The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with
semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the
development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose
circa 3200 B.C. and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three
millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn
were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who
introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for
the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about
1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman
Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt
became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt.
Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's
government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued
until 1914. Partially 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 Nasser have altered the time-honored place of
the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing
population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and
dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society.
The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium
through economic reform and massive investment in communications and
physical infrastructure.

Population: 77,505,756

Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the
Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai

Map references:   

Total Area: 1,001,450 sq km
Land Area: 995,450 sq km
Comparative Area: slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico


National holiday:   
Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)

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