Egypt

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 68.7
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 42%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.7%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 1,001,450


Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Egyptian 99.7
Other 0.3



Main Cities Population
Cairo 7 786 640
Alexandria 4 110 015
Aljizah 2 950 000



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Cairo (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer).
Summer time from April to September



Languages
Official language: Arabic. To a certain extend, English and French are used in governmental and business environments.
Business languages: literary Arabic, English.

Free translation tools

Arjeeb
Free English-Arabic-English translation of texts and web pages

Ectaco
Free Arabic-English-Arabic dictionary





Religion
Religious practises : Muslims 93.8%
Others 6.2%

About 90% of Egyptians are muslims. The prayer represents an essential part of the daily life of the faithful, that the muezzin calls for 5 times a day, from the hight of minarets. The supreme religious authority is the sheik Al Azhar, whose role is to define the official line of Islam. The Coptes compose the main religious minority. Before Islam, Christianism was the predominant religion in the region, one of the first to embrace this faith.


Political context

Egypt (official name: Arab Republic of Egypt) is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy where President is very dominating.
President is the chief of the state who is elected by popular vote for six-year term (no term limits). President appoints the Prime Minister who has to get vote of confidence from the parliament. President also appoints and heads the Council of Ministers. Although power is ostensibly organized under a multi-party semi-presidential system whereby the executive powers are theoretically divided between the President and the Prime Minister, but in practice it rests almost solely with the President. 
The legislature is bicameral. The parliament consists of: People's Assembly (the lower house) having 454 members (out of which 444 are elected by popular vote and 10 appointed by the President, to serve five-year terms), and the Advisory Council (the upper house, provides only a consultative role) having 264 seats (out of which 176 are elected by popular vote and 88 appointed by the President, members serve six-year terms). President may dissolve the People's Assembly only if he gains the support of the people of the country in a referendum. The people of Egypt have very much limited political rights.
The regular judiciary in Egypt is widely considered the most independent and impartial in the Arab world. However, cases related with politics and national security are usually placed under the jurisdiction of exceptional courts that deny defendants many constitutional protections. The main source of the law in the country is the constitution of 1971 (amended in May 1980). The legal system is based on English common law, Islamic law, and Napoleonic codes, besides various judicial orders by the Supreme Court. Egypt accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, but with reservations. The judicial language in the country is Egyptian; having an interpreter is always possible.
Egypt is ruled by law, though the Emergency Law that exists in the country restricts many basic rights. Foreign nationals cannot expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. On the whole a high degree of corruption exists in the country, especially in the corporate and the public sector. Investors frequently complain that red tape and bureaucratic inertia make bribery essential for doing business in the country.


Major political parties

Egypt has a multi-party system, however in practice the NDF (National Democratic Party), which advocates equality of rights, favours private sector and stronger ties with the Arab and Islamic nations, is the long-time (more than 50 years) ruling party and is dominant in the Egyptian political arena. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Major opposition parties in the country are:
- MWP (New Wafd Party) – a nationalist liberal party;
- National Progressive Unionist Party – a socialist party, draws support from poor labour class;
- Muslim Brotherhood – an Islamic party; officially banned but standing as independents its members won large number of seats in 2005 parliamentary election.


Major political leaders

President: Mohammed Hosni MUBARAK (since October 1981, re-elected for a fifth six-year term in country's first multi-candidate elections in September 2005) – NDP
Prime Minister: Ahmed NAZIF (since July 2004) – NDP


Next political election dates

Presidential: Year 2011
People's Assembly: November-December 2010
Advisory Council: Year 2013




Climate

 

 

Warm and dry climate. Apart from January, February and March, sometimes rather cold in the North, the average temperatures are close to 20°C on the Mediterranean coast (maximal 31°C) and 28°C in Assouan (maximal 50°C!). In the desert, extreme climatic conditions are rather obvious - incandescent the day, icy at night. Alexandria is the Egyptian city which most receives precipitation - about 19 cm a year-, whereas Assouan has only about 10 mm every five years. In March - April, the khamsin - a dry, warm and very dusty wind - blows from the desert of Libya at the speed of 150 km/h: the sky then takes a dark orange tint and air is full of dust, turning any outing into an ordeal.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Egypt 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 7,795 8,244 8,646 23
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Cairo: capital and city of more than 15 million inhabitants, city of the " thousand minarets", Cairo is also an open sky museum, in the middle of the West and Africa.
Louxor has a magnificent monumental -and amazingly preserved- architecture: you will be able to admire it from a felucca by letting you slide along the Nile.
Alexandria: long ago the city sheltered a gigantic library of 500,000 volumes; at its apogee, it used to be a big centre of scientific, philosophic and intellectual erudition. Few things remain of this glorious past, but Midan Ramla's district keeps signs of Alexandria's cosmopolitan history of the beginning of XXth century: Cecil Hotel, the Swiss Pharmacy, Athenios tearoom...
Assouan: modern city which extends over the magnificent eastern bank of the Nile: you will be able to contemplate it from the Ledge, a magnificent avenue on the river shore.
The Sinai is a region of incredible beauty. Under the Pharaohs, quarries contained large quantities of turquoise, gold and copper.

For more information about tourism in Egypt , check out the following web site(s) :
Ministry of Tourism of Egypt



Food


Traditional dishes
The Egyptian food is excellent. Egyptian recipes are very similar to dishes you can find in the Middle East.
Main specialties are:
The fuul: broad beans usually served in a piece of shami (bread similar to the pita).
Ta'amiya: known in the other eastern countries under the name of falafel, sandwich made of a chick peas purée, spices, salad and tahina, sesame cream based dough.
The kushari: noodles dish, rice, black lentils, fried onions and tomato sauce
Kebabs: beef, lamb grills, marinaded for several hours in a hot sauce.
Humus: chick peas purée with garlic and olive oil.


Food-related taboos
Pork is prohibited in Egypt. For the strictest Muslims, alcohol is haram (forbidden), but it is tolerated (and drunk) by the majority of Egyptians. Therefore you can find beer, wine and local alcohols (often expensive, and of very poor quality for foreigners).

Last modified on December 2006

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