U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Egypt, March 1995
Bureau of Public Affairs
Official Name: Arab Republic of Egypt
Area: 1 million sq. km. (386,000 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than Texas,
Oklahoma, and Arkansas combined.
Cities: Capital--Cairo (pop. over 14 million). Other cities--
Alexandria (6 million), Aswan, Asyut, Port Said, Suez, Ismailia.
Terrain: Desert, except Nile valley and delta.
Climate: Dry, hot summers; moderate winters.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Egyptian(s).
Population (1993): 56.4 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.2%.
Ethnic groups: Egyptian, Bedouin Arab, Nubian.
Religions: Sunni Muslim 90%, Coptic Christian.
Languages: Arabic (official), English, French.
Education: Years compulsory--ages 6-12. Literacy--48%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1992)--80/1,000. Life expectancy--58
yrs. male, 62 yrs. female.
Work force: Agriculture--39%. Government, public services, and armed
forces--32%. Privately owned service and manufacturing enterprises--
Branches: Executive--president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--
People's Assembly (444 elected and 10 presidentially appointed members)
and Shura (consultative) Council (172 elected members, 86 presidentially
appointed). Judicial--Supreme Constitutional Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 26 governorates.
Political parties: National Democratic Party (ruling), New Wafd Party,
Socialist Labor Party, Liberal Party, National Progressive Unionist
Grouping, Umma Party, Misr Al-Fattah Party, Green Party, Democratic
Nasserite Party, and Unionist Democratic Party.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (FY 1992-93): $40.3 billion.
Annual growth rate: 2.4%.
Per capita GDP: $715.
Natural resources: Petroleum and natural gas, iron ore, phosphates,
manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--cotton, rice, onions, beans, citrus fruits,
wheat, corn, barley, sugar.
Industry: Types--food processing, textiles, chemicals, petrochemicals,
construction, light manufacturing, iron and steel products, aluminum,
cement, military equipment.
Trade (FY 1992-93): Exports--$3.4 billion: petroleum, cotton,
manufactured goods. Major markets--Japan, Italy, Germany, France, U.K.
Imports--$10.7 billion: foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment,
paper and wood products. Major suppliers--U.S., Germany, France, Japan,
Netherlands, U.K., Italy.
Exchange rate (August 1994): 3.39 Egyptian pounds=U.S. $1.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and the second-most
populous on the African Continent. Nearly 100% of the country's 58
million people live in Cairo and Alexandria; elsewhere on the banks of
the Nile; in the Nile delta, which fans out north of Cairo; and along
the Suez Canal. These regions are among the world's most densely
populated, containing an average of over 1,540 person per square
kilometer (3,820 per sq. mi.).
Small communities spread throughout the desert regions of Egypt are
clustered around oases and historic trade and transportation routes.
The government has tried with mixed success to encourage migration to
newly irrigated land reclaimed from the desert. However, the proportion
of the population living in rural areas has continued to decrease as
people move to the cities in search of employment and a higher standard
The Egyptians are a fairly homogeneous people of Hamitic origin.
Mediterranean and Arab influences appear in the north, and there is some
mixing in the south with the Nubians of northern Sudan. Ethnic
minorities include a small number of Bedouin Arab nomads in the eastern
and western deserts and in the Sinai, as well as some 50,000-100,000
Nubians clustered along the Nile in upper Egypt.
The literacy rate is about 48% of the adult population. Education is
free through university and compulsory from ages six through 12. About
87% of children enter primary school; half drop out after their sixth
year. There are 20,000 primary and secondary schools with some 10
million students, 12 major universities with about 500,000 students, and
67 teacher colleges. Major universities include Cairo University
(100,000 students), Alexandria University, and the 1,000-year-old Al-
Azhar University, one of the world's major centers of Islamic learning.
Egypt's vast and rich literature constitutes an important cultural
element in the life of the country and in the Arab world as a whole.
Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with new
styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been
widely imitated. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahjfouz was the first Arab
to win the Nobel prize for literature. Egyptian books and films are
available throughout the Middle East.
Egypt has endured as a unified state for more than 5,000 years, and
archeological evidence indicates that a developed Egyptian society has
existed for much longer. Egyptians take pride in their "pharaonic
heritage" and in their descent from what they consider mankind's
earliest civilization. The Arabic word for Egypt is Misr, which
originally connoted "civilization" or "metropolis."
