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EGYPT, COUNTRY PROFILE:
Area: 1,001,450 sq. km. (386,000 sq. mi.);
approximately equal to Texas and New Mexico
Cities: Capital--Cairo (pop. estimated at 16
million). Other cities--Alexandria (6
million), Aswan, Asyut, Port Said, Suez, Ismailia.
Terrain: Desert, except Nile valley and delta.
Climate: Dry, hot summers; moderate winters.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Egyptian(s).
Population (July 2007 est.): 80,335,036.
Annual population growth rate (2007 est.): 1.72%.
Ethnic groups: Egyptian, Bedouin Arab, Nubian.
Religions: Muslim 90%, Coptic Christian 9%, other
Languages: Arabic (official), English, French.
Education: Years compulsory--ages 6-15.
Literacy--total adult 58%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2006
est.)--31.33 deaths/1,000 live births. Life
expectancy (2006 est.)--71 years.
Branches: Executive--president, prime
minister, cabinet. Legislative--People's
Assembly (444 elected and 10 presidentially
appointed members; an additional 64 seats for women
were created in 2009), and Shura (consultative)
Council (176 elected members, 88 presidentially
appointed). Judicial--Supreme Constitutional
Administrative subdivisions: 29 governorates.
Principal political parties: National Democratic
Party (ruling). Principal opposition parties--New
Wafd Party, Al Ghad Party, Democratic Front Party,
National Progressive Unionist Grouping (Tagammau),
and Nasserite Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (FY 2009 est.): $188 billion.
Annual growth rate (FY 2009 est.): 4.7%.
Per capita GDP (PPP, FY 2009 est.): $5,650.
Natural resources: Petroleum and natural gas, iron
ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc,
asbestos, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--cotton, rice, onions,
beans, citrus fruits, wheat, corn, barley, sugar.
Industry: Types--food processing, textiles,
chemicals, petrochemicals, construction, light
manufacturing, iron and steel products, aluminum,
cement, military equipment.
Trade (FY 2009): Exports--$25.2 billion:
petroleum, clothing and textiles, cotton, fruits and
vegetables, manufactured goods. Major markets--EU,
U.S., Middle East. Imports--$50.3 billion:
machinery and transport equipment, petroleum
products, livestock, food and beverages, paper and
wood products, chemicals. Major suppliers--EU,
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world
and the second-most populous on the African
continent. Nearly all of the country's 80 million
people live in Cairo and Alexandria; elsewhere on
the banks of the Nile; in the Nile delta, which fans
out north of Cairo; and along the Suez Canal. These
regions are among the world's most densely
populated, containing an average of over 3,820
persons per square mile (1,540 per sq. km.), as
compared to about 200 persons per sq. mi. for the
country as a whole.
Small communities spread throughout the desert
regions of Egypt are clustered around oases and
historic trade and transportation routes. The
government has tried with mixed success to encourage
migration to newly irrigated land reclaimed from the
desert. However, the proportion of the population
living in rural areas has continued to decrease as
people move to the cities in search of employment
and a higher standard of living.
The Egyptians are a fairly homogeneous people of
Hamitic origin. Mediterranean and Arab influences
appear in the north, and there is some mixing in the
south with the Nubians of northern Sudan. Ethnic
minorities include a small number of Bedouin Arab
nomads in the eastern and western deserts and in the
Sinai, as well as some 50,000-100,000 Nubians
clustered along the Nile in Upper (southern) Egypt.
The literacy rate is about 58% of the adult
population. Education is free through university and
compulsory from ages six through 15. Rates for
primary and secondary education have strengthened in
recent years. Ninety-three percent of children enter
primary school today, compared with 87% in 1994.
Major universities include Cairo University (100,000
students), Alexandria University, and the
1,000-year-old Al-Azhar University, one of the
world's major centers of Islamic learning.
Egypt's vast and rich literature constitutes an
important cultural element in the life of the
country and in the Arab world as a whole. Egyptian
novelists and poets were among the first to
experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature,
and the forms they developed have been widely
imitated. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the
first Arab to win the Nobel prize for literature.
Egyptian books and films are available throughout
the Middle East.
