History & Geographic Characteristics
Egypt is a country in North Africa that includes the Sinai Peninsula, a land bridge to Asia. The northern coast borders the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern coast borders the Red Sea, which makes Egypt’s geographical place a very strategic one.
Overview of Egypt
The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world’s great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C. and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt’s government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914.
Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.
Cultural side of Egypt
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and some of the world’s most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx; the southern city of Luxor contains a particularly large number of ancient artifacts such as the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. Today, Egypt is widely regarded as an important political and cultural centre of the Middle East. In addition to much more monuments returning to Coptic Christian Egypt, Islamic Egypt, and Modern Egypt