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Friday 19th July
Egypt Information - Page 1
Egypt is located in the north east of the African continent and stretches across the Gulf of Suez. It is bordered by the Gaza Strip, Israel to the east, Libya to the west and Sudan to the south.

The Mediterranean Sea lies to the north of Egypt and the Red Sea washes the eastern coast.

The capital city is Cairo. Other important cities are Alexandria, Aswan and Luxor.

About ninety percent of the country is desert: the Western Desert, a continuation of the Sahara Desert and the Eastern Desert. The deserts are separated by the Nile which flows from the Sudan and through the length of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The remainder of the country consists of the Nile Valley Delta and Sinai.

The Nile, one of the world's great rivers, is really the creator of Egypt through the annual deposits of rich sediments spread across the valley by its regular floods.

The climate is mainly hot and dry. The Mediterranean areas have milder weather and more rain. During the spring hot sandy winds called khamsin blow from the desert regions.

The flora and fauna vary with the landscape. Among the trees which grow where water is available are acacia, date palm, weeping willow, eucalyptus, sycamore and tamarisk.

Egypt's flowering plants include irises, lilies, the lotus, jasmine and roses. Many different types of grasses and reeds grow along the Nile, the most famous of them is the papyrus reed.

The domesticated animals include buffalo, camels and donkeys. In the desert areas, among the wild animals are desert foxes, gerboas, gazelles and jackals.

Egypt has over thirty species of snakes, some of them very poisonous. The most famous Egyptian snake is the asp with which Cleopatra committed suicide after her army's defeat by Octavian.

Many species of birds are to be found along the Nile: herons, kingfishers, flamingoes and pelicans. Storks, plovers, hoopoes, hawks, vultures and eagles are also present.

There are about two hundred species of fish in the Nile. The Red Sea is particularly rich in coral and tropical marine fish.

The Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser behind it, completed in 1971, have provided continual irrigation and electricity and a thriving fish industry. But its environmental effects have not been wholly beneficial. The sediment which used to be spread by the floods has been bottled up behind the dam reducing the fertility of the downstream fields. Many ancient monuments were also lost under the lake though the temples of Abu Simbel and Philae were moved to safety.

Egypt is famous for its ancient architecture. The pyramids which are synonymous with Egypt attract many visitors every year.

Egypt is a mixture of the old and the new: the pyramids, temples and the Sphinx represent ancient Egypt while Alexandria and Cairo contain many modern commercial buildings hotels and urban housing developments. Islamic architecture is, of course, a major feature of Egyptian towns.

The population of Egypt was estimated at 82,079,640 in 2011.

Arabic is the official language. English and French are also spoken.

The ancient religion of Egypt had many gods and goddesses. Its concern with life after death was typified by the funerary cult recorded in the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the monumental pyramids built to house the royal dead.

Islam (mainly Sunni) has been Egypt's religion for many centuries. Ten percent of the people are Christians most of them members of the Coptic Church. There are a small number of Jews within Egypt's religious minorities.

Egyptian meals often include pickles, yoghourt, houmous (made from chick peas), tahini (made from sesame seeds), bean dip, felafels, soups and stews. The national dish is Molohia, a thick soup. Fish feature on daily menus. The main meats in the diet are pigeon, chicken, mutton, camel and buffalo. Minced meat is made into rissoles, kofta and shish kebab. Rice pilaf is also a favourite and salad is served with meals. A wide variety of vegetables, okra, sweet potatoes, beans, carrots and lentils, accompany main dishes.

Sweets such as baklava, loukoum (turkish delight) and ice cream are popular.

Egyptians drink a great deal of tea, often flavoured with mint and cinnamon, thick black Turkish coffee and a variety of juices: sugar cane juice, liquorice, ginger, mango and pomegranate. Local beer, wine, spirits (araq - similar to ouzo) are available but Muslims do not drink alcohol.

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