Egypt has endured as a unified state for more than
5,000 years, and archeological evidence indicates
that a developed Egyptian society has existed for
much longer. Egyptians take pride in their "pharaonic
heritage" and in their descent from what they
consider mankind's earliest civilization. The Arabic
word for Egypt is Misr, which originally connoted
"civilization" or "metropolis."
Archeological findings show that primitive tribes
lived along the Nile long before the dynastic
history of the pharaohs began. By 6000 B.C.,
organized agriculture had appeared.
In about 3100 B.C., Egypt was united under a ruler
known as Mena, or Menes, who inaugurated the 30
pharaonic dynasties into which Egypt's ancient
history is divided--the Old and the Middle Kingdoms
and the New Empire. The pyramids at Giza (near
Cairo), which were built in the fourth dynasty,
testify to the power of the pharaonic religion and
state. The Great Pyramid, the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu
(also known as Cheops), is the only surviving
monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth,
and territorial extent in the period called the New
Empire (1567-1085 B.C.).
Persian, Greek, Roman, and Arab Conquerors
In 525 B., Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, led
a Persian invasion force that dethroned the last
pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty. The country remained a
Persian province until conquered by Alexander the
Great in 322 BC, ushering in Ptolemaic rule in Egypt
that lasted for nearly 300 years.
Following a brief Persian reconquest, Egypt was
invaded and conquered by Arab forces in 642. A
process of Arabization and Islamization ensued.
Although a Coptic Christian minority remained--and
remains today, constituting about 10% of the
population--the Arab language inexorably supplanted
the indigenous Coptic tongue. For the next 1,300
years, a succession of Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman
caliphs, beys, and sultans ruled the country.
The Ottoman Turks controlled Egypt from 1517 until
1882, except for a brief period of French rule under
Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1805, Mohammed Ali, commander
of an Albanian contingent of Ottoman troops, was
appointed Pasha, founding the dynasty that ruled
Egypt until his great-great grandson, Farouk I, was
overthrown in 1952. Mohammed Ali the Great ruled
Egypt until 1848, ushering in the modern history of
Egypt. The growth of modern urban Cairo began in the
reign of Ismail (1863-79). Eager to Westernize the
capital, he ordered the construction of a
European-style city to the west of the medieval
core. The Suez Canal was completed in his reign in
1869, and its completion was celebrated by many
events, including the commissioning of Verdi's
"Aida" for the new opera house and the building of
great palaces such as the Omar Khayyam (originally
constructed to entertain the French Empress Eugenie,
and now the central section of the Cairo Marriott
In 1882, British expeditionary forces crushed a
revolt against the Ottoman rulers, marking the
beginning of British occupation and the virtual
inclusion of Egypt within the British Empire. In
deference to growing nationalism, the U.K.
unilaterally declared Egyptian independence in 1922.
British influence, however, continued to dominate
Egypt's political life and fostered fiscal,
administrative, and governmental reforms.
In the pre-1952 revolution period, three political
forces competed with one another: the Wafd, a
broadly based nationalist political organization
strongly opposed to British influence; King Fuad,
whom the British had installed during World War II;
and the British themselves, who were determined to
maintain control over the Canal. Other political
forces emerging in this period included the
communist party (1925) and the Muslim Brotherhood
(1928), which eventually became a potent political
and religious force.
During World War II, British troops used Egypt as a
base for Allied operations throughout the region.
British troops were withdrawn to the Suez Canal area
in 1947, but nationalist, anti-British feelings
continued to grow after the war. On July 22-23,
1952, a group of disaffected army officers (the
"free officers") led by Lt. Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser
overthrew King Farouk, whom the military blamed for
Egypt's poor performance in the 1948 war with
Israel. Following a brief experiment with civilian
rule, they abrogated the 1923 constitution and
declared Egypt a republic on June 19, 1953. Nasser
evolved into a charismatic leader, not only of
Egypt, but the Arab world, promoting and
implementing "Arab socialism." He nationalized
Nasser helped establish the Non-Aligned Movement of
developing countries in September 1961, and
continued to be a leading force in the movement
until his death in 1970. When the United States held
up military sales in reaction to Egyptian neutrality
vis-a-vis Moscow, Nasser concluded an arms deal with
Czechoslovakia in September 1955.
