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Egypt Today. World Studies. Egypt. Official Name: Arab Republic of Egypt Capital: Cairo (founded 969 A.D.) Location: North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and includes the Sinai Peninsula Population: 78.7 million (2006 census)

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Egypt today

Egypt Today

World Studies


  • Official Name: Arab Republic of Egypt

  • Capital: Cairo (founded 969 A.D.)

  • Location: North Africa, bordering the

    Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and includes the Sinai Peninsula

  • Population: 78.7 million (2006 census)

  • Religion: Muslim 94%, Coptic Christian

    and other 6%

  • Language: Arabic (official), English and French

  • Size: slightly more than 3X times the size of New Mexico

Egyptian rule
Egyptian Rule

King Fuad






639 AD









Arab Muslims

King Farouk (Fuad’s son)

Linking the two seas
Linking the Two Seas

  • Egyptian ruler Ismail Pasha (1863-1879) wanted to build a canal to make Egypt equal to the Western nations. He believed it would increase trade.

  • This became the Suez Canal – It linked the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea

  • The canal opened November 17, 1869

  • Many Egyptians were not happy about the canal – it took 10 years to build and some thought it would only continue French and British control over Egypt

  • Cost put Egypt into bankruptcy and Ismail had to sell Egypt's shares in the Suez Canal to the British Government. It was the only to stop an Egyptian financial crisis.


  • 1922- Became a monarchy after Britain gave up absolute control. The first King was King Fuad.

  • 1936- Ruled by King’s son, King Farouk

  • A lot of things still remained under British control

  • An Egyptian army officer (Nasser)overthrows King Farouk


  • An army officer named Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk

  • Wanted a stronger government and to be rid of British influence

  • He changed Egypt from a monarchy to a republic

  • Wanted to unite all Arabs, with Egypt as their leader

  • He was the leader from 1954 – 1970

  • Brought Egypt out of intense poverty

Nasser s major accomplishment
Nasser’s Major Accomplishment

  • Nile River floods frequently

  • Nasser approved construction of Aswan High Dam to control the flooding

  • Took 15 years and cost $1 billion to build

  • Farmers now have dependable source of water

  • Allowed Egypt to grow crops year-round

  • 11,000 feet long

  • Provides electricity & irrigation for all of Egypt

Egypt today

  • In exchange for one benefit there are always downfalls – this is called a “tradeoff”

  • Because of the dam, the river blocks the depositing of the rich soil

  • 100 million tons of earth settle behind the dam each year

  • Farmers have to use artificial fertilizers – these pollute the Nile

Women in egypt
Women in Egypt

  • Much of Egyptian culture’s view on women rights came from Egypt’s main religion, Islam.

  • Egyptian women’s movement started during the revolution of 1919, but still were denied the right to vote

  • Gradually gained the right to higher education

  • 1956: New constitution under Nasser gave women right to vote and run for office

  • 2000: Law passed to make it easier for a woman to get a divorce

A new president
A New President

  • 1970: President Nasser dies.

  • Anwar Sadat elected (had been the Vice President under Nasser)

  • Egypt opposed Israel for many years, but in 1979, Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty

  • Opposed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.


  • Many people were against Sadat and his close relationship with the US

  • An extremist group, called the Muslim Brotherhood, insisted Egypt be governed only by Islamic law

  • October 6, 1981: Sadat was assassinated by a group of young soldiers

Muslim brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood

  • Militant group founded in 1928

  • Members in several Muslim countries

  • 1954 - attempted to assassinate Nasser

  • Believe Egyptian government is being untrue to the principles of Islam by working with Israel and the US

  • They have been underground for many years but have recently become visible and powerful in the Middle East

Government today
Government today

  • 1971 –Constitution adopted

  • Country led by a President that is elected every six years.

  • It is a republic with a parliamentary government with a judicial system based on British common law and Islamic moral law.

  • The People's Assembly is a part of the Egyptian government. 434 of the members are elected by the people, and 10 are appointed by the President. They approve new laws and budgets. The members of The People's Assembly are elected every 5 years.  

  • The responsibility of ruling Egypt is shared by both a president and a prime minister.

  • The Egyptian President supervises the formulation of laws and policies and is in charge of Egypt's Armed Forces (the military).

The President, Muhammad Hosni Said Mubarak (Hosni Mubarak) was elected to office in 1981 and has been the President ever since.

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was sworn into office in 2004.

Land and people
Land and People

  • Most of the population live in a narrow strip of land on both sides of the Nile

  • Some live in cities, others in villages

  • Egypt’s major primary product and export is cotton – became a major export during Civil War in US because cotton exports from the south were interrupted

Egypt today

  • More than 90 percent of Egypt is barren desert.

  • Life in modern Egypt is pretty crowded.

  • It is populated by almost 80 million Egyptians of ancient Egyptian, Arab, Bedouin and Nubian ancestry who only live on 3% of the country’s land

  • Not many foreigners choose to live in Egypt.

  • Along the Nile valley, modern Egypt still looks very much like its ancient past, except for the roadways running along the river and some electricity towers and lines scattered here and there.

  • In ancient days, the papyrus plant grew abundantly along the banks of the Nile. Now it's almost extinct and grown only for the production of souvenirs for the tourism industry.

Village life
Village Life

  • Life in modern Egypt for the fellahin is similar to their ancient Egyptian or early Arab settlers ancestors.

  • More than half live in villages

  • Those who live in the villages are peasant farmers or fellahin

  • They live in the rural villages along the Nile, living in mud brick houses or goatskin tents, and tilling the soil with the same tools of pharaonic times. These people work their small plots of land and keep livestock.

