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جمهوريّة مصر العربيّة

Jumhūriyyat Misr al-ʿarabiyya
( pronunciation ? / I ) Audio file / audio sample
Arab Republic of Egypt
Flag of Egypt
Coat of arms of Egypt
flag coat of arms
Official language Arabic
capital city Cairo
State and form of government semi-presidential republic
Head of state President
Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi
Head of government Prime Minister
Mustafa Madbuli
surface 1,001,449 (UN 2007) km²
population 102.3 million ( 14th ) (2020; estimate)
Population density 99 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.9% (estimate for 2020)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 361.8 billion ( 43rd )
  • $ 1.3 trillion ( 22. )
  • 3,587 USD ( 135. )
  • 12,790 USD ( 108. )
Human Development Index 0.707 ( 116th ) (2019)
currency Egyptian pound (EGP)
founding June 18, 1953
(United Arab Republic)
independence February 28, 1922
(from the United Kingdom )
National anthem Biladi, Biladi, Biladi
National holiday July 23 (Revolution Day)
Time zone UTC + 2
License Plate ET
ISO 3166 EG , EGY, 818
Internet TLD .eg , .مصر
Telephone code +20
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Egypt (pronunciation [ ɛˈɡʏptn̩ ] or [ ɛˈɡɪptn̩ ]; Arabic مصر Miṣr , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt ) is a state in northeastern Africa with more than 100 million inhabitants and an area of ​​more than one million square kilometers. The megacity of Cairo is the Egyptian capital and the largest metropolis in Africa and Arabia , while the metropolitan area “Greater Cairo” is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Other major cities in the country are Alexandria and Giza . In terms of economic output in terms of GDP per capita , Egypt ranks 94th out of 190 countries (2016, PPP ).

The Ancient Egypt is one of the early civilizations of the world. Egypt since the Arab-Islamic expansion of Mashreq counted the Arab world region. As an intercontinental state, it has a land bridge from the greater African part to Asia , to the Sinai Peninsula . The 2011 revolution changed the social and political conditions in the country.


Due to its large population, Egypt has an enormous political and cultural influence in the Arab and Islamic world. But it was also of great importance in the history of human civilization, as evidenced by many excavations and ancient architectural sights. Already around 3000 BC arose here. BC with ancient Egypt one of the early advanced civilizations of the ancient world . After the time of the pharaohs, the land on the Nile experienced an eventful history of many foreign rule until it regained its independence in 1922. But even now the power struggles over Egypt did not end; they continued internally. The protests of the Arab Spring, captured in 2011 and Egypt. This was followed by the state crisis in 2013/14 .

Egypt's neighboring countries in the south are Sudan and in the west Libya . The northern natural limit is the Levantine Sea , the easternmost part of the Mediterranean Sea . The nearest island is Cyprus , about 380 km as the crow flies from the Egyptian coast. In the northeast, Egypt borders Gaza and Israel . In the southeast it has an extensive coast to the Red Sea with its two inlets, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba or Eilat . The latter gulf is opposite to Saudi Arabia and Jordan , to which there are ferry connections. The longest river in Africa, the Nile, flows through the country from south to north as its most important lifeline and flows into the Mediterranean in a delta . Another lifeline is the Suez Canal , an artificial waterway of outstanding importance for the global economy , which connects the European Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean . Large parts of the country's territory are deserts .

Country name

  • The ancient Egyptian country name Km.t ( Kemet ) means "Black Land" and refers to the fertile soils of the Nile Valley in contrast to the "Red Land" of the adjacent deserts, the Dšr.t (Descheret). In Coptic it became Kīmi or Kīmə , in ancient Greek finally Κυμεία Kymeía.
  • The Arabic term Miṣr , today the official name of the state, is of Semitic origin. It is very similar to the original Assyrian spelling Miṣir / Muṣur , but also related to the Hebrew מִצְרַיִם ( Mitzráyim ) . It simply means "country" or "state", which historically meant Lower Egypt (The Lower Country) and the name Miṣr was later transferred to the entire country ( Lower and Upper Egypt ). This is also expressed in the later Hebrew term as a dual term. In the Egyptian dialect of Arabic, however, Miṣr becomes Maṣr and finally maṣri for “Egyptian”, the common surname al-Masri therefore means “the Egyptian”.
  • In the Achaemenid period , Egypt used the old Persian name Mudraya as a satrapy .
  • The European names for Egypt ( English Egypt , French Égypte , Italian Egitto etc.) come from the Latin Aegyptus and thus ultimately from the ancient Greek Αἰγύπτος (Aigýptos) . The Copts claim to be the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptian population of the Pharaonic times. The Greek αἰγύπτος aigýptos , which became Egypt in German, was derived from their name . According to a popular theory, Aegyptus is a continuation of the ancient Egyptian expression ḥwt-k3-ptḥ (Hut-Ka-Ptah), which means "seat (house) of the soul of (god) Ptah" and which refers to the great Ptah temple in Memphis is alluded to.
  • The word for gypsies in various European languages ​​is derived from the country name Egypt .


Outlines, river system, landforms

Topography of Egypt
Satellite map of Egypt

Egypt's territory is roughly square in shape and is touched by the Tropic of Capricorn. The landscape alternates between the steppe or thorn savannah shaped northern coastal landscape, deserts , semi-deserts , many oases , sea areas and the river landscape of the Nile. In addition to the Suez Canal from Port Said to Port Taufiq near Suez , the Nile is Egypt's main artery. Its source river, the furthest away from its mouth, the 24,000 km² large Nile Delta, is the Kagera , which has its origin in the mountainous region of Burundi and Rwanda . The river has a length of about 6852 km and reaches its natural river bed in Egypt after the Aswan Dam near Aswan . Apart from a few oases and small harbors on the coast, its water and its fertile riverside regions alone provide the basis for cultivation and settlement. This area makes up about five percent of the territory.

The national territory can be subdivided into seven natural units:
In the extreme south lies the section of the Nile Valley between
Abu Simbel and Aswan , which belongs to Nubia and Upper Egypt and is now occupied by Lake Nasser . In the further course the Nile cut into the limestone slab of the desert in a box shape. From the exit of the river from Lake Nasser to Cairo , the Nile valley forms a fertile river oasis up to 25 km wide.

In Lower Egypt , north of Cairo, the Nile forks into two main estuary arms between Rosette and Damiette and forms an intensively cultivated delta landscape of around 23,000 km² made up of deposited Nile mud, crossed by countless smaller estuary arms, canals and irrigation systems.

The Libyan Desert , west of the Nile, is a wide, flat stratified plateau and takes up around two thirds of the Egyptian state area. In their north lies the relatively low Libyan Plateau, which in Egypt reaches a height of up to 241 m. To the south-east of this, the terrain in the Qattara Depression, which is filled with salt marshes, sinks to up to 133 m below sea ​​level , in the south-west the desert rises to 1098 m. Incidentally, only individual basins and lowlands with the oases of Siwa , Bahariyya , Farafra , Dachla and Charga interrupt the 1000 km long sand and dune landscape from north to south. About 100 km southwest of Cairo is the 1827 km² large Fayyum Basin , a basin-like oasis landscape , in the northern part of which the 230 km² large Qarun Lake is located.

In contrast, the Arabian Desert east of the Nile is dominated by a mountain range that is heavily furrowed by wadis and reaches a height of more than 2000 m in the central section. The Arabian Desert is the western section of a bulging zone, the central part of which collapsed in the Tertiary and today forms the 1000 m deep rift of the Red Sea . This in turn is part of the Syrian-African rift valley system .

The bulge zone is continued on the Sinai Peninsula . Here rises with the Jabal Katrina (Katharinenberg) (2637 m) the highest mountain in Egypt. The Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba flow around the peninsula from the west, south and east. The 162 km long Suez Canal connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Apart from the Nile Delta, mostly flat dunes line the Egyptian Mediterranean coast. In contrast, the coastal areas on the Red Sea are more rugged - the mountain ranges often come close to the sea. Due to the high water temperature, there are often coral reefs offshore.


Climate diagram of Cairo

Egypt lies within the North African dry belt with very little rainfall and considerable seasonal and daily temperature fluctuations. Only the northern coastal strip and the Nile delta are influenced by the Mediterranean with winter precipitation between 100 and 200 mm ; In contrast, it rains very rarely south of Cairo . The mean daily temperature maxima in January are between 20 ° C ( Port Said , Cairo) and 24 ° C ( Aswan ), whereby it can cool down very strongly at night. In July, daytime temperatures reach 31 ° C (Port Said), 35 ° C (Cairo) and 41 ° C (Aswan). The heat is bearable because of the low relative humidity of around 30% (in summer). The hot Khamsin , a sand and dust wind coming from the south , blows from March to June . On the coast of the Red Sea , the climate is somewhat more moderate with less hot summers (around 35 ° C) and mild winters (even at night rarely below 10 ° C).

