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The Arab Republic of Egypt, commonly known as Egypt, (in Arabic: مصر, romanized Miṣr or Maṣr, in Egyptian dialect) is a republic mostly located in north-eastern Africa.
Covering an area of about 1,020,000 km² Egypt includes the Sinai Peninsula (considered part of Southwest Asia), whilst the majority of the country is located in North Africa. It shares land borders with Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, Israel to the northeast. It is bordered to the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, respectively.
The vast majority of Egypt's population inhabit the banks of the Nile river (about 40,000 km²).Large areas of land are part of the Sahara Desert and are sparsely inhabited.
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilisation and some of the world's most stunning ancient monuments, including the Giza Pyramids, the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. The southern city of Luxor contains what accounts to two-thirds of the ancient artifacts present in the entire world. Today, Egypt is widely regarded as the main political and cultural centre of the Arab and Middle Eastern regions.
Main articles: History of Egypt
Miṣr, the Arabic and official name for Egypt, is of Semitic origin, and possibly means 'a country' or 'a state'. The name Egypt came via the Latin word Aegyptus derived from the ancient Greek word Αἴγύπτος "aiguptos", which in turn is derived from the ancient Egyptian phrase ḥwt-k3-ptḥ ("Hut ka Ptah"), the name of a temple of the god Ptah at Memphis. For details see the article Copt.
The 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 civilisations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 BC by King Mina, and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty, known as the Thirtieth Dynasty, fell to the Persians in 341 BC who dug the predecessor of the Suez canal and connected the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Later, Egypt fell to the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Persians again.
It was the Muslim Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the Seventh Century changing Egypt into a linguistically "Arab" nation once and for all. Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern even 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; however, 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 following World War II. Between 1924-1936 there existed a short lived attempt to model Egypt's constitutional government after the European-style of government; this was called Egypt's Liberal Experiment. In 1952 a popularly-supported military coup d'état forced King Farouk I, a constitutional monarch, to abdicate in support of his son King Ahmed Fouad II. Finally the Egyptian Republic was declared on 18 June 1953 with Gen. Mohamed Naguib as the first President of the Republic. After Naguib resigned in 1954, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real architect of the 1952 Revolution, assumed power as President and nationalized the Suez Canal leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Between 1958 and 1961 Egypt and Syria formed a union known as the United Arab Republic.
Main article: Politics of Egypt
Egypt has been a republic since 18 June 1953. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has been the President of the Republic since October 14 1981, following the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat. President Mubarak is currently serving his fourth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was sworn in as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004, following the resignation of Dr. Atef Obied from his office.
Egypt operates under a multi-party semi-presidential system where the executive power is divided between the President and the Prime Minister. Egypt holds regular presidential and parliamentary elections. The last Presidential Election was held in 1999 and is scheduled to be held in October 2005. However, there is expressed concern from international human rights observers concerning freedom of speech and government interference in local elections.
The permanent headquarters for the League of Arab States is located in Cairo. Egypt was the first Arab state to establish peace with the State of Israel after the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty after the Camp David Accords).
Main article: Governorates of Egypt
Egypt is divided into 26 governorates (Muhafazat, singular - Muhafazah):
Geography, population, history, military strength, and diplomatic expertise give Egypt extensive political influence in the Middle East. Cairo has been a crossroads of Arab commerce and culture for millennia, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.
The League of Arab States headquarters is in Cairo. The Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the present Secretary General of the Arab League.
Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.
Egypt is on good terms with all of its neighbours, and was the first Arab nation to make peace with Israel. It has a territorial dispute with Sudan over the Hala'ib Triangle.
Main article: Economy of Egypt
Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than 5 million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf area, and Europe.
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 ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure, much financed from U.S. aid. Egypt is the second largest recipient of such funds from the United States after Israel. Economic conditions are starting to improve considerably after a period of stagnation due to the adoption of more liberal economic policies by the government, as well as increased revenues from tourism and a booming stock market.
Main article: Demographics of Egypt
Egypt is the most populous Arab country, at about 68,000,000 people. Nearly all the population is concentrated along the River Nile, notably Alexandria and Cairo, and along the Nile Delta and near the Suez Canal. Approximately 90% of the population adheres to Islam and the remainder to Christianity (primarily the Coptic faith).
The Egyptians are fairly heterogeneous people. Mediterranean (such as Greek and Italian) and Arab influences appear in the North, and there are indigenous black populations in the South. Many theories has been proposed on the origins of the Egyptians, however none are conclusive, and the most widely accepted theory is that Egyptian society was the result of a mix of east african and asiatic people who moved to the Nile Valley after the ice age. The bulk of Modern Egyptian society are heterogeneous but maintain cultural ties to the ancient Egyptian society which has always been regarded as rural and most populous compared to the neighbouring demographics. The Egyptian people spoke only languages from the Afro-Asiatic family (previously known as Hamito-semitic )
Main article: Culture of Egypt
The capital city, Cairo, is Africa's largest city and has been renowned for centuries as a center of learning, culture and commerce of Egypt.
Egypt also hosts two major religious institutions. Al-Azhar University, the oldest Islamic institution for higher studies (founded around 970 CE) with its corresponding mosque Al-Azhar. The head of Al-Azhar is traditionally regarded as the supreme leader of Sunni Muslims all over the world. Egypt also has a strong Christian heritage as evidenced by the existence of the Coptic Orthodox Church headed by the Patriarch of Alexandria, which claims a following of 50 million Christians worldwide (one of the famous Coptic Orthodox Churches is Saint Takla Haimanot Church in Alexandria http://www.St-Takla.org).
Though considered a low-income country, Egypt has a thriving media and arts industry, with more than 30 satellite channels and more than 100 motion pictures produced a year. To bolster its media industry, especially with the keen competition from the Persian Gulf states and Lebanon, it has built a large media city that it has promoted as the "Hollywood of the East". Egypt has the only opera house amongst Arab countries.
Some famous Egyptians include:
Gamal Abdel Nasser (former president),
Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former Secretary General of the United Nations),
Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize-winning novelist),
Umm Kulthum (singer),
Omar Sharif (actor),
Ahmed Zewail (Nobel Prize-winning chemist),
Mohamed ElBaradei (Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency),
Anwar Sadat (former president and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize),