Chapter 8
Egypt
Egypt
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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
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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)
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Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism,
chemicals, hydrocarbons, construction,
cement, metals
Currency: Egyptian pound (EGP) (CIA,
World Fact Book)
Important Facts
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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)
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Coastline: 2,450 km
Terrain: vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile
valley and delta
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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
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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
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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
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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)
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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
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Giza
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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)
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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
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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)
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Aswan High Dam
Nile Cruises
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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
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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
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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)
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The Sinai Desert
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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)
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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
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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.
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Chapter 8