Thanks to the size of the country, five more detailed climatic areas can be described:

The approximately 700 km long Mediterranean coast and the Nile Delta are characterized by mild winters and very warm summers. In winter, average daytime temperatures are around 17–20 ° C, while at night they drop to around 8–11 ° C. In addition, there is significant precipitation for Egyptian conditions with up to 200 mm - this corresponds to around 30 annual rainy days in the region around Alexandria , almost all of them in winter. Spring is warm and dry, as is autumn, with the highest temperatures measured in spring and not in midsummer (42–45 ° C). In summer it gets very warm with daytime temperatures of 28 to 32 ° C and 19–24 ° C at night. There are therefore slight temperature fluctuations between day and night and no more precipitation falls. The humidity is relatively high all year round (60–75%), which often makes the air feel hotter than it is. The sea invites you to swim in summer with values ​​of up to 28 ° C, in winter it cools down to 16-18 ° C.

The fertile Nile valley near Luxor

The lower Nile Valley, which can roughly be divided as reaching from Cairo to Asyut , is also characterized by mild winters, but the summers are hotter than in the Nile Delta and on the Mediterranean coast, and there is hardly any rainfall all year round (5–30 mm). The air humidity is also noticeably lower at 40–60%. On winter days, the mercury column usually climbs to 18–22 ° C, only to drop to colder values ​​at night than on the coast (4–9 ° C). With large temperature differences between day and night, even morning frost is possible. Spring and autumn are shorter and warmer than on the coast, while summers are longer and hotter with temperatures of 34 to 37 ° C during the day and 20–22 ° C at night. The peak values ​​are up to 48 ° C.

The upper Nile valley shares the climatic characteristics with the desert areas and oases to the east and especially to the west of it. Winters are also mild (19–22 ° C) with cool nights (5–10 ° C). Spring and autumn are very short and warm, while summers are long (late April to late October), hot and extremely dry. The average daily values ​​reach 38–42 ° C, the nighttime values ​​22–26 ° C. The air humidity is rather low all year round (15–50%), accompanied by almost complete lack of precipitation. In cities like Aswan, Luxor or Dakhla , one usually measures 0–2 rainy days per year. Heat waves can cause temperatures in excess of 50 ° C.

The coastal areas on the Red Sea experience mild to warm winters with very moderate temperatures: hardly below 20 ° C during the day and 10–13 ° C at night. Spring and autumn are quite warm, summers very warm to hot and extremely dry. During the day 34–38 ° C are to be expected, with occasional hot spells of over 40 ° C, at night the values ​​usually do not drop below 25 ° C. The air humidity is 30–55% all year round, there is practically no precipitation (0–3 days). The sea invites you to swim all year round with around 20–29 ° C.

From a climatic point of view, the Sinai Mountains are special in Egypt: Due to their higher elevations, the winters are very cool here (12–15 ° C during the day, 0–5 ° C at night). Spring and autumn are accordingly a little longer, but the summers are still very warm with mostly 32 ° C during the day. At night, however, the values ​​drop to a cooler 15–18 ° C. Otherwise (precipitation, humidity) the same picture emerges here as elsewhere: 1–3 rainy days per year and 20–40% humidity.

Flora and fauna

Nile near El-Minija

The natural vegetation is severely limited because of the low rainfall and the intensive agricultural use of the Nile Valley . The desert is almost completely free of vegetation, tamarisks , acacias and thorn bushes grow here and there, and hard grasses in the desert steppe; Nile acacias, date palms , sycamore figs and carob trees as well as introduced casuarinas are grouped along the banks of the Nile . Lotus plums , bamboo canes and reeds are typical of the Nile Delta ; the papyrus bushes that were cultivated here in antiquity hardly exist any more.

The fauna of Egypt is rich in water birds in the delta area and on the Nile (especially herons , cranes and Egyptian geese ); Many European migratory birds join in during the winter months. To robbery and Aasvögeln are kites , bearded vultures and hawks at home. In addition to domesticated camels , donkeys , sheep and goats , the larger mammal species in the country include jackals , hyenas , fenneks , black cats and - in the mountainous regions - Nubian ibexes . The desert is animated by hares , jerboa , several types of lizards , scorpions . The Egyptian cobra occurs in the rural areas of the Nile ; A few crocodiles still live on Lake Nasser . There are more than 190 different species of fish in the Nile and the lakes on the delta coast .

National parks

There are three national parks in Egypt
Surname founding Size [ha] comment map opinion
Gebel Elba National Park 1986 3,560,000 in the controversial
Hala'ib triangle
Egypt (egypt)
(22 ° 11 ′ 28 ″ N, 36 ° 21 ′ 8 ″ E)
Ras Mohammed National Park 1983 48,000
Egypt (egypt)
(27 ° 40 ′ 0 ″ N, 34 ° 0 ′ 0 ″ E)
Coral reef in Ras Muhammad nature park.JPG
Wadi al Gamal National Park 2003 745,000
Egypt (egypt)
(24 ° 8 ′ 0 ″ N, 35 ° 29 ′ 0 ″ E)
Wadi el Gemal National Park Abu Ghusun1.jpg



Egypt's median age in 2016 was 23.8 years.
Population density

The Egyptians settle primarily in the Nile Valley , the Nile Delta , the Suez Canal and in touristically significant places by the sea. Few people live in the western oases of Al-Fayyūm , Dachla , Farafra , Siwa and Charga . The region around the Nile is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

The population growth was estimated at 2.45% per year 2017th Around 1800 the country had only about 2.5 million inhabitants and in 1900 about 12.5 million inhabitants. In 1960 there were about 29 million inhabitants and in 2000 70 million. As of July 2017, the total number of Egyptians was estimated to be over 97 million. The rapid population growth is seen by observers as a “demographic time bomb” (cf. Overpopulation and Youth Bulge ) According to UN figures, life expectancy was 70.8 years in the period from 2010 to 2015 (women: 73.1; men: 68.7 ).

In the past, around the time of the pharaohs, the country had between 4 and a maximum of 12 million inhabitants, a population that is also assumed for late antiquity . Around 48% of Egyptians lived in cities in 2018, 33.3% were under 15 years old. The fertility rate was 3.47 children per woman. It is expected to have over 150 million inhabitants by 2050.

About 2.7 million Egyptians lived abroad in 2010. Most of them, around 70%, lived in Arab states: 923,600 in Saudi Arabia , 332,600 in Libya , 226,850 in Jordan and 190,550 in Kuwait . The remaining 30% live mostly in Europe, for example 90,000 in Italy and North America: 318,000 in the United States , 110,000 in Canada .

In 2017, 0.5% of the population in Egypt was born abroad. The largest groups of these were Syrians and Palestinians.

Population development
Census year population
1963 30,000,000
1976 36,626,000
1986 48.205.049
1996 59.276.672
2006 72.798.031
2017 94,798,827
2020 102,334,000

Ethnic groups

In the south of Egypt there are still around 140,000 Nubians , a larger number also live in the cities. Many of them were relocated from the south to Kom Ombo due to the construction of the Nasser Dam . Berber tribes once lived in the Libyan desert, but only a few of them still live in the Siwa oasis today. There are also around 70,000 Arab Bedouins who live nomadically in the country's deserts. Bedscha-speaking nomads also live in the desert east of the Nile .

Italians , Turks , Abkhazians and British also live in northern Egypt . The once flourishing Greek and Jewish communities have all but disappeared, with only a small number remaining in Egypt; however, many Egyptian Jews visit the country for religious events and for tourism: even today there are many archaeological and historical Jewish sites in Cairo and Alexandria.


The official language is Arabic . The majority of the local mother tongue spoken is Egyptian-Arabic , a dialect of New Arabic . Written language, however, since the Arab conquest in the 7th century, the high Arab , only in the Coptic Church is a liturgical language nor the Coptic used written in its own font used by the Greek - and some signs from the demotic script is derived -.

In the south and in the Kharga oasis , many people speak Nubian . In the Siwa oasis, a Berber language is still spoken , the so-called Siwi . There are also Bedjah speakers in the southeast . There are also around 230,000 Domari speakers - an Indo-Iranian language.

French is widely used as a foreign language in the upper class, and most recently English . The main languages ​​of the European minorities were Greek , Armenian ( Western Armenian ) and Italian . In Alexandria in the late 19th century there was a large community of Italian Egyptians, so that Italian until the 20th century a lingua franca of the city was.


Only Muslims, Christians and Jews are officially recognized . There are also around 5700 Baha'is , around 150 Mormons and various smaller Egyptian religious communities, some of which are affected by systematic oppression and persecution. The Bahais, whose institutions were dissolved by law in 1960, are fighting for state recognition.


