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The Arab Republic of Egypt, commonly known as Egypt, (in Arabic: مصر, romanized Misr, in Egyptian Arabic Másr), is a republic in North Africa. While most of it is geographically located in Africa, the Sinai Peninsula east of the Suez Canal is in Asia and Egypt is often associated with the Middle East.
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 fifteenth most populous country in the world. The vast majority of its 77 million population (2005) live near the banks of the Nile River (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 Mitzráyim 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.
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. 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 and mostly ethnically “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 Muhammad 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 complete 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 that 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.
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 fifth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Dr. 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, whereby 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. As expected, Mubarak was re-elected. Newspapers however have exhibited an increasing freedom in criticizing the president, and the results of the parlimentary elections genuinely indicate that a democratic transition is underway, as evidenced by the strong showing of rival political parties.
Military of Egypt
The Egyptian Armed Forces (Arabic: القوات المسلحة المصرية) consists of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Air Defense. The Coast Guard and Border Guard operate as subordinates to the Navy and Army Command respectively.
The Egyptian military is the strongest military power on the African continent, and the second largest in the Middle East, the largest being that of Israel – (Source: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies’ annual Middle East Strategic Balance). The Egyptian Armed Forces also ranks among the most battle-trained armed forces in the region. Its inventory includes F-16s, Mirage 2000 aircraft, MiG-29 fighters, Apache helicopters, M1 Abrams Tanks and medium-long range missiles. The Egyptian Armed forces, has a combined troop strength of 450,000 active personel.
The Supreme Commander is Hosni Mubarak, wartime Field Marshal of the army, admiral of the navy, Chief Air Marshal (Colonel General) of the Air Forces and Air Defence Forces. During peacetime, the title of Supreme Commander is ceremonial.
The Commander-in-Chief and commander of the army is Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Minister Of Defense and Military Production.
The Chief of Staff is Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan.
The Commander of the Navy is Vice Admiral Tamer Abd El Aleem Mohamed Ismail
The Commander of the Air Forces is Air Marshal (Lt. Gen.) Magdy Galal Sharawi
The Commander of the Air Defence Forces is Major General Abd El Aziz Seif
Conscription is compulsory for Egyptian men of 18 years of age. Full-time students may defer their service until the age of 28. The length of the service depends on the level of education achieved by the conscripted.
Military relations between Egypt and the US are strong. Military cooperation between the two countries covers a number of strategic areas, including cooperation in the ongoing process of modernising Egyptian armaments and training the Egyptian armed forces.
While military cooperation between the US and Egypt is close and diversified, this does not constitute a form of military alliance. Nothing could furnish clearer proof of this than the high degree of transparency surrounding all aspects of Egyptian-US military cooperation. Bilateral exercises and mutual training are carried out regularly, and, according to one US source, reflect the high level of professionalism and the growing excellence of the fighting men and women in the various branches of the Egyptian armed forces.
Egypt takes part regularly in military exercises with the US and other European and Arab allies, including the manoeuvres that take place in Egypt every two years.
Egypt continues to contribute regularly to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most recently in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia
Foreign relations of Egypt
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.
The Great Sphinx of Giza, with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background
Egypt’s capital Cairo is the largest city in Africa and the Middle East
Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslims
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 NileGeography, 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.
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 prepare 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. In its annual report, the IMF has rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms.
Demographics of Egypt
Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world, 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, despite being an international country, mixture of nationalities has been going on continually for at least 6,000 years. Hence, it is hard to point at any form of original Egyptian race or races, though most scientists agree that the modern Egyptians are Caucasian, and there is very little evidence to prove that the ancient Egyptians were anything to the contrary. In the northern part of the country, North African and Mediterranean elements are more predominant, and the south is home to populations more closely related to Ethiopians and Somalis from the Horn of Africa. The bulk of the modern Egyptian people still maintain a homogenous genetic tie to ancient Egyptian society, which has always been regarded as rural and most populous compared to the neighboring demographics.
There is minority of Europeans mainly descendants of Italian, Greek, and Armenian immigrants.
These immigrants who came to Egypt over the course of its history, mostly left Egypt upon the nationalization movement during the 1950s. However, many stayed in the country. In 1989 an estimated 350,000 Greeks constituted Egypt’s largest non-Arab minority.(Greeks have lived in Egypt since before the time of Alexander the Great). The Armenian community is another, numbered at 6,000 today.
And Today, many of these immigrants who left Egypt, still show loyalty to their Egyptian heritage (especially those of cultures which have been present in Egypt a long period in history) by forming associations and societies at their home countries such as: The Egyptian Greeks, the Armenians from Egypt,…etc.
Other ethnic minorities include a small number of Bedouin Arab nomads in the Sinai and eastern and western deserts, as well as a Nubian minority clustered along the Nile in Upper (southern) Egypt who are estimated for about 0.8% of the population. The once-vibrant Jewish community in Egypt has disappeared, with a very tiny number remaining in Egypt or visits Egypt in religious occasions as well as the remaining of several important archeological and historical sites.
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 Egyptian-Arabic. Arabs had a strong impact on the Egyptians as they changed the language and cultural identification.
Today’s Egyptians consider themselves as Arabs, as well as direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians. Both ideas are correct.
Egyptians are gradually darker in the skin the further south you get in the country, as there becomes more and more of contact with negroid peoples from the Sudanese area.
Religion in Egypt
According to the constitution, Islam is a main resource for the constitution of Egypt. Egypt is predominantly Muslim, covering about 90% of the population, most belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. While Christians represent about 10% of the population,, primarily the Coptic denomination however other christian groups are present including standard Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox, in Alexandria and Cairo, whose adherents are mainly descendants of Italian, Greek, and Armenian immigrants.
There are also some few, small Jewish communities that are numbered as few as 300 egyptians.
There are also some who consider themselves as atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. Although their numbers can not be identified.
The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through Wizaret Al-Awkaf (Ministry of Religious Affairs). Al-Awkaf controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. Imams are trained in Imam vocational schools and at Al-Azhar University. The department supports Sunni Islam and has commissions authorised to give Fatwa judgements on Islamic issues.
Egypt also hosts two major religious institutions. Al-Azhar University is the oldest Islamic institution for higher studies (founded around 970 CE), with its corresponding mosque Al-Azhar. Egypt also has a strong Christian heritage as it is the home of the Coptic Orthodox Church headed by the Patriarch of Alexandria, which has a following of approximately 50 million Christians worldwide.
Geography of Egypt
A great part of Egypt’s landmass is desert.Towns and cities include Alexandria, one of the great ancient cities, Aswan, Asyut, Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital, El-Mahalla El-Kubra, Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu, Hurghada, Luxor, Kom Ombo, Port Safaga, Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, Shubra-El-Khema, Suez, where the Suez Canal is located, Zagazig, and Al-Minya.
Deserts: Egypt includes parts of the Sahara Desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts were referred to as the “red land” in ancient Egypt, and they protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from harm.
Oases include: Bahariya Oasis, Dakhleh Oasis, Farafra Oasis, Kharga Oasis, Siwa Oasis. An oasis is a fertile or green area in the midst of a desert.
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.
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 is 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 http://www.St-Takla.org).
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.
Enjoy Allo Expat information abd communities throughout
the five continents. With over 170 users’ nationalities, 164
countries covered – We help Connecting the Expat World.