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
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
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
- 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
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.
There is no such thing as a unified "Egyptian Culture", for
the simple reason that Egyptians form a multicultural society,
where modernity and western customs flirt with traditions, where
religious practices are moderate but where religion is still
deeply anchored in the everyday life of the Egyptians...
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
Best Time to visit
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
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.
Cairo is a vibrant, exhilarating, exotic, fascinating and
welcoming city. Home to the best Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic
sights in Egypt, this city is where you never know what
incredible, half-forgotten monument you might stumble across
while wandering around. Enjoy the Nile view from your hotel room
balcony, visit the capital's medieval markets by Khan El-Khalili,
or walk down the Nile promenade. There are also plenty of
cinemas, theatres and modern malls. Go for an opera or enjoy
oriental music dance shows. Good for short breaks and long
stays; you’ll get to see the Giza Pyramids, thousands of ancient
artifacts in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and much more.
Moreover, Cairo is for everyone, there are plenty of mid range
and budget accommodations to choose from. Pick a charming
boutique hotel in the heart of downtown or indulge in utter
luxury in one of the city’s most luxurious establishments. These
usually house professional Spas and wellness centres where
you’ll be treated like royalty. There are more than 75 four and
five-star hotels in Cairo, which all offer stunning views over
amazing landmarks such as the majestic Nile, the Pyramids,
beautiful parks and gardens, and upscale clubs and compounds.
The weather in Cairo is moderate and low in humidity at almost
any time of the year, except for some specific times in summer.
Highs of 36°C are common in July and lows of 21°C have been
witnessed; the winter months in Cairo, especially January, are
much more pleasant with temperatures ranging between 21°C and
15°C. Accommodation by the Nile offers some relief from the
summer heat due to the lovely breeze that comes from the river.
In March, April, and June the Khamaseen winds blow from the
desert bringing with them higher
No visit to Cairo is Complete without a
stop at the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, where you will be
transported back in time to an old Arab souk. Shop owners
calling you to their stalls, the scent of spices, the hustle and
bustle of trade, and the many beautiful objects that can
purchased will have you lost among alleys for hours. Put your
haggling skills to the test when buying statuettes, spices,
souvenirs, silver jewellery, t-shirts, galabiyyas, belly dancing
costumes, or anything for that matter. When your shopping's
done, dont miss out on a traditional cup of tea at the famous
Fishawi's cafe, temperatures and sand.
Giza Plateu- Located just outside of
the outskirts of Cairo on the esplanade known as the Giza
Plateau, the Great Pyramids of Giza is the must-see Ancient
Egyptian landmark. Known as Khufu's Pyramid, it is the greatest
pyramid of the complex: a truly overwhelming sight. Being one of
the seven wonders of the ancient world, it is the only one still
standing to this day! When gazing at this colossal structure,
there’s no way to escape the feeling of being dwarfed...
The two smaller- but still huge- pyramids
in Giza are those of Khafre and Menkaure. A few steps to the
east you will notice three small (20 m high) piles of rumble:
the ueens’ pyramids,tombs of Khufu's wives and sisters. Nearby,
on the Giza Plateau, you’ll also find the Great Sphinxand the
Solar Boat Museum. The site is also where the Sound & Light Show
at Giza takes place, and where every newcomer to Egypt
experiences Giza camel rides for the first time.
Maidum Pyramid- Built by the pharaoh
Snefru, the Father of Khufu, the pyramid of Maidum seems to
stand alone on the edge of the desert, close to several smaller
mastabas. The eight layers structure is believed to be the first
attempt at a true pyramid and it is the first Egyptian pyramid
to have an above ground burial chamber with beautiful and
innovative arch-shaped walls. Nowadays, you can only see the
highest three levels of the pyramid, protruding through the
sands and collapsed debris, in an aura of strength.
Egyptian Museum - No Egypt tour is
complete without a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. With
over 120,000 artefacts, the museum houses an unbelievable
exhibit depicting ancient Egypt's glorious reign. Mummies,
sarcophagi, pottery, jewellery and of course King Tutankhamen's
treasures, it’s all there. The boy-king's death-mask –
discovered in its tomb – is made of solid gold and it has been
described as the most beautiful object ever made.
Located about 899 km south from Cairo, Aswan is a serene
Nile Valley destination where the Nile is more majestic than
anywhere else, flowing through granite rocks, and round emerald
islands covered in palm groves and tropical plants. It is
considered as an all-time favourite winter destination.
Moreover, you'll be surprised to see how many monuments and
sites this small city has to offer. Consider sailing to the
temple of Philae, seeing the Agha Khan Mausoleum and taking an
excursion to St. Simeon’s Monastery. Egypt's sunniest southern
city is the perfect destination to stroll and relax in a magical
cultural setting: wander down the broad walkway, locally known
as the corniche, to watch feluccas slowly sailing the Nile then
stop at one of the floating restaurants to enjoy Nubian music
and freshly caught fish. Aswan offers a splendid view of the
Nile and is a great starting point for a Nile cruise.
Aswan also offers a rich cultural
experience; you’ll get to know Nubian culture and shop for
spices, henna tattoos, souvenirs and African handmade goods at
the Aswan souk. The word Aswan derives in fact from the Ancient
Egyptian word “Soun” meaning souk or trade. It has earned its
name thanks to the city’s strategic position, on the trade route
linking the North of Egypt to its South. Since Ancient times,
Aswan has also been known for its environmental therapy: burying
the aching parts of your body in Aswan’s sand gives valuable
results and can help relieving you from stubborn ailments such
as rheumatism, arthritis, joint edema and skin inflammation. The
town’s climate is also known to have great relaxing and
The best times to visit Aswan are May and September, summers are
scorching, and winter temperatures have been known to reach 27
during the day, with cold nights.