About 90% of the inhabitants of Egypt profess Sunni Islam, while Shiites and Ahmadis are numerically very minor. Many Egyptian Muslims belong to a Sufi order . Are particularly widespread the Shadhili that Chalwatīya that Badawiya and Burhaniya .

Since the late 1920s there has been an Islamist mass movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood , which at times was also politically very influential, but was repeatedly banned. In the 1960s, when many Muslim Brotherhood were incarcerated, their circles became radicalized. The ideologue Sayyid Qutb developed his theory of the JAHILIYYAH and declared all Muslims who do not adhere to the Sharia held, for disbelief . In the 1970s, several militant Islamist groups were formed that were ideologically oriented towards Sayyid Qutb and committed terrorist attacks, in particular at-Takfir wa-l-Higra , al-Jamāʿa al-islāmiyya and the jihad organization . Some supporters of these groups later joined the terrorist organization al-Qaeda , for example Aiman ​​az-Zawahiri , who is now head of this organization. A militant Islamist group operating from Sinai are the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis , who joined the Islamic State (IS) in November 2014 .

Visible signs of an increasing Islamization of society are the more and more often seen deeply veiled women. This is due, among other things, to the stronger influence of conservative currents from the Gulf States (reinforced by the return of Egyptian economic migrants from the region). As recently as the 1990s, the majority of Egyptian women were completely unveiled.


Before the Islamic expansion in the 7th century, Christianity was the dominant religion in Egypt; According to tradition, the evangelist Mark is said to have proselytized in Egypt in the middle of the 1st century. In Central and Upper Egypt (not infrequently in predominantly Christian villages), but also in Cairo and Alexandria, there is a Coptic minority which, along with other Christians, comprises between four and 15 percent of the total population of Egypt. The state and church figures differ greatly (according to official figures, Christians do not make up more than six percent of the population). Egyptian Christians face discrimination ; after the 2011 revolution, around 100,000 left the country.

Other ancient oriental churches represented in Egypt in addition to the Coptic Church are the Armenian Apostolic Church with around 15,000 members and the Syriac Orthodox Church with only around 500 members. The Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria , which has more than 200,000 believers in Egypt, still exists today . Another Orthodox Church based in Egypt is the Orthodox Church on Sinai , which only has around 50 members in the St. Catherine's Monastery and its surroundings.

There are also smaller Christian communities such as the Jehovah's Witnesses with 25,000 members and the Seventh-day Adventists with around 700 active members. Jehovah's Witnesses have not published any data on membership figures in Egypt since they were banned in 1960.


There have been Jewish communities in the country since ancient times. Very few Jews still live in Egypt today. In 1947 there were 75,000, in 1948 66,000 Jews. As a result of the First Arab-Israeli War , the Suez Crisis and the Six Day War , almost all Egyptian residents of Jewish faith were expelled and expelled, or fled . By 1968 almost all Egyptian Jews had to emigrate or flee abroad. From 1945 to 1949 the Cairo pogroms against the Jewish minority also took place.

Since the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed in 1979 , the Jews in Egypt are no longer restricted in their religious freedom, but they only form a marginal , aging minority.

Unbelievers and non-religious

The proportion of "non-religious" in Egypt grew from around 3% in 2013 to around 10% in 2019, although no further differentiation was made as to what "non-religious" means for these people; the term can include anything from "religion is not important to me" to "I am a staunch atheist".


Rise of a high culture

Ancient Egyptian chariot

The high civilization of Egypt began around 3000 BC. BC with the creation of a kingdom through the union of Upper and Lower Egypt under the legendary Pharaoh Menes , who is said to have resided in Memphis . The division of the Pharaohs into 30 dynasties goes back to the Egyptian priest Manetho , who lived in the 3rd century BC. Wrote an Egyptian story.

With the 3rd dynasty, the Old Kingdom came into being, in which state and society, art and religion were formed and the king ( pharaoh ) revered as the embodiment of the god of heaven ruled autocratically over all 42 districts of his country. Under Pharaoh Djoser (around 2610-2590) and the rulers of the 4th and 5th dynasties, the empire extended to the south of Aswan . The pharaohs were now viewed as sons of the sun god Re .

After the fall of the Old Kingdom, it was only a family of princes from the south under Mentuhotep II (2061-2010) who managed to unite the countries in the Middle Kingdom (11th to 14th dynasties). Thebes was founded as the new capital with the temples of Karnak and Luxor ; soon, however, the residence was again in the north. Around 1650, the Hyksos , who came from Asia , seized control of Egypt. They brought horses and chariots into the country and with them a new kind of war technique.

Prince Kamose and his successor Ahmose I succeeded around 1550 BC. BC to found the New Kingdom (18th to 20th Dynasty) in Thebes , which under Amenophis I and Thutmose I extended to Nubia and the Euphrates . After the rule of the "peace princess " Hatshepsut (1490-1468) undertook Thutmose III. Campaigns to Syria and Palestine and consolidated the Egyptian empire, which stretched from the Orontes in Syria to the fourth cataract of the Nile . Expansion came to a standstill under King Amenophis IV (1364–1347). He was mainly concerned with religious questions and triggered a spiritual revolution by raising the sun god Aton to be the only god. Under the name Akhenaten , he ruled the empire together with his wife Nefertiti from the newly founded residence Akhet-Aton (today's Tell el-Amarna). However, by his successor Tutankhamun (1347-1338) monotheism was abolished in favor of a trinity of the divine principle. Under Ramses II (1290–1224), the New Kingdom experienced another heyday. But the peoples' movements around 1200 brought a new danger to Egypt, which was threatened by the Hittites , the Libyans and the sea ​​peoples from the north. After the death of Ramses III. (1184–1153) a rapid decline set in, Egypt dissolved under foreign rulers into a multitude of individual rule.

From the great empire to the province

Aerial view of the Giza pyramids in 1929

525 BC BC Egypt was conquered by the Persian Empire and for the first time a long-term province of a foreign world empire; Within certain limits he was granted self-government and freedom of religion. 332 BC In 404 BC, Egypt, which had regained its independence in 404, fell into the hands of Alexander the Great , who Hellenized the country as part of the Macedonian Empire . After his death in 323 BC His general Ptolemy I took over the administration of the Egyptian province. In 305 he assumed the title of king as Ptolemy I and thus founded the ruling house of the Ptolemies , which ruled Egypt for almost 300 years. They raised Alexandria , founded by Alexander, to their capital and oriented themselves towards the Mediterranean area in terms of foreign policy .

After the death of Cleopatra VII , the last ruler of the Ptolemaic house, Egypt became 30 BC. To the Roman province. With the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the country came under Eastern Roman-Byzantine rule and lost part of its previous economic importance due to the relocation of long-distance trade routes to Constantinople , but remained important and prosperous as a grain supplier for the Eastern Roman capital.

On the other hand, Egypt, like Syria , remained untouched by the Germanic migration , which plunged the entire European part of the empire into an existential crisis. The patriarchs residing in the capitals of the two still richest provinces fought for supremacy in the imperial church in the first half of the 5th century. In the Council of Ephesus in 431, Alexandria was able to assert its positions throughout the entire imperial church and in 449 to reaffirm it in the so-called Synod of Robbers .

In the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Pope Leo the Great prevailed with his theological positions, which the Eastern Roman government also joined. However, the Patriarchate of Alexandria did not recognize the decisions of the council. As a result, an independent Coptic Church was formed in contrast to the Imperial Church, which was mostly suppressed by the emperors. This and high tax pressure were the starting point for a strong opposition movement against the Eastern Roman Empire .

In late antiquity , Egypt became the starting point for Christian missions in Nubia and Ethiopia , whose churches were closely related to the Coptic Church in Egypt. The country remained rich and economically important, so that from 619 first the Persian Sassanids and then from 636 the Muslim Arabs tried to wrest it from the emperor.

Under the rule of Islam

Around 640 Islamic Arabs conquered the Nile valley ; From then on, Egypt was ruled by changing centers of power - Damascus , Baghdad , Cairo . Under the Umayyads (661–750), Arab tribes settled in the fertile plains and henceforth determined the cultural appearance of Egypt. When Saladin , the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1249), came to power, Cairo became the center of Muslim resistance to the Christian crusades . Around 1250 the palace guards, made up of Mamluks , originally mostly Turkish military slaves , rose and took power. At the end of the 13th century, the Mamluks destroyed the last crusader states on Asian soil. Even after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Empire in 1517, the administration remained in their hands. The economic decline as a result of the discovery of the sea ​​route to India (1498) made Egypt one of the poorest provinces of the Ottoman Empire .

