The country known as Egypt is officially called the Arab Republic of Egypt and it is situated in the north-east of Africa; though the Sinai Peninsula forms a land bridge with south-west Asia. It is because of this that Egypt is also called a Middle-East country. Therefore Egypt is a transcontinental country, which helps it in being a major power in Africa, the Middle-East, the Mediterranean, and the Muslim world.
The Origin of the Word, “Egypt”
Over the millenniums, Egypt has had many names in many different languages. Today, its official name is Junhuriyah Misr al-Arabiyah, which in English means the Arab Republic of Egypt. Egyptians themselves refer to Egypt as Misr, though this can also be a name for Cairo. Interestingly, it is common for Egyptians to refer to Egypt as Misr, if they are resident in Cairo, but if outside of Cairo, then they will refer to Cairo as Misr. In a certain respect, this is a custom that dates to the earliest times of ancient Egypt.
Basically, we can examine three groups of names which have applied to Egypt. In the early period of Egypt, during the Old
Kingdom, Egypt was referred to as Kemet (Kermit), or simply Kmt , which means the Black land. They called themselves “remetch en Kermet”, which means the “People of the Black Land”. The term refers to the rich soil found
in the Nile Valley and Delta. But it was also sometimes referred to as Deshret, or dshrt , which refers to the “Red Land”, or deserts of which Egypt is mostly comprised.
Later, Egyptians referred to their country as “Hwt-ka-Ptah” (Ht-ka-Ptah, or Hout-ak Ptah) , which means “Temple for Ka of Ptah”, or more properly, “House of the Ka of Ptah” Ptah was one of Egypt’s earliest Gods. As in modern Egypt, this was both a name for the administrative center of Egypt, what we call Memphis today, as well as the name of the country as a whole.
Egypt, as many people of the world refer to the country today, is a derivative of this ancient name. Even today, people who speak one language often change the spelling of words in another language because of the difficulty they may have in pronouncing some of the sounds of that foreign language. Hence, in pronouncing Hwt-ka-Ptah, the Greeks changed this world to Aegyptus (Aigyptos), which they used in their literature as the name of an Egyptian King (perhaps Ramesses, though in a fictional manner), the Nile River and for the country itself. We find the word used by Homer in his famous “Odyssey. We believe the Greeks had difficulties with the Egyptian pronunciation of the letter “H” at the beginning and end of Hwt-ka-Ptah.
Today, the word Egyptians often use for their country is Misr. This is probably derived from an ancient term, Mizraim which may have itself been derived from an ancient Egyptian word, md-r mdr , which people in the region called Egypt. Misr is an Arabic name simply meaning “country”, and part of the tradition of this term in as a name for Egypt comes from the Islamic Quran.
The term can also mean “fortress”, or “castellated” , which refers to the natural protective boarders of Egypt which protected the country from invaders. This name can be extended as Misr El Mahrosa.
As a final note, it is interesting that the origin of “Coptic”, a word which we today use to refer to the Christians of Egypt (and actually, the principle Christian church of Ethiopia, as well others throughout the world related to this form of Christianity), actually is derived from the word Copti. The Arabs who invaded Egypt in, like the Greeks, had problems pronouncing the term, Aegypti, which means “Egyptian citizen”. Essentially, they changed the word to Copti. Of course, at that time, Egypt was a Christian nation, so the term became limited to actual Egyptian Christians as the country became more and more Muslim.
The first national flag of modern Egypt was established by a Royal Decree in 1923 when Egypt gained conditional independence from Great Britain in 1922. The color was green with a white crescent and three stars in the middle. In 1958, a Presidential Decree established a new flag for the United Arab Republic which comprised a merger of Syria and Egypt.
The new flag had 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; the band colours derive from the Arab liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white) Note: 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.
The color red refers to the period before 1952 Revolution which brought a group of army officers to power after deposing King Farouk, then King of Egypt. This was a period characterized by the struggle against the British occupation of the country. The white symbolizes the advent of the 1952 Revolution which ended the monarchy without bloodshed. The color black symbolizes the end of the oppression of the people of Egypt at the hands of the Monarchy and British colonialism.
Rules Governing the Hoisting of the Flag
The national flag is hoisted on all governmental buildings on Fridays, official holidays, on the inauguration of the Peoples Assembly session and other occasions on which the Minister of Interior orders that the flag be hoisted. The flag is hoisted daily on border posts and customs buildings. It is also hoisted on Egyptian consulates and embassies overseas on the National Day and other national occasions, as well as during the visit of the President to the country hoisting the diplomatic mission.
Penal Provisions for Contempt of the Flag
Abusing the flag in any way is a criminal offense and is punishable under law as it implies contempt of the power of the state. Penal provisions also govern abuse of foreign flags or national emblems of other countries.
The National Anthem:
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you, is my due hearty love at command,
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you is my due hearty love at command,
Mother of the great ancient land,
My sacred wish and holy demand,
All should love, awe and cherish thee,
Gracious is thy Nile to humanity,
No evil hand can harm or do you wrong,
So long as your free sons are strong,
My homeland, my homeland, my hallowed land,
Only to you, is my due hearty love at command.
