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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 arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. 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.


Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula

Geographic coordinates:

27 00 N, 30 00 E


total: 1,001,450 sq km
land: 995,450 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 2,665 km
border countries: Gaza Strip 11 km, Israel 266 km, Libya 1,115 km, Sudan 1,273 km


2,450 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters


vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Qattara Depression -133 m
highest point: Mount Catherine 2,629 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc

Land use:

arable land: 2.92%
permanent crops: 0.5%
other: 96.58% (2005)

Irrigated land:

34,220 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms, sandstorms

Environment - current issues:

agricultural land being lost to urbanization and windblown sands; increasing soil salination below Aswan High Dam; desertification; oil pollution threatening coral reefs, beaches, and marine habitats; other water pollution from agricultural pesticides, raw sewage, and industrial effluents; very limited natural fresh water resources away from the Nile, which is the only perennial water source; rapid growth in population overstraining the Nile and natural resources

Geography - note:

controls Sinai Peninsula, only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics; dependence on upstream neighbors; dominance of Nile basin issues; prone to influxes of refugees


78,887,007 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 32.6% (male 13,172,641/female 12,548,346)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 25,102,754/female 24,519,698)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 1,510,280/female 2,033,288) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 24 years
male: 23.6 years
female: 24.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.75% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

22.94 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.23 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 31.33 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 30.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.29 years
male: 68.77 years
female: 73.93 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.83 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2001 est.)

Hpeople living with HIV/AIDS:

12,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

700 (2003 est.)


noun: Egyptian(s)
adjective: Egyptian

Ethnic groups:

Egyptian 98%, Berber, Nubian, Bedouin, and Beja 1%, Greek, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%


Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%


Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.7%
male: 68.3%
female: 46.9% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Arab Republic of Egypt
conventional short form: Egypt
local long form: Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiyah
local short form: Misr
former: United Arab Republic (with Syria)

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

26 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Ad Daqahliyah, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Al Buhayrah, Al Fayyum, Al Gharbiyah, Al Iskandariyah, Al Isma'iliyah, Al Jizah, Al Minufiyah, Al Minya, Al Qahirah, Al Qalyubiyah, Al Wadi al Jadid, As Suways, Ash Sharqiyah, Aswan, Asyut, Bani Suwayf, Bur Sa'id, Dumyat, Janub Sina', Kafr ash Shaykh, Matruh, Qina, Shamal Sina', Suhaj


28 February 1922 (from UK)

National holiday:

Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)


11 September 1971; amended 22 May 1980

Legal system:

based on English common law, Islamic law, and Napoleonic codes; judicial review by Supreme Court and Council of State (oversees validity of administrative decisions); accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Legislative branch:

bicameral system consists of the People's Assembly or Majlis al-Sha'b (454 seats; 444 elected by popular vote, 10 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms) and the Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura - which functions only in a consultative role (264 seats; 176 elected by popular vote, 88 appointed by the president; members serve six-year terms; mid-term elections for half the members)
elections: People's Assembly - three-phase voting - last held 7 and 20 November, 1 December 2005;(next to be held November-December 2010); Advisory Council - last held May-June 2004 (next to be held May-June 2007)
election results: People's Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 311, NWP 6, Tagammu 2, Tomorrow Party 1, independents 112 (12 seats to be determined by rerun elections, 10 seats appointed by President); Advisory Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch:

Supreme Constitutional Court

Economy - overview:

Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. In the last 30 years, the government has reformed the highly centralized economy it inherited from President NASSER. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew nearly 5%. Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a growing budget deficit - more than 8% of GDP in 2005 - and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment remains low. To achieve higher GDP growth the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reform, especially in the energy sector. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$339.2 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$92.6 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4.7% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,400 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 15.5%
industry: 32.1%
services: 52.4% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

21.34 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 32%
industry: 17%
services: 51% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:

10% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

20% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 4.4%
highest 10%: 25% (1995)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

34.4 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.3% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

17.6% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $20.29 billion
expenditures: $27.68 billion; including capital expenditures of $2.7 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

93.6% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats


textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals, light manufactures

Industrial production growth rate:

3.2% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

84.26 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

78.16 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

450 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

250 million kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

700,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

566,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

2.7 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

27 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

27 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

1.9 trillion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$2.928 billion (2005 est.)


$14.33 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals

Exports - partners:

Italy 11.9%, US 10.8%, UK 7%, Syria 6.2%, Germany 4.7%, Spain 4.2% (2004)


$24.1 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, fuels

Imports - partners:

US 12.2%, Germany 7%, Italy 6.6%, France 5.6%, China 5.4%, UK 4.7%, Saudi Arabia 4.1% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$20.31 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$28.95 billion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA, $1.12 billion (2002)

Currency (code):

Egyptian pound (EGP)

Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June

Telephones - main lines in use:

10.4 million (2005)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

14,045,134 (2005)

Telephone system:

general assessment: large system; underwent extensive upgrading during 1990s and is reasonably modern; Internet access and cellular service are available
domestic: principal centers at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta are connected by coaxial cable and microwave radio relay
international: country code - 20; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat; 5 coaxial submarine cables; tropospheric scatter to Sudan; microwave radio relay to Israel; a participant in Medarabtel

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 42 (plus 15 repeaters), FM 14, shortwave 3 (1999)

Television broadcast stations:

98 (September 1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,702 (2005)

Internet users:

5 million (2005)


87 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 72
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
under 914 m: 4 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 15
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 7 (2005)


2 (2005)


condensate 289 km; condensate/gas 94 km; gas 6,115 km; liquid petroleum gas 852 km; oil 5,032 km; oil/gas/water 36 km; refined products 246 km (2004)


total: 5,063 km
standard gauge: 5,063 km 1.435-m gauge (62 km electrified) (2004)


total: 64,000 km
paved: 49,984 km
unpaved: 14,016 km (1999)


3,500 km
note: includes Nile River, Lake Nasser, Alexandria-Cairo Waterway, and numerous smaller canals in delta; Suez Canal (193.5 km including approaches) navigable by oceangoing vessels drawing up to 17.68 m (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 76 ships (1000 GRT or over) 987,524 GRT/1,467,139 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 14, cargo 33, container 2, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 13, roll on/roll off 9
foreign-owned: 9 (Denmark 1, Greece 6, Lebanon 2)
registered in other countries: 40 (The Bahamas 1, Bolivia 1, Cambodia 6, Cyprus 1, Georgia 6, Honduras 1, Panama 17, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 1, Syria 1, unknown 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Alexandria, Damietta, El Dekheila, Port Said, Suez, Zeit

Military branches:

Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Command

Disputes - international:

Egypt and Sudan retain claims to administer the two triangular areas that extend north and south of the 1899 Treaty boundary along the 22nd Parallel, but have withdrawn their military presence; Egypt is developing the Hala'ib Triangle north of the Treaty line; since the attack on Taba and other Egyptian resort towns on the Red Sea in October 2004, Egypt vigilantly monitors the Sinai and borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip; Egypt does not extend domestic asylum to some 70,000 persons who identify themselves as Palestinians but who largely lack UNRWA assistance and, until recently, UNHCR recognition as refugees

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 70,245 (Palestinian Territories) 14,904 (Sudan) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

transit point for Southwest Asian and Southeast Asian heroin and opium moving to Europe, Africa, and the US; transit stop for Nigerian couriers; concern as money-laundering site due to lax enforcement of financial regulations