Geography of Egypt - Introduction

Geography of Egypt - Introduction Last updated on Thursday 15th April 2010

Egypt covers an area of approximately 1,001,450 sq km (386,662 sq mi) in northeastern Africa, its northern coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, its eastern coastline along the Red Sea and touching the State of Israel in the Sinai. Libya shares its western border, Sudan its southern border.

Nominally independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasir have altered the time-honored place of the River Nile in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. The Nile is the world's longest river. Until the Aswan Dam was completed in 1965, flooding occurred every year.

A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world) will continue to stress Egyptian society and overtax resources as the country enters the new millennium.

All but a very small percentage of the population lives along the fertile Nile Valley and Delta; the remainder of the country-more than 90 percent- is desert. The Western Desert is low lying; the Eastern Desert is cut through by wadis (riverbeds that are dry for much of the year). In the southeast the desert gives way to mountains along the Red Sea. The Sinai Peninsula, is another desert region that lies south of Israel and east of the Gulf of Suez. The Suez Canal, an artificial waterway opened in 1869, runs from Port Said to Suez, linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It was built to save European ships from having to sail all the way around Africa to reach the Indian Ocean. Egypt's capital and largest city is Cairo. The climate is hot and dry.

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