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Egypt Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Egypt Map

Introduction

Background

The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 elevated Egypt as an important world transportation hub. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty from Britain in 1952. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have reaffirmed the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to meet the demands of Egypt's fast-growing population as it implements far-reaching economic reforms, including the reduction of select subsidies, large-scale infrastructure projects, energy cooperation, and foreign direct investment appeals.

Inspired by the 2010 Tunisian revolution, Egyptian opposition groups led demonstrations and labor strikes countrywide, culminating in President Hosni MUBARAK's ouster in 2011. Egypt's military assumed national leadership until a new legislature was in place in early 2012; later that same year, Muhammad MURSI won the presidential election. Following protests throughout the spring of 2013 against MURSI's government and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Armed Forces intervened and removed MURSI from power in July 2013 and replaced him with interim president Adly MANSOUR. Simultaneously, the government began enacting laws to limit freedoms of assembly and expression. In January 2014, voters approved a new constitution by referendum and in May 2014 elected former defense minister Abdelfattah ELSISI president. Egypt elected a new legislature in December 2015, its first Hose of Representatives since 2012. ELSISI was reelected to a second four-year term in March 2018. In April 2019, Egypt approved via national referendum a set of constitutional amendments extending ELSISI’s term in office through 2024 and possibly through 2030 if re-elected for a third term. The amendments would also allow future presidents up to two consecutive six-year terms in office, re-establish an upper legislative house, allow for one or more vice presidents, establish a 25% quota for female legislators, reaffirm the military’s role as guardian of Egypt, and expand presidential authority to appoint the heads of judicial councils.

Geography

Location

Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula

Geographic coordinates

27 00 N, 30 00 E

Map references

Africa

Area

total: 1,001,450 sq km

land:995,450 sq km

water:6,000 sq km

country comparison to the world: 31

Area - comparative

more than eight times the size of Ohio; slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico

Land boundaries

total: 2,612 km

border countries (4):Gaza Strip 13 km, Israel 208 km, Libya 1115 km, Sudan 1276 km

Coastline

2,450 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone:24 nm

exclusive economic zone:200 nm or the equidistant median line with Cyprus

continental shelf:200 nm

Climate

desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters

Terrain

vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta

Elevation

highest point: Mount Catherine 2,629 m

lowest point:Qattara Depression -133 m

mean elevation:321 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, rare earth elements, zinc

Land use

agricultural land: 3.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest:0.1% (2018 est.)

other:96.3% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

36,500 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

57.5 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

approximately 95% of the population lives within 20 km of the Nile River and its delta; vast areas of the country remain sparsely populated or uninhabited as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes; flash floods; landslides; hot, driving windstorms called khamsin occur in spring; dust storms; sandstorms

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified:Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Geography - note

note 1: controls Sinai Peninsula, the only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics; dependence on upstream neighbors; dominance of Nile basin issues; prone to influxes of refugees from Sudan and the Palestinian territories

note 2: the earliest evidence for wild sorghum cultivation occurs in southern Egypt and dates to roughly 7500 B.C.

People and Society

Population

106,437,241 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Nationality

noun: Egyptian(s)

adjective:Egyptian

Ethnic groups

Egyptian 99.7%, other 0.3% (2006 est.)

note: data represent respondents by nationality

Languages

Arabic (official), English, and French widely understood by educated classes

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، أفضل مصدر للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:

Religions

Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 90%, Christian (majority Coptic Orthodox, other Christians include Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox, and Anglican) 10% (2015 est.)

Demographic profile

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the third most populous country in Africa, behind Nigeria and Ethiopia. Most of the country is desert, so about 95% of the population is concentrated in a narrow strip of fertile land along the Nile River, which represents only about 5% of Egypt’s land area. Egypt’s rapid population growth – 46% between 1994 and 2014 – stresses limited natural resources, jobs, housing, sanitation, education, and health care.

Although the country’s total fertility rate (TFR) fell from roughly 5.5 children per woman in 1980 to just over 3 in the late 1990s, largely as a result of state-sponsored family planning programs, the population growth rate dropped more modestly because of decreased mortality rates and longer life expectancies. During the last decade, Egypt’s TFR decline stalled for several years and then reversed, reaching 3.6 in 2011, and has plateaued the last few years. Contraceptive use has held steady at about 60%, while preferences for larger families and early marriage may have strengthened in the wake of the recent 2011 revolution. The large cohort of women of or nearing childbearing age will sustain high population growth for the foreseeable future (an effect called population momentum).