When the U.S. and the World Bank withdrew their
offer to help finance the Aswan High Dam in
mid-1956, Nasser nationalized the privately owned
Suez Canal Company. The crisis that followed,
exacerbated by growing tensions with Israel over
guerrilla attacks from Gaza and Israeli reprisals,
resulted in the invasion of Egypt that October by
France, Britain, and Israel; the invasion was
reversed by U.S. political intervention, and the
Canal remained nationalized.
Nasser's domestic policies were frequently
oppressive, yet generally popular. All opposition
was stamped out, and opponents of the regime
frequently were imprisoned without trial. Nasser's
foreign and military policies helped provoke the
Israeli attack of June 1967 that virtually destroyed
Egypt's armed forces along with those of Jordan and
Syria. Israel also occupied the Sinai Peninsula, the
Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.
Nasser, however, was revered by the masses in Egypt
and elsewhere in the Arab world until his death in
After Nasser's death, another of the original "free
officers," Vice President Anwar el-Sadat, was
elected President. In 1971, Sadat concluded a treaty
of friendship with the Soviet Union, but a year
later, ordered Soviet advisers to leave. In 1973, he
launched the October war with Israel, in which
Egypt's armed forces achieved initial successes but
were defeated in Israeli counterattacks.
Camp David and the Peace Process
In a momentous change from the Nasser era, President
Sadat shifted Egypt from a policy of confrontation
with Israel to one of peaceful accommodation through
negotiations. Following the Sinai Disengagement
Agreements of 1974 and 1975, Sadat created a fresh
opening for progress by his dramatic visit to
Jerusalem in November 1977. This led to President
Jimmy Carter's invitation to President Sadat and
Prime Minister Begin to join him in trilateral
negotiations at Camp David.
The historic Camp David accords were signed by Egypt
and Israel and witnessed by the U.S. on September
17, 1978. The accords led to the March 26, 1979
signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, by which
Egypt regained control of the Sinai in May 1982.
Throughout this period, U.S.-Egyptian relations
steadily improved, but Sadat's willingness to break
ranks by making peace with Israel resulted in the
enmity of most other Arab states.
Sadat introduced greater political freedom and a new
economic policy, the most important aspect of which
was the “infitah” or "open door." This relaxed
government controls over the economy and encouraged
private, including foreign, investment. Sadat
dismantled much of the existing political machine
and brought to trial a number of former government
officials accused of criminal excesses during the
Liberalization also included the reinstitution of
due process and the legal banning of torture. Sadat
tried to expand participation in the political
process in the mid-1970s but later abandoned this
effort. In the last years of his life, Egypt was
racked by violence arising from discontent with
Sadat's rule and sectarian tensions, and it
experienced a renewed measure of repression.
From Sadat to Mubarak
On October 6, 1981, Islamic extremists assassinated
President Sadat. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since
1975 and air force commander during the October 1973
war, was elected President later that month. He was
subsequently confirmed by popular referendum for
four more 6-year terms, most recently in September
2005. Mubarak has maintained Egypt's commitment to
the Camp David peace process, while at the same time
re-establishing Egypt's position as an Arab leader.
Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989.
Egypt also has played a moderating role in such
international fora as the UN and the Non-Aligned
Since 1991, Mubarak has overseen a domestic economic
reform program to reduce the size of the public
sector and expand the role of the private sector.
There has been less progress in political reform.
The November 2000 People's Assembly elections saw 34
members of the opposition win seats in the 454-seat
assembly, facing a clear majority of 388 ultimately
affiliated with the ruling National Democratic Party
(NDP). Opposition parties continue to face various
difficulties in mounting credible electoral
challenges to the NDP. The Muslim Brotherhood,
founded in Egypt in 1928, remains an illegal
organization and is not recognized as a political
party (current Egyptian law prohibits the formation
of political parties based on religion). Members are
known publicly and openly speak their views,
although they do not explicitly identify themselves
as members of the organization. Members of the
Brotherhood have been elected to the People's
Assembly and local councils as independents, and
most recently scored a major victory in 2005
parliamentary elections, winning 88 seats, thus
forming the largest opposition group.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Egyptian Constitution provides for a strong
executive. Authority is vested in an elected
president who can appoint one or more vice
presidents, a prime minister, and a cabinet. The
president's term runs for 6 years. Egypt's
legislative body, the People's Assembly, has 454
members--444 popularly elected and 10 appointed by
the president. Legislation passed in 2009 calls for
the addition of 64 new seats set aside for women.
