Egypt Geography

Egypt Geography and Population

Egypt – geography

It is said that “Egypt is the Nile”. Egyptian society is organized around the Nile; the country’s economy, politics, culture and history reflect efforts to tame and exploit the Nile’s bodies of water, and the river is crucial to building patterns, infrastructure and production.

The Nile

Egypt, here in the sense of the river valley, is divided into Lower Egypt, which is the lower reaches of the Nile with the delta, and Upper Egypt, which is the river valley south of Cairo. Here the Nile Valley is a fairly narrow lease, 3-15 km wide, which the river has eroded into the flat plateau. The Nile valley is thus flanked here by 50-200 m high slopes. The Nile Delta is 22,000 km2 and has virtually no height differences. The tributaries are regulated in two branches, Dumyat to the east and Rashid to the west, with names after the two towns on the Mediterranean coast where the branches end.

Before the Nile was dammed by dams, with Aswan as the decisive factor, the river carried a significant load (approximately 100 million tonnes annually) of fertile sludge from the Ethiopian Highlands. It was deposited in the Nile Valley and in particular in the delta. This annual supply of nutrient-rich sludge, together with the abundant water volumes and the warm climate, created unique conditions for agricultural production. It was on the basis of this fertility that one of the world’s oldest high cultures, the pharaonic, arose around 3000 BC. Now the sludge is deposited at the bottom of Lake Nasser behind the Aswan dam, and the nutrient supply takes place through artificial fertilizer. Pga. The enormous capacity of Lake Nasser will not pose a problem for the function of the dam for the first 500 years.

Natural geography

Egypt can be divided into four regions: the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta (described above), the Libyan Desert, which is the area west of the Nile, the Arabian Desert between the Nile and the Red Sea, and the Sinai Peninsula east of it.

The Libyan Desert covers most of the country. It is a flat area, which in only a few places rises above 300 m. The desert contains several large depressions and a number of oases. The largest is al-Fayyum south of Cairo with a population of approximately 1 mio. Further west and south are the oases Siwa, Bahariyya, Dakhla and Farafra. Siwa is a tributary of the great Qattara depression with the lowest areas 133 m below sea level. All the oases are connected by the network of ancient caravan roads that cross the desert and connect Egypt to the main tracks through the Sahara.

The Arabian Desert is an impassable mountain area with mountain peaks up to 2000 m, intersected by deep rock crevices and wadis. It is uninhabited except for a number of small towns on the Red Sea coast.

Sinai. Traditionally, the Suez Canal is considered the border between Africa and Asia, and Sinai is thus the Asian part of Egypt. To the north is the sand desert and to the south the highlands with Egypt’s highest point, Mount Catherine (2642 m). Six km north of this is Mount Sinai (Djebel Musa), (2285 m), and at the foot of this mountain lies the Catherine Monastery.


Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East and has a rapidly growing population, but there is considerable uncertainty about basic demographic information. The high population means a colossal pressure on the few per cent. of the area used for housing and production; over 70 million people live on an area smaller than Denmark’s. Population growth is estimated at 1.7% per year in the 2000’s, which is less than in previous decades, but continues to grow so much that it intensifies the enormous pressure on the country’s resources. Every year, large fertile agricultural areas are involved in housing construction. This is especially true around Cairo, which in a few decades has developed into one of the world’s largest cities. To remedy the problem, the authorities have established a number of satellite cities in the desert around Cairo, and new cities are planned, among other things. in northern Sinai.

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Infrastructure and business

Lower Egypt has always been part of the Mediterranean culture with its location on important trade routes; east to the Levant, north to Europe and south and west, across the Sahara, to the gold empires of West Africa. Of particular importance were the ports of Dumyat and Alexandria, which could be navigated from both the Mediterranean and the Nile. The Nile has lost much of its importance for transport, but a number of goods are still transported along the river between Cairo and Alexandria. Most of the infrastructure is built around the river. In addition to the Aswan dam, eight main dams and many thousands of km of canals have been constructed. The road network is well developed and maintained, with support from the United States. A modern motorway connects Aswan with Cairo and Alexandria, and there is a road tunnel under the Suez Canal. The railway network is close to the delta and is also connected to Aswan. In Upper Egypt, cities and roads lie in a narrow belt along the Nile; this part of the country is the poorest and least developed, and agriculture is an important occupation. However, Aswan and Luxor are characterized by tourism.


Almost 30% of the population is employed in agriculture. Egypt is among the countries in the world that have by far the least agricultural land per capita. residents, only approximately 0.05 ha. On the other hand, the majority is artificial water (only along the Mediterranean is precipitation-based agriculture), and two or three crops are harvested per year. In addition, high-yielding varieties (the green revolution) have been introduced, so that the yield per unit area is high.

Until 1992, agriculture was subject to strong public management with imposed crop requirements and government pricing. From 1992, the sector has been liberalized, but is still subject to the restrictions imposed by the joint use of water, e.g. which crops the individual can grow with the measured amount of water.