Archeological findings show that primitive tribes lived along the Nile
long before the dynastic history of the pharaohs began. By 6000 B.C.,
organized agriculture had appeared.
In about 3100 B.C., Egypt was united under a ruler known as Mena, or
Menes, who inaugurated the 30 pharaonic dynasties into which Egypt's
ancient history is divided--the Old and the Middle Kingdoms and the New
Empire. For the first time, the use and managements of vital resources
of the Nile River came under one authority.
The pyramids at Giza (near Cairo) were built in the fourth dynasty,
showing the power of the pharaonic religion and state. The Great
Pyramid, the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), is the only
surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient
Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth, and territorial extent in
the period called the New Empire (1567-1085 B.C.). Authority was again
centralized, and a number of military campaigns brought Palestine,
Syria, and northern Iraq under Egyptian control.
Persian, Greek, Roman, and Arab Conquerors
In 525 B.C., Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, led a Persian
invasion force that dethroned the last pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty. The
country remained a Persian province until Alexander the Great. The
Roman/Byzantine rule of Egypt lasted for nearly 700 years.
Following a brief Persian reconquest, Egypt was invaded and conquered by
Arab forces in 642. A process of Arabization and Islamization ensued.
Although a Coptic Christian minority remained--and remains today,
constituting about 10% of the population--the Arab language inexorably
supplanted the indigenous Coptic tongue. Ancient Egyptian ways--passed
from pharaonic times through the Persian, Greek, and Roman periods and
Egypt's Christian era--were gradually melded with or supplanted by
Islamic customs. For the next 1,300 years, a succession of Turkish,
Arabic, Mameluke, and Ottoman caliphs, beys, and sultans ruled the
Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Egypt in 1798. The three-year sojourn in
Egypt (1798-1801) of his army and a retinue of French scientists opened
Egypt to direct Western influence. Napoleon's adventure awakened Great
Britain to the importance of Egypt as a vital link with India and the
Far East and launched 150 years of Anglo-French rivalry over the region.
An Anglo-Ottoman invasion force drove out the French in 1801, and,
following a period of chaos, the Albanian Mohammed Ali obtain control of
the country. Ali ruled until 1849, and his successors retained at least
nominal control of Egypt until 1952. He imported European culture and
technology, introduced state organization of Egypt's economic life,
improved education, and fostered training in engineering and medicine.
His authoritarian rule was also marked by a series of foreign military
adventures. Ali's successors granted to the French Promoter, Ferdinand
de Lesseps, a concession for construction of the Suez Canal--begun in
1859 and opened 10 years later.
Their regimes were characterized by financial mismanagement and personal
extravagance that reduced Egypt to bankruptcy. These developments led
to rapid expansion of British and French financial oversight. This
produced popular resentment, which, in 1879, led to revolt.
In 1882, British expeditionary forces crushed this revolt, marking the
beginning of British occupation and the virtual inclusion of Egypt
within the British Empire. During the rule of three successive British
High Commissioners between 1883 and 1914, the British agency was the
real source of authority. It established special courts to enforce
foreign laws for foreigners residing in the country. These privileges
for foreigners generated increasing Egyptian resentment. To secure its
interests during World War I, Britain declared a formal protectorate
over Egypt on December 18, 1914. This lasted until 1922, when, in
deference to growing nationalism, the U.K. unilaterally declared
Egyptian independence. British influence, however, continued to
dominate Egypt's political life and fostered fiscal, administrative, and
In the post-independence period, three political forces competed with
one another: the Wafd, a broadly based nationalist political
organization strongly opposed to British influence; King Fuad, whom the
British had installed during the war; and the British themselves, who
were determined to maintain control over the canal.
Although both the Wafd and the King wanted to achieve independence from
the British, they competed for control of Egypt. Other political forces
emerging in this period included the communist party (1925) and the
Muslim Brotherhood (1928), which eventually became a potent political
and religious force.
During World War II, British troops used Egypt as a base for Allied
operations throughout the region. British troops were withdrawn to the
Suez Canal area in 1947, but nationalist, anti-British feelings
continued to grow after the war. Violence broke out in early 1952
between Egyptians and British in the canal area, and anti-Western
rioting in Cairo followed.