Rise and independence under the Muhammad Ali dynasty

Empire of the Dynasty 1880 (dark green)

The landing of the French expeditionary force under Napoleon Bonaparte in July 1798 ended the rule of the Ottomans. On the 1st / 2nd August 1798 a fleet of the Royal Navy under the command of Admiral Nelson destroyed the French Mediterranean fleet
When the
French had to break off their campaign in the Orient after the naval victory of the British Admiral Nelson near Abukir in the same year , the Albanian officer Muhammad Ali Pasha took advantage of the situation to seize power (1805-1849). He and his successors were able to achieve a certain degree of independence under Ottoman rule, pursued an expansive policy and initiated the history of modern Egypt. The construction of the Suez Canal (1859–1869) made the country so dependent on foreign loans that the national debt administration established by Great Britain and France became the actual government of the country. To secure the route to India, Great Britain acquired the Egyptian shares in the canal, occupied the country in 1882 and made it a formal protectorate in 1914 . In 1922 Egypt became a largely independent kingdom under Fu'ad I and received sovereignty after his death in 1936 . During the Second World War , the north-west of Egypt became the battlefield of the German and Italian armies under Erwin Rommel and the British under Bernard Montgomery . British troops stayed in the country until 1946. In 1945 Egypt was one of the 51 founding members of the United Nations .

Egypt as a republic

In 1948 Egyptian armies took part in the Arab attack on the newly proclaimed state of Israel , but, like the other Arab armies, were repulsed. On July 23, 1952 (national holiday), the movement of the "Free Officers" overthrew King Faruk, who had been enthroned in 1936. The history of the young Republic of Egypt was first determined by General Muhammad Nagib , then by the leading head of the revolution, Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser (1954–1970). Nasser's socialist regime had close ties with the Soviet Union . The nationalization of the Suez Canal Society in 1956 led to military intervention by Israel, Great Britain and France. The Suez crisis was settled through UN intervention . In 1956 women were given the right to vote and to stand as a candidate . Voting was compulsory for men, not for women. Men entitled to vote were automatically registered, women had to file a special application to exercise their political rights, and even in 1972 only 12 percent of women were registered. It was not until 1979 that this disadvantage for women was abolished.

In 1958, Egypt merged with Syria and North Yemen to form the United Arab Republic ( UAR ), which in fact only existed until 1961. The country suffered a severe military defeat in the six-day war with Israel in June 1967, in which Israeli troops advanced as far as the Suez Canal. After Nasser's death in 1970, Vice President Anwar as-Sadat became President. Through the - partially successful - Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat tried to make up for the defeat of 1967.

In 1977, Sadat initiated the dialogue with Israel through a surprising peace initiative, which in 1979 led to the peace treaty and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Sinai Peninsula , but which on the other hand isolated the country within the Arab world and aroused resistance from Islamic fundamentalists. In 1981 Sadat, who together with Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, was assassinated. His successor, Hosni Mubarak , who was then Vice President , has succeeded in returning Egypt to the Arab League as a fully respected member . The president was nominated by parliament with a two-thirds majority until the Arab Spring and then confirmed by popular election for six years. Mubarak was last re-elected in 2005 . Critics note, however, that he ruled authoritarian from the enactment of the emergency laws in 1982 until the 2011 revolution. He therefore ruled over a pseudo-democratic system. They say that some of the elections were falsified or postponed and that some opposition activists were sent to prison after mock trials. There was only as much public opposition in Egypt as Mubarak allowed. In the new Nazif cabinet appointed by Mubarak on January 1, 2006, key positions remained unchanged.

After the 2011 revolution

Against the background of the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution , the Arab Spring began in Egypt on January 25, 2011 , which was primarily aimed at the demand for the rule of law, freedom and democracy. Mubarak resigned in the wake of the revolution that killed around 850 demonstrators in Egypt. From the three-round elections to the People's Council between November 28, 2011 and January 10, 2012, the Democratic Alliance for Egypt , led by the Freedom and Justice Party ( Muslim Brotherhood ), emerged as the strongest force with around 45% of the total of 498 seats . The Salafist Party of Light became the second largest group with around 25% of the seats. The successor parties of the once ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) lost heavily and only got 18 seats ( 2010 : 420). It was followed by the liberal New Wafd Party with 39 (6) seats and the left Egyptian bloc with 35 seats. 40 seats (70) were occupied by independents and members of smaller parties.

In 2011 the International Committee of the Blue Shield (Association of the National Committees of the Blue Shield, ANCBS) based in The Hague carried out extensive missions in Egypt to protect cultural assets (museums, archives, archaeological sites, monuments, etc. ) at risk of unrest and theft .).

From the partial elections for the Shura Council , the Egyptian upper house, in January / February 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood also emerged as the strongest force, followed by the Salafists of the Party of Light and liberal forces. Then there were free presidential elections for the first time. The first ballot was held on May 23 and 24, 2012 ; the runoff election was held on June 16-17, 2012. The result was announced on June 24, 2012: Mohammed Morsi was elected President with 51.7% of the valid votes and, when he was sworn in on June 30, 2012, he was elected head of state.

On June 15, 2012, the Parliament was formally dissolved by the Supreme Military Council and the members were subsequently denied access to Parliament after the Supreme Court had declared the establishment of Parliament to be unconstitutional the day before because a third of the seats were being filled by so-called " Independent “was not done.

From June 2012, the Constituent Assembly , in which the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists had a majority of the 100 seats, drafted a new constitution. Over 60 percent voted for the new constitution in the referendum. In November 2012, the newly elected President Mohammed Morsi withdrew his decisions and decrees from the control of the judiciary and declared them inviolable. In doing so, he effectively suspended the separation of powers .

On July 3, 2013 at around 9 p.m. CEST, Colonel General Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi announced that Morsi had been deposed by the military after the massive protests among the population. The constitutional judge Adli Mansur was sworn in as interim president of the country on July 4, 2013 after this military coup . On June 8, 2014, the non-party military as-Sisi took office as president. The economy, suffering from decades of mismanagement, corruption and unrest, increasingly suffered from a shortage of foreign currency due to the lack of tourists. Differences of opinion with Saudi Arabia (also due to the new dependency on Russia) did not help in view of the Saudis' cash taps, which were closing anyway, while the USA diverted aid funds to other countries such as Tunisia. The fact that Egypt continued to receive money was due to the fear of the country's collapse.

In March 2015 it was announced that a new capital would be built 45 kilometers east of Cairo.

In April 2018, as-Sisi was elected President of the country for another four years with almost 97% of the vote. There were serious doubts about the freedom and independence of choice.


Political system

The constitution of 1971 (last amended in 2005), which was in force until the revolution in 2011 , stipulated that Egypt is a presidential republic ; After a constitutional referendum on January 16, 2014, a new constitution came into force. With a turnout of 38.6 percent, 98.1 percent voted for the new constitution proposed by the Egyptian transitional government. This defines the country as a semi-presidential unitary state and prohibits the establishment of political parties based on religion. The constitution of January 2014 contains an expanded catalog of fundamental rights compared to previous constitutions, which includes civil-political as well as economic, social and cultural rights. At the same time, it guarantees equality between men and women and protects the Christian minority in the country. However, the new constitution grants the military a special status, and civilians can again be brought to military tribunals.

Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Egyptian Constitutional Court has been Adli Mansur since 1992 .


The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, appoints the prime minister and the members of the cabinet, as well as the governors, the high judges and officers. He also has the right to veto legislation, can issue decrees and dissolve parliament.

Since an announcement by former President Hosni Mubarak on February 26, 2005, the President has been elected through free elections with several eligible candidates.

In the wake of the Arab Spring in June 2012 was in May / the presidential elections Mohammed Mursi elected president. On July 3, 2013, after days of mass protests against his policies, Morsi was deposed in a military coup. This sparked violent clashes and led to a national crisis . As-Sisi has been President of Egypt since June 8, 2014 .

houses of Parliament

The unicameral parliament of Egypt consists of the Council of the People with 596 members. Until 2014 Egypt had a bicameral system: The “People's House of Representatives” had 454 MPs, 444 of whom were elected every five years (since 1986 400 MPs via party lists and 44 as non-party direct candidates) and ten were appointed by the head of state; The advisory legislative body from 1981 onwards was the Shura Council with 210 members, two thirds of whom were elected every three years and one third were appointed by the head of state. All Egyptians aged 18 and over were required to vote. According to the new constitution introduced after the 2013 military coup, the president can dissolve parliament early. The quota of 64 additional parliamentary seats for women MPs introduced in 2010 has been abolished.

The last parliamentary elections took place in 2015 . The Freedom and Justice Party , the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and election winner of the last election in 2012 , was banned after the military coup el-Sisis in September 2013, so this time a large part of the MPs (351 of 596) from non-party and Sisi-affiliated " Independent ”consists. The election winner was the list “In Love for Egypt”, which also supports President Sisi, with 173 of the 245 members of parliament given to political parties.

