Derby is one of the fiercest derbies in Africa, and the BBC picked it as one of the 7 toughest derbies in the world.213 Al Ahly is the most successful club of the 20th century in the African continent according to CAF, closely followed by their rivals Zamalek SC. Al Ahly was named in 2000 by the Confederation of African Football as the "African Club of the Century". Al Ahly is currently the most successful club in terms of international titles won together Boca Juniors and A.C Milan (18).

The Egyptian national football team known as the "Pharaohs" won the African Cup of Nations seven times, including three times in a row in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Considered the most successful African national team and one of the very few African teams that reached the 9th ranking on the FIFA world ranks, Egypt has only qualified to the FIFA World Cup two times only though. The Egyptian Youth National team "Young Pharaohs" won the Bronze Medal of the 2001 FIFA youth world cup in Argentina.

Ramy Ashour World N.1 Squash player in 2010

Squash and tennis are other popular sports in Egypt. The Egyptian squash team has been known for its fierce competition in international championships since the 1930s. Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour are Egypt's best players and both were ranked as "World's Number One Squash Player".

Among all African nations, the Egypt national basketball team holds the record for best performance at the Basketball World Cup and at the Summer Olympics.214215 Further, the team has won a record number of 16 medals at the African Championship.

In 1999, Egypt hosted the IHF World Men's Handball Championship, and in 2001, the national handball team achieved its best result in the tournament by reaching the fourth place. Egypt has won first place five times in the African Men's Handball Championship, five times second place, and four times third place. In addition to that, it also championed the Mediterranean Games in 2013, the Beach Handball World Championships in 2004 and the Summer Youth Olympics in 2010.

Egypt has taken part in the Summer Olympic Games since 1912 and hosted the first Mediterranean Games in 1951, Alexandria.

Egypt has hosted several international competitions. the last one was 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup which took place between 24 September - 16 October 2009.

On Friday 19 September of the year 2014, Guinness World Records has announced that Egyptian scuba diver Ahmed Gabr is the new title holder for deepest salt water scuba dive, at 332.35 metres.216 Ahmed set a new world record Friday when he reached a depth of more than 1,000 feet.The 14-hour feat took Gabr 1,066 feet down into the abyss near the Egyptian town of Dahab in ther Red Sea, where he works as a diving instructor.217

Telecommunication

The wired and wireless telecommunication industry in Egypt has started in 1854 with the first telegram line connecting Cairo & Alexandria launching. while the first telephone line between the two cities was installed in 1881.218 In September 1999 a national project for technology renaissance was announced which reflects the interest the Egyptian government gave for necessity of developing the information technology industry in Egypt then.

Cellular

Cellular GSM services were first launched in Egypt in 1996.218 It is currently offering 2G/3G service, while LTE is under trials.219 Egypt has 3 companies offering cellular services;

Post

Main article: Egypt Post

Egypt Post which was established in 1865 is one of the oldest institutions in Egypt, Egypt is considered one of the countries that contributed in establishing the Universal Postal Union along with another 21 country named initially under the name "General Postal Union", as a result of the Treaty of Bern signed on 9 October 1874. Egypt also contributed in establishing The Arab Postal Union and The African Postal Union.

Egypt Post's clients overtook the number of 15 million. Egypt Post is an economic organisation contributes directly in achieving the country's plan for of achieving the development in this field.

Education

Main article: Education in Egypt

The adult literacy rate in 2010 was estimated at 72.0%.220

A European-style education system was first introduced in Egypt by the Ottomans in the early 19th century to nurture a class of loyal bureaucrats and army officers.221 Under British occupation investment in education was curbed drastically, and secular public schools, which had previously been free, began to charge fees.221

In the 1950s, president Nasser phased in free education for all Egyptians.221 The Egyptian curriculum influenced other Arab education systems, which often employed Egyptian-trained teachers.221 Demand soon outstripped the level of available state resources, causing the quality of public education to deteriorate.221 Today this trend has culminated in poor teacher–student ratios (often around one to fifty) and persistent gender inequality.221

Basic education, which includes six years of primary and three years of preparatory school, is a right for Egyptian children from the age of six.222 After grade 9, students are tracked into one of two strands of secondary education: general or technical schools. General secondary education prepares students for further education, and graduates of this track normally join higher education institutes based on the results of the Thanaweya Amma, the leaving exam.222

Technical secondary education has two strands, one lasting three years and a more advanced education lasting five. Graduates of these schools may have access to higher education based on their results on the final exam, but this is generally uncommon.222

According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in Egypt are Cairo University (1203rd worldwide), American University in Cairo (1306th) and Mansoura University (1712th).223 QS World University Rankings for 2013 top-ranking universities in Egypt are American University in Cairo (348 worldwide), Cairo University (551-600) and Ain Shams University (601-650).224

Healthcare

Main article: Health in Egypt

In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 4.66% of the country's GDP. In 2009, there were 16.04 physicians and 33.80 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants.225 The life expectancy at birth was 73.20 years in 2011, or 71.30 years for males and 75.20 years for females. Egypt spends 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product on health including treatment costs 22 percent incurred by citizens and the rest by the state. 226

According to the World Health Organization in 2008, an estimated 91.1% of Egypt's girls and women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to genital mutilation.227

Health insurance

The state is keen on extending health insurance coverage to include non-insured new categories. The total number of the insured beneficiaries reached 37.300 million, of which about 27.92 million under laws and a number of 11.208 million insured child under ministerial decrees, showing an insurance coverage of about 51.6 percent of Egypt’s population.228

See also

Notes

  1. ^ See The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants at the Wayback Machine (archived September 14, 2007) for a lower estimate. The "The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights". Archived from the original on 30 December 2007.  states on its web site that in 2000 the World Council of Churches claimed that "between two and five million Sudanese have come to Egypt in recent years". Most Sudanese refugees come to Egypt in the hope of resettling in Europe or the US.
  2. ^ The population of Egypt is estimated as being 90% Muslim, 9% Coptic Christian and 1% other Christian by the US Department of State ("Background Note: Egypt". US Department of State. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2011-03-05. ); the CIA World Factbook ("Egypt". CIA. 2008-09-04. ) and the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office ("Egypt". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2008-08-15. ). Microsoft Encarta Online similarly estimates the Sunni population at 90% of the total. (Egypt. Microsoft Encarta Online. 2008-09-30. Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. ). The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life gave a higher estimate of the Muslim population at 94.6% ("Mapping The Global Muslim Population" (PDF). Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. p. 8. Retrieved 25 July 2011. )

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