Egypt

Introduction 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.
History

Evidence of human habitation in the Nile Valley since the Paleolithic era appears in the form of artifacts and rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in the desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers replaced a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.

By about 6000 BC, organized agriculture and large building construction had appeared in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to Dynastic Egyptian civilization. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining somewhat culturally separate, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.[4]tAwy ('Two Lands')
in hieroglyphs

A unified kingdom was founded circa 3150 BC by King Menes, giving rise to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptians subsequently referred to their unified country as tawy, meaning "two lands", and later kemet (Coptic: kīmi), the "black land", a reference to the fertile black soil deposited by the Nile river. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c.2700−2200 BC., famous for its many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza Pyramids.

The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years. Stronger Nile floods and stabilization of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

The New Kingdom (c.1550−1070 BC) began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Jebel Barkal in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first known self-conscious expression of monotheism came during this period in the form of Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians drove them out and regained control of their country.

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. Later, Egypt fell to the Greeks and Romans, beginning over two thousand years of foreign rule.

Before Egypt became part of the Byzantine realm, Christianity had been brought by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the AD first century. Diocletian's reign marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.[5]

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Persian invasion early in the seventh century, until in AD 639, Egypt was invaded by the Muslim Arabs. The form of Islam the Arabs brought to Egypt was Sunni. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices that had survived through Coptic Christianity, giving rise to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day.[6] Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, including a period for which it was the seat of the Caliphate under the Fatimids. With the end of the Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about AD 1250. They continued to govern even after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517.

The brief French Invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 had a great social impact on the country and its culture. Native Egyptians became exposed to the principles of the French Revolution and had a chance to exercise self-governance.[7] A series of civil wars took place between the Ottoman Turks, the Mamluks, and Albanian mercenaries following the evacuation of French troops, resulting in the Albanian Muhammad Ali (Kavalali Mehmed Ali Pasha) taking control of Egypt. He was appointed as the Ottoman viceroy in 1805. He led a modernization campaign of public works, including irrigation projects, agricultural reforms and increased industrialization, which were then taken up and further expanded by his grandson and successor Isma'il Pasha.

In 1866, the Assembly of Delegates was founded to serve as an advisory body for the government. Members of the Assembly were elected from across Egypt and came to have an important influence on governmental decisions.[8] Following the completion of the Suez Canal by Khedive Ismail in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation and trading hub. However, the country fell heavily into debt to European powers. As a result, the United Kingdom seized control of Egypt's government in 1882 to protect its financial interests, especially those in the Suez Canal.

Shortly after its political intervention, Britain sent troops into Alexandria and the Canal Zone, taking advantage of Egypt's weak military. With the defeat of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir, British troops reached Cairo, eliminated the nationalist government and disbanded the Egyptian military. Technically, Egypt remained an Ottoman province until 1914, when Britain formally declared a protectorate over Egypt and deposed Egypt's last khedive, Abbas II. His uncle, Husayn Kamil, was appointed as Sultan in his place.[9]

Between 1882 and 1906, a local nationalist movement for independence, spurred by British actions, was taking shape. The Dinshaway Incident prompted Egyptian opposition to take a stronger stand against British occupation. The first political parties were founded. After the First World War, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement, gaining a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on March 8, 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. Constant revolting by the Egyptian people throughout the country led Great Britain to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on February 22, 1922.

The new Egyptian government drafted and implemented a new constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary representative system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly-elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936 the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability in the government due to remaining British control and increasing political involvement by the king led to the ouster of the monarchy and the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d'état known as the 1952 Revolution. The officers, known as the Free Officers Movement, forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad.

On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic. Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser – the real architect of the 1952 movement – and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President and declared the full independence of Egypt from the United Kingdom on June 18, 1956. His nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956 prompted the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Three years after the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel had invaded and occupied Sinai, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while violently clamping down on religious and secular opposition alike.

In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack against the Israeli forces occupying the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. It was an attempt to liberate the territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. Both the US and the USSR intervened and a cease-fire was reached. Despite not being a complete military success, most historians agree that the October War presented Sadat with a political victory that later allowed him to regain the sinai in return with peace with Israel.

Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for the complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat's initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by the vast majority of Egyptians.[11] A fundamentalist military soldier assassinated Sadat in Cairo in 1981. He was succeeded by the incumbent Hosni Mubarak. In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kefaya, was launched to seek a return to democracy and greater civil liberties.

Geography Location: 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
Geographic coordinates: 27 00 N, 30 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,001,450 sq km
land: 995,450 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico
Land boundaries: total: 2,665 km
border countries: Gaza Strip 11 km, Israel 266 km, Libya 1,115 km, Sudan 1,273 km
Coastline: 2,450 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters
Terrain: vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Qattara Depression -133 m
highest point: Mount Catherine 2,629 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc
Land use: arable land: 2.92%
permanent crops: 0.5%
other: 96.58% (2005)
Irrigated land: 34,220 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 86.8 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 68.3 cu km/yr (8%/6%/86%)
per capita: 923 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current 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; very limited natural fresh water resources away from the Nile, which is the only perennial water source; rapid growth in population overstraining the Nile and natural resources
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: controls Sinai Peninsula, only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics; dependence on upstream neighbors; dominance of Nile basin issues; prone to influxes of refugees
Politics

National

Egypt has been a republic since 18 June 1953. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has been the President of the Republic since October 14, 1981, following the assassination of former-President Mohammed Anwar El-Sadat. Mubarak is currently serving his fifth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif was sworn in as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004, following the resignation of Dr. Atef Ebeid from his office.

Although power is ostensibly organized under a multi-party semi-presidential system, whereby the executive power is theoretically divided between the President and the Prime Minister, in practice it rests almost solely with the President who traditionally has been elected in single-candidate elections for more than fifty years. Egypt also holds regular multi-party parliamentary elections. The last presidential election, in which Mubarak won a fifth consecutive term, was held in September 2005.

In late February 2005, President Mubarak announced in a surprise television broadcast that he had ordered the reform of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in the upcoming presidential election. For the first time since the 1952 movement, the Egyptian people had an apparent chance to elect a leader from a list of various candidates. The President said his initiative came "out of my full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy."[37] However, the new law placed draconian restrictions on the filing for presidential candidacies, designed to prevent well-known candidates such as Ayman Nour from standing against Mubarak, and paved the road for his easy re-election victory.[38] Concerns were once again expressed after the 2005 presidential elections about government interference in the election process through fraud and vote-rigging, in addition to police brutality and violence by pro-Mubarak supporters against opposition demonstrators.[39] After the election, Egypt imprisoned Nour, and the U.S. Government stated the “conviction of Mr. Nour, the runner-up in Egypt's 2005 presidential elections, calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.”[40]

As a result, most Egyptians are skeptical about the process of democratization and the role of the elections. Less than 25 percent of the country's 32 million registered voters (out of a population of more than 78 million) turned out for the 2005 elections.[41] A proposed change to the constitution would limit the president to two seven-year terms in office.[42]

Thirty-four constitutional changes voted on by parliament on March 19, 2007 prohibit parties from using religion as a basis for political activity; allow the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law to replace the emergency legislation in place since 1981, giving police wide powers of arrest and surveillance; give the president power to dissolve parliament; and end judicial monitoring of election. [43] As opposition members of parliament withdrew from voting on the proposed changes, it was expected that the referendum would be boycotted by a great number of Egyptians in protest of what has been considered a breach of democratic practices. Eventually it was reported that only 27% of the registered voters went to the polling stations under heavy police presence and tight political control of the ruling National Democratic Party. It was officially announced on March 27,2007 that 75.9% of those who participated in the referendum approved of the constitutional amendments introduced by President Mubarak and was endorsed by opposition free parliament, thus allowing the introduction of laws that curb the activity of certain opposition elements, particularly Islamists.

Human rights

Several local and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have for many years criticized Egypt's human rights record as poor. In 2005, President Hosni Mubarak faced unprecedented public criticism when he clamped down on democracy activists challenging his rule. Some of the most serious human rights violations, according to HRW's 2006 report on Egypt, are routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.[44]

Discriminatory personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance which put women at a disadvantage have also been cited. Laws concerning Coptic Christians which place restrictions on church building and open worship have been recently eased, but major construction still requires governmental approval, while sporadic attacks on Christians and churches continue.[45] Intolerance of Bahá'ís and unorthodox Muslim sects, such as Sufis and Shi'a, also remains a problem.[44] The Egyptian legal system only recognizes three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. When the government moved to computerize identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bahá'ís, could not obtain identification documents.[46] An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths can obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognized.[47] (For more on the status of religious minorities, see the Religion section.)