Religion and state

Egypt is constitutionally an Islamic state. Islamic law, the Sharia , has been the main source of legislation since 1980. The most important state Islamic institution in Egypt is the Azhar , which has its own university with 49 faculties spread across the country, as well as over 80 institutes for religious education at primary and secondary levels. It is headed by the Sheikh al-Azhar , who is also the highest Islamic religious authority in the country and who has the rank of minister. Another important Islamic state institution is the Ministry of Religious Foundations , to which the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is also subordinate.

The Islamic education system in Egypt is generally geared towards conveying values ​​such as respect and tolerance towards those of different faiths, but it is also made unmistakably clear in the books that determine the curriculum that Islam is superior to other religions. However, terrorism and extremism are strongly condemned and students are strongly advised to stay away from them.

In theory, Article 18 of the Egyptian Constitution grants all citizens freedom of religion, but in practice it is restricted. For a long time it was only possible to choose between the three officially recognized religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism on state ID cards. Members of other religions either have to deny their beliefs or they are not given any identity cards and thereby largely forego their civil rights. After years of litigation, the state changed the practice of issuing identity cards so that the relevant field is crossed out for members of other religions. The former applies to Muslims converting to another religion, such as Christianity; Many politicians and religious scholars even demand the death penalty for such persons . Today the Christian minority in Egypt is confronted with increasing discrimination on the part of the Egyptian authorities and the Islamic religious representatives.

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 86.0 of 120 35 of 178 Stability of the country: big warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index   2.93 out of 10   138 of 167 Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World 21 of 100 --- Freedom status: not free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking   56.17 out of 100   166 of 180 Very serious situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 33 of 100 117 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Human rights situation

Religious freedom . In Upper Egypt in particular, the Copts , who are often disadvantaged as a Christian minority, have become the target of terror and racketeering by radical Muslims. New Coptic churches may be built, but because of the Hamayouni decree from 1856, some of which are still in force, they require permission from the Egyptian President. Even minor repairs require a presidential decree. In 1966 Egypt was also involved in weakening the wording "the freedom to change his religion or belief" contained in the human rights declaration of 1948 , so that it now reads in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights : "the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief. "

Women's rights . Egypt has only ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Women with reservations and has not signed the additional protocol to the Convention on Women’s Rights. According to USAID data, 96.4% of the then 10 to 14 year old Egyptian girls suffered genital mutilation in 2005 ; a UNICEF are statistic, based on the 2003, an incidence of 97.0% in the age group of 15 to 49 year old women. This made the country the world leader in female genital mutilation. In the course of the constitutional referendum in 2012 , a paragraph on equality for women was deleted from the constitution. Although genital mutilation has been banned since 2007, according to Spiegel, according to UNICEF statistics from 2015, 87% of women between the ages of 15 and 29 suffered genital mutilation. A tightening law increasing the prison sentence for perpetrators to up to 20 years is intended to further reduce genital mutilation, even if, according to UNICEF, only 38% of women between 15 and 49 years old want to quit the practice.

Torture . Torture is common in Egypt . The most common torture methods reported are electric shocks, beatings, hanging by the wrists or ankles, putting cigarettes on the body, and various forms of psychological torture and ill-treatment, including threats of rape or sexual abuse of prisoners or their female relatives. As in the case of Imam Abu Omar , the US government used Egypt as a stopover for people kidnapped by the CIA and commissioned the CIA company Aero Contractors, among others, to do so . The death penalty is also used in Egypt .

Freedom of expression has been restricted in Egypt for years and got worse with the presidency of Hosni Mubarak . Before the 5th anniversary of the revolution in January 2016, numerous arrests of demonstrators, journalists and others became known, apparently because the government feared increased protests on the anniversary. Protests against the government of the Muslim Brotherhood led to serious riots in 2012. Opposition protesters were wounded and detained, many brutally beaten.

The video platform YouTube was blocked for one month at the beginning of 2013 due to an Islamophobic video. Under Morsi, critical journalists with complaints such as defamation, insulting the president and denigrating Islam have already been convicted, and publishers and editors-in-chief of state newspapers have been replaced by journalists loyal to the government. For example, in 2013 a Coptic teacher was convicted of blasphemy .

After the state crisis in Egypt in 2013 , the human rights situation did not improve. On July 3, 2013 alone, 660 men were arrested. Including prominent supporters of the former President Mohammed Morsi and members of the Freedom and Justice Party . In the prisons, they were beaten, tortured with electric shocks and maltreated with rifle butts.

Homosexuality is illegal. According to a 2013 survey, 95% of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society in Egypt .

Foreign policy

Donald Trump with the Egyptian President al-Sisi and the Saudi King Salman in Riyadh

Egypt is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the African Union (AU) and the Arab League . Besides Jordan, Egypt is the only country in the Middle East that has made peace with Israel . The policy aimed at understanding with Israel is used by Islamists - supported by Iran , Libya and Sudan - to oppose the state of Egypt. The Islamists were fought by Mubarak on the basis of the emergency laws that had existed since 1981 .

The United States added Egypt to its main allies outside of NATO in 1989 . In this way, at its request, Egypt is given preference over other countries in individually determined American armaments programs, even over some NATO members. During a five-day trip to the Middle East, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked her counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit on February 22, 2006 for support for Washington’s policy towards Iran and the Hamas- led Palestinian Authority .

After talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Austrian President Heinz Fischer in Berlin and Vienna , which also covered the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear program, Mubarak called on Israel and Hamas on March 13, 2006 for immediate peace talks and an end of violence. After the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip , Egypt, Israel and Palestine agreed in mid-September 2005 that 750 Egyptian soldiers would be posted to control the roughly 14 km long border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Relations with Israel deteriorated after the revolution and the takeover of power by the Muslim Brotherhood . Islamist President Mohammed Morsi supported Hamas during Operation Pillar of the Cloud . He also referred to the Zionists as descendants of monkeys and pigs in a video . Morsi also visited Germany , where he said that he was not referring to the Jews, but only to the people responsible for the bloodshed . Morsi is a supporter of the insurgents in Syria , which worsened relations with Iran . Even so, he is the first Egyptian president to restore relations with Iran after the Islamic Revolution.

Relations with Russia improved after the overthrow of Morsi , while relations with the United States remained strained, as the United States froze financial aid after the overthrow.

In early 2018 it was announced that Egypt and Israel are working closely together to fight terrorists in Sinai, and that President al-Sisi has approved more than 100 Israeli air strikes on Egyptian territory by Israeli planes, attack helicopters and drones since 2015 . At the same time, as-Sisi's government officially attacked Israel again and again in speeches and articles.


The armed forces of Egypt are considered to be the strongest military power on the African continent and justify the status of a regional power in the Middle East . The military budget (2010) is 2.4 billion US dollars, of which around 1.3 billion was financed by military aid from the USA. The armed forces are subordinate to the head of state, who at the same time holds the highest military rank as commander in chief. The armed forces are organized in four branches: On the one hand, the classic branches of the Egyptian Army , the Air Force and the Egyptian Navy ; in addition, the air defense command acts as a separate armed force of the military. In Egypt there is a three-year conscription for men over the age of eighteen. Due to the strong population growth, however, not all recruits are conscripted, as there are over 800,000 conscripted soldiers compared to 450,000 active soldiers. However, the state also has around 250,000 paramilitary forces who are subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and who are used for internal security. With the foreign policy rapprochement under Anwar as-Sadat , Egypt also opened up access to US arms deliveries, which have contributed to a significant modernization of the armed forces since the 1980s.

Administrative division

Libyen Sudan Saudi-Arabien Jordanien Israel Gazastreifen Israel (Westjordanland) al Bahr al-ahmar (de-facto Ägypten - weder Ägypten noch Sudan erheben offiziellen Anspruch) al Bahr al-ahmar (de-facto Ägypten - vom Sudan beansprucht) Aswan (de-facto Ägypten - vom Sudan beansprucht) Gouvernement al-Uqsur Gouvernement al-Wadi al-dschadid Gouvernement Asyut Gouvernement Sauhadsch Gouvernement Qina Gouvernement Aswan Gouvernement al-Minya Gouvernement Bani Suwaif Gouvernement al-Fayyum Gouvernement al-Dschiza Gouvernement al-Iskandariyya Gouvernement al-Buhaira Gouvernement Kafr asch-Schaich Gouvernement al-Gharbiyya Gouvernement al-Minufiyya Gouvernement Dumyat Gouvernement al-Qalyubiyya Gouvernement ad-Daqahliyya Gouvernement Matruh Gouvernement Bur Sa'id Gouvernement asch-Scharqiyya Gouvernement al-Qahira Gouvernement al-Ismaʿiliyya Gouvernement as-Suwais Gouvernement Schimal Sina Gouvernement Dschanub Sina Gouvernement al-Bahr al-ahmarThe governorates of Egypt
About this picture

Egypt is divided into 27 governorates ( Arabic محافظات, DMG muhāfaẓāt , singularمحافظة/ muhāfaẓa ), each headed by a governor with the rank of minister. The pronounced centralism of Egypt is to be gradually dismantled in favor of greater self-government at the regional level. The largest cities are (million inhabitants, as of 2006) Cairo (7.8), Alexandria (4.1) and Gizeh (3.1), Schubra al-Chaima (1.0), Port Said (0.6 ), Suez (0.5) and Luxor (0.5).

