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Egypt is a country in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge to Western Asia. Egypt borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

Background History

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. Completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 elevated Egypt as an important world transportation hub. 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 from Britain 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 population through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure. Inspired by the 2010 Tunisian revolution, Egyptian opposition groups led demonstrations and labor strikes countrywide, culminating in President Hosni Mubarak's ouster. Egypt's military assumed national leadership until a new parliament was in place in early 2012; later that same year, Mohammed Morsi won the presidential election. Following often violent protests throughout the spring of 2013 against Morsi's government and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and massive anti-government demonstrations, the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) intervened and removed Morsi from power in mid-July 2013 and replaced him with interim president Adly Mansour. In mid-January 2014, voters approved a new constitution by referendum. Presidential elections to replace Mansour are scheduled for late May 2014. According to the constitution and the government's transitional road map, preparations for parliamentary elections will begin by mid-July 2014.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Arab Republic of Egypt
  • conventional short form: Egypt
  • local long form: Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiyah
  • local short form: Misr
  • former name: United Arab Republic (with Syria)


  • name: Cairo
  • geographic coordinates: 30 03 N, 31 15 E
  • time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 28 February 1922 (from UK protectorate status)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Abdel Fattah al-SISI (since 8 June 2014)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Ibrahim MEHLAB (since 1 March 2014)
  • cabinet: interim cabinet sworn in 1 March 2014

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: the previous bicameral legislature was dissolved in July 2013 and under the 2014 constitution was changed to the unicameral House of Representatives (minimum of 450 seats with up to 5 percent appointed by the president; members to serve 5-year terms); the process for elected members as stated in Article 102 of the 2014 constitution may be majoritarian, proportional list, or a mixed system; the previous bicameral parliament consisted of the Shura Council (at least 150 seats with up to one-tenth of body appointed by the president to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives(at least 350 seats); members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Court of Cassation (consists of the court president and 550 judges organized in circuits with cases heard by panels of 5 judges); Supreme Constitutional Court or SCC (consists of the court president and 10 justices); Supreme Administrative Court - the highest court of the State Council (consists of the court president and organized in circuits with cases heard by panels of 5 judges)


People & Society


  • 86,895,099 (global rank: 16)
  • growth rate: 1.84% (global rank: 64)


  • noun: Egyptian(s)
  • adjective: Egyptian

Major Cities:

  • Cairo (capital): 11.169 million; Alexandria: 4.494 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4%


  • Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 90%, Christian (majority Coptic Orthodox, other Christians include Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox, and Anglican) 10%


  • Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 73.45 years (global rank: 122)
  • male: 70.82 years
  • female: 76.2 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 22.41 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 80)
  • male: 23.9 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 20.84 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2012 est.) (global rank: 136)
  • people living with AIDS: 6,500 (2012 est.) (global rank: 120)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 73.9%
  • male: 81.7%
  • female: 65.8%



Overview: Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. Egypt's economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel NASSER but opened up considerably under former Presidents Anwar El-Sadat and Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK. Cairo from 2004 to 2008 aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate growth. Poor living conditions combined with limited job opportunities for the average Egyptian contribute to public discontent. After unrest erupted in January 2011, the Egyptian Government backtracked on economic reforms, drastically increasing social spending to address public dissatisfaction, but political uncertainty at the same time caused economic growth to slow significantly, reducing the government's revenues. Tourism, manufacturing, and construction were among the hardest hit sectors of the Egyptian economy, pushing up unemployment levels, and economic growth remains slow amid political uncertainty, government transitions, unrest, and cycles of violence. Cairo since 2011 has drawn down foreign exchange reserves and depended on foreign assistance, particularly from Gulf countries, to finance imports and energy products and prevent further devaluation of the Egyptian pound, fearing higher inflation from a weaker currency.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $551.4 billion (global rank: 28)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $6,600 (global rank: 144)
  • real growth rate: 1.8% (global rank: 150)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 14.5%, industry: 37.5%, services: 48%


  • currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 6.91


  • population below poverty line: 22%
  • unemployment rate: 13.4%

Agricultural Products:

  • cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats


  • textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals, light manufactures

Exports Commodities:

  • crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals, processed food

Imports Commodities:

  • machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, fuels




  • Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula


  • total: 1,001,450 sq km (global rank: 30)
  • land: 995,450 sq km
  • water: 6,000 sq km
  • comparative: slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico


  • temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south

Land Use:

  • arable land: 2.87%
  • permanent crops: 0.79%
  • other: 96.34%

Natural Resources:

  • petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, rare earth elements, zinc

Current Environmental Issues:

  • agricultural land being lost to urbanization and windblown sands; increasing soil salination below Aswan High Dam; desertification; oil pollution threatening coral reefs, beaches, and marine habitats; other water pollution from agricultural pesticides, raw sewage, and industrial effluents; limited natural freshwater resources away from the Nile, which is the only perennial water source; rapid growth in population overstraining the Nile and natural resources


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Sudan claims but Egypt de facto administers security and economic development of Halaib region north of the 22nd parallel boundary; Egypt no longer shows its administration of the Bir Tawil trapezoid in Sudan on its maps; Gazan breaches in the security wall with Egypt in January 2008 highlight difficulties in monitoring the Sinai border; Saudi Arabia claims Egyptian-administered islands of Tiran and Sanafir
  • refugees (country of origin): 70,026 (West Bank and Gaza Strip); 12,927 (Sudan); 6,316 (Somalia); 5,506 (Iraq); 137,916 (Syria)
  • stateless persons: 60
  • illicit drugs: transit point for cannabis, heroin, and opium moving to Europe, Israel, and North Africa; transit stop for Nigerian drug couriers; concern as money laundering site due to lax enforcement of financial regulations

Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2015