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Misr, the Arabic and official name for modern Egypt, is of Semitic origin. Misr in Arabic also means "a country" or "a state". The ancient name for the country, Kemet or "black land," is derived from the fertile black soils deposited by the Nile floods, distinct from the 'red land' (deshret) of the desert. The English name "Egypt" came via the Latin word AEgyptus derived from the ancient Greek word Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos). According to Strabo , Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos), in ancient Greek meant "below the Aegean", and was formed by the combination of the two words. A contested theory however argues that the word is a corruption of the ancient Egyptian phrase hwt-k3-ptah meaning "home of the Ka of Ptah", the name of a temple of the god Ptah at Memphis.

Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is located in the northeast corner of the African continent, on the Mediterranean Sea, at a crossroad between Africa, Asia and Europe. It is bordered to the east by the Red Sea, Palestine and Israel to the north-east, Libya to the west, and Sudan to the south. Egypt is the 29th biggest country in the world, covering a total area of 1,002,450 sq. km. (390,000 sq mi).

Egypt is the first state founded in the world keeping almost the same borders from more than 5000 years ago. On its land and because of the Nile a great civilization had been established which had a main role for inspiring the subsequent civilizations giving the first light for the humanitarian civilization.

Dating back to 1958, the current flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the country’s symbol of independence. The flag consists of three superposed rectangles, black white and red, each having a specific significance, and bears at its centre a golden eagle, the country’s emblem and a symbol of power.

Red has been chosen to symbolize glory, white is for purity, whereas the black stripe evokes eras of underdevelopment and colonialism that were overcome.

According to the constitution, any new legislation must implicitly agree with Islamic laws. Egypt is predominantly Muslim, at approximately 95% of the population.. Christians represent about 5% of the population, with the largest being the Coptic denomination at 4%, while the remaining 1% include Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox, largely found in Alexandria and Cairo. There also remains a small Jewish community, of an estimated three hundred Egyptians.

Politics

Egypt is a Republic, the political system of which is democratic based on citizenship and relying on each of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, additionally to the press, political parties, local administrations and civil society institutions.

Religion

Islam is the official religion of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Most non-Muslims in Egypt are Christians, the majority of whom belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Administrative Division

The Greater Cairo is the capital of Egypt and is the biggest city. Egypt is divided into 27 independent administrative units (governorates) enjoying juridical personality each consisting of a number of towns, cities and villages.

Main Airports

Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Marsa Alam.

Geography

The country is divided into 4 main geological regions:

- Nile Valley and Delta: This region extends on both sides of the Nile for almost 1200 km. from the southern limit of the river going through Aswan, Luxor, to reach Cairo, then ramifying to the north and encompassing the destinations of Damietta and Rosetta. These ramifications, north of Cairo form the Nile Delta, Egypt’s most fertile agricultural land.

- Western Desert: Extending from the Nile Valley in the east to the Egyptian-Libyan borders in the west and from the Mediterranean coast in the north to the southern Egyptian border, it is one of Egypt most arid regions. Although it is sparsely inhabited, it is full of charming oases like Siwa, Bahariya, Farafra, Kharga and Dakhla. That region covers 2/3 of the country’s total land area.

- Eastern Desert: This region lies between the Nile Valley to the west, the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez to the east, Lake Manzala to the north and the Sudanese border to the south. This arid region embraces the Red Sea Mountains chain, reaching an altitude of over 900 metres above sea level at some points. Eastern Desert is Egypt richest region in natural resources. Its underground treasures include gems, coal and oil.

- Sinai Peninsula: A triangularly shaped plateau bordered from its western corner by Canal of Sues and Gulf of Suez. The peninsula is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east. This area is divided into a southern section (encompassing Mount Catherine, the highest mountain in Egypt rising about 2640 m above sea level), the middle section and the northern section.

Language

Egypt official language is Arabic (spoken with a local dialect more easier), but foreign languages, such as English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are also spoken, especially in educated circles.

People

Egypt is home to a multicultural society. Ethnic Egyptians constitute 95% of Egypt total population whereas Egypt minorities include Nubians (live in south of Aswan), Berbers (Siwa Oasis), Bedouins, Turks, and Europeans (mainly Greeks and Italians).

The Egyptians, from all origins, are known for their welcoming attitude towards tourists. If you respect the local customs and traditions, and avoid offending anyone, especially in places of worship and remote locations where some old traditions are maintained, you are sure to spend an unforgettable holiday in Egypt.

Egyptian Family

Egyptians consider their families as an integral entity which they have to protect. Don't be surprised to notice that an Egyptian feels responsible for his whole family, his brothers, sisters, parents, uncles and aunts.

Friendliness and Humour

Egyptians are known to be the most funny, friendly and helpful nation of the Middle East. They will go out of their way to help you in any troublesome situation, always with a smile. If you're sensitive to their humour, which is renowned world-wide, you'll be surprised to see how far a smile or a joke can take you in Egypt.

Currency

Egypt currency is the Egyptian pound. One pound is made up of 100 piastres. Coins come in denominations of 25, 50 piastres and 1 pound, while bill denominations are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pounds. The government imposes no restrictions on the import or export of foreign currency as long as the visitor declares the amount on a customs form.

Climate:

Temperatures average between 80 and 90 °F (26.7 and 32.2 °C) in summer, and up to 109 °F (43 °C) on the Red Sea coast. Winter temperatures average between 55 and 70 °F (13 and 21 °C). A steady wind from the northwest helps lower temperatures near the Mediterranean coast. The Khamaseen is a wind that blows from the west in spring, bringing sand and dust, and sometimes raises the temperature in the desert to more than100 °F (38 °C).

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Wall plugs are the two-pronged European type.

Time Zone

GMT +2, same as Jerusalem, Istanbul and Helsinki.

 

Click here to watch a video about Egypt!

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