Those seats will be contested for the first time in
the 2010 parliamentary elections. The constitution
reserves 50% of the assembly seats for "workers and
peasants." The assembly sits for a 5-year term but
can be dissolved earlier by the president. There
also is a 264-member Shura (consultative) Council,
in which 88 members are appointed and 176 elected
for 6-year terms. Elections for half of the elected
members are conducted every 3 years. Below the
national level, authority is exercised by and
through governors and mayors appointed by the
central government and by popularly elected local
councils. Local council elections were conducted in
Opposition party organizations make their views
public and represent their followers at various
levels in the political system, but power is
concentrated in the hands of the President and the
National Democratic Party majority in the People's
Assembly and those institutions dominate the
political system. In addition to the ruling National
Democratic Party, there are 21 other active legally
The November 2000 elections were generally
considered to have been more transparent and better
executed than past elections, because of universal
judicial monitoring of polling stations. On the
other hand, opposition parties continue to lodge
credible complaints about electoral manipulation by
the government. There are significant restrictions
on the political process and freedom of expression
for non-governmental organizations, including
professional syndicates and organizations promoting
respect for human rights.
Progress was seen in the September 2005 presidential
elections when parties were allowed to field
candidates against President Mubarak and his
National Democratic Party. In early 2005, President
Mubarak proposed amending the constitution to allow,
for the first time in Egypt's history, competitive,
multi-candidate elections. An amendment was drafted
by parliament and approved by public referendum in
late May 2005. In September 2005, President Mubarak
was reelected, according to official results, with
88% of the vote. His two principal challengers,
Ayman Nour and No'man Gom'a, took 7% and 3% of the
In March 2007, Mubarak introduced several
constitutional amendments that would increase
presidential powers and, more significantly, ban any
political parties based on religion, race, or
ethnicity. The amendments were put to a popular
referendum and, despite low voter turnout and
boycotts by opposition groups, passed with 75.9%
Egypt's judicial system is based on European
(primarily French) legal concepts and methods. Under
the Mubarak government, the courts have demonstrated
increasing independence, and the principles of due
process and judicial review have gained greater
respect. The legal code is derived largely from the
Napoleonic Code. Marriage and personal status
(family law) are primarily based on the religious
law of the individual concerned, which for most
Egyptians is Islamic Law (Sharia).
Principal Government Officials
President--Mohamed Hosni Mubarak
Prime Minister--Ahmed Nazif
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Ambassador to the United States--Sameh Shoukry
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Maged
Abdel Fattah Abdelaziz
Egypt maintains an
in the United States at 3521 International Court NW,
Washington, DC, 20008 (tel. 202-895-5400). The
Washington consulate has the same address (tel.
202-966-6342). The Egyptian Mission to the United
Nations is located at 304 East 44th Street, New
York, NY (tel. 212-305-0300). Egyptian consulates
general are located at: 1110 Second Avenue, New
York, NY, 10022 (tel. 212-759-7120); 1990 Post Oak
Boulevard, Suite 2180, Houston, TX, 77056 (tel.
713-961-4915); 500 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1900,
Chicago, IL, 60611 (tel. 312-828-9162); and 3001
Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94115 (tel.
Egypt's armed forces, among the largest in the
region, include the army, air defense, air force,
and navy. The armed forces inventory includes
equipment from the United States, France, Italy, the
United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union, and China.
Equipment from the former Soviet Union is being
progressively replaced by more modern American,
French, and British equipment, a significant portion
of which is built under license in Egypt. To bolster
stability and moderation in the region, Egypt has
provided military assistance and training to a
number of African and Arab states. Egypt remains a
strong military and strategic partner of the United
With the installation of the 2004 Egyptian cabinet
and the 2005 presidential election, the Government
of Egypt began a new reform movement, following a
stalled economic reform program begun in 1991, but
moribund since the mid-1990s. Since 2004, the
cabinet economic team has simplified and reduced
tariffs and taxes, improved the transparency of the
national budget, revived stalled privatizations of
public enterprises and implemented economic
legislation designed to foster private sector-driven
economic growth and improve Egypt's competitiveness.
The Egyptian economy experienced steady GDP growth
rates around 7% between 2005 and 2008, before
dropping below 5% amidst the global economic crisis.
