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EGYPT

Egypt [Country Flag of Egypt]

Egypt


Egypt enjoys a unique geographical location, a favorable climate, a rich history and an incredible cultural heritage manifested in the Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic monuments. The country, with its marvelous pyramids and ancient architecture, has long been a favorite destination of history buffs. In addition, the country has begun to add new attractions to broaden its offerings to the traveler.

   

The Land
Egypt is located in the northeastern corner of Africa and covers an area of 386,000 square miles. Only about 5% of the country is inhabited along the banks of the Nile whose course stretches over 900 miles from the Mediterranean in the North to the Sudan in the South. To the West lies Libya and to the East are the desert plateau, The Red Sea and Sinai. Egypt’s most fertile area is the Nile Delta. Cairo, Egypt’s capital, has 16 million inhabitants, and Alexandria, the country’s second largest city, has a population of 5.5 million.

The People
In 1998, Egypt’s population totaled 66 million. About 90% of Egyptians are concentrated in the fertile Nile Delta and live in 5% of the country’s territory—44% in urban areas and the rest in some 4,000 villages. However, during the past few years, there has been an urban migration. The Egyptians are outgoing, warm and have a distinct sense of humor. They have respect and a liking for foreigners, and a deep sense of tolerance for other races, religions and nationalities.

Geography
Egypt is rectangular in shape, it covers an area of 386,000 square miles. Below Cairo, the Nile fans out in two main branches—Rosetta on the West and Damietta on the East. Egypt can be divided into the following parts:

· The Eastern Desert: including the plateau extending from the Nile Valley to the Red Sea, and The Sinai which includes Mount Catherine, Egypt’s highest mountain, reaching 8,668 feet.
· The Western Desert: about 68 percent of the country’s total territory. It extends from the Nile Valley to the Libyan border, and from the Mediterranean coast to the Sudan.
· The Nile Valley: Egypt’s main inhabited area. This fertile valley is a strip 7 to 9 miles wide along the Nile and some 6,000 square miles in the Nile Delta. The Nile’s total length in Egypt is about 900 miles.

History
One of the four great ancient civilizations, Egypt, ruled by powerful pharaohs, bequeathed to Western civilization numerous advances in technology, science, and the arts. For the last two millennia, however, Egypt has served a series of foreign masters—Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, and the British. Formal independence came in 1922, and the remnants of British control ended after World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1981 altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population will stress Egyptian society and resources as it enters the new millenium.

Travel Information

Language
Arabic is Egypt’s official language. However, most Egyptians understand and speak English and French. In larger towns, the foreign visitors will encounter no difficulty in communicating with the people.

Weather
Autumn and winter are the ideal seasons to visit Egypt when mild weather prevails; temperatures vary between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenings are cool. During April, an occasional hot sand wind blows, which can make sightseeing less enjoyable. The summer months are hot, 80 – 105, however, the air is dry and humidity low. In Alexandria, on the Mediterranean, the months of December through February are rainy and cold. October to April represents the best time, with water temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Religion
Approximately 85 percent of the population of Egypt are Moslems. Of the remainder, about 9 million are Christian Orthodox who belong to the Coptic Church. In most cities in Egypt, mosques and churches can be found next to each other. There are also some synagogues since a small Jewish community still lives in Egypt.

Economy
Before the 1952 revolution, Egypt’s economy depended mainly on agriculture. Since then, however, the country has developed its other natural resources, and at present Egypt exports oil, finished textiles, canned food, cars, and the Suez Canal is considered an important source of revenue; an average of 70 ships cross it daily and pay fees. Tourism is also a main part of the economy. In an effort to increase its cultivable land, the country is using new irrigation methods, and in parts of the desert new cities have been built.

Agriculture
The high fertility of the soil in the Nile Valley enables Egypt to grow many agricultural products, especially rice, vegetables, onion, sugar cane and fruit. Furthermore, Egypt is one of the world’s main producers and exporters of long staple cotton.

Education
Education in Egypt from primary school up till university is provided free to all Egyptians. The education system is composed of four stages—primary, preparatory, secondary, and university. Primary education is mandatory and is extended to children between the ages of six and twelve.

Currency
The basic unit of currency is the Egyptian pound divided into 100 piasters. Banknotes: 25, 50 (piasters), 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 (Egyptian pounds). Silver coins: 5, 10, 20 piasters. Fluctuating exchange rate stands now approximately at one U.S. $ = 3.45 Egyptian pounds.

Types of Trips
Historical tourism can be based around various famous archeological sites and monuments nationwide, especially in Giza, Alexandria, the Upper Egyptian resorts of Luxor and Aswan, Sinai and the Western Desert Oases. The many museums in the main Egyptian cities are also important components of the historical and archeological tourism activity in Egypt.

There are also a large number of mosques, monasteries and churches built through the Coptic and Islamic eras that are worth seeing.