On July 22-23, 1952, a group of disaffected army officers led by Lt.
Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk, whom the military blamed
for Egypt's poor performance in the 1948 war with Israel. Following a
brief experiment with civilian rule, they abrogated the 1923
constitution and declared Egypt a republic on June 19, 1953. Nasser
evolved into a charismatic leader, not only of Egypt but of the Arab
Nasser and his "free officer" movement enjoyed almost instant legitimacy
as liberators who had ended 2,500 years of foreign rule. They were
motivated by numerous grievances and goals but wanted especially to
break the economic and political power of the land-owning elite, to
remove all vestiges of British control, and to improve the lot of the
people, especially the fellahin (peasants).
A secular nationalist, Nasser developed a foreign policy characterized
by advocacy of pan-Arab socialism, leadership of the "nonaligned" of the
"Third World," and close ties with the Soviet Union. He sharply opposed
the Western-sponsored Baghdad Pact. When the United States held up
military sales in reaction to Egyptian neutrality vis-a-vis Moscow,
Nasser concluded an arms deal with Czechoslovakia in September 1955.
When the U.S. and the World Bank withdrew their offer to help finance
the Aswan High Dam in mid-1956, he nationalized the privately owned Suez
Canal Company. The crisis that followed, exacerbated by growing
tensions with Israel over guerrilla attacks from Gaza and Israeli
reprisals, resulted in the invasion of Egypt that October by France,
Britain, and Israel.
While Egypt was defeated, the invasion forces were quickly withdrawn
under heavy pressure from the U.S. The Suez war (or, as the Egyptians
call it, the Tripartite Aggression) accelerated Nasser's emergence as an
Egyptian and Arab hero.
He soon after came to terms with Moscow for the financing of the Aswan
High Dam--a step that enormously increased Soviet involvement in Egypt
and set Nasser's Government on a policy of close ties with the Soviet
In 1958, pursuant to his policy of pan-Arabism, Nasser succeeded in
uniting Egypt and Syria into the United Arab Republic. Although this
union had failed by 1961, it was not officially dissolved until 1984.
Nasser's domestic policies were arbitrary, frequently oppressive, and
yet generally popular. All opposition was stamped out, and opponents of
the regime frequently were imprisoned without trial. Nasser's foreign
and military policies, among other things, helped provoke the Israeli
attack of June 1967 that virtually destroyed Egypt's armed forces along
with those of Jordan and Syria. Israel also occupied the Sinai
peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.
Nasser, nonetheless, was revered by the masses in Egypt and elsewhere in
the Arab world until his death in 1970.
After Nasser's death, another of the original "free officers," Vice
President Anwar el-Sadat, was elected President. In 1971, Sadat
concluded a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union but, a year
later, ordered Soviet advisers to leave. In 1973, he launched the
October war with Israel, in which Egypt's armed forces achieved initial
successes but were defeated in Israeli counterattacks.
Camp David and the Peace Process
In a momentous change from the Nasser era, President Sadat shifted Egypt
from a policy of confrontation with Israel to one of peaceful
accommodation through negotiations. Following the Sinai Disengagement
Agreements of 1974 and 1975, Sadat created a fresh opening for progress
by his dramatic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. This led to
President Jimmy Carter's invitation to President Sadat and Prime
Minister Begin to join him in trilateral negotiations at Camp David.
The outcome was the historic Camp David accords, signed by Egypt and
Israel and witnessed by the U.S. on September 17, 1978. The accords led
to the March 26, 1979, signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, by
which Egypt regained control of the Sinai in May 1982. Throughout this
period, U.S.-Egyptian relations steadily improved, but Sadat's
willingness to break ranks by making peace with Israel earned him the
enmity of most other Arab states.
In domestic policy, Sadat introduced greater political freedom and a new
economic policy, the most important aspect of which was the infitah or
"open door." This relaxed government controls over the economy and
encouraged private investment. Sadat dismantled much of the policy
apparatus and brought to trial a number of former government officials
accused of criminal excesses during the Nasser era.
Liberalization also included the reinstitution of due process and the
legal banning of torture. Sadat tried to expand participation in the
political process in the mid-1970s but later abandoned this effort. In
the last years of his life, Egypt was racked by violence arising from
discontent with Sadat's rule and sectarian tensions, and it experienced
a renewed measure of repression.
