Facts about Egypt

World Facts Index > Egypt > Cairo

EgyptThe 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 with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952. 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 meet the demands of Egypt's growing population through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

Geography of Egypt

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
27 00 N, 30 00 E
total: 1,001,450 sq km
land: 995,450 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico
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:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
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
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

More Geography

Population of Egypt

81,713,520 (July 2008 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)
Median age:
24 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
31.33 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.29 years
male: 68.77 years
female: 73.93 years
Fertility rate:
2.83 children born/woman
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%
Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94%, Coptic Christian and other 6%
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%


Country name:
conventional long form: Arab Republic of Egypt
local short form: Misr
former: United Arab Republic (with Syria)
local long form: Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiyah
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, Ash Sharqiyah, As Suways, 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
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
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK (since 14 October 1981)
head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed NAZIF (since 9 July 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for six-year term (no term limits); note - a national referendum in May 2005 approved a constitutional amendment that changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote; previously the president was nominated by the People's Assembly and the nomination was validated by a national, popular referendum; last referendum held 26 September 1999; first election under terms of constitutional amendment held 7 September 2005; next election scheduled for 2011
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)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Constitutional Court


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 Gamel Abdel NASSER. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF's government reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew about 5% per year in 2005-06, and topped 7% in 2007. 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 sizeable budget deficit - roughly 7.5% of GDP in 2007 - and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment has increased significantly in the past two years, but the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reforms in order to sustain the spike in investment and growth and begin to improve economic conditions for the broader population. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.

$405.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 14.9%
industry: 35.7%
services: 49.3%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
21.34 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 32%, industry 17%, services 51% 
revenues: $20.29 billion
expenditures: $27.68 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 81%
hydro: 19%
other: 0% 
textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals
cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats
crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals
Export partners:
US 13.4%, Italy 9.6%, Spain 7.8%, Syria 6%, France 4.9%, Germany 4.9%, UK 4.5%
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, fuels
Import partners:
US 10.8%, Germany 7.3%, China 6.6%, France 6.4%, Italy 5.9%, Saudi Arabia 4.5%
Egyptian pound (EGP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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