In 2005, the Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt as "6" (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free rating), civil liberties as "5" and gave it the freedom rating of "Not Free."[48] It however noted that "Egypt witnessed its most transparent and competitive presidential and legislative elections in more than half a century and an increasingly unbridled public debate on the country's political future in 2005."[49]

In 2007, human rights group Amnesty International released a report criticizing Egypt for torture and illegal detention. The report alleges that Egypt has become an international center for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror. The report calls on Egypt to bring its anti-terrorism laws into accordance with international human rights statutes and on other nations to stop sending their detainees to Egypt.[50] Egypt's foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report, claiming that it was inaccurate and unfair, as well as causing deep offense to the Egyptian government.[51]

Consensual homosexual conduct between adults is criminalized under Egyptian law as a "practice of debauchery".[52] Since 2001, Egyptian authorities have made hundreds of arbitrary arrests of young gay men, many of whom have been tried and convicted for acts of "debauchery", while hundreds of others have been harassed and tortured, according to HRW.[53] In February 2008, a new round of arrests and torture of HIV-positive citizens followed a man's admission to the police that he was HIV-positive, sparking international outcry that the Egyptian government was treating the AIDS disease as a homosexual "crime" instead of providing care, prevention and education.[54]

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt.[55] In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights, headquartered in Cairo and headed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali who directly reports to the president.[56] The council has come under heavy criticism by local NGO activists, who contend it undermines human rights work in Egypt by serving as a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its violations[57] and to provide legitimacy to repressive laws such as the recently renewed Emergency Law.[58] Egypt had announced in 2006 that it was in the process of abolishing the Emergency Law,[59] but in March 2007 President Mubarak approved several constitutional amendments to include "an anti-terrorism clause that appears to enshrine sweeping police powers of arrest and surveillance", suggesting that the Emergency Law is here to stay for the long haul.[60]

Foreign relations
Main article: Foreign relations of Egypt

Egypt's foreign policy operates along moderate lines. Factors such as population size, historical events, military strength, diplomatic expertise and a strategic geographical position give Egypt extensive political influence in Africa and the Middle East. Cairo has been a crossroads of regional commerce and culture for centuries, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

The permanent Headquarters of the Arab League are located in Cairo and the Secretary General of the Arab League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the current Secretary General. The Arab League briefly moved from Egypt to Tunis in 1978, as a protest to the signing by Egypt of a peace treaty with Israel, but returned in 1989.

Egypt was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, with the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979. Egypt has a major influence amongst other Arab states, and has historically played an important role as a mediator in resolving disputes between various Arab states, and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Most Arab states still give credence to Egypt playing that role, though its effects are often limited and recently challenged by Saudi Arabia and oil rich Gulf States. It is also reported that due to Egypt's indulgence in internal problems and its reluctance to play a positive role in regional matters had lost the country great influence in Africa and the neighbouring countries.

Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

People Population: 80,335,036 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.2% (male 13,234,428/female 12,631,681)
15-64 years: 63.2% (male 25,688,703/female 25,082,200)
65 years and over: 4.6% (male 1,576,376/female 2,121,648) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 24.2 years
male: 23.9 years
female: 24.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.721% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 22.53 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.11 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.048 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.024 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.743 male(s)/female
total population: 1.017 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 29.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.22 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.57 years
male: 69.04 years
female: 74.22 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.77 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 12,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 700 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Egyptian(s)
adjective: Egyptian
Ethnic groups: Egyptian 98%, Berber, Nubian, Bedouin, and Beja 1%, Greek, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%
Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%
Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.4%
male: 83%
female: 59.4% (2005 est.)
Government 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: United Arab Republic (with Syria)
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Cairo
geographic coordinates: 30 03 N, 31 15 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in April; ends last Thursday in September
Administrative divisions: 26 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Ad Daqahliyah, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Al Buhayrah, Al Fayyum, Al Gharbiyah, Al Iskandariyah, Al Isma'iliyah, Al Jizah, Al Minufiyah, Al Minya, Al Qahirah, Al Qalyubiyah, Al Wadi al Jadid, As Suways, Ash Sharqiyah, Aswan, Asyut, Bani Suwayf, Bur Sa'id, Dumyat, Janub Sina', Kafr ash Shaykh, Matruh, Qina, Shamal Sina', Suhaj
Independence: 28 February 1922 (from UK)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)
Constitution: 11 September 1971; amended 22 May 1980, 25 May 2005, and 26 March 2007
Legal system: based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes); judicial review by Supreme Court and Council of State (oversees validity of administrative decisions); accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK (since 14 October 1981)
head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed NAZIF (since 9 July 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for six-year term (no term limits); note - a national referendum in May 2005 approved a constitutional amendment that changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote; previously the president was nominated by the People's Assembly and the nomination was validated by a national, popular referendum; last referendum held 26 September 1999; first election under terms of constitutional amendment held 7 September 2005; next election scheduled for 2011
election results: Hosni MUBARAK reelected president; percent of vote - Hosni MUBARAK 88.6%, Ayman NOUR 7.6%, Noman GOMAA 2.9%
Legislative branch: bicameral system consists of the People's Assembly or Majlis al-Sha'b (454 seats; 444 elected by popular vote, 10 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms) and the Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura that traditionally functions only in a consultative role but 2007 constitutional amendments could grant the Council new powers (264 seats; 176 elected by popular vote, 88 appointed by the president; members serve six-year terms; mid-term elections for half of the elected members)
elections: People's Assembly - three-phase voting - last held 7 and 20 November, 1 December 2005;(next to be held November-December 2010); Advisory Council - last held June 2007 (next to be held May-June 2010)
election results: People's Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 311, NWP 6, Tagammu 2, Tomorrow Party 1, independents 112 (12 seats to be determined by rerun elections, 10 seats appointed by President); Advisory Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 84, Tagammu 1, independents 3
Judicial branch: Supreme Constitutional Court
Political parties and leaders: National Democratic Party or NDP (governing party) [Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK]; National Progressive Unionist Grouping or Tagammu [Rifaat EL-SAID]; New Wafd Party or NWP [Mahmoud ABAZA]; Tomorrow Party [Moussa Mustafa MOUSSA]
note: formation of political parties must be approved by the government; only parties with representation in elected bodies are listed
Political pressure groups and leaders: despite a constitutional ban against religious-based parties and political activity, the technically illegal Muslim Brotherhood constitutes Hosni MUBARAK's potentially most significant political opposition; MUBARAK has alternated between tolerating limited political activity by the Brotherhood and blocking its influence; civic society groups are sanctioned, but constrained in practical terms; only trade unions and professional associations affiliated with the government are officially sanctioned
International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AU, BSEC (observer), CAEU, COMESA, EBRD, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, MINURSO, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Nabil FAHMY
chancery: 3521 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 895-5400
FAX: [1] (202) 244-4319
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Francis J. RICCIARDONE, Jr.
embassy: 8 Kamal El Din Salah St., Garden City, Cairo
mailing address: Unit 64900, Box 15, APO AE 09839-4900
telephone: [20] (2) 2797-3300
FAX: [20] (2) 2797-3200
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the national emblem (a gold Eagle of Saladin facing the hoist side with a shield superimposed on its chest above a scroll bearing the name of the country in Arabic) centered in the white band; design is based on the Arab Liberation flag and similar to the flag of Syria, which has two green stars in the white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and Yemen, which has a plain white band
Culture

Egyptian culture has five thousand years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations and for millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity, and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of Egypt's ancient culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself with roots in ancient Egypt.

Egypt's capital city, Cairo, is Africa's largest city and has been renowned for centuries as a center of learning, culture and commerce. Egypt has the highest number of Nobel Laureates in Africa and the Arab World. Some Egyptian born politicians were or are currently at the helm of major international organizations like Boutros Boutros-Ghali of the United Nations and Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA.

