Location and History
Situated at the northeast corner of Africa, Egypt is one of the most populous on the continent. It also has a very high population density as most of its 80 million inhabitants live near the banks of the River Nile. While the country encompasses roughly one million square kilometres, the people live in only about 40,000 of that!
Its capital is Cairo; most of its citizens are Egyptians and Arabic is the official language. Although predominantly an Islamic country, there is a sizeable Christian community and its roots go back many centuries. They make up about ten per cent of the population.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times; archaeological digs have revealed signs of hunter-gatherers living throughout the area for centuries. Then, as the climate changed and the amount of arable land shrank, the communities congregated along the shores of the Nile, chief source of water for the nation. The annual flooding of the banks by the river heavily influenced all aspects of the society.
With the rise of the Pharaohs, the society took on a highly structured and organised framework. Ironically, the same deserts that protected the people and thus allowed them to develop a society in peace would later prove troublesome for their growth. Isolated, and having limited contact with other societies, the Egyptians eventually ceased to innovate and invent. Thus, when the Persians, Greeks and Romans arrived, the Egyptians were ill-equipped to defend themselves.
Geography and Climate
The nation is largely desert and flat; the Nile Valley, Nile Delta, and the coastal areas being the only real arable lands. As part of Africa, and near the Sahara, summers can be quite hot – over 38 degrees Celsius in the deserts is not uncommon. However, the coastal areas can be quite comfortable, and the winter months usually range from about 13 to 21 degrees.
The nation depends largely on oil, agriculture and tourism for its income. In recent years, the government has been striving to update the economy so that it might better compete on the world market. As the country has coal, oil, natural gas and hydroelectric power, it is seeking to develop them for export. In terms of tourism as well as such iconic attractions as the Pyramids, you can take fantastic Nile Cruises.