Social situation


Residential accommodation in an Egyptian city

All employees are covered by social insurance; there is health, old-age and disability insurance, which, however, only provide minimal basic coverage. Survivor pensions, sickness benefits and unemployment benefits are also provided. Due to low wages and unemployment (unemployment rate in 2017 at 11.9% with a high level of hidden unemployment ), around 20% of the population have to live below the poverty line of two US dollars a day. Independent trade unions are suppressed, but after several protests in 2010 they were able to enforce their right to be officially founded. To make matters worse, of the once three million Egyptian guest workers abroad, many have returned to their homeland - especially from Kuwait and Iraq . In general, it can be said that seasonal unemployment is typical in rural areas; in the cities, on the other hand, there is more of a permanent underemployment. The inflation in the same period was 4.5% on average.

As of 2020, more than 30 million Egyptians are living below the poverty line (less than $ 45 a month), according to government figures.

The health system in the cities is relatively well developed by African standards, in the countryside there are still serious gaps. Uneven nutrition and poor hygiene are causes of endemic diseases (such as schistosomiasis ); Another problem are the different types of hepatitis , especially hepatitis A and C. At the same time, advanced hepatitis diseases are one of the main causes of death for the native population of Egypt. Another major illness in the country is diphtheria ; Malaria , on the other hand, is rare.

Life expectancy development in Egypt

year Life expectancy
in years
year Life expectancy in
1960 48.0 1990 64.5
1965 50.5 1995 66.8
1970 52.1 2000 68.6
1975 54.7 2005 69.4
1980 58.3 2010 70.3
1985 61.8 2015 71.3

Source: UN


Comprehensive reforms and investments, strategic concepts and modernizations in the education system are urgently needed. Decades of neglect have led to stagnation in the state school system. The Egyptian government is facing an enormous challenge due to the strong population growth and the constantly increasing need for educational institutions that goes with it.

There is general compulsory schooling with free lessons for 6- to 12-year-olds. The current school system was introduced in 1952; According to him, the elementary school is followed by a three-year preparatory school and a three-year secondary school, followed by higher education. In Egypt, the mean school attendance of over 25s increased from 3.5 years in 1990 to 7.1 years in 2015. The current school attendance expectation is already 13.1 years. The illiteracy rate was around 26% in 2015. One reason for this is that there are around 50 students for every teacher and fewer girls than boys attend school. Egypt is striving to promote gender equality in education - but this attempt cannot be substantiated with figures. Many of the girls who start school leave school early to help with the household or to get married. Due to the low public spending on education, a substantial private education sector has developed in Egypt, but due to poverty and fees, only a small part is available. Of the twelve universities in Egypt, five are in Cairo. The Cairo al-Azhar University is a specialty ; it has been a center of Islamic learning since 983.


When security forces evacuated a tent camp set up by around 2500 Sudanese refugees in a park in downtown Cairo on December 30, 2005, 26 Sudanese were killed and many injured. The Sudanese were rejected asylum seekers who wanted to have their asylum procedures resumed with their three-month peaceful sit-down strike . After each individual case was examined by the authorities in cooperation with the UNHCR , all 462 people arrested during the evacuation had been released by January 30, 2006. The government said the refugees, including many from the crisis region of Darfur , would not be deported.



Suq / bazaar in the old town of Cairo

Egypt has the strongest industry in Africa after South Africa. Agriculture, however, continues to play a significant role. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) was around EUR 286 billion in 2014. The gross domestic product per capita was EUR 3,250 in the same year. Egypt's economy grew by 4.3 percent in 2016.

The previously rather socialist planned economy of Egypt was liberalized and opened to the outside world from the 1970s under President Anwar as-Sadat . In the 1990s in particular, several state-owned companies were privatized. After South Africa, Egypt is the most industrialized country in Africa, but agriculture is still an important part of the economy and a large part of the labor force is employed in it. The large informal sector (especially services; estimates assume 30% of GDP) also absorbs a large part of the workforce. With a net population growth of around 2 million people annually, unemployment and especially youth unemployment are particularly high (officially youth unemployment is stated at 28%, estimates assume higher figures). Egypt has a great interest in foreign direct investment and promotes it in a targeted manner. However, numerous trade barriers and bureaucracy deter potential investors. State-owned companies and the Egyptian military play a major role in economic life. The main sources of income for Egypt are the proceeds from oil exports and the use of the Suez Canal, as well as guest worker remittances and tourism . A serious problem is the high level of foreign debt , which amounted to over 90 percent of economic output in 2016. The distribution of income in the country is very unequal. The military also has a bigger role to play in the economy and runs numerous companies. In recent years there has been an increase in poverty, combined with a shortage of foreign currency and a sharp drop in income from tourism. The fragmentation of the political landscape seems to be delaying economic reforms. International food aid (grain) is discussed. In 2016, Egypt's currency lost almost half of its value.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Egypt ranks 100th out of 138 countries (as of 2017-2018). In 2018, Egypt ranked 139th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .

Economic figures

Agriculture in Egypt (2006)
Growth in GDP (gross domestic product) in% compared to the previous year
year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
GDP (real) 2.2 2.2 2.9 4.4 4.3 4.2 5.3
Source: World Bank
Development of the inflation rate Development of the budget balance
in% compared to the previous year in% of GDP
("minus" = deficit in the national budget)
year 2011 2012 2013 year 2011 2012 2013
inflation rate 11.1 8.7 10.7 Budget
−9.9 −11.1 −9.8
Source: gtai ~ = estimated
Development of foreign trade (in billion US dollars and in% compared to the previous year)
2016 2017 2018
- Billion US $ % vs. Previous year Billion US $ % vs. Previous year Billion US $ % vs. Previous year
import 58.1 −21.9 66.3 +14.3 81.0 +22.1
export 22.5 +2.5 25.9 +15.3 29.4 +13.3
balance −35.5 −40.4 −51.6
Source: gtai
Main trading partner of Egypt (2018), GTAI
Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
ItalyItaly Italy 7.0 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 14.2
TurkeyTurkey Turkey 6.9 Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 7.0
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 6.8 United StatesUnited States United States 6.7
United StatesUnited States United States 5.9 RussiaRussia Russia 6.0
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 4.9 GermanyGermany Germany 5.1
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 4.6 ItalyItaly Italy 4.3
SpainSpain Spain 4.4 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 4.1
other countries 59.5 other countries 52.6


Egyptian Peasants (1921)

The agricultural area (around 3% of the national area) is limited to the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta and a few oases. The farmers ( fellahs ) cultivate the land using cultivation and irrigation methods that are sometimes thousands of years old. The irrigation methods on the Nile but were converted by drains from the late 19th century of flood basins on a year-round irrigation. In the process, agricultural cultivation has changed from subsistence to export orientation , so that, relatively speaking, fewer typical foods such as millet , broad beans and cabbage are harvested. In order to feed the rapidly growing population, large quantities have to be imported - in 1980 over 5 million tons of wheat were imported from abroad, three times as much as was grown in Egypt itself. Since large parts of Egypt - with the exception of the areas already in use - are very arid, there are hardly any water sources for artificial irrigation and agricultural use is therefore not possible, an end to the high number of imports is not in sight. Currently, however, parts of the Egyptian desert west of the Nile are being made available for agriculture as part of the Toshka project . Traditionally the most important product is cotton . In addition, sugar cane , corn , rice , wheat, millet, potatoes , fruit and vegetables grown. Due to the lack of permanent grassland, livestock farming is dependent on the cultivation of feed. Cattle and buffalo are used as pack animals and work animals, as well as sheep and goats for meat and milk production.


