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 center 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.
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.
Egypt is divided into 28 independent administrative units (governorates) enjoying juridical personality each consisting of a number of towns, cities and villages, additionally to the city of Luxor that holds a distinct character.
Egypt is the 29th biggest country in the world, covering a total area of 1,002,450 sq. km. It 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.
The country is divided into 4 main geological areas:
– Nile Valley and Delta: this region extends on both sides of the Nile 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 Egypt-Libyan border in the west and from the Mediterranean coast in the north to the southern Egyptian border, it is one of Egypt’s most arid regions. Sparsely inhabited yet charming oases – Siwa, Bahariya, Farafra, Kharga and Dakhla – dot this region that 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. The region is Egypt’s richest in natural resources. Its underground treasures include gems, coal and oil.
– Sinai Peninsula: a triangularly shaped plateau linked from its north-western corner to Egypt’s mainland, at the 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.
The estimated total population of Egypt is about 79 million, according to the 2007 population census. Most of the Egyptian population is concentrated near the River Nile, in cities and towns such as Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Port Said. Smaller settlements include the Western Desert oases, and main destinations of the Sinai Peninsula.
5000 years of civilization contributed to the cultural heritage of Egypt and to building the strength and independence of its citizens. The country’s history is a sequence of invasions, eras or glory, battles and victories, which can be split into the following main periods and milestones:
– Pharaonic Era (3100 BC – 332 BC)
– Greek Era (332 BC – 32 AD)
– Roman Era (32 AD – 638 AD)
– Coptic Era (starting from 65 AD)
– Islamic Era starting with the Islamic conquest of Egypt (640 AD – 1517 AD)
– Ottoman Rule (1517 – 1882)
– French Invasion(1798)
– British Colonization of Egypt (1882 – 1952)
– 23rd of July Revolution(1952) after which Egypt is declared a Republic. British troops leave Egypt in 1954.
– Egypt signs a Peace Treaty with Israel (1979)
– Hosni Mubarak is elected president of the Arab Republic of Egypt (1981)
– The January popular Revolution begins against the Egyptian government (25 January 2011)
– Hosni Mubarak steps down as President of the Arab Republic of Egypt (11 February2011)
-Dr. Mohamed Morsi Declared as president of the Arab Republic of Egypt
There is no such thing as a unified “Egyptian Culture“, for the simple reason that Egyptians form a multicultural society, where modernity and western customs flirt with traditions, where religious practices are moderate but where religion is still deeply anchored in the everyday life of the Egyptians…
However, Egyptians from all social strata, religious beliefs, or ethnic origins share a remarkable attachment to important social values, such as:
– Family: Egyptians consider their family as an integral entity which they have to protect. Don’t be surprised to notice that an Egyptian feels responsible for his whole family and the behaviour of his siblings, his parents, his cousins, etc.
– 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.
– Folkloric Dances: Egypt is famous for its authentic and beautiful heritage of customs and traditions. Those are especially observed in the religious events and during the month of Ramadan.
Egypt is also known for the varied forms of folk art and dances, proper to each region of the country. While inhabitants of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said are famous for group dances accompanied by music played on the traditional “semsomiya” (an old traditional string instrument), the southern population of Al-Saeed are known for their “logging” and equestrian inspired dances. Nubian dances are probably the most colourful and joyful folkloric performances; Nubians wear colourful costumes and dance to the enticing rhythms of Nubian songs. The folkloric Sinai dance is one where the dancers wear beautiful hand-embroidered dresses and perform a sword-dance.
Moreover, Egypt is a lively artistic scene, world famous for its music, film, theatre, and TV industries. And although it could be considered as having a bigger impact on the Middle East and the Arab countries than it does on the Western world, it is important to underline that Egypt has contributed to the world cultural heritage through iconic figures such as the 1988 awarded Nobel Prize for Literature Egyptian author, Naguib Mahfouz, the acclaimed movie director, Yousef Chahine, the Egyptian actor Omar Sherif, and the most famous Arabic diva of all times, Umm Kolthoum, only to name a few.
Egypt has also given the world acclaimed scientists and thinkers such as Ahmed Hassan Zuweil, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and Sir Magdy Yaacoub, an acclaimed surgeon, a heart transplantation specialist and renowned professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College in London.