Background: 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 with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952. 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 meet the demands of Egypt's growing population through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $216.8 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 5.3% (2010 est.); 4.6% (2009 est.); 7.2% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $6,200 (2010 est.); $6,000 (2009 est.); $5,900 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 13.5%; industry: 37.9%; services: 48.6% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 20% (2005 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.9%; highest 10%: 27.6% (2005);
Labor force: 26.1 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 32%; industry: 17%; services: 51% (2001 est.);
Unemployment rate: 9.7% (2010 est.); 9.4% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $46.82 billion; expenditures: $64.19 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals, light manufactures;
Industrial production growth rate: 5.5% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 118.4 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 104.1 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 814 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 251 million kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Islamist weekly), Cairo
(Opposition party organ), Cairo
(Financial, bi-lingual), Cairo
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Lockman discusses the current struggle in Egypt among the Muslim Brotherhood, the revolutionaries of Tahrir Square and the military that has reclaimed power.
The Egyptian Armed Forces' removal of President Morsi has created a number of challenges related to democracy, political stability and the role of Islam.
Egypt's second wave of revolution in two years has caused deep divisions within the country, with ramifications that ripple across the region. Worldpress.org presents a sampling of recent news coverage.
While Tehran will remain the key player in the MENA region, it is too early to tell if rival Cairo is capable of overcoming Iran's influence.