Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country 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.
Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to its northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to its east, the Red Sea to its south east, Sudan to its south, and Libya to its west. And its capital is Cairo. Cairo is its largest city and 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.
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. The country’s female population stood at 49.50%, against a male population of 50.50%. The country also has high life expectancy for both male and female. Male life expectancy stands at 71.6 years, and female life expectancy is 74.4 years.
Egypt is somewhat ethnically diverse. Ethnic Egyptians comprise a high percentage of the population, constituting about 91% of the total population. Other ethnic groups in Egypt include the Abazas, the Turks, the Greeks, the Armenians, the Italians, Syrian Christians, the Bedouin Arabs living in the eastern deserts, the Berber-speaking Siwis (Amazigh) of the Siwa Oasis, and the Nubian communities clustered along the Nile.
According to the World Bank, Egypt’s GDP in 2016 was $332.791 billion and was 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. Egypt is however a major oil producing country. Small scale oil production began in 1908 and discovered significant amount of it in the 1970s.Egypt also has large quantity of gas resources at places like the delta, the Western Desert, and under the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt also has 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 still constitutes a significant activity for its population. Arable land in Egypt totals just 3% of the total area. Agriculture contributes 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 also constitutes a significant sub-sector in the Egyptian agricultural economy. And following the construction of Aswan High Dam in 1971, also fishing became a significant industry in Egypt.
History and Politics
Egypt has a very long and rich history. Egypt is the oldest civilization in Africa. According to scholars, 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.
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. His 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.
Under Nasser 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. Since 2014, the country has been ruled by former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.