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Egypt Information - Page 2
History
Hundreds of thousands of years ago Egypt was covered with grasslands and the home to hunters and farmers. Tribal kingdoms eventually became two states which were united in 3100 BC with the city of Memphis (later the site of Cairo) as the capital.

There were over thirty Dynasties between 3100 BC and 332 BC. During this time many Pharaohs ruled Egypt. The time known as the "New Kingdom" 1557-1085 BC, saw the reign of Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramses II.

Between 525 BC and 405 BC Egypt was ruled by Persia. Alexander the Great conquered the country in 332 BC. Ptolemy I was the governor of Egypt during Alexander's lifetime and later became king founding the Ptolemy Dynasty of which Queen Cleopatra was the last ruler. Roman rule of Egypt began in 30 BC and continued until 324 AD when it was ruled from Constantinople (the Byzantine Empire). The Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion - the Egyptian Coptic Church eventually separated from the Church of Rome.

From 640 the Arab conquest of the country led to the conversion of the Egyptians to Islam. At the time of the Crusades Saladin became the ruler of Egypt defeating Richard the Lionheart and the Crusaders who tried to conquer the country.

Between 1250 and 1517 the Mamlukes ruled after which Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire. At the end of the eighteenth century Napoleon tried to take over Egypt but was eventually defeated by the British and the Turks.

British occupation began in 1882 and continued until 1922 when Egypt became a monarchy although the British troops remained stationed in naval bases.

Egypt became a Republic in 1953 under Gamal Abdel Nasser. In 1956 Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company partly because of the need for finance for the Aswan High Dam. The Suez Crisis followed as Israel, France and Britain invaded Egypt in response to Nasser's decision.

During the Six Day War in 1967 Israel took Gaza and Sinai. Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982.

In 1970 Sadat succeeded Nasser as President but was assassinated in 1981. Hosni Mubarak became the President on Sadat's death.

Economy
Egypt’s economy is the second largest in the Arab world, only beaten by Saudi Arabia, although economic growth will slow dramatically following the uprising that ousted President Mubarak. The IMF forecasts that Egypt’s GDP will expand by 1%, down from the 5% forecast prior to the 2011 uprisings.

Historically Egypt's prosperity came from its agriculture. The country was described as the granary of the Roman Empire.

The agricultural sector employs a significant percentage of the working population. Crops are rice, maize, wheat, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, citrus fruits and dates. Cotton is one of the country's main exports. Egypt is also famous for breeding Arabian horses. The country's coastline, the Nile and Lake Nasser are important fisheries.

Egypt has large reserves of oil and natural gas. Other natural resources are gypsum, iron ore, lead, limestone, manganese, phosphates and zinc.

Petroleum products are important exports followed by cotton and textiles. Other industries are metals, cement, construction, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, light manufactures and food processing. Local crafts include carvings and ornaments, rugs, carpets and jewellery.

Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange. (2011)

Arts
Sculpture, wall paintings and carvings of ancient Egypt reached a high degree of sophistication. In subsequent ages Greek and Roman styles, Christian and Islamic art and the occupying French and British all left their mark on Egypt.

Music has always played an important part in Egyptian life. Flute players, drummers and musicians with a variety of stringed instruments can be seen in the carvings and wall paintings from the times of the Pharaohs. When the Suez Canal was completed in 1869 Verdi was asked to write the opera Aida as a celebration.

The ancient Egyptians used the papyrus reed to make paper on which they recorded not only the records of the administrations but also hymns and poetry. There are papyrus collections of Egyptian texts which have been preserved for up to three millennia. Today Egyptian writers continue the literary tradition. In 1988 the novelist Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his trilogy Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street.

Egypt has a film-making industry dating back to the 1930s.

Sport
Football is very popular in Egypt. Other sports are basketball, golf, hockey and tennis. Swimming is a national sport especially long distance swimming. Egyptian swimmers have swum many of the world's most famous distances such as the English Channel. Scuba diving and sailing attract many visitors. There are horse racing courses in Alexandria and Cairo.

Holidays
As well as the Islamic festivals of the End of Ramadan; the Feast of the Sacrifice and the Birthday of the Prophet Egypt celebrates New Year's Day, Union Day, Labour Day, Evacuation Day (when the British left Egypt), Revolution Day, various National Days, Suez National Day and Victory Day. Sham al-Nassim is the main spring festival. The main Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated by the Coptic Church.

News
News is available from Newslink.

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