In the larger industrial companies, there is usually a close interdependence between government and business (government members as co-owners). The number of private companies, some with foreign participation such as in vehicle construction , has increased significantly since the 1970s. The oldest branches of industry are the processing of cotton , sugar and other agricultural products. Later, cement , - fertilizers -, iron -, steel - and aluminum production , electrical and chemical-pharmaceutical industry, oil refining , as well as mechanical engineering and vehicle added. One of the largest private companies is Asfour Crystal International (approx. 23,000 employees in Cairo - el Shobra), which specializes in the production of lead crystal with over 30% lead content and thus with the production of crystal chandeliers for private use as well as for industrial use are world market leaders. Since 2001, the company has also been the world market leader in crystal gemstones and crystal figures, among other things. Due to the low export power (see foreign trade ), government contracts for the producers of building materials (steel, cement, etc.) play an important role.

Natural resources, energy

The most important mineral resource is oil , which is mainly extracted in the Gulf of Suez , in the Kattara Depression and on the Sinai Peninsula . In addition, raw phosphates , iron and manganese ores and salt are extracted. The deposits of asbestos , sulfur , non-ferrous metals and uranium ores are mostly still untapped . The natural gas , which has been extracted since 1975, is used exclusively in Germany to generate energy and for fertilizer production. The construction of several thermal power plants based on natural gas as well as some nuclear power plants is planned. The two hydropower plants on the old Aswan Dam and the new high dam generate around 15% of Egypt's electricity; However, if the water level of Lake Nasser falls further, power generation is at risk.

In November 2011 it was reported that Egypt was planning to switch to renewable energies . According to the forecasts, the country's electricity consumption will increase by around eight percent annually. A first solar farm to support thermal power generation with 20 MW went into operation in 2011, and by 2020 the share of renewable energy should be 20 percent. The capacity of wind turbines is also to be increased to 7.2 GW by 2020 ; Around 550 MW were in operation in mid-2013. The use of wind energy is promoted through tenders. A letter of intent was signed in 2015 for PV solar parks with an installed capacity of 2000 MW, but no substantial progress was made in mid-2016.

In November 2015 and March 2016, however, purchase and financing agreements were concluded for the three gas-fired power plants Beni Suef, Burullus and New Capital, which, when completed in 2018, are expected to be the three largest in the world with an output of 4800 MW each. In total, their annual CO 2 emissions will roughly correspond to those of the world's largest lignite power plants in Bełchatów and Neurath . Nevertheless, there was a guarantee from the Federal Republic of Germany for the financing by means of a Hermes guarantee .

Foreign trade

The foreign trade balance has been in deficit for years. Imports are nowhere near financed by export revenues, which has resulted in enormous external debt . In 2004 goods worth US $ 19.8 billion were imported, including 18% food, 17% machines and vehicles, 13% industrial primary products, 11% chemical products, 8% raw materials and 8% fuels. 13% of the goods came from the USA, 7% from Germany, 7% Italy, 5% France, 5% PR China , 5% United Kingdom, 4% Saudi Arabia and 3% Spain.

In the same period, goods worth US $ 10.4 billion were exported, including 40% fuels and technical oils, 20% industrial primary products, 9% foodstuffs, 8% raw materials, 5% chemical products and 4% finished products. The main customers were 13% Italy, 12% USA, 7% United Kingdom, 5% Germany, 5% Spain, 4% France, 3% Netherlands , 2% Jordan, 2% Turkey, 2% South Korea and 2% Saudi Arabia.

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 92.37 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 60.09 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 9.7% of GDP .
National debt was around $ 322 billion, or 97% of GDP, in 2016.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:

Tourism and transport

A traveler climbs the pyramid of Cheops (1860/80, Pascal Sébah )

The tourism is one of the main economic sources of income in the country. The Egyptian antiquities in particular are a great attraction for foreign visitors. Thomas Cook invented the package tour here in 1869, in which he guided British and Americans through the land of the pharaohs. In addition to Gizeh , Cairo and Alexandria, Luxor is also popular, from where, among other things, the Valley of the Kings can be reached. Luxor is also the starting point for Nile cruises to Aswan. From there flights and bus tours to Abu Simbel are offered. Most tour operators then offer a domestic flight to Cairo and, after this stay in Cairo, a beach holiday in Hurghada .

The 2011 revolution in Egypt had a direct impact on the tourism sector. In 2010, 14.7 million tourists were counted, 1.3 million of them from Germany. In 2011 there were only 9.8 million tourists, of which around 965,000 came from Germany.

The tourist stronghold is Hurghada on the Red Sea. The modern tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula is particularly popular with diving enthusiasts, and in recent years more and more underwater athletes have come to Dahab, which is north of it . Due to the general increase in diving tourism, places south of Hurghada, along the western coast of the Red Sea, are also being developed. These include al-Qusair and Marsa Alam , as well as asch-Schalatin shortly before the Sudanese border . In the foreseeable future, the border to the Hala'ib triangle will open. 30 km from the border with Sudan, 20-25 km inland, is the Gebel Elba National Park , which is a new tourist magnet.

The most important mode of transport is the railroad, the network of the Egyptian State Railways (route length around 7700 km) is the oldest in all of Africa. Like the road network (total length around 45,000 km; two thirds are paved), it is concentrated on the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta. A road tunnel under the Suez Canal connects the Egyptian heartland with the Sinai Peninsula. The 162 km long Suez Canal between the Mediterranean port of Port Said and Port Taufiq near Suez on the Red Sea plays an important role . After several expansion stages it can be used by ships up to 240,000 DWT , i. H. from the great majority of all ships. The largest, at times heavily congested seaport is Alexandria . In addition, 3,350 km of inland waterways are navigable, on which 25% of freight traffic is carried out. Cairo, Alexandria, Marsa Alam and Luxor have international airports.

Tourism was and is influenced by terrorist attacks: These occurred in the 1990s and 2000s. Significant events were Luxor 1997, Sinai 2004 and 2005 and 2006 in Dahab . Unknown perpetrators detonated a total of 400 kilos of explosives on July 23, 2005 at three locations in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, which is heavily frequented by foreign tourists , killing 64 people and injuring more than 200. In addition to the Al-Qaeda- affiliated Abdullah Assam Brigades , which were also responsible for the October 2004 attacks in Taba , another previously unknown terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attacks . By July 26, police had arrested 140 suspects. According to the Interior Ministry, the two main culprits in the series of bombs were arrested on August 14. There were further bloody terrorist attacks in Dahab. On April 24, 2006, three explosive devices exploded in the seaside resort on the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 23 people and injuring 80 others, some seriously. Parliament then extended the state of emergency that had been in force since 1981 by two years. Security forces arrested around 40 suspects by mid-May and killed seven alleged assassins or masterminds of the attacks. On May 9, the leader of the terrorist organization Tawheed wal Jihad , which is blamed for the recent attacks, was killed in a gun battle in northern Sinai. After several wars, Egypt is still at risk of landmines in Sinai and on the border with Libya .

Concerning the possible absence of tourists because of dying animals, beaches full of plastic waste, a one-way plastic ban has been in effect in one province of the country since June 2019. This province of Bahr Al-Ahmar extends 800 kilometers along the Red Sea to the border with Sudan. The governor threatens graduated with a warning, then with a fine, with the third violation determined by the state with the closure of the company. The Egyptian non-governmental organization HEPCA is strategically supporting lectures in schools, distributing reusable shopping bags and showing alternatives. Environmental protection is viewed by many locals as a luxury issue .



Egyptian mummy portrait from the second century AD

The cultural history of Egypt goes back 6000 years. The Ancient Egypt was among the first civilizations and kept for thousands of years an enormously complex and stable culture that later cultures in Europe, the Middle East and Africa affected. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism , Christianity and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture are still present and interact with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture .

Cairo has been one of the intellectual and cultural centers of the Arab world for centuries. The city is the seat of the renowned Islamic college al-Azhar and the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. It is considered the most important center of the Arab book market and is home to large libraries, museums and the first opera house in the Arab world. Cairo is an important center of the Arab film industry. For many foreign media too, the Egyptian capital is the location and news hub for the Arab countries. The most important cultural events include the Cairo International Book Fair, the International Film Festival and the International Festival of Experimental Theater. In addition, there is still an active independent cultural scene. Numerous galleries, exhibition spaces, music labels and event locations, which are often located in empty buildings in the magnificent but ailing city center, offer a varied program and are closely linked to the international cultural scene. Many artists from these circles have made their breakthrough in recent years and are very popular at international festivals. Her works often reflect the political upheavals of recent years. Since 2015, the independent cultural scene, as a meeting place for free expression of opinion, has also been increasingly subject to increased state control and repression.

Egypt also has the highest number of Nobel Prize winners in Africa and the entire Arab world. Some Egyptian-born politicians hold important positions in large international organizations, such as Boutros Boutros-Ghali in the UN and Mohammed el-Baradei in the IAEA .

Furthermore, Egypt is known as a cultural pioneer and thus a “trendsetter” in the Arabic-speaking world, which is why contemporary Arabic culture is very much shaped by Egyptian literature and music as well as Egyptian films and television. Egypt gained its regional dominance between 1950 and 1960.