Despite Egypt’s growth, the economy is still
hampered by government intervention, substantial
subsidies for food, housing, and energy, and bloated
public sector payrolls. Limited energy subsidy
reform began in 2007 but has stalled since the 2008
global economic crisis. In sectoral terms,
agriculture is mainly in private hands, and has been
largely deregulated, with the exception of cotton,
sugar, and rice production. Construction,
non-financial services, and domestic marketing are
also largely private. The Egyptian economy, however,
relies heavily on tourism, oil and gas exports, and
Suez Canal revenues, much of which is controlled by
the public sector and is also vulnerable to outside
factors. The tourism sector suffered tremendously
following a terrorist attack in Luxor in October
1997. The tourism sector feared a repeat of the
downturn in tourist numbers when terrorists attacked
resorts in the Sinai Peninsula in 2004 and 2005. So
far, however, the sector has not suffered as greatly
as expected. As a result of the global economic
crisis, annual revenues for the Suez Canal fell
sharply in 2008 and began only a partial recovery in
2009. The drop in Canal traffic and revenues has
been partially offset by high international oil
prices, as the shorter Suez route cuts costs for
The U.S. has a large assistance program in Egypt and
provides funding for a variety of programs. Through
its Human and Economic Sector Development cash
transfer program, the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) is supporting benchmarks that
aim to stimulate the small and microenterprise
sectors, improve budget transparency to increase
macroeconomic stability, and improve the trade
regime and business climate. To support the Middle
East peace process through regional economic
integration, the United States permits products to
be imported from Egypt without tariffs if they have
been produced by factories registered in Qualified
Industrial Zones and 10.5% of the inputs of these
products originate from Israel.
Approximately one-third of Egyptian labor is engaged
directly in farming, and many others work in the
processing or trading of agricultural products.
Nearly all of Egypt's agricultural production takes
place in some 2.5 million hectares (6 million acres)
of fertile soil in the Nile Valley and Delta. Some
desert lands are being developed for agriculture,
including the ambitious Toshka project in Upper
Egypt, but some other fertile lands in the Nile
Valley and Delta are being lost to urbanization and
Warm weather and plentiful water permit several
crops a year. Further improvement is possible, but
land is worked intensively and yields are high.
Cotton, rice, wheat, corn, sugarcane, sugar beets,
onions, and beans are the principal crops.
Increasingly, a few modern operations are producing
fruits, vegetables and flowers, in addition to
cotton, for export. While the desert hosts some
large, modern farms, more common traditional farms
occupy one acre each, typically in a canal-irrigated
area along the banks of the Nile. Many small farmers
also have cows, water buffaloes, and chickens,
although larger modern farms are becoming more
The United States is a major supplier of wheat,
corn, and soybean products to Egypt, almost all
through commercial sales. Egypt is one of the U.S.'s
largest markets for wheat sales. U.S. agricultural
sales to Egypt average $2 billion annually. U.S.
food assistance programs to Egypt ended in 1992 as
Egypt became more prosperous. Egypt continues to
receive modest food assistance through the World
Food Program and from France.
"Egypt," wrote the Greek historian Herodotus 25
centuries ago, "is the gift of the Nile." The land's
seemingly inexhaustible resources of water and soil
carried by this mighty river created in the Nile
Valley and Delta the world's most extensive oasis.
Without the Nile, Egypt would be little more than a
The river carves a narrow, cultivated floodplain,
never more than 20 kilometers wide, as it travels
northward toward Cairo from Lake Nasser on the
Sudanese border, behind the Aswan High Dam. Just
north of Cairo, the Nile spreads out over what was
once a broad estuary that has been filled by river
deposits to form a fertile delta about 250
kilometers wide (150 mi.) at the seaward base and
about 160 kilometers (96 mi.) from south to north.
Before the construction of dams on the Nile,
particularly the Aswan High Dam (started in 1952,
completed in 1970), the fertility of the Nile Valley
was sustained by the water flow and the silt
deposited by the annual flood. Sediment is now
obstructed by the Aswan High Dam and retained in
Lake Nasser. The interruption of yearly, natural
fertilization and the increasing salinity of the
soil has been a manageable problem resulting from
the dam. The benefits remain impressive: more
intensive farming on millions of acres of land made
possible by improved irrigation, prevention of flood
damage, and the generation of billions of low-cost
kilowatt hours of electricity.