Nevertheless, post-MUBARAK governments have not made curbing population growth a priority. To increase contraceptive use and to prevent further overpopulation will require greater government commitment and substantial social change, including encouraging smaller families and better educating and empowering women. Currently, literacy, educational attainment, and labor force participation rates are much lower for women than men. In addition, the prevalence of violence against women, the lack of female political representation, and the perpetuation of the nearly universal practice of female genital cutting continue to keep women from playing a more significant role in Egypt’s public sphere.

Population pressure, poverty, high unemployment, and the fragmentation of inherited land holdings have historically motivated Egyptians, primarily young men, to migrate internally from rural and smaller urban areas in the Nile Delta region and the poorer rural south to Cairo, Alexandria, and other urban centers in the north, while a much smaller number migrated to the Red Sea and Sinai areas. Waves of forced internal migration also resulted from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the floods caused by the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970. Limited numbers of students and professionals emigrated temporarily prior to the early 1970s, when economic problems and high unemployment pushed the Egyptian Government to lift restrictions on labor migration. At the same time, high oil revenues enabled Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other Gulf states, as well as Libya and Jordan, to fund development projects, creating a demand for unskilled labor (mainly in construction), which attracted tens of thousands of young Egyptian men.

Between 1970 and 1974 alone, Egyptian migrants in the Gulf countries increased from approximately 70,000 to 370,000. Egyptian officials encouraged legal labor migration both to alleviate unemployment and to generate remittance income (remittances continue to be one of Egypt’s largest sources of foreign currency and GDP). During the mid-1980s, however, depressed oil prices resulting from the Iran-Iraq War, decreased demand for low-skilled labor, competition from less costly South Asian workers, and efforts to replace foreign workers with locals significantly reduced Egyptian migration to the Gulf States. The number of Egyptian migrants dropped from a peak of almost 3.3 million in 1983 to about 2.2 million at the start of the 1990s, but numbers gradually recovered.

In the 2000s, Egypt began facilitating more labor migration through bilateral agreements, notably with Arab countries and Italy, but illegal migration to Europe through overstayed visas or maritime human smuggling via Libya also rose. The Egyptian Government estimated there were 6.5 million Egyptian migrants in 2009, with roughly 75% being temporary migrants in other Arab countries (Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates) and 25% being predominantly permanent migrants in the West (US, UK, Italy, France, and Canada).

During the 2000s, Egypt became an increasingly important transit and destination country for economic migrants and asylum seekers, including Palestinians, East Africans, and South Asians and, more recently, Iraqis and Syrians. Egypt draws many refugees because of its resettlement programs with the West; Cairo has one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world. Many East African migrants are interned or live in temporary encampments along the Egypt-Israel border, and some have been shot and killed by Egyptian border guards.

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Arab Republic of Egypt

conventional short form:Egypt

local long form:Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiyah

local short form:Misr

former:United Arab Republic (with Syria)

etymology:the English name "Egypt" derives from the ancient Greek name for the country "Aigyptos"; the Arabic name "Misr" can be traced to the ancient Akkadian "misru" meaning border or frontier

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Cairo

geographic coordinates:30 03 N, 31 15 E

time difference:UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: from the Arabic "al-Qahira," meaning "the victorious"

Administrative divisions

27 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat); Ad Daqahliyah, Al Bahr al Ahmar (Red Sea), Al Buhayrah, Al Fayyum, Al Gharbiyah, Al Iskandariyah (Alexandria), Al Isma'iliyah (Ismailia), Al Jizah (Giza), Al Minufiyah, Al Minya, Al Qahirah (Cairo), Al Qalyubiyah, Al Uqsur (Luxor), Al Wadi al Jadid (New Valley), As Suways (Suez), Ash Sharqiyah, Aswan, Asyut, Bani Suwayf, Bur Sa'id (Port Said), Dumyat (Damietta), Janub Sina' (South Sinai), Kafr ash Shaykh, Matruh, Qina, Shamal Sina' (North Sinai), Suhaj

Independence

28 February 1922 (from UK protectorate status; the military-led revolution that began on 23 July 1952 led to a republic being declared on 18 June 1953 and all British troops withdrawn on 18 June 1956); note - it was ca. 3200 B.C. that the Two Lands of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt were first united politically

National holiday

Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest approved by a constitutional committee in December 2013, approved by referendum held on 14-15 January 2014, ratified by interim president on 19 January 2014

amendments:proposed by the president of the republic or by one fifth of the House of Representatives members; a decision to accept the proposal requires majority vote by House members; passage of amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote by House members and passage by majority vote in a referendum; articles of reelection of the president and principles of freedom are not amendable unless the amendment "brings more guarantees;" amended 2019 (2021)

