30 interesting facts about Egypt

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The most interesting facts about Egypt, from the most visited country in Africa to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks

The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Many facts about Egypt come from its ancient history (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Arab Republic of Egypt
Population: 106,437,241
Area: 1,001,450 sq km
Capital city: Cairo
Major languages: Arabic, English, French
Major religions: Islam
Time zone: UTC+2 (Egypt Standard Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Egypt

1. Egypt is a country located in North Africa bordering Israel, Libya, Sudan and the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
– Source: Britannica

2. Egypt is ethnically homogeneous with Egyptians comprising more than 99% of the population.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

3. Egypt is famous for its ancient civilisation. For almost 3,000 years (from around 3100 BC to 332 BC), ancient Egypt was the most notable civilisation in the Mediterranean world.
– Source: History Channel

A map of North Africa, the Nile and the Sahara Desert
Many interesting facts about Egypt are related to its geography (Shutterstock)

4. Ancient Egypt ended when Alexander the Great, of ancient Macedonia, conquered Egypt in 332 BC and founded Alexandria. Egypt was ruled by a Macedonian dynasty until 31 BC and then by the ensuing Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman empires.
– Source: BBC News1, BBC News2,

5. By population, Egypt is now the world’s largest Arab country.
– Source: World Bank

6. Egypt has a horizontally striped red, white and black flag with a gold hawk in the centre. The flag is similar to that of Syria, Iraq and Yemen which are all based on the Arab Liberation Flag. The colours represent oppression (black), bloody struggle (red) and a bright future (white). The gold hawk is the symbol of the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe.
– Source: Britannica, CIA World Fact Book

Egypt's flag flying in front of a blue sky
Egypt’s flag (Shutterstock)

7. Egypt has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Africa, only South Africa (10), Ethiopia (9), Morocco (9) and Tunisia (8) have more.
– Source: UNESCO

8. Probably the most recognised landmarks of ancient Egypt is the pyramid. At least 118 pyramids were built by the pharaohs as royal tombs.
– Source: Reuters, National Geographic

9. The most famous of which is the Great Pyramid of Giza which is the only wonder of the ancient world that has survived to the present day.
– Source: History Channel

The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza (Shutterstock)

10. The longest documented reign of any monarch is that of Egypt’s Pharaoh Pepi II who ruled for 94 years from around 2281 BC. He became king when he was just six years old.
– Source: Guinness World Records

11. From 1859 to 1869, the Suez Canal was built in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea via a 193.3km (120 miles) artificial sea-level waterway. It is one of the world’s most heavily used and important shipping lanes.​​
– Source: Suez Canal Authority

12. In 2021, a container ship called the Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal and was stuck for six days, disrupting global supply chains freezing nearly $10 billion in trade a day.
– Source: New York Times

Container ships in the Suez Canal
Container ships in the Suez Canal (Shutterstock)

13. The longest river in the world, the Nile, runs through Egypt. The river’s total length is 6,695km (4,160 miles) and runs from as far away as Burundi and Lake Victoria in East Africa all the way to the Mediterranean in North Africa.
– Source: Guinness World Records, National Geographic

14. The Nile River – and the rich soil found along its banks and delta – was critical to the development of ancient Egypt. Today, 95% of Egypt’s population still live within a few kilometres of the Nile.
– Source: National Geographic

15. The rest of Egypt is largely covered by the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert (excludes Arctic and Antarctic deserts) and covers 8.5 million square kilometres (3.3 million square miles). The Nile divides the Egyptian desert plateau into two sections known as the Western Desert and the Eastern Desert.
– Source: National Geographic, Britannica

Sand dunes
The Sahara Desert in central Egypt (Shutterstock)

16. Egypt are the most successful national football team in Africa. They have won the Africa Cup of Nations tournament seven times, qualified for the FIFA World Cup three times and, in 1934, became the first team outside the Americas and Europe to participate in the World Cup.
– Source: Britannica1, Britannica2, FIFA (pdf)

17. The UNESCO-listed Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) in Egypt is home to the fossil remains of the earliest, and now extinct, species of whale.
– Source: UNESCO

18. On 25th January 2011, Egypt erupted into what would come to be known as the ‘Egyptian revolution’, part of the wider ‘Arab Spring’ regional movement. Millions of protesters took to the streets in Eqypt demonstrating against police brutality and Hosni Mubarak’s presidency. The surprisingly eventually led to the fall of Mubarak and the first democratically elected president in Egypt, but also further instability, military intervention and fresh protests.
– Source: BBC News, The Guardian

19. One of the earliest known writing systems was invented by the ancient Egyptians. The pictorial symbols were called hieroglyphs, which comes from a Greek word meaning ‘sacred carving’ and could be written vertically, horizontally, left to right or right to left.
– Source: BBC Bitesize

hieroglyphs carved on a wall
Hieroglyphs (Shutterstock)

20. In 1882, Britain took control of Egypt after defeating the Egyptian army before making Egypt a British protectorate in 1914.
– Source: BBC News

21. In 1922, Egypt gained independence with Fuad I becoming king.
– Source: BBC News

22. Egypt is in the process of relocating its capital city 45km (28 miles) away from Cairo to a brand new purpose-built city. Currently known as “New Administrative Capital”, the new city is hoped to ease congestion in Cairo.
– Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters

A modern hotel and water feature in Egypt's new capital city
New buildings in New Administrative Capital (Shutterstock)

23. Cairo gets its name from the Arabic “al-Qahira” which means “the victorious”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

24. The English name “Egypt” comes from the ancient Greek name for the country “Aigyptos” while the Arabic name “Misr” comes from the Akkadian word “misru” meaning border or frontier.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

25. The world’s oldest dress is from Egypt. The Tarkhan Dress has been radiocarbon dated to between 5,100 and 5,500 years old and as such is the world’s oldest woven garment.
– Source: National Geographic

26. The UNESCO-listed city of Thebes was the capital of Egypt during much of Ancient Egypt. A popular tourist destination, the site is noted for its temples and palaces at Karnak and Luxor, and the necropolises of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
– Source: UNESCO

Aerial view of Luxor in Egypt
Luxor ruins (Shutterstock)

27. The ancient Egyptians invented the 365-day calendar. The Egyptian calendar was based on 12 30-day lunar cycles (360 days in total). But this was incompatible with the true solar year which so to solve this, the Egyptians added five extra days to the year.
– Source: Britannica

28. Egypt is the most visited country in Africa receiving over 13 million tourists a year.
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

29. Egypt (along with other countries in the region) has gone to war with Israel several times since 1948 in what has become known as the Arab-Israeli wars.
– Source: Britannica

30. Egypt is part of an area known as the Fertile Crescent, also known as the “Cradle of Civilization”. The Fertile Crescent covers a roughly crescent-shaped area of fertile land that includes parts of present-day Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Cyprus.
– Source: History Channel

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