The Western Desert accounts for about two-thirds of
the country's land area. For the most part, it is a
massive sandy plateau marked by seven major
depressions. One of these, Fayoum, was connected
about 3,600 years ago to the Nile by canals. Today,
it is an important irrigated agricultural area.
In addition to the agricultural capacity of the Nile
Valley and Delta, Egypt's natural resources include
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, and iron ore.
Crude oil is found primarily in the Gulf of Suez and
in the Western Desert. Natural gas is found mainly
in the Nile Delta, off the Mediterranean seashore,
and in the Western Desert. Oil and gas accounts for
approximately 12% of GDP. Export of petroleum and
related products (including bunker and aviation
sales) amounted to approximately $11.4 billion in
fiscal year 2008-2009.
Crude oil production has been in decline for over a
decade, from a high of more than 920,000 barrels per
day (BPD) in 1995 to less than 550,000 BPD as of
October 2009. To minimize the growing domestic
demand for oil-based products, estimated in July
2009 at more than 31 million metric tons per year,
Egypt is encouraging the production of natural gas.
Production of natural gas doubled from 21 million
metric tons in mid-2003 to 43 million metric tons in
July 2008. In FY 2008-2009, natural gas production
amounted to 6.4 billion cubic feet (BCF) per day. In
March 2009 the Egyptian Gas Holding Company
announced plans for 23 new exploration wells with
total investments of $1.1 billion during fiscal year
As of July 2009, crude oil and condensates reserves
were estimated at 4.4 billion barrels, and proven
natural gas reserves were estimated at 77 trillion
cubic feet (TCF) with possible additional reserves
totaling another 40-50 TCF. However, independent oil
and gas experts indicated that Egypt’s proven
natural gas reserves may be as high as 70 TCF, of
which more than 80% (i.e., 57 TCF) is from the cone
of the Nile Delta. Texas-based Apache Oil Company is
the largest American investor in Egypt, with a total
investment of more than $7 billion since 1995.
The Ministry of Petroleum regards expansion of the
Egyptian petrochemical industry and increased
exports of natural gas as significant strategic
objectives. Three liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains
are operating in Egypt. The first is in Damietta on
the eastern side of the Nile Delta and is operated
by the Spanish electric utility Union Fenosa; the
second is a project located at Idku in the western
Delta, with British Gas (BG) Group and the Malaysian
state oil company Petronas as the major investors;
and the third, the Mediterranean Gas Complex in Port
Said, utilizes gas for export and domestic
consumption, with the Italian company AGIP and BP as
the main shareholders.
Egypt and Jordan established the Eastern Gas Company
to export natural gas to Jordan, and then later to
Syria and Lebanon. In summer 2003 Egypt completed
the first phase of the project by exporting gas to
Jordan via a new pipeline from El Arish on Egypt's
north Sinai cost to Taba on the Gulf of Aqaba, and
then underwater to the Jordanian city of Aqaba. The
second phase was completed in 2005, connecting the
pipeline to the Jordanian town of Rihab, north of
the capital Amman. In 2008, a new pipeline to export
gas to Syria began operations and provides about 212
million cubic feet per day. Egyptian natural gas
shipments in late 2009 reached Lebanon via an
extension of the Arab pipeline from Syria. Lebanon
reportedly will receive about 30 million cubic feet
per day. While by 2008 gas exports grew to 12.6
million metric tons of oil equivalent, the
Government of Egypt may have to import natural gas
within 3 to 4 years in order to meet domestic
demand, particularly for producing electricity. In
the wake of higher world market gas prices, the
Government of Egypt in 2009 succeeded in
renegotiating upward the price received under
existing long-term gas export contracts with
purchasers in Europe, Jordan, and Israel.
Transport and Communication
Transportation facilities in Egypt are centered in
Cairo and largely follow the pattern of settlement
along the Nile. The main line of the nation's
5,500-kilometer (3,400-mi.) railway network runs
from Alexandria to Aswan and the Suez Canal. The
well-maintained road network has expanded rapidly to
over 47,500 kilometers (29,515 mi.), covering the
Nile Valley and Delta, Mediterranean and Red Sea
coasts, the Sinai, and the Western oases.