The very small village of Abu-Simbel lies 280 km south of
Aswan, and only 40 km north of the Sudanese border. Even though
it is home to several hotels, the small town is usually
overlooked by tourists as a holiday destination. Most of them
prefer to visit the Nubian town on a daytrip from Cairo orAswan
or as an extension to a Nile cruise or a Lake Nasser Cruise.
Perched atop a hill overlooking the Nile, the majestic Abu-Simbel
Temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Ramses II
& Nefertari, the world-famed temples will take your breath away.
After a visit to this inspiring site, you can walk around the
colourful touristic market, go bird watching on the Lake Nasser,
and get back to the temples again in the evening for the
amazingly inspiring sound & light show.
Staying in Abu-Simbel for a night or two will allow you to enjoy
the peace and magic of this Nubian town at your own pace and
discover the true spirit of Abu-Simbel, gaze at the magnificent
statues for hours and avoid the hordes of tourists arriving
usually in the early morning. You’ll also get a glimpse of the
hearty Nubian culture by listening to Nubian music, meeting with
the locals, and maybe even escaping to the nearby desert for
some more inspiring experiences.
Sailing the Nile along the lush Nile Valley surrounded by golden
dunes and sightseeing Ancient Egyptian monuments such as Kom
Ombo and Abu Simbel is tourism at its best. Wake to the soft
light of the morning sun, take in the heat and cool off in the
pool on the deck of a cruiser; watch fishermen cast their nets,
farmers take to their fields, a flight of birds, and water
buffalos staring back at you. Book a Nile cruise and you just
might unravel another layer of the mystery that is Ancient
For a softer but still very inspiring
cruise experience in Egypt, try the short felucca cruises on the
Nile, in Aswan, Luxor or Cairo, or take it to the next level and
enjoy an unforgettable night aboard one of the luxurious dinner
cruises available in the Egyptian capital.
Temple of Philae
Dedicated to the goddess Isis, the Temple of Philae is
located in a beautiful setting, landscaped to match the original
site of the temple when it was relocated by UNESCO after the
building of the Aswan Dam threatened the site. The temple has
several shrines and sanctuaries such as Trajan’s Kiosk or
Pharaoh's Bed. Visit the temple at night to attend the Sound and
In the 11th century Ibn Al-Haytham (Al-Hazem) was called
from Iraq to Egypt by the Caliph to engineer the first Aswan
Damn. Ibn Al-Haytham's field work convinced him that attempting
to build the dam would be a disaster and rather than face the
wrath of the Caliph, he feigned madness and went to jail.
It wasn't until the British occupation of Egypt, over eight
centuries later, that the first dam across the Nile was
successfully built (1898-1902). At the time of the Old
AswanDam's construction, nothing of that scale had ever been
attempted. It was the largest masonry dam in the world.
The British design allowed ships to pass upstream, before
overland transport was necessary. After Egypt obtained
independence from the United Kingdom, the new High Dam was
constructed. It took ten years for it to be built and was
completed in 1970. The Old Dam now provides control of tail
water for the High Dam. It also supports two hydroelectric power
plants, the Aswan I and II.
Aswan High Dam
Prepare yourself for a particularly overwhelming sightseeing
experience: the Aswan High Dam is truly impressive. The Dam is
3600 metres long, 980 metres thick at base and 111 metres tall
(at its highest point).
The waters of Lake Nasser, the world's largest man-made lake,
have amassed behind it. It provides irrigation water and
electricity for the whole of Egypt.
Located 13 km south of Aswan, the High Dam is usually included
on south Aswan daytrips itineraries. These tours can be booked
through your hotel or through any tour operator in town.
Luxor, once an Ancient Egyptian capital, is known today as
the world's "greatest open-air museum." From the tomb of
Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings and the magnificent
sunset views at the majestic temple complexes of Karnak and
Luxor to the exciting and fun Nile cruises, Luxor is the perfect
choice for culture vultures. Luxor is divided by the Nile into
two areas commonly called the East Bank and West Bank which were
considered in Ancient Egyptian times as symbolizing respectively
Life and Death. While the East Bank has grown to become a modern
city, it has retained its lush green setting, its traditional
bazaar and stunning view of the Nile. The East Bank boasts some
of Egypt's most refined hotels, home to amazing Spa's and a golf
course. The West Bank is known for its necropolis and
mortuarytemples: the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the
Queens, the Workers Village, and the Temple of Medinet Habu are
the highlights of Luxor’s West Bank. In Ancient Egyptian
mythology the setting sun to the west symbolised the journey to
the afterlife, so it was fitting symbolism to bury the dead west
of the Nile. While in Luxor, you can opt for a simple
accommodation at one of the simple hotel of the West Bank, where
archaeologists used to stay when on excavations missions, or you
can take it to the other extreme by staying at one of the town’s
luxurious establishments, such as the El-Moudira Hotel on the
West Bank or the history-filled Old Winter Palace on the East
Sun and warmth all year round characterizes Luxor’s climate, the
sun shines for 11 hours during summer and 8 during winter.
Winter temperature averages around 26°C, in summer temperature
Valley of the Kings-
Situated on the ancient site of Thebes, on Luxor's West
Bank, the Valley of Kings is the ancient burial ground of many
of Egypt's New Kingdom rulers.
A truly impressive site! There, you will find Tutankhamen’s tomb
which was discovered almost intact in 1922 and the tomb of
Ramses IV, among others. A ticket will allow you visiting 3 of
the 63 tombs on site, except Tutankhamen’s tomb, which requires
an additional ticket. Although the tomb alone is worth a visit,
you will have to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to see the
treasures Tutankhamen was buried with.
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