Welcome to the Land of the Nile Valley; the land of the Pharaohs, intriguing legends, ancient civilizations and amazing temples, Egypt is one of the world’s greatest and most captivating countries.
Egypt enjoys a strategic location in North Africa close to the Middle East. Officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, it borders Libya in the West, Sudan to the South, and Israel and the Gaza Strip to the east via the Sinai Peninsula and a land bridge that crosses the Suez Canal. It is, however, far from landlocked. Its north cost is lapped by the Mediterranean, while its lower east coast and south Sinai lie alongside the Red Sea.
The country has long played an important role in connecting Africa with Asia, and the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean, and as such has been at the center of the world’s political and economic arena for centuries. It is a vast country, totaling well over millions square kilometers. That’s four times the size of the United Kingdom and twice the size of France, and yet most of its cities like Cairo, Aswan, Asyut and Luxor hug the shores of the Nile Valley. Even Alexandria, the country’s second largest city after Cairo, is in the Nile Delta.
Egypt has four district areas. The Nile Delta, itself, is a stretch of land that fans out north from a point close to Cairo where the Nile splits into smaller flows of water, reaching a stretch of coastline that runs from Alexandria to Port Said. At the coast the waters of the Nile flow into the Mediterranean. Along the coastline are the towns and cities of El Alamein, farmed for its Second World War battles and museums, along with Marsa Matrouh and Sallum to the west of Alexandria, while to its east is the historic Rosetta, where the Rosetta Stone, an important artefact that was key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, was discovered. Further along the coast is Damietta and Port Said.
The Nile Valley stretches from the delta to Egypt’s southernmost border with Sudan, and along with the great cities is home to some of the world’s most iconic symbols of ancient civilizations. It is here visitors can see the three Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx that “guards” then, the fabulous Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temples Complex in Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and, of course, the Nile River itself. The Sahara Desert, the world’s second largest makes up much of Egypt’s distinct desert and oases areas, which are fascinating if sparsely inhabited, while the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea coastline and reports are the country’s top spots for family fun and water spot themed holidays.
A fabulously rich history and achievements sit comfortably with the Egypt of today. Deserts that stretch for kilometers into the distance and holiday resorts with top notch hotels offering family fun such as swimming and diving in the Red Sea contrast well with the Nile Delta and the Nile Valley that leave you breathless at their bustling cities and ancient temples. Visitors arrive in their thousands, are totally captivated and return time after time. Whether it’s a view of the sun going down behind the centuries-old pyramids, turning the sky to a magical bright orange, or seeing the mesmerizing sun-scorched Sphinx, the priceless treasures contained tantalizingly behind glass in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum or standing in awe of the fabulous temples the sights of the world’s most entrancing country stay with visitors for a lifetime.
Add to this experience of seeing one of Egypt’s most trusted residents, the camel, make its way casually across the sands, perhaps dressed in brightly colored rugs and tassels for a festival, street vendors selling their goods in the bustling souks, children playing in the streets, craftspeople weaving carpets or locals mingling in an animated fashion around the streets, all of which sit well with innovative new commercial buildings, and you have a country that will become part of your soul.
Egypt is a religious country. Islam if the official religion and most Egyptians are Muslim, although over 12 million are Christians, the atmosphere is one of friendship. Egyptians like to work hard and live life to the full, and tend to work in the heart of the cities which have seen many changes in recent years and are now at the forefront of world politics, or working the agricultural lands of the Nile Valley or in tourism. Everyone can enjoy lively cultural experiences too – everything from the latest sensations to music, theatre and dance.
Egypt is a warm country for most of the year. Some days in summer the temperatures can reach 25-35C (95F) in Cairo, and so the way Egyptians live tends to reflect this as it has done for centuries. The pace of life is generally slow, and although city centers often appear bustling it isn’t long before everyone gives in and finds a cool place to rest awhile.
The history of Egypt stretches back to unimaginable times. It is a country probably best known to the world over for its Pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun, and its ancient civilizations that largely existed along the banks of the Nile River and created so many of its iconic structures.
The earliest signs of civilization have been dated to prehistoric times, although the towns and cities of today can probably trace their roots back to around 8,000 BC when the Sahara was formed and settlers started moving closer to the fertile land of the Nile River banks and eventually created communities. These ancient civilizations developed and grew almost entirely because of the Nile during a period known as the pre-dynastic, a time before the Pharaohs ruled the country.
The dynastic period, widely regarded as one of the oldest ever cultural periods in the world and so called because it was a series of dynasties that ruled the country, began in around 3,100 BC. The first Pharaoh is generally believed to have been Menes, who was instrumental in joining a then divided Egypt into one. The country was known as tawy, meaning “two lands“.
A total of 30 dynasties ruled over the next three millennia until around the year 30 BC. Many, if not all of the Pharaohs, wanted to put their own mark on Egypt and had supremely beautiful palaces, temples, tombs and structures built. It was during this time that most of the astonishing sights that can still be seen today were constructed, among them the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx of the Old Kingdom and the Temples of Luxor in the New Kingdom.
Egypt has seen many periods of history since the ancient dynastic era and has reminders of how it flourished under different civilizations. It has been occupied by the Persians, Romans, the Greeks, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, British and the French, but it is probably the Pharaohs that have left the most mesmerizing legacy on the country and one which makes tourism one of the country’s leading industry sectors today.
Who cannot be captivated by the story of Tutankhamun, the young boy who became king in 1,333 BC, becoming he Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, and whose solid gold death mask is probably the most famous artefact ever found in Egypt. Or the beautiful Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who might have ruled in her own right before Tutankhamun became king. Both-from-many-make Egypt legendary.
Today, Egypt is one of the key political and cultural leaders in the Middle East. It has a buoyant economy as a result of economic reforms and foreign investment and a rapidly evolving high technology communications sector. Its government continues to pledge investment into its infrastructure of highways, railways and waterways that stretch from the north coast and the Nile Delta to the southern points of the Nile Valley at Aswan and Abu Simbel, into the Western Desert and across to the Red Sea coast and into Sinai.
Egypt also has one of the highest populations of all the countries in this part of the world with around 90 million people. Many live in the densely populated cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, where they are engaged in commerce, politics, retailing and tourism, while others live in rural areas near the banks of the Nile River and are engaged in agriculture. The rich soil of the banks provides the most arable agricultural land in Egypt today as it has done for around 10,000 years. It is on this land that man has relied on since ancient times. Without the river the country would likely only ever have been desert. Much of Egypt’s national income relies on agriculture, along with tourism, petroleum exports and capital generated by traffic using the Suez Canal.
Far fewer people live in areas like the Sahara Desert, which although massive in unsympathetic to human needs, while Sinai and the Red Sea coastal areas have strong population figures, especially in the major towns which have good general infrastructure and amenities. There are healthcare facilities, shops restaurants, many sports centers, especially those for water sports and top hotels. The population in these areas is bolstered by the many visitors who arrive during the summer months on leisure, sea and land adventures, spa and wellness holidays and short breaks.
Egyptian society is geared very much around the family, and it is not uncommon to see all generations dining together or on an outing. Religion is important, with Muslims and Christians living and working together in harmony. As a visitor, you will always be made to feel welcome and protected.
After giving you a brief idea about the Geography, Environment, History of Egypt, we are going to talk about the main Travel Tips in Egypt that may be useful for the first time visitors to Egypt, so they can achieve the maximum limit of joy and comfort while exploring this amazing African country.