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Egypt: In-depth Country Profile

Egypt flag

Egypt flag

With a long history of civilization and development, Egypt is the largest country in North Africa and a key player in regional politics.

egypt map

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is located in the North Eastern of Africa. Much of the country lies in Africa, but its easternmost portion, the Sinai Peninsula, forms a land bridge between Africa and Asia.

Cairo is its largest city and Egypt’s capital. It also serves as its administrative and commercial city. Other principal towns in Egypt include Giza, the Mediterranean seaport of Alexandria, and the industrious town Port Said.

Demography

Population: 94,798,827

Female Population: 49.50%

Main Language: Arabic

Currency: Pounds

Main Religion: Islam

Life Expectancy: 71.6 years (male) and 74.4 years (female)

According to a 2017 census, Egypt’s population stands at 94,798,827, making it the third most populous African country after Nigeria and Ethiopia.

egypt has a large Muslim population and some Christians
egypt has a large Muslim population and some Christians

Egypt is somewhat ethnically diverse. Ethnic Egyptians constitute about 91% of the total population. Other ethnic groups in Egypt include the Abazas, the Turks, the Greeks, the Armenians and few others.

Economy of Egypt

GDP: $332.791 billion

Unemployment Rate: 31.3%

The World Bank puts Egypt’s GDP in 2016 at $332.791 billion making it the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria.

Although total unemployment rate stood at 12.2%, youth unemployment is however a big issue in Egypt. In 2015 youth unemployment stood at 31.3%. And poverty levels stood at 25.2% in 2011, indicating that a fourth of its population live below the poverty threshold.

Egypt has a scanty deposit of mineral resources though. But it is a major oil producing country. Oil production began in 1908 and significant amount of oil was found in the 1970s.

Egypt also has large quantities of gas resources and other resources such as phosphate (a source of fertilizer), salt, coal, manganese, Iron ore, chromium, uranium and gold.

Despite the fact that 96% of Egypt’s land is desert, agriculture constitutes a significant activity for its population. Arable land in Egypt totals just 3% of the total area. But agriculture constitutes nearly one-seventh of Egypt’s economy, and employs a fourth of the population.

Unlike other developing countries, Egyptian agriculture is geared towards commercial production. Egypt is one of the largest cotton producers. Other significant agro-products include: corn (maize), rice, wheat, sorghum, beans, sugarcane, tomatoes, sugar beets, potatoes, and onions.

Livestock production is also a significant sub-sector. And following the construction of Aswan High Dam in 1971, also fishing became a significant industry in Egypt.

History and Politics

Independence: February 28th 1922

Leader: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt has a very long and rich history. Egypt is the oldest civilization in Africa. Egyptian civilization dates back centuries before Christ. It developed along the Nile Valley in North Africa about 5,500 years ago.

Here the gradual drying of the Sahara Desert had forced together growing populations from the desert into a diminishing crop-growing area dependent on the annual Nile floods.

The Egyptian ruling elite controlled irrigation and other public works and justified their rule through claims that the pharaoh was a god-king incarnate.

Early Egyptian civilization is remembered for its burial customs, including the huge pyramids in which its early kings or pharaohs were buried. It is also remembered for its contributions to the fields of medicine, architecture, mathematics and astrology.

The Egyptian territory fell under the leadership of different groups following the collapse of the Thirty-first Dynasty in the 4th century BC.

In the 16th century, Egypt became a part of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks ruled Egypt for centuries. But by 1840, Egypt under Muhammad Ali freed the country from much of Ottoman control; although the Turks still had a say in who lead the country. Ali was named viceroy to Egypt following years of squabbles with Ottomans.

After falling into bankruptcy in the 1870s, the foreign interference beset Egypt. And by the late 19th century however, Egypt fell under the indirect control of the British after years. It formally became a British protectorate in 1914, after the Ottoman Empire joined the Germans in World War One.

Modern Politics

In 1922 Egypt was offered qualified, or partial, independence, subject to four reservations to be dealt with in future negotiations.

It was granted partial independence the same year. In 1936, a treaty was signed which allowed Egypt join the League of Nations, and establish its own embassies abroad.

In 1952, Egypt witnessed a military coup led by General Gamal Abdel Nasser. This coup forced Egypt’s monarch to abdicate power.

A new government was formed by Gen Muhammad Naguib. He undertook several reforms, most prominently land reforms. In 1953, he ended the monarchy and declared Egpt a republic. Naguib was named the country’s first president under the republic.

In 1956, Nasser replaced Naguib as Egypt’s president. Nasser pioneered Arab nationalism and the non-aligned movement. Under him, Egypt would be drawn into several international events, including the Suez Canal Crisis and Palestine-Israeli crisis in the Middle East. The latter crisis would force Egypt to give up some portions of its territory.

In 1970, Nasser died of a heart attack, and was replaced by Anwar Al-Sadat. Sadat became hugely popular for undoing a lot laws and deeds of Nasser. Sadat would lead Egypt into another war with the Israelis. But he was assassinated for reaching a negotiation with Israel in 1981.

Soon after his death, Hosni Mubarak became the leader of Egypt. He ruled Egypt until the Arab Spring inspired his removal in 2011.

Since 2011, the country has not been fully stable. Muhammad Morsi was elected leader in 2012, but he caused several divisions in Egypt. Morsi was removed in a military coup in 2014.

egypt al sisi
Al Sisi Has been Egypt’s leader since he replaced Morsi

Since 2014, the country has been ruled by former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.