In addition, Egypt possesses one of the richest therapeutic environments, which attracts people from all over the world. There is natural mineral water, as well as sulphuric springs that cure numerous bone, kidney, skin and digestive system diseases.

Egypt abounds in sporting clubs such as golf, equestrian, diving, and fishing. In addition, tourists can enjoy all sorts of water sports in the Red Sea and Sinai spas.

And, in the beautiful areas of St Catherine, Mount Moses, the colored canyon in Sinai and the Western Desert oases, tourists can see different animals and watch immigrating birds. Safari trips in Sharm el-Sheikh are also organized for tourists who are eager to enjoy the simple Bedouin life.

There are splendid areas of recreational tourism on the Red Sea, the Northern Coast and the Alexandria environs. Most coastal areas boast clear waters, coral reefs, rare fish, white sand beaches and a moderate climate.

The Cairo International Conference Center (CICC) was established and equipped with the latest audio-visual and simultaneous interpretation equipment. It has hosted numerous conferences that boosted this sort of tourism in Egypt.

The main features of Egypt's modern civilization, the Aswan High Dam, the new industrial cities, the big factories and, most recently, the giant development project in Toshka are also an important attraction to tourists coming to Egypt.

Geography

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip

Area-comparative: slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico

Coastline: 2,450 km

Climate: desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters

Terrain: vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta

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

Geography—note: controls Sinai Peninsula, only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, shortest sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics

People

Population: 67,273,906 (July 1999 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Egyptian(s)
adjective: Egyptian

Ethnic groups: Eastern Hamitic stock (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) 99%, Greek, Nubian, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%

Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94% (official estimate), Coptic Christian and other 6% (official estimate)

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

Government

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: Arab Republic (with Syria)

Government type: republic

Capital: Cairo

National Holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, 23 July (1952

Constitution: 11 September 1971

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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ahmed MAHER al-Sayed
chancery: 3521 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 895-5400
FAX: [1] (202) 244-4319, 5131
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel C. KURTZER
embassy: (North Gate) 8, Kamel El-Din Salah Street, Garden City, Cairo
mailing address: Unit 64900, APO AE 09839-4900
telephone: [20] (2) 3557371
FAX: [20] (2) 3573200

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with the national emblem (a shield superimposed on a golden eagle facing the hoist side above a scroll bearing the name of the country in Arabic) centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band; also similar to the flag of Syria that has two green stars and to the flag of Iraq, which has three green stars (plus an Arabic inscription) in a horizontal line centered in the white band

Economy

Economy—overview: At the end of the 1980s, Egypt faced problems of low productivity and poor economic management, compounded by the adverse social effects of excessive population growth, high inflation, and massive urban overcrowding. In the face of these pressures, in 1991 Egypt undertook wide-ranging macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform measures. This reform effort has been supported by three IMF arrangements, the last of which expired in September 1998. Egypt's reform efforts—and its participation in the Gulf war coalition—also led to massive debt relief under the Paris Club arrangements. Substantial progress has been made in improving macroeconomic performance. Cairo tamed inflation, slashed budget deficits, and built up foreign reserves to an all-time high. Although the pace of structural reforms—such as privatization and new business legislation—has been slower than envisioned under the IMF program, Egypt's steps toward a more market-oriented economy have prompted increased foreign investment. The November 1997 massacre of foreign tourists in Luxor affected tourism enough to slow the GDP growth rate for 1998 compared to earlier projections. Tourism's slow recovery, coupled with low world oil prices, caused a downturn in foreign exchange earnings in 1998, but external payments are not in crisis.

Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 40%, services, including government 38%, industry 22% (1990 est.)

Unemployment rate: 10% (1998 est.)

Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, petroleum, construction, cement, metals

Agriculture—products: cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats; fish

Exports—commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, cotton yarn, raw cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals

Imports—commodities: machinery and equipment, foods, fertilizers, wood products, durable consumer goods, capital goods

Currency: 1 Egyptian pound (ŁE) = 100 piasters

Communication

Telephone system: large system by Third World standards but inadequate for present requirements and undergoing extensive upgrading
domestic: principal centers at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta are connected by coaxial cable and microwave radio relay
international: 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; participant in Medarabtel

Transportation

Railways:
total: 4,751 km
standard gauge: 4,751 km 1,435-m gauge (42 km electrified; 951 km double track)

Highways:
total: 64,000 km
paved: 49,984 km
unpaved: 14,016 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 3,500 km (including the Nile, Lake Nasser, Alexandria-Cairo Waterway, and numerous smaller canals in the delta); Suez Canal, 193.5 km long (including approaches), used by oceangoing vessels drawing up to 16.1 m of water

Ports and harbors: Alexandria, Al Ghardaqah, Aswan, Asyut, Bur Safajah, Damietta, Marsa Matruh, Port Said, Suez

Airports: 89 (1998 est.)

Military

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Command

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