Egypt officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsulaforming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean regionand the Islamic world. Covering an area of about 1,010,000 square kilometers (390,000 sq mi), Egypt is bordered by the Mediterranean Seato the north, the Gaza Stripand Israelto the northeast, the Red Seato the east, Sudanto the south and Libyato the west.
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East. The great majority of its estimated 79 million peoplelive near the banks of the NileRiver, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable landis found. The large areas of the SaharaDesert are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandriaand other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilizationand some of the world's most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complexand its Great Sphinx. Its ancient ruins, such as those of Memphis, Thebes, Karnakand the Valley of the Kings, are a significant focus of archaeological study, and artefacts from these sites are now displayed in major museums around the world.
Egypt possesses one of the most developed and diversified economies in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service at almost equal production levels. The Egyptian economy is rapidly developing, due in part to legislation aimed at luring investments, coupled with both internal and political stability, along with recent trade and market liberalization.
At 1,001,450 square kilometers (386,660 sq mi), Egypt is the world's 38th-largest country. In land area, it is about the same size as all Central America, twice the size of Spain, four times the size of the United Kingdom, and the combined size of the US states of Texasand California.
Nevertheless, due to the aridity of Egypt's climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses only about 5.5% of the total land area. Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt's important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, which in turn is traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean by way of the Red Sea.
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. Snowfalls on Sinai's mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as Damietta, Baltim, Sidi Barrany, etc. and rarely in Alexandria. Frostis also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt.
Temperatures average between 80 °F (27 °C) and 90 °F (32 °C) in summer, and up to 109 °F (43 °C) on the Red Sea coast. Winter temperatures average between 55 °F (13 °C) and 70 °F (21 °C). A steady wind from the northwest helps lower temperatures near the Mediterranean coast. The Khamaseenis a wind that blows from the south in spring, bringing sand and dust, and sometimes raises the temperature in the desert to more than 100 °F (38 °C).
Prior to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Nile flooded annually (colloquially The Gift of the Nile) replenishing Egypt's soil. This gave the country consistent harvest throughout the years.
Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulfand Europe. The completion of the Aswan High Damin 1970 and the resultant Lake Nasserhave altered the time-honored 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 U.S. 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. Its main revenues however come from tourism as well as traffic that goes through the Suez Canal.
Egypt has a developed energy market based on coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro power. Substantial coal deposits are in the northeast Sinai, and are mined at the rate of about 600,000 metric tons(590,000 LT; 660,000 ST) 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 1,940 cubic kilometres (470 cu mi), and LNGis exported to many countries.
Economic conditions have started to improve considerably after a period of stagnation from 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 IMFhas rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms. Some major economic reforms taken by the new Government since 2003 include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs. A new taxation lawimplemented in 2005 decreased corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulting in a stated 100% increase in tax revenueby the year 2006.
Although one of the main obstacles still facing the Egyptian economy is the trickle down of the wealth to the average population, many Egyptians criticize their Government for higher prices of basic goods while their standards of livingor purchasing power remains relatively stagnant. Corruption is often cited by Egyptians as the main impediment to further economic growth. The Government promises major reconstruction of the country's infrastructure, using money paid for the newly acquired third mobile license ($3 billion) by Etisalat.
Egypt's most prominent multinational companies are the Orascom Groupand Raya Contact Center. The IT sector has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with many start-ups selling outsourcing services to North America and Europe, operating with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and other major corporations, as well as many small and medium enterprises. Some of these companies are the Xceed Contact Center, Raya, E Group Connections and C3. The sector has been stimulated by new Egyptian entrepreneurs with Government encouragement.
An estimated 2.7 million Egyptians abroad contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances(US$ 7.8 billion in 2009), as well as circulation of human and social capital and investment.
Egypt is the most populated country in the Middle East and the third most populous on the African continent, at about 78,866,635 (July 2009 est.). Population grew rapidly from 1970-2010 due to medical advancesand increases in agricultural productivity, enabled by the Green Revolution. Egypt's population was estimated at only 3 million when Napoleoninvaded the country in 1798. In 1939, Egypt had a population of 16.5 million.
The population is concentrated along the Nile (notably Cairo and Alexandria), in the Delta and near the Suez Canal. Approximately 90% of the population adheres to Islamand most of the rest to Christianity, primarily the Coptic Orthodoxdenomination. Apart from religious affiliation, Egyptians can be divided demographically into those who live in the major urban centers and the fellahinor farmers of rural villages.
The official languageof the Republic is literary Arabic.The spoken languagesare: 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%), Siwiand others. Additionally, Greek, Armenianand Italianare the main languages of immigrants. In Alexandria in the 19th century there was a huge community of Italo-Egyptiansand Italian was the "lingua franca" of the city. The main taught foreign languages in schools are English, French, Germanand sometimes Italian.
GDP (FY 2009 est.):$188 billion.
Annual growth rate (FY 2009 est.): 4.7%.
Per capita GDP (PPP, FY 2009 est.): $5,650.
Natural resources: Petroleum and natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--cotton, rice, onions, beans, citrus fruits, wheat, corn, barley, sugar.
Industry: Types--food processing, textiles, chemicals, petrochemicals, construction, light manufacturing, iron and steel products, aluminum, cement, military equipment.
Trade (FY 2009): Exports--$25.2 billion: petroleum, clothing and textiles, cotton, fruits and vegetables, manufactured goods. Major markets--EU, U.S., Middle East. Imports--$50.3 billion: machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products, livestock, food and beverages, paper and wood products, chemicals. Major suppliers--EU, U.S., China.