Egypt has gone from being a food exporter to only being self-sufficient, and from the late 1960’s the country has had to import food because agriculture has not been able to keep up with the strong population growth; in 1995 approximately half of food consumption. The agricultural land is privately owned and distributed over DKK 3 million. farms, half of less than 1/2ha. This means that large parts are driven extremely intensively and are almost horticulture. Egyptian clover (for fodder), wheat, corn and rice occupy the largest areas, but Egyptian agriculture produces a very wide range of crops, including a wide variety of vegetables. Cotton, which covered almost 20% of the area 50 years ago, occupies less than 5% today (2005). Cotton and textiles are still important exports. Despite an increase in livestock, there is still a shortage of meat and milk. There is a limited but increasing production of pork for tourists. Coptic Christians are responsible for pig production, which takes place in urban areas, where garbage men use household waste as pig feed.

With very large investments, the Egyptian state has since 1952 involved approximately 800,000 ha of desert to agricultural land. This has especially happened along the east and west sides of the Nile Delta, but also in large so-called mega-projects on Sinai and in the Libyan Desert. Despite the fact that only the most modern, water-saving irrigation techniques may be used on these soils, the projects have led to significant changes in the groundwater table and significant salinization. Yields on desert soils are significantly lower than on fertile soils along the Nile, but the focus is on other types of crops such as citrus fruits and to a lesser extent on organic production for the European market.

Agriculture consumes approximately 85% of the amounts of water that the Nile brings. The water becomes heavily polluted through its path through the land; it has This has meant that fish stocks in coastal waters have been reduced and fishing has been affected.


With a large domestic market and a relatively well-educated population, Egypt has been well placed to implement a development strategy based on industrialization. The strategy has been partially successful, with Egypt, along with Israel, standing as the Middle East’s most industrialized country. The majority of the industry remains state-owned with a background in the nationalization program led by President Nassercompleted. In the 1950’s, the Egyptian state became the owner of a wide range of industries ranging from heavy industry, steel and weapons production to the production of beer and chewing gum. In general, state-owned enterprises have a very low productivity based on a bureaucratic control apparatus which, together with fixed, state-subsidized prices, overstaffing, poor management and low wages, has prevented real competition and continuous improvements in productivity. In the 1990’s, the privatization of industry became an important goal, strongly encouraged by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The main industries are related to agriculture: textile and food industry; but otherwise the industry is very versatile and predominantly geared towards the domestic market. The arms industry, along with most other state-owned enterprises, is located in Cairo’s industrial districts. The private companies are most often smaller units, predominantly in the textile and food industries, and more widely located, e.g. in the many medium-sized provincial towns in the delta.


Egypt has 0.2% of the world’s oil reserves and 1% of its natural gas reserves. It is not much in terms of Middle Eastern standards, but the sector is important and contributes approximately 40% of the export value. The oil fields are located on the Sinai Peninsula and offshore in the Red Sea; the natural gas comes mainly from two fields on the delta’s Mediterranean coast and one field in the Libyan Desert. The latter supplies energy via a 400 km long pipeline to the Helwan steel plant south of Cairo.

Egypt – language

The official language of Egypt is Arabic, which from 600-t. gradually supplanted the Coptic, the youngest stage of the ancient Egyptian language. The written language is modern standard Arabic, and the spoken language is the Egyptian-Arabic dialects, which can be divided into four main groups: the delta dialects, which fall into a western, a middle and an eastern group, the upper-Egyptian dialects sa’idi, which fall into a Middle and Southern Egyptian group, the Oasis dialects (in the western desert) as well as the Bedouin dialects. The central delta group includes the Cairo dialect, which is widely used in acting, film, radio, television and teaching and is considered “finer” than the other dialects. It is understood in most of the Arabic-speaking world. In the oasis Siwa, a dialect of Berber is spoken (siwi). For culture and traditions of Egypt, please check allunitconverters.

Egypt – religion

Ca. 90% of the population are Sunni Muslims, while 5-8% are Copts. In addition, approximately 1 mio. other Christian denominations, and a few thousand Jews and Shia Muslims live in the country.

Egypt officially belongs to the Sunni Islamic law school al-hanafiyya, while the population in the north is Shafit and in the south Malikites.

Islam is the official religion of the state, and according to a constitutional amendment from 1980, the legislation must be based on the principles of Islamic law. A Ministry of Religion organizes mosques and religious education, and the state also funds the Islamic University of al-Azhar, the Academy of Islamic Studies are consulted by Muslims worldwide.

Islam in Egypt has traditionally been strongly influenced by Sufism, and even Sufi order have lost political influence, counter the still millions of members. Another important current is the rationalist modernization movement al-salafiyya, which broke through in the 1900’s. and helped make Cairo a center of the Islamic press.

Egypt Geography