Renaissance

The work of early nineteenth-century scholar Rifa'a et-Tahtawi gave rise to the Egyptian Renaissance, marking the transition from Medieval to Early Modern Egypt. His work renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.[82] Egypt's renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad Abduh, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Tawfiq el-Hakim, Louis Awad, Qasim Amin, Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to individual freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring progress.[83]

Art and architecture

The Egyptians were one of the first major civilizations to codify design elements in art and architecture. The wall paintings done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Egyptian civilization is renowned for its colossal pyramids, colonnades and monumental tombs. Well-known examples are the Pyramid of Djoser designed by ancient architect and engineer Imhotep, the Sphinx, and the temple of Abu Simbel. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene, from the vernacular architecture of Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef, to Mahmoud Mokhtar's famous sculptures, to the distinctive Coptic iconography of Isaac Fanous.

The Cairo Opera House serves as the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital. Egypt's media and arts industry has flourished since the late nineteenth century, today with more than thirty satellite channels and over one hundred motion pictures produced each year. Cairo has long been known as the "Hollywood of the Middle East;" its annual film festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, has been rated as one of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations.[84] To bolster its media industry further, especially with the keen competition from the Persian Gulf Arab States and Lebanon, a large media city was built. Some Egyptian-born actors, like Omar Sharif, have achieved worldwide fame.

Literature

Literature constitutes an important cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Middle East. The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular.[85] Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition. Vernacular poetry is perhaps the most popular literary genre amongst Egyptians, represented by the works of Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.

Music

Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. In antiquity, Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, including two indigenous instruments: the ney and the oud. Percussion and vocal music also became an important part of the local music tradition ever since. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmud Osman, who influenced the later work of Egyptian music giants such as Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez. These prominent artists were followed later by Amr Diab. He is seen by many as the new age "Musical Legend", whose fan base stretches all over the Middle East and Europe. From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, while Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other festivities.

Festivals

Egypt is famous for its many festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulid. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by all Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavor in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt during Ramadan to witness the spectacle. The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Coptic: Ϭⲱⲙ‘ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ shom en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.

Sports

Football (soccer) is the de facto national sport of Egypt. Egyptian Soccer clubs El Ahly and El Zamalek are the two most popular teams and enjoy the reputation of long-time regional champions. The great rivalries keep the streets of Egypt energized as people fill the streets when their favorite team wins. Egypt is rich in soccer history as soccer has been around for over 100 years. The country is home to many African championships such as the Africa Cup of Nations. While, Egypt's national team has not qualified for the FIFA World Cup since 1990, the Egyptian team won the Africa Cup Of Nations an unprecedented six times, including two times in a row in 1957 and 1959 and again in 2006 and 2008, setting a world record.

Squash and tennis are other popular sports in Egypt. The Egyptian squash team has been known for its fierce competition in international championships since the 1930s. Amr Shabana is Egypt's best player and the winner of the world open three times and the best player of 2006.

The Egyptian Handball team also holds another record; throughout the 34 times the African Handball Nations Championship was held, Egypt won first place five times including 2008, five times second place, four times third place, and came in the fourth place twice. The team won 6th and 7th places in 1995, 1997 at the World Men's Handball Championship, and twice won 6th place at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Egypt has a long history of participation at the Summer Olympics since 1912.