On October 6, 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic
extremists. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since 1975 and air force
commander during the October 1973 war, was elected President later that
month. He was re-elected to a second term in October 1987 and to a
third term in October 1993. Mubarak has maintained Egypt's commitment
to the Camp David peace process, while at the same time re-establishing
Egypt's position as an Arab leader. Egypt was readmitted to the Arab
League in 1989. Egypt has also played a moderating role in such
international fora as the UN and the Nonaligned Movement.
Mubarak was elected chairman of the Organization of African Unity in
1989, and again at the OAU summit in Cairo in June 1993. Domestically,
since 1991, Mubarak has undertaken an ambitious reform program to reduce
the size of the public sector and expand the role of the private sector.
There has also been a democratic opening and increased participation in
the political process by opposition groups. The November 1990 National
Assembly elections saw 61 members of the opposition win seats in the
454-seat assembly, despite a boycott by several opposition parties
citing possible manipulation by Mubarak's National Democratic Party
(NDP). The opposition parties have been weak and divided and are not
yet credible alternatives to the NDP.
Freedom of the press has increased greatly. While concern remains that
economic problems could promote increasing dissatisfaction with the
government, President Mubarak enjoys broad support.
For several years, domestic political debate in Egypt has been concerned
with the phenomenon of "Political Islam," a movement which seeks to
establish a state and society governed strictly by Islamic doctrine.
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is legally proscribed
but operates more or less openly. Egyptian law, however, prohibits the
formation of religion-based political parties. Members of the
Brotherhood have been elected to the People's Assembly as independents
and have been elected to local councils as candidates on the Socialist
Labor Party ticket.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Egyptian constitution provides for a strong executive. Authority is
vested in an elected president who can appoint one or more vice
presidents, a prime minister, and a cabinet. The president's term runs
for six years. Egypt's legislative body, the People's Assembly, has 454
members--444 popularly elected and 10 appointed by the president. The
constitution reserves 50% of the assembly seats for "workers and
peasants." The assembly sits for a five-year term but can be dissolved
earlier by the president. There is also a 258-member National Shura
(consultative) Council, in which 86 members are appointed and 172
elected for six-year terms. Below the national level, authority is
exercised by and through governors and mayors appointed by the central
government and by popularly elected local councils.
Although power is concentrated in the hands of the president and the
National Democratic Party majority in the People's Assembly, opposition
party organizations make their views public and represent their
followers at various levels in the political system.
In addition to the ruling National Democratic Party, there are nine
other recognized parties. Since 1990, the number of recognized parties
has doubled from five to 10. The law prohibits the formation of parties
along class lines, thereby making it illegal for communist groups to
organize formally as political parties.
Egyptians now enjoy considerable freedom of the press, and recognized
opposition political parties operate freely. Although the November 1990
elections are generally considered to have been fair and free, there are
significant restrictions on the political process and freedom of
association for non-governmental organizations. Opposition parties
continue to make credible complaints about electoral manipulation by the
government. For example, in the 1989 Shura Council elections, the
ruling NDP won 100% of the seats.
The process of gradual political liberalization begun by Sadat and
continued under Mubarak is now on hold. A terrorist campaign that the
government has been battling since 1992 has slowed the progress of
democracy. Egyptian security services and terrorist groups remain
locked in a cycle of violence. Groups seeking to overthrow the
government have bombed banks and attacked and killed government
officials, security forces, Egyptian Christians, secular intellectuals,
and foreign tourists. They were responsible for the majority of
civilian deaths in 1994. Some attacks have occurred in Cairo, but most
of the violent incidents have taken place in the southern provinces of
Assiyut, Minya, and Qena, which are located between Cairo and Luxor. A
series of successful police counterterrorist operations since the
beginning of 1994 has reduced terrorist capabilities and operations,
particularly in Cairo; however, terrorists stepped up their activity in
Minya in January 1995.
Egypt's judicial system is based on European (primarily French) legal
concepts and methods. Under the Mubarak Government, the courts have
demonstrated increasing independence, and the principles of due process
and judicial review have gained greater respect. The legal code is
derived largely from the Napoleonic Code. Marriage and personal status
(family law) are primarily based on the religious law of the individual
concerned, which for most Egyptians is Islamic Law (Sharia).
