Chapter 8 Egypt Egypt Country name: Arab Republic of Egypt, Egypt Capital: Cairo Location: 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 Border countries: Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya, Sudan Government type: republic Population: 74,718,797 (July 2003 est.). Most populated in the Arab world, and the second (after Nigeria) in Africa. Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94%, Coptic Christian and other 6% GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity $4,000 (2002 est.) (134th in the world) Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals Currency: Egyptian pound (EGP) (CIA, World Fact Book) Important Facts One of the top destinations (with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) in Middle East 4,9 million international tourist arrivals $3,8 million international tourism receipts (the highest in the region) (WTO, 2003) Coastline: 2,450 km Terrain: vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta Climate: desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters (CIA, World Fact Book). Egypt is dominated by sand and water. Nearly all Egypt is desert, except the area along the Nile River where 95% of the population live around. Selling Points The Pyramids and the Sphinx, the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, Cairo, ancient temples, museums, churches, casinos, Nile cruises, spas, desert culture and scuba diving. Very Brief History in 3050 BC, the first Pharaoh united Upper and Lower Egypt and started an empire legendary with its elaborate tombs, magnificent pyramids and hieroglyphs in AD 640, Arabs invaded Egypt Ottomans, French and British invaded the country as well in 1953, Egypt won its full independence Cairo populated (9 million people live), polluted, beautiful, with traffic jam and world famous treasures Egyptian Museum (the prime attraction for tourists; thousand year old mummies are displayed in oxygen-free cases; the contents of the tomb of the Tutankhamen; artifacts from the Greek and Roman periods) Khan-el Khalili Bazaar (winding streets with shops and stalls and carts) Mohammed Ali Mosque and Alabaster Mosque (fine examples of Islamic art and architecture) some other attractions include; Museum of Islamic Art casinos a museum detailing the making of papyrus the Coptic quarter (several million Egyptians are Coptic Christians) the Opera Giza a suburb of Cairo The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are located here (though most photos make them appear that they are out in the desert, they are actually at the edge of Cairo) The Great Pyramid (the biggest one; 5000 year-old; built for Cheops; built of 2,5 million blocks of stone; its engineering still amazes) The Sphinx (located just off to the side of the Great Pyramid; mystery for scientists, since no one knows when or why it was built) Saqqara very close to Cairo The Step Pyramid of Zoser (one other famous pyramid, much older than the Giza pyramids) and a number of interesting tombs (which has more impressive artwork compared to the Great Pyramid) ruins of Memphis (once the largest and the most important city of Egypt; has an imposing statue of Ramses II) Luxor most important destination in Egypt The Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens (final resting places of ancient Egyptian royalty; the tombs spread out over quite a large area) The Colossi of Memnon( two enormous seating statues at the entrance of the valley) The colors and the artwork on the walls are very impressive one of the best known tomb is the young Tutankhamen (discovered with its treasures; contents are displayed in the Cairo Museum) Temple of Luxor and the Temple of Karnak (incredibly impressive structures with statues and colonnades) Abu Simbel 3200 year-old temple four huge statues of Pharaoh II facing the Nile marvel of repeated engineering; first it took 25000 workers 25 years to carve it into a mountainside, then (due to the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1960, it was in danger) stone by stone, it was moved to a higher ground where first a mountain similar to the one it was taken out had to be constructed (the international effort was headed by UNESCO) Alexandria beautiful atmosphere; relaxed Mediterranean feel more cosmopolitan than Cairo Nice contrast with the ancient ruins Greco-Roman Museum (the displayed items which are dated from 300 BC to AD 300 maybe considered modern by Egyptian standards) a causeway leads from the city to the island of Pharos (once the site of the Great Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) Mersa Matruh (the resort with good beaches, excellent reef diving and turquoise water) Aswan fairly modern, pleasant city at the end of the rail in Upper Egypt Two islands in the Nile are the main attractions Elephantine (has two old authentic villages) Kitchener’s island (also called Botanic island, has tombs and attractive gardens) Aswan High Dam Nile Cruises easiest way to see the major sites in Egypt the cruises range from five-day “felucca” (sailboat) trips from Aswan to Luxor, to twoweeks luxury cruises from Cairo to Aswan generally ships cruise between Luxor and Aswan; the trip between Cairo and Luxor is a long one which may be boring Red Sea Resorts The resorts along the Red Sea, Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqada offer diving, snorkeling, fishing and desert scenery Hurghada (one of the best established resort area, has beautiful crescent-shaped bay, rugged mountains, great beaches, offshore coral reef) Sinai Peninsula Sharm el Sheikh (year-round resort area, offers deluxe accommodations, and water sports Taba (expensive resort on the Israeli border, offers eater sports, tennis, nightclubs) Nuweiba (on the Gulf of Aqada, offers superb sand beaches and water sports) The Sinai Desert East of the Suez Canal Much more beautiful than the Western Desert which covers most of Egypt Its terrain is rugged and rocky with dunes reaching Mediterranean Air and land tour are possible from Cairo and Eilat (the resort in Israel) Mt Horeb (believed to be Mt Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments) St Catherine’s Monastery (has a large library of early Christian manuscripts and relics; built on the site of Moses’ burning bush) Things to Remember heat and the amount of walking required to see the important attractions in Egypt may be bothering. Carrying a bottle of water around would be a good idea. traveling in a group may be much safer.