Economy Economy - overview: Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. In the last 30 years, the government has reformed the highly centralized economy it inherited from President Gamel Abdel NASSER. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF's government reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew about 5% per year in 2005-06, and topped 7% in 2007. Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a sizeable budget deficit - roughly 7.5% of GDP in 2007 - and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment has increased significantly in the past two years, but the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reforms in order to sustain the spike in investment and growth and begin to improve economic conditions for the broader population. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $431.9 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $127.9 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7.2% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $5,400 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 13.8%
industry: 41.1%
services: 45.1% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 22.49 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 32%
industry: 17%
services: 51% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 10.1% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 20% (2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.7%
highest 10%: 29.5% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 34.4 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.8% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $37.47 billion
expenditures: $44.48 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 105.1% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats
Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals, light manufactures
Industrial production growth rate: 13.8% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 102.5 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 81%
hydro: 19%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 84.49 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 946 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 168 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 688,100 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 635,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 152,600 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - imports: 69,860 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 3.7 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 40.76 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 32.81 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 7.951 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 1.589 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $3.115 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $27.42 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals
Exports - partners: Italy 12.1%, US 11.3%, Spain 8.7%, UK 5.5%, France 5.4%, Syria 5.1%, Saudi Arabia 4.3%, Germany 4.2% (2006)
Imports: $40.48 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, fuels
Imports - partners: US 11.4%, China 8.3%, Germany 6.6%, Italy 5.4%, Saudi Arabia 5%, France 4.6% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $925.9 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $31.14 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $29.9 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $37.66 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $1.115 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $93.48 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Egyptian pound (EGP)
Currency code: EGP
Exchange rates: Egyptian pounds per US dollar - 5.67 (2007), 5.725 (2006), 5.78 (2005), 6.1962 (2004), 5.8509 (2003)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 10.808 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 18.001 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: large system; underwent extensive upgrading during 1990s and is reasonably modern; Telecom Egypt, the landline monopoly, has been increasing service availability and in 2006 fixed-line density stood at 14 per 100 persons; as of 2007 there were three mobile-cellular networks and service is expanding rapidly
domestic: principal centers at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta are connected by coaxial cable and microwave radio relay
international: country code - 20; landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 AND SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat; tropospheric scatter to Sudan; microwave radio relay to Israel; a participant in Medarabtel
Radio broadcast stations: AM 42 (plus 15 repeaters), FM 14, shortwave 3 (1999)
Radios: 20.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 98 (September 1995)
Televisions: 7.7 million (1997)
Internet country code: .eg
Internet hosts: 5,363 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 50 (2000)
Internet users: 6 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 88 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 72
over 3,047 m: 15
2,438 to 3,047 m: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
under 914 m: 5 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 16
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 7 (2007)
Heliports: 3 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 483 km; condensate/gas 74 km; gas 6,466 km; liquid petroleum gas 957 km; oil 5,518 km; oil/gas/water 37 km; refined products 895 km (2007)
Railways: total: 5,063 km
standard gauge: 5,063 km 1.435-m gauge (62 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 92,370 km
paved: 74,820 km
unpaved: 17,550 km (2004)
Waterways: 3,500 km
note: includes Nile River, Lake Nasser, Alexandria-Cairo Waterway, and numerous smaller canals in delta; Suez Canal (193.5 km including approaches) navigable by oceangoing vessels drawing up to 17.68 m (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 77 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,032,116 GRT/1,553,065 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 13, cargo 33, container 2, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 14, roll on/roll off 10
foreign-owned: 10 (Denmark 1, Greece 8, Lebanon 1)
registered in other countries: 55 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 14, Georgia 14, Honduras 4, North Korea 1, Panama 13, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 1, St Kitts and Nevis 2, St Vincent and The Grenadines 4) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Ayn Sukhnah, Alexandria, Damietta, El Dekheila, Sidi Kurayr, Suez
Military Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Command
Military service age and obligation: 18-30 years of age for male conscript military service; service obligation 12-36 months, followed by a 9-year reserve obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 18,347,560
females age 18-49: 17,683,904 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 15,540,234
females age 18-49: 14,939,378 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 802,920
females age 18-49: 764,176 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.4% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: while Sudan retains claim to the Hala'ib Triangle north of the 1899 Treaty boundary along the 22nd Parallel, both states withdrew their military presence in the 1990s and Egypt has invested in and effectively administers the area; Egypt vigilantly monitors the Sinai and borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip to deter terrorist, smuggling, and other illegal activities; Egypt does not extend domestic asylum to some 70,000 persons who identify themselves as Palestinians but who largely lack UNRWA assistance and, until recently, UNHCR recognition as refugees
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 60,000 - 80,000 (Iraq), 70,255 (Palestinian Territories), 13,446 (Sudan) (2006)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from Eastern Europe to Israel for the purpose of sexual exploitation; these women generally arrive as tourists and are subsequently trafficked through the Sinai Desert by Bedouin tribes; men and women from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are believed to be trafficked through the Sinai Desert to Israel and Europe for labor exploitation; some Egyptian children from rural areas are trafficked within the country to work as domestic servants or laborers in the agriculture industry
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Egypt is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking over the past year, particularly in the area of law enforcement
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