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General Information

The land: Egypt is located in the northeastern corner of Africa and covers an area of 386,000 square miles. Only about 5% of the country is inhabited along the banks of the Nile whose course stretches over 900 miles from the Mediterranean in the North to the Sudan in the South. To the West lies Libya and to the East are the desert plateau, Red Sea and Sinai. Egypt's most fertile area is the Nile Delta. Cairo, Egypt's capital, has 16 million inhabitants, and Alexandria, the countrys second largest city, has a population of 5.5 million.

The people: In 2003, Egypt's population totalled. 70 million. About 90% of Egyptians are concentrated in the fertile Nile Delta and live in 5% of the country's territory - 44% in urban areas and most in some 4,000 villages. However, during the past few years, there has been an urban migration. The Egyptians are outgoing, warm and have a distinct sense of humor. They have respect and a liking for foreigners, and a deep sense of tolerance for other races, religions and nationalities.

Geography: Egypt is located in the northeastern corner of Africa. Rectangular in shape, it covers an area of 386,000 square miles. To the West lie the Western Desert and Libya, and a desert plateau, Red Sea and Sinai, borders the East. The Sudan is on Egypt's southern border and to the North lies the Mediterranean. Only about 4 to 5 percent of the vast country is inhabited along the banks of the Nile. Below Cairo, the Nile fans out in two main branches - Rosetta on the West and Damietta on the East. Egypt can be divided into the following parts:

The Eastern Desert: including the plateau extending from the Nile Valley to the Red Sea, and The Sinai which includes Mount Catherine, Egypt's highest mountain, reaching 8,668 feet.

The Western Desert: about 68 percent of the country's total territory. It extends from the Nile Valley to the Libyan borders, and from the Mediterranean coast to the Sudan.

The Nile Valley: Egypt's main inhabited area. This fertile valley is a strip 7 to 9 miles wide along the Nile and some 6,000 square miles in the Nile Delta. The Nile's total length in Egypt is about 900 miles.

Language: Arabic is Egypt's official language. However, most Egyptians understand and speak English and French. In larger towns, the foreign visitors will encounter no difficulty in communicating with the people.

Weather: Autumn and winter are the ideal seasons to visit Egypt when mild weather prevails, temperatures vary between 60 and 80 Fahrenheit. Evenings are cool. During April, an occasional hot sand wind blows which can make sightseeing less enjoyable. The summer months are hot, 80 - 105; however, the air is dry and humidity low. In Alexandria, on the Mediterranean, the months of December through February are rainy and cold. October to April represents the best time, with water temperatures of 60 to 70 F.

Religion: Approximately 85 percent of the population of Egypt are Moslems. Most of the balance, about 9 million, are Christian Orthodox who belong to the Coptic Church. In most cities in Egypt, mosques and churches can be found next to each other. There are also some synagogues since a small Jewish community still lives in Egypt.

Economy: Before the 1952 revolution, Egypt's economy depended mainly on agriculture. Since then, however, the country has developed its other natural resources, and at present Egypt exports oil, finished textiles, canned food, cars, and the Suez Canal is considered an important source of revenue as an average of 70 ships cross it daily and pay fees. .Tourism is a main part of the economy. In an effort to increase its cultivable land, the country is using new irrigation methods, and in parts of the desert new cities have been built.

Agriculture: The high fertility of the soil in the Nile Valley enables Egypt to grow many agricultural products, especially rice, vegetables, onion, sugar cane and fruit. Furthermore, Egypt is one of the world's main producers and exporters of long staple cotton.

Education: Education in Egypt from primary school up till university is provided free to all Egyptians. The education system is composed of four stages - primary, preparatory, secondary, and university. Primary education is mandatory and is extended to children between the ages of six and twelve.

Currency: The basic unit of currency is the Egyptian pound divided into 100 piasters. Banknotes: 25, 50 (piasters), 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 (Egyptian pounds). Silver coins: 5, 10, 20 piasters. Fluctuating exchange rate stands now approximately at one U.S. $ = 3.45 Egyptian pounds.

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