  • Eat a simple diet of bread and beans – often leads to malnutrition

  • Tuberculosis very common and very few are treated by doctors

  • Many children do not go to school

  • The men wear a long flowing robe called a galabiyah and many women wear the veil.

  • The women also wear silver and gold jewelry, necklaces, and bracelets on their wrists and ankles. This is not vanity, however, but the dowry a husband must pay for the right to marry her. Women keep jewelry as a form of economic security.


  • Life in modern Egypt is a study in contrasts, especially in Cairo, the capital city. The constant blasting of the car horns and the loudspeakers of its thousand minarets show people both the hectic present and the quiet past.

  • There are modern skyscrapers, highways, a subway system, hotels, restaurants, advertising and western clothing blend together with the ancient ruins of the pharaohs, Islamic mosques, Coptic churches, Middle Eastern garb, bazaars and the odor of cattle in a unique mosaic of life in modern Egypt.

  • You might even see a huge caravan of farmers, donkeys and camels making their way down a major street in Cairo.

Largest egyptian city
Largest Egyptian City

  • Over 15 million people – largest city in Egypt

  • Used to have gardens and trees, but have since been paved over

  • Crowded, polluted, and high unemployment

  • Many housing problems

  • Crowded because people come every year looking for work

City life
City Life

  • Poor people live in the older sections of the city – some live in cemeteries or on roofs

  • Most work in factories or sell souvenirs

  • Most of the well educated people live on the west bank of the Nile near government buildings, hotels, museums, and universities

Arab world s leading country
Arab world’s leading country

  • 1829: Opened the first modern school for girls

  • 1950’s: First to require all children attend elementary school

  • Information & entertainment is transmitted to the people by up-to-date television, radio, movies, newspapers, and magazines

  • American style food, sports, music, arts, cinema and theater.

Cities of the dead
Cities of the Dead

Naema Zaki and her five children have been forced to make the cemeteries in Cairo’s City of the Dead their permanent home because of the country’s chronic housing crisis shortage. ”We came to live in these cemeteries because they are inexpensive and practical for a starting point. However soon we realized that its not a temporary house and that we want to continue here… these people are kind and all of us here care for each other, unlike other Cairenes.” said Zaki, a widow who lives in a tomb room in the Northern Cemetery with her children.

For many Cairenes the City of the Dead is a mysterious, foreboding area. Many Cairenes are aware of its existence but few understand this group of vast cemeteries that stretches out along the base of the Moqattam Hills.

Egypt today

Among these cemeteries lives a community of Egypt’s urban poor, forming an illegal but tolerated, separate society. “More than five million Egyptian live in these cemeteries, and have formed their own enterprises,” said MalakYakan, an anthropologist and tour guide.

“There are five major cemeteries in this city there, the Northern Cemetery, Bab el Nasr Cemetery, the Southern Cemetery, the Cemetery of the Great, and Bab el Wazir Cemetery,” said Yakan.

From the Salah Salem Highway, the City of the Dead appears to be organized and proper, a match for the beige, sandy landscape of the distant Citadel. Inside, however these cemeteries bear witness to the centuries of Cairo’s history.

Previously, Cairo rulers chose the area for their tombs outside the crowded city in a deserted location. “This area was used as a burial ground for the Arab conquests, Fatimids, Abbasids, Ayyubids,Mamlukes, Ottomans, and many more,” said Yakan.

The historic belief in Egypt is that the cemeteries are an active part of the community and not exclusively for the dead. “Egyptians have not so much thought of cemeteries as a place of the dead, but rather a place where life begins.” said Yakan.

In modern times, because of Egypt’s housing crisis, a lack of satisfactory and affordable housing for a rapidly growing population, many poor Egyptians have made these rooms their permanent homes.

Egypt today

These invaders have adapted the rooms to meet their needs. They have used the grave markers as desks, and shelves. They have hung strings between gravestones for their laundry to dry out.

“We have brought in the electricity by wires over the roofs coming from the nearby mosque to be able to be able to live properly,” said Zaki.

The City of the Dead seems to its inhabitants ideal because it is already built, affordable, and partially equipped. However there are many disadvantages of living there. “They are joined by even a greater number of cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, and vermin of all sorts", writes Nedoroscik in The City of the Dead, A History of Cairo’s Cemetery Communities.

Egypt today

The rooms are also filled with the overwhelming smell of the garbage piled outside their doors and sewage leaking out of the un-drained tanks.

In addition, “The residents settling in the City of the Dead are insecure about their living status because they are living there against the law,” said Yakan. It was the French occupation from 1978-1801 that began changing the image of the vast cemeteries of the City of the Dead.

Egypt today

“It has brought a more westernized attitude towards cemeteries in the Egyptian society, making the presence of people living and carrying out activities in the cemeteries ignored, condemned and shamed by the majority of Cairene society,” writes Nedoroscik. The cemeteries built in the City of the Dead are much different than the western idea of cemeteries. This is because traditionally, Egyptians buried their dead in  room-like “burial sites” so they could live in them during the long mourning period of forty days.

Today, the population of the City of the Dead is growing rapidly because of rural migration and it’s complicated housing crisis that is getting worse.

But the future of the City of the Dead remains uncertain. The residents of the city will not deliberately agree to relocate unless the government provides other housing for them.

“I will not move from this house after all these years to go out in the streets,” said Zaki, “Of course I want to leave the depressed mood in this place, but that doesn’t mean I want to live in the street. We deserve proper houses.”