Egypt Air provides reliable domestic air service to
major tourist destinations from its Cairo hub, in
addition to overseas routes. As a recently-joined
member of the Star Alliance, government-owned Egypt
Air is expanding its air fleet and its international
routes, in keeping with the Government of Egypt’s
overall vision of Egypt as a growing and
increasingly key regional transportation hub. The
Nile River system (about 1,000 km. or 620 mi.) and
the principal canals (1,600 km. almost 1,000 mi.)
are important locally for transportation. The Suez
Canal is a major waterway for global and regional
commerce and navigation, linking the Mediterranean
and Red Seas. Major ports are Alexandria, Port Said,
the East Port Said container terminal and Damietta
on the Mediterranean, and Ain El Sukhna, Suez and
Safraga on the Red Sea, with major infrastructure
and capacity modernizations and upgrades ongoing
since 2008 in most of these ports.
Egypt has long been the cultural and informational
center of the Arab world, and Cairo is the region's
largest publishing and broadcasting center. There
are 10 daily newspapers with a total circulation of
more than 4 million, and a number of monthly
newspapers, magazines, and journals. Daily and
weekly newspapers are a mix of independent,
political party, and pro-government publications,
and these papers conduct a lively, often highly
partisan, debate on public issues.
Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) is the
state-run entity that controls Egyptian TV (ETV),
Nile TV, and Nile News, as well as the specialized
channels (7 channels, including sports, culture,
comedy, and children’s programming) and most radio
frequencies in Egypt. ETV controls terrestrial
(free-to-air) broadcasts throughout Egypt,
broadcasting Channel 1 and Channel 2 nationwide, as
well as six regional channels and depends heavily on
commercial revenue. ETV sells its specially produced
programs and soap operas to the entire Arab world.
In addition to Egyptian programming, Al Arabia, Al
Jazeera, the Middle East Broadcast Company, a Saudi
television station transmitting from London (MBC),
Lebanese networks (Future and LBC), Arab Radio and
Television (ART), and other Gulf stations as well as
Western networks such as CNN, BBC, Fox News, and Al
Hurra provide access to more international programs
to Egyptians who own satellite receivers. NileSat,
one of the three main providers of satellite TV to
the region, is effectively controlled by ERTU and
hosts a wide variety of channels.
Beginning in 2001, private satellite TV and radio
has entered the Egyptian media marketplace. Three
new private satellite-based TV stations were
launched in November 2001, marking a significant
change in Egyptian government policy. Dream TV 1 and
2 produce talk shows, cultural programming,
broadcast contemporary video clips and films
featuring Arab and international actors, as well as
soap operas; another private station, Mehwar,
focuses on business and general news. Other new
independent TV stations include Al Hayat TV, O TV
and ONTV (owned by the Orascom conglomerate), El Saa
and Modern TV. These private channels also transmit
Radio in Egypt is almost all government-controlled
and uses 44 short-wave frequencies, 18 medium-wave
stations, and four FM stations. There are seven
regional radio stations covering the country.
Egyptian Radio transmits 60 hours daily overseas in
33 languages and three hundred hours daily within
Egypt. In 2000, Radio Cairo introduced new
specialized (thematic) channels on its FM station.
These stations, known as Radio El Nile, include news
Geography, population, history, military strength,
and diplomatic expertise give Egypt extensive
political influence in the Middle East and within
the Non-Aligned Movement as a whole. Cairo has been
a crossroads of Arab commerce and culture for
millennia, and its intellectual and Islamic
institutions are at the center of the region's
social and cultural development.
The Arab League headquarters is in Cairo, and the
Secretary General of the League is traditionally an
Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr
Moussa is the present Secretary General of the Arab
League. President Mubarak has often chaired the
African Union (formerly the Organization of African
Unity). Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister
Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of
the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.
Egypt is a key partner in the search for peace in
the Middle East and resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sadat's groundbreaking
trip to Israel in 1977, the 1978 Camp David Accords,
and the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty represented a
fundamental shift in the politics of the
region--from a strategy of confrontation to one of
peace as a strategic choice. Egypt was subsequently
ostracized by other Arab states and ejected from the
Arab League from 1979 to 1989. Egypt played an
important role in the negotiations leading to the
Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which, under U.S.
and Russian sponsorship, brought together all
parties in the region to discuss Middle East peace.