Legal system

mixed legal system based on Napoleonic civil and penal law, Islamic religious law, and vestiges of colonial-era laws; judicial review of the constitutionality of laws by the Supreme Constitutional Court

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only:if the father was born in Egypt

dual citizenship recognized:only with prior permission from the government

residency requirement for naturalization:10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: President Abdelfattah ELSISI (since 8 June 2014)

head of government:Prime Minister Mostafa MADBOULY (since 7 June 2018)

cabinet:Cabinet ministers nominated by the executive branch and approved by the House of Representatives

elections/appointments:president elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 6-year term (eligible for 3 consecutive terms); election last held on 26-28 March 2018 (next to be held in 2024); prime minister appointed by the president, approved by the House of Representatives; note - following  a constitutional amendment approved by referendum in April 2019, the presidential term was extended from 4 to 6 years and eligibility extended to 3 consecutive terms

election results:Abdelfattah ELSISI reelected president in first round; percent of valid votes cast - Abdelfattah ELSISI (independent) 97.1%, Moussa Mostafa MOUSSA (El Ghad Party) 2.9%; note - more than 7% of ballots cast were deemed invalid

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate (Majlis Al-Shiyoukh) (300 seats; 100 members elected in single seat constituencies, 100 elected by closed party-list system, and 100 appointed by the president; note - the upper house, previously the Shura Council, was eliminated in the 2014 constitution, reestablished as the Senate, following passage in a 2019 constitutional referendum and approved by the House of Representatives in June 2020 
House of Representatives (Majlis Al-Nowaab) (596 seats; 448 members directly elected by individual candidacy system, 120 members - with quotas for women, youth, Christians and workers - elected in party-list constituencies by simple majority popular vote, and 28 members appointed by the president; members of both houses serve 5-year terms

elections:Senate - first round held on 11-12 August 2020 (9-10 August for diaspora); second round to be held on 8-9 September (6-7 September for diaspora) (next to be held in 2025)
House of Representatives - last held from 17 October to 2 December 2015 (next to be held 24-25 October and 7-8 November 2020)

election results:Senate first round results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Nation's Future Party 100, independent 100; composition - NA  
House of Representatives (2015) - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Free Egyptians Party 65, Future of the Nation 53, New Wafd Party 36, Homeland's Protector Party 18, Republican People's Party 13, Congress Party 12, Al-Nour Party 11, Conservative Party 6, Democratic Peace Party 5, Egyptian National Movement 4, Egyptian Social Democratic Party 4, Modern Egypt Party 4, Freedom Party 3, My Homeland Egypt Party 3, Reform and Development Party 3, National Progressive Unionist Party 2, Arab Democratic Nasserist Party 1, El Serh El Masry el Hor 1, Revolutionary Guards Party 1, independent 351; composition - men 507, women 89, percent of women 14.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) (consists of the court president and 10 justices); the SCC serves as the final court of arbitration on the constitutionality of laws and conflicts between lower courts regarding jurisdiction and rulings; Court of Cassation (CC) (consists of the court president and 550 judges organized in circuits with cases heard by panels of 5 judges); the CC is the highest appeals body for civil and criminal cases, also known as "ordinary justices"; Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) (consists of the court president and NA judges and organized in circuits with cases heard by panels of 5 judges); the SAC is the highest court of the State Council

judge selection and term of office:under the 2014 constitution, all judges and justices selected and appointed by the Supreme Judiciary Council and approved as a formality by the president of the Republic; judges appointed for life; under the 2019 amendments, the president has the power to appoint heads of judiciary authorities and courts, the prosecutor general, and the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court

subordinate courts:Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; courts of limited jurisdiction; Family Court (established in 2004)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 8,760,436

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:8.61 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 19