Words and Music by Sayed Darwish. This national anthem was adapted after 1979. Prior to that, the National Anthem was “Walla Zaman Ya Selahy” (Oh, My Weapon) with words by Salah Shahyrn and Music by Kamal Atawyl.
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.
From ancient times, right through to the modern era, the Nile Valley has been divided into two separate regions, Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. Lower Egypt, where the Pharaohs wore the red crown, is the area of the Delta, whilst Upper Egypt, where the Pharaohs wore the white crown, is the entire valley south of Cairo (or Memphis during the Pharaonic period).
Egypt has one of the most diverse economies in North-Africa and the Middle-East with the various sectors employing the following amounts of people: agriculture 32%; industry 17%; services 39%; and tourism 12%.
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. Egypt’s economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser but opened up considerably under former Presidents Anwar el-Sadat and Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. Cairo from 2004 to 2008 aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth. The global financial crisis slowed the reform efforts. The budget deficit climbed to over 8% of GDP and Egypt’s GDP growth slowed to 4.6% in 2009, predominately due to reduced growth in export-oriented sectors, including manufacturing and tourism, and Suez Canal revenues. In 2010, the government spent more on infrastructure and public projects, and exports drove GDP growth to more than 5%, but GDP growth in 2011 is unlikely to bounce back to pre-global financial recession levels, when it stood at 7%. Despite the relatively high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor.
A predominantly Sunni Muslim country, Egypt has Islam as its state religion. A genuine estimate of the percentages of the various religions is a controversial topic in Egypt, and no two sets of figures appear to match, but it is generally accepted that 80-90% of the population are Muslims. Five times a day the “Adhan”, the Islamic call to prayer, can be heard being broadcast from the loudspeakers on Cairo’s many minarets. There are so many Mosques in the Egyptian capital that it was once dubbed “the city of 1,000 minarets”.
Cairo also hosts a considerable number of church towers due to the Christian minority in Egypt, which makes up about 8-18% of the population. Of these, 90% belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria with the other 10% comprising of the Coptic Catholic Church; the Evangelical Church of Egypt; and various other Protestant denominations.
The remaining 2% of the population are Jews, with a number of synagogues being sited around Cairo. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the only three religions that Egypt officially recognizes.
EGYPT: FACTS AND FIGURES
91,2 (July 2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 15
0-14 years: 32.7% (male 13,725,282/female 13,112,157)
15-64 years: 62.8% (male 26,187,921/female 25,353,947)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 1,669,313/female 2,031,016) (2011 est.)
Total: 24.3 years
Male: 24 years
Female: 24.6 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.96% (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 57
24.63 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 64
4.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 193
Net Migration Rate:
-0.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 124
Urban population: 43.4% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major Cities – population:
Cairo (capital) 10.902 million; Alexandria 4.387 million (2009)
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant Mortality Rate:
Total: 25.2 deaths/1,000 live births
Country comparison to the world: 81
Male: 26.8 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 23.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
Life Expectancy at Birth:
Total population: 72.66 years
Country comparison to the world: 123
Male: 70.07 years
Female: 75.38 years (2011 est.)
Total Fertility Rate:
2.97 children born/woman (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 65
HIV/aids – adult Prevalence Rate:
Less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 126
HIV/Aids – People living with HIV/Aids:
11,000 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 95
HIV/aids – Deaths:
Fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 94
Major infectious Diseases:
Degree of risk: intermediate
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhoea, hepatitis a, and typhoid fever
Vector borne disease: rift valley 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 (2009)
Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4% (2006 census)
Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%
Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes
Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 71.4%
Female: 59.4% (2005 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
Total: 11 years
Male: 11 years
Female: 11 years (2004)
3.8% of GDP (2008)
Country comparison to the world: 110
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)
Geographic coordinates: 30 03 N, 31 15 E
Time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during standard time)
28 governorates (Muhafazat, singular – Muhafazat); Ad Daqahliyah, Al Bahr Al Ahmar (Red Sea), Al Buhayrah (El Beheira), Al Fayyum (El Fayoum), Al Gharbiyah, Al Iskandariyah (Alexandria), Al Isma’iliyah (Ismailia), Al Jizah (Giza), Al Minufiyah (El Monofia), Al Minya, Al Qahirah (Cairo), Al Qalyubiyah, Al Uqsur (Luxor), Al Wadi Al Jadid (New Valley), As Suways (Suez), Ash Sharqiyah, Aswan, Asyut, Bani Suwayf (Beni Suef), Bur Sa’id (Port Said), Dumyat (Damietta), Helwan, Janub Sina’ (South Sinai), Kafr Ash Shaykh, Matruh (Western Desert), Qina (Qena), Shamal Sina’ (North Sinai), Sittah Uktubar, Suhaj (Sohag)
28 February 1922 (from UK protectorate status; the revolution that began on 23 July 1952 led to a republic being declared on 18 June 1953 and all British troops withdrawn on 18 June 1956); note – it was ca. 3200 BCE that the two lands of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt were first united politically
Revolution day, 23 July (1952)
11 September 1971; amended 22 may 1980, 25 may 2005, and 26 march 2007; note – constitution dissolved by the military caretaker government 13 February 2011
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
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
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 (2008)