This support has continued to the present, with
President Mubarak often intervening personally to
promote peace negotiations. In 1996, he hosted the
Sharm El-Sheikh "Summit of the Peacemakers" attended
by President Bill Clinton and other world leaders.
In 2000, he hosted two summits at Sharm El-Sheikh
and one at Taba in an effort to resume the Camp
David negotiations suspended in July of 2000, and in
June 2003, Mubarak hosted President George W. Bush
for another summit on the Middle East peace process.
Throughout mid-2004, Egypt worked closely with
Israel and the Palestinian Authority to facilitate
stability following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza,
which occurred in August and September of 2005.
Prior to this Egypt and Israel reached an agreement
that allowed Egypt to deploy additional forces along
the Philadelphi Corridor in an attempt to control
the border and prevent the smuggling of weapons.
Egypt played a key role during the 1990-91 Gulf
crisis. President Mubarak helped assemble the
international coalition and deployed 35,000 Egyptian
troops against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. The Egyptian
contingent was the third-largest in the coalition
forces, after the U.S. and U.K. In the aftermath of
the Gulf war, Egypt signed the Damascus declaration
with Syria and the Gulf states to strengthen Gulf
security. Egypt continues to contribute regularly to
UN peacekeeping missions, most recently in East
Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. In August 2004,
Egypt was actively engaged in seeking a solution to
the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, including
the dispatch of military monitors. Following the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United
States, Egypt, which has itself been the target of
terrorist attacks, has been a key supporter of U.S.
efforts against terrorists and terrorist
organizations such as Osama bin Ladin and al-Qaeda,
and actively supported the Iraqi Governing Council,
as well as the subsequent government of Prime
Minister Allawi. In July 2005, terrorists attacked
the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh. In the same
month, Egypt's envoy to Iraq was assassinated.
The United States and Egypt enjoy a strong and
friendly relationship based on shared mutual
interest in Middle East peace and stability,
revitalizing the Egyptian economy and strengthening
trade relations, and promoting regional security.
Over the years, Egypt and the United States have
worked together assiduously to expand Middle East
peace negotiations, hosting talks, negotiations, and
the Middle East and North Africa Economic (MENA)
Conference. Multinational exercises, U.S. assistance
to Egypt's military modernization program, and
Egypt's role as a contributor to various UN
peacekeeping operations continually reinforce the
U.S.-Egyptian military relationship.
An important pillar of the bilateral relationship
remains U.S. security and economic assistance to
Egypt, which expanded significantly in the wake of
the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979. U.S.
military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion
annually. In addition, the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID)
has provided over $28 billion in economic and
development assistance to Egypt since 1975. Early
assistance focused on infrastructure, health, food
supply, and agriculture. The Commodity Import
Program, through which USAID provided hundreds of
millions of dollars in financing to enable the
Egyptian private sector to import U.S. goods, was
one of the largest and most popular USAID programs.
Current programs focus on trade and investment;
utilities; education; healthier, planned families;
natural resources; democracy and governance; and
other programs supported by the Middle East
Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
U.S. military cooperation has helped Egypt modernize
its armed forces and strengthen regional security
and stability. Under Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
programs, the U.S. has provided F-4 jet aircraft,
F-16 jet fighters, M-60A3 and M1A1 tanks, armored
personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, antiaircraft
missile batteries, aerial surveillance aircraft, and
other equipment. The U.S. and Egypt also participate
in combined military exercises, including
deployments of U.S. troops to Egypt. Every other
year, Egypt hosts Operation Bright Star, a
multilateral military exercise with the U.S., and
the largest military exercise in the region. Units
of the U.S. 6th Fleet are regular visitors to
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Matthew Tueller
Economic/Political Affairs--Donald Blome
Consular Affairs--Roberto Powers
Management Affairs--Dolores Brown
Public Affairs--Haynes Mahoney
Defense Attache--Maj. Gen. F.C. Williams
Office of Military Cooperation--Maj. Gen. F.C.
Foreign Commercial Service--Margaret Keshishian
Foreign Agricultural Service--Jonathan Gressel
Embassy is located at 8 Kamal ElDin Salah
St., Garden City, Cairo, Egypt, tel:  
797-3300, fax   797-3200.
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