Cultural identity

The Nile Valley was home to one of the oldest cultures in the world, whose history spanned over 3000 years. A series of different foreign dominations after 343 BC. BC made its mark on the Egyptian cultural landscape. During this long period of occupation, Egyptian identity basically developed out of adaptation to two new religions, Islam and Christianity, and a new language, namely Arabic . Egyptian Arabic was then developed from Arabic .

After 2,000 years of occupation, three ideologies emerged that were widespread among the now independent Egyptians: on the one hand, so-called ethno-territorial Egyptian nationalism, also known as "pharaonicism", on the other hand, secular Arab nationalism or pan-Arabism and the Islamism . Egyptian nationalism precedes its Arab counterpart by several decades because it has its roots in the 19th century, where it was an expression of anti-colonialist activists and intellectuals up to the early 20th century. Under Nasser , Arab nationalism reached its absolute high point in the sense of Nasserism , after which it subsided again under Sadat. Meanwhile, Islamism, such as that represented by the Muslim Brotherhood , found favor with smaller sections of the lower middle class.

The work of the scholar Rifa'a at-Tahtawi led in the early 19th century to the Egyptian "Renaissance" ( Nahda ), which represents the transition from the Middle Ages to early modern Egypt. It was precisely this work that renewed interest in Egyptian antiquities and brought Egyptian society into contact with the principles of the Enlightenment . Tahtawi founded together with the educational reformer Ali Pascha Mubarak a local school of Egyptology, which was based on medieval scholars such as Suyūtī and Maqrīzī ; they themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.

With the work of people like Muhammad Abduh , Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed , Muhammad Loutfi Goumah , Taufiq al-Hakim , Louis Awad , Qasim Amin , Salama Moussa , Taha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhta , the cultural "renaissance" reached its peak in the late 19th century . and early 20th century. They paved a liberal path for Egypt, which is expressed in a commitment to personal freedom, secularism and belief in science for the sake of progress.

Art and architecture

Egypt was one of the first civilizations to successfully encode design elements in art and architecture. The murals created in the service of the pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. The Egyptian civilization is famous worldwide for its huge pyramids , temples and tombs. The most famous examples include the pyramid of Djoser , which was designed by the architect and engineer Imhotep , the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Temple of Abu Simbel . Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can compete with the global art scene, from the functional architecture of Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef to Mahmoud Mokhtar's sculptures and the characteristic Coptic iconography by Isaac Fanous .

The Cairo Opera acts as the main performing arts venue in the capital. The media and art industries have been flourishing since the 19th century, there are more than thirty satellite channels in today's Egypt and around 100 films are produced each year. Cairo is also known as "Hollywood of the Middle East"; the annual Cairo International Film Festival was rated as one of eleven festivals worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations with a top-class rating. In order to further promote the media industry, especially with regard to the competition from the Gulf States and Lebanon , a large "Media City" was built. A well-known Egyptian actor was Omar Sharif .

Egyptian feature film production
year Quantity
1975 49
1985 75
1995 13th
2005 23


The Egyptian mass media have great influence in the Arab world , mainly due to their sizeable audiences and increasing freedom from state restrictions. Even if the freedom of the media is theoretically guaranteed by the constitution, many laws still restrict this right. After the presidential elections in 2005 , Ahmed Selim, Office Manager of Information Minister Anas El-Fiqqi , proclaimed an era of “free, transparent and independent Egyptian media”.

Today the media experience greater freedom. Various Egyptian talk shows such as “90 Minutes” and “Al-Ashera Masa'an” are broadcast on private channels, and even state programs such as “El-beit beitak” openly criticize the government for what was previously banned.

The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) is the state broadcasting company of Egypt. The German wave -TV radiates since 28 February 2005. daily from three hours Arabic program on the Egyptian satellite NileSat in the Middle East.

The internet was used by 30.8 million Egyptians or 33.0% of the population in 2016. Social media has played a role in the revolutions of the past few years.


The literature is an important element of cultural life in Egypt; Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature . The forms they developed were mimicked throughout the Middle East. The first modern book in Egyptian colloquial language "Zaynab" by Muhammed Husayn Haykal was published in 1913. Salama Moussa fought for the simplification of the high Arabic literary language, which is still not understood by many people today. His student, the author Nagib Mahfuz , was the first Arabic-speaking author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature . Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi , who is well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat , who writes about women and tradition, among other things.

National-language poetry is probably the most popular literary genre among the Egyptians, the genre is particularly represented by Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi. In their belief, boats were used by the dead to accompany the sun on its way around the world, the sky is called "upper waters". In Egyptian mythology, the serpentine god Apophis attacks the sun boat every night while it brings the sun (and thus order) back to the kingdom in the morning. The boat is also called the “boat of the millions” because all the gods and souls of the blessed dead will one day be needed to defend and steer it.


The Egyptian music is a rich mixture of Arab, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. In ancient Egypt, harps, flutes and reed instruments were mainly played. Percussion and vocal music have always been an important part of local musical traditions, the flutes nay and shabbaba and the lute oud are common . Regional folk music styles include the lyres simsimiyya and Tanbura and the spike fiddle Rebab. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its roots back to the works of Abdu-I Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmud Osman; these thus influenced the important musicians Sayed Darwish , Umm Kulthum , Mohamed Abdelwahab and Abdel Halim Hafez . By 1970, Egyptian pop music became increasingly important to culture, while folk continued to be played at weddings and other festivities. Amr Diab and Mohamed Mounir are among the most prominent contemporary pop musicians .


Many festivals and religious folk festivals known as "mulid" are celebrated in Egypt. These are mostly associated with a certain Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by all Egyptians regardless of belief or religion. The Ramadan in Egypt has its own note; it is celebrated with music, lights (local lanterns are called "fawannes") and many fires, which attracts Muslim tourists from the region to the country to watch the spectacle. The old spring festival Sham el Nisim (Coptic “shom en nisim”) has been celebrated for thousands of years, typically between the months of the Egyptian calendar Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday .


Football is the national sport of Egypt. The best-known teams with a reputation for long-standing regional champions are as follows:

Major games manage to liven up the streets of Egypt, as a team's victory is often an occasion for celebration. Especially the game al Ahly against al Zamalek , also known as the Cairo Derby , is considered to be one of the most passionate and combative games in the world. The BBC called it one of the toughest derbies in the world. Egyptian football history is extensive as football has been played there for more than 100 years. The country has hosted many African competitions, e.g. B. the Africa Cup of Nations . In 1990 , the Egyptian national team qualified for the last time for a World Cup before qualifying again for the 2018 World Cup . She has won the African Cup of Nations seven times, twice in a row (1957 and 1959) and three times in a row (2006, 2008 and 2010), which no team had achieved before.

Another popular sport in Egypt is squash . The Egyptian national squash team has been participating in international competitions since the 1930s and has been world champion in team competition five times since then . Egypt's best players are Amr Shabana , who won the world championship four times and topped the world rankings for a total of 33 months, and Ramy Ashour , who was world champion three times. In the women's category, Nour El Sherbini became the first Egyptian to win the 2015 World Championship.

Handball is another popular team sport. The Egyptian handball team is one of the strongest on the continent and has the third highest medal level in the African handball championship . Egypt was in 1999 and again in 2021 host the Handball World Championship for Men .

In 2007 Omar Samra went on an expedition to Mount Everest with Ben Stephens (England), Victoria James (Wales) and Greg Maud (South Africa) . This expedition began on March 25th and lasted a little over seven weeks. On May 17th at exactly 9:49 a.m. Nepal time, Omar Samra became the first Egyptian to ever climb the 8,848 meter high mountain.

Egypt has participated in the Summer Olympics since 1912 . The sports associations are closely linked to the state authorities and thus have a double influence: They control the flow of state funds and the granting of licenses to private investors and media companies.


To ancient Egypt:


  • Anne-Béatrice Clasmann: The Arabic (nightmare) dream. Uprising without a goal. 2nd Edition. Passagen Verlag, Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-7092-0217-3 (Passagen Subject), pp. 119–150 (= The Egyptian Illusion ).
  • Fouad N. Ibrahim, Barbara Ibrahim: Egypt. Geography, history, economics, politics. (= WBG country customers ). Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-17420-8 .
  • anonymous: Egypt; what it was - is - and could be, or description of the cities, inhabitants, religion, customs, products, rivers [et] c. this country . Berlin 1799 ( digitized version ).

Technical lexicons:

Web links

Wiktionary: Egypt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Egypt  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Egypt  - geographical and historical maps
Wikisource: Egypt  - Sources and Full Texts
Wikivoyage: Egypt  Travel Guide
 Wikinews: Portal: Egypt  - in the news

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Coordinates: 26 °  N , 29 °  E