Facts


Capital City: Cairo
Population: 91.51 million (2015
Area: 390,100 mi²


About Egypt


officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country 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. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt.
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. 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, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. One of the earliest centres of Christianity, Egypt was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.
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. Egypt’s economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the 21st century. Egypt is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.


Currency

Currency Converter

The Egyptian pound is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 piastres, or ersh or 1,000 millimes. The Egyptian pound is frequently abbreviated as LE or L.E., which stands for livre égyptienne (French for Egyptian pound). E£ and £E are commonly used on the internet. The name Genēh is derived from the Guinea coin, which had almost the same value of 100 piastres at the end of the 19th century.

Climate


Most of Egypt’s rain falls in the winter months. 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), mostly between October and March. Snow falls on Sinai’s mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as Damietta, Baltim and Sidi Barrani, and rarely in Alexandria. A very small amount of snow fell on Cairo on 13 December 2013, the first time in many decades. Frost is also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt. Egypt is the driest and the sunniest country in the world, and most of its land surface is desert.
Egypt has an unusually hot, sunny and dry climate. Average high temperatures are high in the north but very to extremely high in the rest of the country during summer. The cooler Mediterranean winds consistently blow over the northern sea coast, which helps to get more moderated temperatures, especially at the height of the summertime. The Khamaseen is a hot, dry wind that originates from the vast deserts in the south and blows in the spring or in the early summer.
It bringing scorching sand and dust particles, and usually brings daytime temperatures over 40 °C (104 °F) and sometimes over 50 °C (122 °F) more in the interior, while the relative humidity can drop to 5% or even less. The absolute highest temperatures in Egypt occur when the Khamaseen blows. The weather is always sunny and clear in Egypt, especially in cities such as Aswan, Luxor and Asyut. It is one of the least cloudy and least rainy regions on Earth.


Languages


The official language of the Republic is Modern Standard Arabic. Arabic was adopted by the Egyptians after the Arab invasion of Egypt. 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 Afroasiatic 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.

Economy

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 Libya, 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-honoured 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.
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.
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 2,180 cubic kilometres (520 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.
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. Remittances, money earned by Egyptians living abroad and sent home, reached a record US$21 billion in 2012, according to the World Bank.
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.

Religion


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, although without a census the numbers cannot be known. Estimates put the Christian population as high as 15-20%. Non-denominational Muslims form roughly 12% of the population.
Although Egypt was a Christian country before the 7th Century, after Islam arrived, the country was gradually Islamised into a majority-Muslim country. It is not known when Muslims reached a majority variously estimated from ca. 1000 A.D. to as late as the 14th century. Egypt emerged as a centre of politics and culture in the Muslim world. Under Anwar Sadat, Islam became the official state religion and Sharia the main source of law. It is estimated that 15 million Egyptians follow Native Sufi orders, with the Sufi leadership asserting that the numbers are much greater as many Egyptian Sufis are not officially registered with a Sufi order.
There is also a Shi’a minority. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs estimates the Shia population at 1 to 2.2 million and could measure as much as 3 million. The Ahmadiyya population is estimated at less than 50,000, whereas the Salafi (ultra-conservative) population is estimated at five to six million. Cairo is famous for its numerous mosque minarets and has been dubbed “The City of 1,000 Minarets”.
Of the Christian minority in Egypt over 90% belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Christian Church. 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, such as the Syro-Lebanese, who belong to Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Maronite Catholic denominations.
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. Egypt also used to have a large Roman Catholic community, largely made up of Italians and Maltese. These non-native communities were much larger in Egypt before the Nasser regime and the nationalisation that took place.
Egypt hosts the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Egypt is also the home of Al-Azhar University (founded in 969 CE, began teaching in 975 CE), which is today the world’s “most influential voice of establishment Sunni Islam” and is, by some measures, the second-oldest continuously operating university in 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 by the government, which labels these groups a threat to Egypt’s national security. Individuals, particularly Baha’is and atheists, wishing to include their religion (or lack thereof) 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


Culture


Egypt is a recognised cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world. 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.
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.
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.
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


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 has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.


Cuisine


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 kushari (a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni) to be the national dish. Fried onions can be also added to kushari. 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‘miya”), which may have originated in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Middle East. Garlic fried with coriander is added to molokhiya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit.

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