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For other uses, see Egypt (disambiguation).
جمهوريّة مصرالعربيّة
Ǧumhuriyat Misr al-ˁArabiyah
Arab Republic of Egypt

Flag of Egypt (since 1984) Egypt COA
Flag of Egypt The Great Seal of the Republic
National anthem: Bilady, Bilady, Bilady
Location of Egypt
Official language Arabic
Other widely spoken languages English, French
Capital and Largest City Cairo
President Hosni Mubarak
Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Nazif
- Total
- % water
Ranked 29th
1,001,450 km²
- Total (2005)
- Density
Ranked 15th
Partial Independence
- Granted
-Total Independence
from the UK
28 February 1922
18 June 1953
Currency Egyptian Pound (LE/£E/EGP)
Time zone
- in summer
National anthem Biladi, Biladi
Internet TLD .eg
Calling Code 20

The Arab Republic of Egypt, commonly known as Egypt, (in Arabic: مصر, romanized Misr, or Masr in Egyptian dialect), kemet in Ancient Egyptian, is a republic predominantly in north-eastern Africa, together with the Sinai in southwest Asia.

Covering an area of about 1,020,000 km², Egypt shares land borders with Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and Israel and the Gaza Strip to the northeast and has coasts on the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, respectively.

Egypt is the second most populous country in Africa, and the vast majority of its 77 million population (2005) lives less than a kilometer away from the banks of the River Nile (about 40,000 km²), where the only arable agricultural land is found. Large areas of land are part of the Sahara Desert and are sparsely inhabited. The majority of Egyptians today are urban, living in the great Arab population centers of greater Cairo, the largest city in Africa, and Alexandria.

Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and some of the world's most stunning ancient monuments, including the Giza Pyramids, the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings; the southern city of Luxor contains a particularly large number of ancient artifacts. Today, Egypt is widely regarded as the main political and cultural centre of the Arab and Middle Eastern regions.


Origin and history of the name

Misr, the Arabic and official name for modern Egypt, is of Semitic origin directly cognate with the Hebrew מִצְרַיִם Misráyim meaning "the two straits", and possibly means "a country" or "a state." The ancient name for the country, kemet, or "black land," is derived from the fertile black soils deposited by the Nile floods, distinct from the 'red land' (deshret) of the desert. This name became keme in a later stage of Coptic. The English name "Egypt" came via the Latin word Aegyptus derived from the ancient Greek word Αίγυπτος Aiguptos (see also List of traditional Greek place names), which in turn is derived from the ancient Egyptian phrase ḥwt-k3-ptḥ ("Hwt ka Ptah") meaning "home of the Ka (part of the soul) of Ptah," the name of a temple of the god Ptah at Memphis. For details see the article Copt.


Main article: History of Egypt

The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom was founded circa 3200 BC by King Menes, and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. (Judaism celebrates a holiday, Passover, which is based on, according to Jewish tradition, the freeing of ancient Hebrews from servitude under one of those kings, even though there is no definite archaeological evidence for such an event.) The last native dynasty, known as the Thirtieth Dynasty, fell to the Persians in 341 BC who dug the predecessor of the Suez canal and connected the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Later, Egypt fell to the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Persians again.

It was the Muslim Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the seventh century changing Egypt into a linguistically "Arab" nation. Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern even 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; however, the country 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 following World War II. Between 1924-1936 there existed a short-lived attempt to model Egypt's constitutional government after the European style of government; known as Egypt's Liberal Experiment. In 1952 a popularly-supported military coup d'état forced King Farouk I, a constitutional monarch, to abdicate in support of his son King Ahmed Fouad II . Finally the Egyptian Republic was declared on 18 June 1953 with General Mohamed Naguib as the first President of the Republic. After Naguib resigned in 1954, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real architect of the 1952 Revolution, assumed power as President and nationalized the Suez Canal leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Nasser came out of the war an Arab hero, and Nasserism won widespread influence in the region. Between 1958 and 1961 Egypt and Syria formed a union known as the United Arab Republic. Three years after the 1967 Six Day War, in which Egypt lost the Sinai to Israel, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat, who presented his takeover in terms of a Corrective Revolution. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972, and launched the Infitah economic reform, while violently clamping down on religious and secular opposition alike. In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched a surprise attack on Israel in the October War,which despite not being a military success was by most accounts a political victory. Both the United States and the USSR intervened and a cease-fire was reached between Egypt and Israel. In 1979, Sadat made peace with Israel in exchange for the Sinai, a move which sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League (it was readmitted in 1989). Sadat was murdered by a religious fundamentalist in 1981, and succeeded by Hosni Mubarak.

The Pyramids of Giza are at the heart of Egypt's thriving tourism industry.
The Pyramids of Giza are at the heart of Egypt's thriving tourism industry.


Main article: Politics of Egypt

Egypt has been a republic since 18 June 1953. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has been the President of the Republic since October 14, 1981, following the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981. Mubarak is currently serving his fourth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was sworn in as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004, following the resignation of Dr. Atef Ebeid from his office.

The permanent headquarters for the League of Arab States is located in Cairo. Egypt was the first Arab state to establish peace with the State of Israel after the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty after the Camp David Accords. Egypt also has a major influence on the other Arab states. Historically, Egypt has played the role of a mediator in resolving disputes of various Arab nations. Most Arab nations still use Egypt in that role.

Egypt supposedly operates under a multi-party semi-presidential system where the executive power is divided between the President and the Prime Minister. Egypt holds regular single-candidate presidential and multi-party parliamentary elections. The last presidential election was held in September 2005, in which Mubarak won again. However, after the September elections there has been expressed concern from international human rights observers concerning freedom of speech, government interference in local elections and vote-rigging.