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 95,340,262

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:93.68 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: with a large urbanized population and effective competition, Egypt has one of the largest fixed-line and mobile telecom markets in North Africa; investment has spurred broadband infrastructure and migration to digital economy; operator has ambitions for satellite/smart infrastructure based on 5G and fiber networks; Egypt’s geographical position enabled inexpensive bandwidth through fiber and cable connection to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; rural Internet connections continue to suffer from poor quality and low speeds; government disrupted service during political crises (2021) (2020)

domestic:fixed-line 9 per 100, mobile-cellular 95 per 100 (2019)

international:country code - 20; landing points for Aletar, Africa-1, FEA, Hawk, IMEWE, and the SEA-ME-WE-3 & 4 submarine cable networks linking to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia ; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean, 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat); tropospheric scatter to Sudan; microwave radio relay to Israel; a participant in Medarabtel (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

mix of state-run and private broadcast media; state-run TV operates 2 national and 6 regional terrestrial networks, as well as a few satellite channels; dozens of private satellite channels and a large number of Arabic satellite channels are available for free; some limited satellite services are also available via subscription; state-run radio operates about 30 stations belonging to 8 networks; privately-owned radio includes 8 major stations, 4 of which belong to 1 network (2019)

Internet country code

.eg

Internet users

total: 46,644,728

percent of population:46.92% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 18

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 7,598,941

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:7.47 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 24

Communications - note

one of the largest and most famous libraries in the ancient world was the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt (founded about 295 B.C., it may have survived in some form into the 5th century A.D.); seeking to resurrect the great center of learning and communication, the Egyptian Government in 2002 inaugurated the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an Egyptian National Library on the site of the original Great Library, which commemorates the original archive and also serves as a center of cultural and scientific excellence

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 14 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:101

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers:12,340,832 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers:437.63 million mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

SU

Airports

total: 83 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 65

Airports - with paved runways

total: 72 (2017)

over 3,047 m:15 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m:36 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m:15 (2017)

under 914 m:6 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 11 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m:1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m:3 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:4 (2013)

under 914 m:3 (2013)

Heliports

7 (2013)

Pipelines

486 km condensate, 74 km condensate/gas, 7986 km gas, 957 km liquid petroleum gas, 5225 km oil, 37 km oil/gas/water, 895 km refined products, 65 km water (2013)

Railways

total: 5,085 km (2014)

standard gauge:5,085 km 1.435-m gauge (62 km electrified) (2014)

country comparison to the world: 39

Roadways

total: 65,050 km (2017)

paved:48,000 km (2017)

unpaved:17,050 km (2017)

country comparison to the world: 74

Waterways

3,500 km (includes the Nile River, Lake Nasser, Alexandria-Cairo Waterway, and numerous smaller canals in Nile Delta; the Suez Canal (193.5 km including approaches) is navigable by oceangoing vessels drawing up to 17.68 m) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 29

Merchant marine

total: 402

by type:bulk carrier 14, container ship 8, general cargo 28, oil tanker 37, other 315 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 48

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Mediterranean Sea - Alexandria, Damietta, El Dekheila, Port Said

oil terminal(s):Ain Sukhna terminal, Sidi Kerir terminal

container port(s) (TEUs):Alexandria (1,613,000), Port Said (East) (2,968,308) (2017)

LNG terminal(s) (export):Damietta, Idku (Abu Qir Bay)

Gulf of Suez - Suez

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF): Army (includes surface-to-surface missile forces, special forces, Republican Guard), Navy (includes Coast Guard), Air Force, Air Defense Command; Ministry of Interior: Central Security Forces, National Police (2021)

note: some tribal militias in the Sinai Peninsula cooperate with the Egyptian military against insurgent/terrorist groups such as the Islamic State

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2019)

1.2% of GDP (2018)

1.4% of GDP (2017)

1.7% of GDP (2016)

1.7% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 110

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Army of Islam; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham – Sinai Province; Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; al-Qa’ida

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Sudan claims but Egypt de facto administers security and economic development of Halaib region north of the 22nd parallel boundary; Egypt no longer shows its administration of the Bir Tawil trapezoid in Sudan on its maps; Gazan breaches in the security wall with Egypt in January 2008 highlight difficulties in monitoring the Sinai border; Saudi Arabia claims Egyptian-administered islands of Tiran and Sanafir

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 70,010 (West Bank and Gaza Strip) (2019); 132,748 (Syria) (refugees), 49,249 (Sudan) (refugees and asylum seekers), 19,805 (South Sudan) (refugees and asylum seekers), 19,079 (Eritrea) (refugees and asylum seekers), 16,099 (Ethiopia) (refugees and asylum seekers), 9,267 (Yemen) (refugees and asylum seekers), 6,806 (Iraq) (refugees and asylum seekers), 6,730 (Somalia) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2021)

stateless persons:10 (2020)

Illicit drugs

transit point for cannabis, heroin, and opium moving to Europe, Israel, and North Africa; transit stop for Nigerian drug couriers; concern as money laundering site due to lax enforcement of financial regulations

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