History of Egypt
Egypt's history extends back to around the 10th millennium BC, when the early civilization of hunter-gatherers occupied Egypt.
Around 8000 BC, the lands began to dry up as the Sahara Desert began to form, and the people moved along the banks of the Nile. An ancient Egyptian kingdom arose in 3150 BC, ruled by King Menes. During the Old Kingdom period, which began around 2700 BC, many of the pyramids were constructed. Around 1650 BC, the Hyksos invaded Egypt, until the Egyptians drove them out and restored their kingdom, ushering in the New Kingdom around 1550 BC. Over the next 5 centuries, there were several important leaders, or Pharaohs, of Egypt, including Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The Egyptian civilization thrived and progressed during this period.
In the 3rd century BC, Egypt became ruled by the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom, which was ruled by Cleopatra VII before her suicide. The country was Christianized in the 1st century, with the arrival of the Byzantine Empire, leading to the formation of the Coptic Church. However, by the 7th century, the Arabs arrived in Egypt during the Islamic Conquest, bringing Sunni Islam. They ruled Egypt until the Ottomans conquered it in 1517. Muhammad Ali Pasha came to rule the Ottoman province of Egypt in 1805, and he along with the successive rulers, made drastic changes to Ottoman Egypt, and moved the country toward independence.
With European influence, the Suez Canal was built in Egypt in 1869, and Britain bought the rights to the canal in 1875. The British and French were both heavily involved in Egyptian affairs, and the country became a British Protectorate in 1914. A major revolution occurred in 1919, after which the British government decided to declare Egyptian independence in 1922, though there was still heavy British influence and military presence until 1954. The revolution of 1952 led to the declaration of the Egyptian Republic the following year. However, in 1958, Egypt joined Syria to become the United Arab Republic, and was part of the United Arab States with North Yemen. The union ended with Syria's succession in 1961.
Egypt was the focus of widespread revolts in January 2011, in protest of Mubarak's rule. The Egyptian leader then fled the country and the military installed an interim government. After a constitutional referendum and a new election, the new president, Mohamed Morsi came to power. Various protests have persisted, and in 2013, a coup d'etat removed Morsi from government. A new constitution was put in place in early 2014.
Egypt borders Libya, Sudan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and is just across the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt is located in northeastern Africa, with a small portion of its territory stretching across the Isthmus of Suez into southwestern Asia. Egypt has coastline along the Mediterranean Sea in the north, with the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Red Sea to the west. The extreme majority of the population lives in the region around the Nile River, its valley and delta, as much of the rest of the country contains sandy deserts. The Libyan Desert covers the west of Egypt, with the Eastern Desert from the Nile Valley to the coast. The Eastern Desert features mountains, including the Red Sea Hills. The Sinai Peninsula contains Egypt's highest point in its mountain ranges, at Mount Catherine, which stands 2,642 meters (8,668 feet) above sea level.
The Nile River has three sources. The Blue Nile comes from Ethiopia's Lake Tana and supplies the majority of the water to the Nile in Egypt. The White Nile flows from Uganda's Lake Victoria, through Juba in South Sudan and Khartoum in Sudan. The Atbara River is the shortest of the sources, flowing from Ethiopia to Khartoum and into Sudan.
Points of Interest
Egypt has many historic and cultural sites of interest, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza
and the Sphinx, the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. Nearby in Cairo, the Hanging Church, Cairo Tower, the Al-Azhar Mosque, and the showcase of Egyptian history and present at Pharaonic Village can be found. Alexandria, the next largest city, sits along the Mediterranean and houses many historical sites, like Citadel of Qaitbay, Pompey's Pillar, and the Roman Theater, alongside beaches and a modern city. Luxor features temples and royal tombs, the Valley of the Kings (or Biban el-Moluk), an archaeological site that is home to the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and the Tomb of Ramesses VI, as well as several other royals.
Other sites include Memphis, with its museum and statue of Ramses II, the monastery of St. Katherine, the oasis of Siwa, and the resorts of Taba Heights and Sharm el-Sheikh.
The main airport in Egypt is Cairo International Airport, which offers service around the world, followed by Luxor International, which offers service primarily from Europe. Smaller airports are located in Alexandria, Aswan, and Sharm el-Sheikh. There are ferries to Egypt from across the Gulf of Aqaba, with service to Nuweiba, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, and ferries to Venice across the Mediterranean. Long-distance buses travel from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to destinations in Egypt. Buses are also a good way of getting around the country. While driving a car in Egypt is possible and fairly inexpensive with subsidized fuel, the conditions can be dangerous with bad roads and loose laws. Trains run frequently between Cairo and Alexandria, as well as from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan. Taxis are great for getting around cities, though scams are common.
Last Updated on: February 22, 2020