In late February 2005, Mubarak announced on a surprise television broadcast that he has ordered the reform of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in the coming election. For the first time in Egypt's history, the people will have a chance to elect their leader in a closely watched election. The President said his initiative came "out of my full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy." However, the new law places draconian restrictions on the filing of presidential candidacies designed to pave the road for Mubarak's easy re-election. As a result most Egyptians are sceptical about the process of democratisation and the role of elections.


Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt

Main article: Governorates of Egypt

Egypt is divided into 26 governorates (Muhafazat; singular – Muhafazah):

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Egypt
 Alexandria is Egypt's second largest city and chief port. Here is that city's state-of-the-art library
Alexandria is Egypt's second largest city and chief port. Here is that city's state-of-the-art library
Egypt has a burgeoning youth population.
Egypt has a burgeoning youth population.
The Great Sphinx of Giza, with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background
The Great Sphinx of Giza, with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background
Egypt's capital Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa and the Middle East
Egypt's capital Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa and the Middle East
 Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslims
Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslims
Over six million Egyptians follow the Christian faith as members of the Coptic Church
Over six million Egyptians follow the Christian faith as members of the Coptic Church
Egyptian countryside, south of Cairo. Every green plant is watered from the Nile
Egyptian countryside, south of Cairo. Every green plant is watered from the Nile

Geography, population, history, military strength, and diplomatic expertise give Egypt extensive political influence in the Middle East. Cairo has been a crossroads of Arab commerce and culture for millennia, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

The League of Arab States headquarters is in Cairo. The Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the present Secretary General of the Arab League.

Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

Egypt is on good terms with all of its neighbours, and was the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel. It has a territorial dispute with Sudan over the Hala'ib Triangle.


Main article: Economy of Egypt

Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than 5 million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf area like UAE, and Europe. The United States as well has a large population of Egyptian immigrants.

The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 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 (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society.

The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure, much financed from U.S. foreign aid (since 1979, an average of 2.2 billion dollars per year). Egypt is the third largest recipient of such funds from the United States following the Iraq war. Economic conditions are starting 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.


Main article: Demographics of Egypt

Egypt is the most populous Arab country, at about 77,500,000 people. Nearly all the population is concentrated along the River Nile, notably Alexandria and Cairo, and along the Nile Delta and near the Suez Canal. Approximately 90% of the population adheres to Islam and most of the remainder to Christianity (primarily the Coptic denomination).

The Egyptians are a fairly homogeneous people. The historic fusion of indigenous Egyptian (Mediterranean) and invading Arab elements predominates throughout much of the country, though in the south there is some Nubian admixture of northern Sudan. Many theories have been proposed on the origins of the Egyptians; however, none are conclusive, and the most widely accepted theory is that Egyptian society was the result of a mix of East African and Asiatic people who moved to the Nile Valley after the Ice Age. The bulk of Modern Egyptian society still maintains a homogenous genetic tie to the ancient Egyptian society which has always been regarded as rural and most populous compared to the neighboring demographics. The Egyptian people have spoken only languages from the Afro-Asiatic family (previously known as Hamito-Semitic) throughout their history starting with Old Egyptian, to modern Arabic.

Ethnic minorities include a small number of Bedouin Arab nomads in the Sinai and eastern and western deserts, as well as some Nubians clustered along the Nile in Upper (southern) Egypt who are estimated for about 0.8% of the population.


Main articles: Geography of Egypt

A great part of Egypt's landmass is desert.
A great part of Egypt's landmass is desert.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, Aswan, Asyut, Cairo, El-Mahalla El-Kubra, Giza, Hurghada, Luxor, Kom Ombo, Port Safaga, Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, Shubra-El-Khema, Suez, Zagazig,Al-Minya.

Deserts: Egypt includes parts of the Sahara Desert and of the Libyan Desert

Oases include: Bahariya Oasis, Dakhleh Oasis, Farafra Oasis, Kharga Oasis, Siwa Oasis.

Egypt borders on Libya on the west, on Sudan on the south and on Israel on the northeast. It controls the Suez Canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Egypt's important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: as a land bridge between Africa and Asia, and as a passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal.


Main article: Culture of Egypt

Egypt's capital city, Cairo, is Africa's largest city and has been renowned for centuries as a center of learning, culture and commerce. The Egyptian Academy of the Arabic Language is responsible for regulating the Arabic Language throughout the world.

Egypt also hosts two major religious institutions. Al-Azhar University, the oldest Islamic institution for higher studies (founded around 970 CE) with its corresponding mosque Al-Azhar. The head of Al-Azhar is traditionally regarded as the supreme leader of Sunni Muslims all over the world. Egypt also has a strong Christian heritage as evidenced by the existence of the Coptic Orthodox Church headed by the Patriarch of Alexandria, which has a following of approximately 50 million Christians worldwide (one of the famous Coptic Orthodox Churches is Saint Takla Haimanot Church in Alexandria

Though considered a low-income country, Egypt has a thriving media and arts industry, with more than 30 satellite channels and more than 100 motion pictures produced each year. To bolster its media industry, especially with the keen competition from the Persian Gulf states and Lebanon, it has built a large media city that it has promoted as the "Hollywood of the East". Egypt is the only Arab country with an opera house.

Some famous Egyptians include:

See also


External links

Find more information on Egypt by searching one of Wikipedia's sibling projects:

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See: List of Egyptian universities


See: List of museums in Egypt


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