Dating back to 1958, the current flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the country’s symbol of independence. The flag consists of three superposed rectangles, black white and red, each having a specific significance, and bears at its centre a golden eagle, the country’s emblem and a symbol of power.
Red has been chosen to symbolize glory, white is for purity, whereas the black stripe evokes eras of underdevelopment and colonialism that were overcome.
Egypt is a Republic, the political system of which is democratic based on citizenship and relying on each of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, additionally to the press, political parties, local administrations and civil society institutions.
Islam is the official religion of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Most non-Muslims in Egypt are Christians, the majority of whom belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Egypt is divided into 28 independent administrative units (governorates) enjoying juridical personality each consisting of a number of towns, cities and villages, additionally to the city of Luxor that holds a distinct character.
Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Hurghada, and Sharm El-Sheikh.
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.
The estimated total population of Egypt is about 79 million, according to the 2007 population census. Most of the Egyptian population is concentrated near the River Nile, in cities and towns such as Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Port Said. Smaller settlements include the Western Desert oases, and main destinations of the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt’s official language is Arabic, but foreign languages, such as English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are also widely spoken, especially in educated circles.
5000 years of civilization contributed to the cultural heritage of Egypt and to building the strength and independence of its citizens. The country’s history is a sequence of invasions, eras or glory, battles and victories, which can be split into the following main periods and milestones:
- Pharaonic Era (3100 BC – 332 BC)
- Greek Era (332 BC – 32 AD)
- Roman Era (32 AD – 638 AD)
- Coptic Era (starting from 65 AD)
- Islamic Era: starting with the Islamic conquest of Egypt (640 AD – 1517 AD)
- Ottoman Rule (1517 – 1882)
- French Invasion (1798)
- British Colonization of Egypt (1882 – 1952)
- The 23rd of July Revolution (1952) after which Egypt is declared a Republic. British troops leave Egypt in 1954.
- The 6th of October War (1973)
- Egypt signs a Peace Treaty with Israel (1979)
- Hosni Mubarak is elected president of the Arab Republic of Egypt (1981)
- The January popular Revolution begins against the Egyptian government (25 January 2011)
- Hosni Mubarak steps down as President of the Arab Republic of Egypt (11 February 2011)
Egypt is home to a multicultural society. Ethnic Egyptians constitute 95% of Egypt's total population whereas Egypt's minorities include Nubians, Berbers (Siwa Oasis), Bedouins, Arabs, Turks, and Greeks, additionally to small tribal communities: the Bejas and Doms. The former are concentrated in the south-eastern corner of Egypt, and the latter live mostly in the Nile Delta and the Fayoum oasis which are progressively becoming assimilated into bigger cities as urbanization increases.
The Egyptians, from all origins, are known for their welcoming attitude towards tourists. If you respect the local customs and traditions, and avoid offending anyone, especially in places of worship and remote locations where some old traditions are maintained, you are sure to spend an unforgettable holiday in Egypt.
However, Egyptians from all social strata, religious beliefs, or ethnic origins share a remarkable attachment to important social values, such as:
- Family: Egyptians consider their family as an integral entity which they have to protect. Don't be surprised to notice that an Egyptian feels responsible for his whole family and the behaviour of his siblings, his parents, his cousins, etc.
- Friendliness and Humour: Egyptians are known to be the most funny, friendly and helpful nation of the Middle East. They will go out of their way to help you in any troublesome situation, always with a smile. If you're sensitive to their humour, which is renowned world-wide, you'll be surprised to see how far a smile or a joke can take you in Egypt.
- Sports: and most of all, Football! Egyptians love playing but also watching football. The biggest and most popular national football clubs are Ahly and Zamalek, both of which are based in Cairo.
- Folkloric Dances: Egypt is famous for its authentic and beautiful heritage of customs and traditions. Those are especially observed in the religious events and during the month of Ramadan.
Egypt is also known for the varied forms of folk art and dances, proper to each region of the country. While inhabitants of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said are famous for group dances accompanied by music played on the traditional “semsomiya” (an old traditional string instrument), the southern population of Al-Saeed are known for their “logging” and equestrian inspired dances. Nubian dances are probably the most colourful and joyful folkloric performances; Nubians wear colourful costumes and dance to the enticing rhythms of Nubian songs. The folkloric Sinai dance is one where the dancers wear beautiful hand-embroidered dresses and perform a sword-dance.
Moreover, Egypt is a lively artistic scene, world famous for its music, film, theatre, and TV industries. And although it could be considered as having a bigger impact on the Middle East and the Arab countries than it does on the Western world, it is important to underline that Egypt has contributed to the world cultural heritage through iconic figures such as the 1988 awarded Nobel Prize for Literature Egyptian author, Naguib Mahfouz, the acclaimed movie director, Yousef Chahine, the Egyptian actor Omar Sherif, and the most famous Arabic diva of all times, Umm Kolthoum, only to name a few.
Egypt has also given the world acclaimed scientists and thinkers such as Ahmed Hassan Zuweil, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and Sir Magdy Yaacoub, an acclaimed surgeon, a heart transplantation specialist and renowned professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College in London.
Egypt is a rather large country with 2 general seasons, a mild winter and a sunny summer. The majority of Egypt’s landscape is a desert, except for the White Mediterranean coast, the Nile Valley and the Delta.
Between November and March the daytimes are pleasantly warm, whereas evenings and nights are cool and enjoyable in all of Egypt.
In April and May temperatures are generally mild and this is an ideal time to visit any destination in Egypt.
From June to September the weather is very hot, dry in the desert areas and humid in the Nile Valley and on the White Med coast. Sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat and good hydration are essential, and trips to the desert areas aren’t advisable in that period of the year.
Late September and October, as well as April and May are thus ideal for touring Egypt. And the November to February period offers the pleasant balmy weather that is perfect for cruising down the Nile.
The Red Sea Riviera has great weather all year round; it is thus the perfect sun & sea destination to escape to when the sky gets too cloudy back in your homeland.