Traveling Luck for Egypt
Egypt is located in 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.
Land in Egypt is vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta.
Egyptian land covers an area of 1001450 square kilometers which is slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico
As for the Egyptian climate; desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters.
Egyptian(s) speak Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes.
Places of note in Egypt
- Al Jīzah
- Port Said
- Al Maḩallah al Kubrá
- Al Manşūrah
- Al Fayyūm
- Az Zaqāzīq
- Kafr ad Dawwār
- Al Minyā
- Banī Suwayf
- Kafr ash Shaykh
- Al `Arīsh
- Al Ḩawāmidīyah
- Bilqās Qism Awwal
- Abū Kabīr
Egyptian National Map
Regions of Egypt
- Ad Daqahlīyah
- Al Baḩr al Aḩmar
- Al Buḩayrah
- Al Fayyūm
- Al Gharbīyah
- Al Iskandarīyah
- Al Ismā‘īlīyah
- Al Jīzah
- Al Minūfīyah
- Al Minyā
- Al Qāhirah
- Al Qalyūbīyah
- Al Wādī al Jadīd
- Ash Sharqīyah
- As Suways
- Banī Suwayf
- Būr Sa‘īd
- Egypt (general)
- Janūb Sīnāʼ
- Kafr ash Shaykh
- Shamāl Sīnāʼ
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. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. 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 following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered 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 ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.
Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. In the last 30 years, the government has reformed the highly centralized economy it inherited from President NASSER. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew nearly 5%. Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a growing budget deficit - more than 8% of GDP in 2005 - and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment remains low. To achieve higher GDP growth the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reform, especially in the energy sector. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.
Egyptian natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc
controls Sinai Peninsula, 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
Egyptian religion is Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%.
Natural hazards in Egypt include periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms, sandstorms.
- There is a high threat from terrorism in Egypt. Attacks can be indiscriminate and against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
- Since October 2004 there have been three separate bomb attacks in the Sinai Peninsula. These attacks have killed and injured a number of British nationals. The most recent incident was on 24 April 2006 when there were explosions at three separate locations in the resort town of Dahab, in which 23 people were killed and more than 60 injured. You should see the Terrorism Section of this travel advice for more information.
- Developments in the region may trigger public unrest. You should take care to avoid demonstrations, which can turn hostile, and be particularly vigilant in public places.
- Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Egypt have resulted in twelve human fatalities. As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. For further information see Avian Influenza section below and also read the FCO’s Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
- Approximately 1,033,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2006. Most visits are trouble-free. The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Egypt are for hospital cases, especially in relation to psychiatric illness; and death, mostly from natural causes and drowning. The majority of consular cases occur in Cairo, Luxor and Sharm el-Sheikh, where most tourists stay. The crime rate in Egypt is low but you should safeguard valuables including your passport and money.
- Egyptian society is conservative and women should dress modestly.
- You should carry some form of photographic ID at all times. A copy of your passport is sufficient.
- We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see Travel Insurance.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
The crime rate in Egypt is low but you should take sensible precautions. Take care of your passport and valuables, use hotel safes and be aware of pickpockets and bag snatchers. If you are travelling alone or in small groups, you are advised to take extra caution, as there have been reports of harassment, the majority targeting women, especially on the streets of busy cities or at the beach resorts. If you are the victim of any crime you must report it to the Tourist Police immediately. Failure to report crimes before you leave Egypt will make it impossible to seek a prosecution at a later date.
Taxis and minibuses often overcharge tourists for airport transfers. You should ensure that you agree with the driver a charge for the ride before taking it.
Egypt Country Profile
Opposition in Egypt to Western and British policy in the Middle East is widespread. The conflict in Iraq triggered demonstrations across the country and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues to provoke public anger and demonstrations.
You should follow news reports and be alert to developments in the Middle East that might trigger public disturbance. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, and respect any advice or instruction from the local security authorities.
Road and Rail Safety
Local driving conditions and poor vehicle maintenance make road travel outside the main cities hazardous. Avoid driving on country roads at night and observe the local speed limit. Make sure you obtain third party insurance. In the event of an accident emergency medical facilities are limited.
There have been two serious bus crashes since 1 January 2006, in which 46 people were killed.
By law, seatbelts must be worn when travelling in the front of a vehicle. Where available, seatbelts should be worn at all times. Child car seats are available locally.
Foreign residents must apply for an Egyptian driving licence. Visitors need an international driving licence.
Only certain categories of foreign residents may import vehicles. Vehicles of visitors should be temporarily imported with a valid “carnet de passage” available from the Automobile Association.
Pavement and pedestrian crossings are not always present and drivers do not give right of way to pedestrians.
If travelling off road, a qualified guide should be employed.
Egypt's extensive rail network has experienced a number of accidents in recent years. The most serious took place in February 2002, when a fire developed in a train in southern Egypt and led to 361 fatalities. Most recently 58 people died and 114 were injured when two passenger trains collided in northern Cairo on 21 August 2006. There were no foreigners among those killed or injured.
River and Sea Safety
There have been a number of accidents involving Nile cruisers during the last couple of years. An Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea between Duba, Saudi Arabia and Safaga, Egypt in February 2006.
If you are considering diving or snorkelling in any of the Red Sea resorts you should be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably. Where possible you should make any bookings through your tour representative, and ensure that your travel insurance covers you fully before you dive.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
You should be aware that during Ramadan (which in 2007 falls between mid September and mid October) eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims (though not for children under the age of eight). Although alcohol will be available in some hotels and restaurants, drinking alcohol elsewhere may cause offence. As a courtesy you may wish to avoid drinking, eating and smoking in public places during Ramadan.
Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can, even for possession of small amounts, lead to long prison sentences (25 years) or the death penalty.
Photography of or near military official installations is strictly prohibited. Don’t photograph officials without their consent.
Egypt is an Islamic country. The government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity, but conversion to the Christian faith is frowned upon and encouraging conversion is illegal.
Although homosexuality is not in itself illegal under Egyptian law, homosexual acts in public are illegal and homosexuals have been convicted for breaching laws on public decency.
Women are advised to take extra caution when travelling alone as there have been isolated incidents of harassment and sexual assault, including rape.
Egyptian family law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue. Please see the child abduction page on the FCO website.