Egypt's armed forces are among the largest in the region, and include
the army (290,000), air defense (70,000), air force (30,000), and navy
(20,000). The armed forces inventory includes equipment from the United
States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union, and
China. Most of the equipment from the former Soviet Union is being
replaced by more modern American, French, and British equipment, of
which significant amounts are being built under license in Egypt. To
bolster stability and moderation in the region, Egypt has provided
military assistance and training to a number of African and Arab states.
Principal Government Officials
President--Muhammad Hosni Mubarak Prime Minister--Atef Sedky
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs--Amre Moussa
Ambassador to the United States--Ahmad Maher El-Sayyed
Ambassador to the United Nations--Nabil El-Araby
Egypt maintains an embassy in the United States at 3521 International
Court NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-895-5400). The Washington
consulate has the same address (tel. 202-966-6342). The Egyptian
mission to the United Nations is located at 36 East 67th Street, New
York, NY (tel. 212-879-6300). Egyptian consulates general are located
at: 1110 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (tel. 212-759-7120); 2000
West Loop South, Suite 1750, Control Data Building, Houston, TX 77027
(tel. 713-961-4915); 505 N. Lake Shore Drive, Suite 4902, Chicago, IL
60611 (tel. 312-670-2655); and 3001 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA
94115 (tel. 415-346-9700).
Under comprehensive economic reforms initiated in 1991, Egypt has
relaxed many price controls, reduced subsidies, and partially
liberalized trade and investment. Manufacturing is still dominated by
the public sector, which controls virtually all heavy industry. A
process of public sector reform and privatization has begun, however,
which could enhance opportunities for the private sector. Agriculture,
mainly in private hands, has been largely deregulated, with the
exception of cotton and sugar production. Construction, non-financial
services, and domestic marketing are largely private.
More than one-third of Egyptian labor is engaged directly in farming,
and many others work in the processing or trading of agricultural
products. Practically all Egyptian agriculture takes place in some 2.5
million hectares (6 million acres) of fertile soil in the Nile Valley
and Delta. Some desert lands are being developed for agriculture, but
other fertile lands in the Nile Valley and Delta are being lost to
urbanization and erosion.
Warm weather and plentiful water permit several crops a year. Further
improvement is possible, but agricultural productivity is already high,
considering the traditional methods used. Egypt has little subsistence
farming. Cotton, rice, onions, and beans are the principal crops.
Cotton is the largest agricultural export earner.
The United States is a major supplier of wheat to Egypt, through
commercial sales and the PL 480 (Food for Peace) program. Other Western
countries have also supplied food on concessional terms.
"Egypt," wrote the Greek historian Herodotus 25 centuries ago, "is the
gift of the Nile." The land's seemingly inexhaustible resources of
water and soil carried by this mighty river created in the Nile Valley
and Delta the world's most extensive oasis. Without the Nile, Egypt
would be little more than a desert wasteland.
The river carves a narrow, cultivated floodplain, never more than 20
kilometers wide, as it travels northward from Sudan to form Lake Nasser,
behind the Aswan High Dam. Below the dam, just north of Cairo, the Nile
spreads out over what was once a broad estuary that has been filled by
riverine deposits to form a fertile delta about 250 kilometers wide (150
mi.) at the seaward base and about 160 kilometers (96 mi.) from south to
Before the construction of dams on the Nile, particularly the Aswan High
Dam, the fertility of the Nile Valley was sustained by the water flow
and the silt deposited by the annual flood. Sediment is now obstructed
by the Aswan High Dam and retained in Lake Nasser. The interruption of
yearly, natural fertilization and the increasing salinity of the soil
have detracted somewhat from the high dam's value. Nevertheless, the
benefits remain impressive: more intensive farming on millions of acres
of land made possible by improved irrigation, prevention of flood
damage, and the generation of billions of low-cost kilowatt hours of
The Western Desert accounts for about two-thirds of the country's land
area. For the most part, it is a massive sandy plateau marked by seven
major depressions. One of these, Fayoum, was connected about 3,600
years ago to the Nile by canals. Today, it is an important irrigated
In addition to the agricultural capacity of the Nile Valley and delta,
Egypt's natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, phosphates,
and iron ore. Petroleum deposits are found primarily in the Gulf of
Suez, the Nile delta, and the Western Desert. The petroleum and natural
gas sector accounted for approximately 10% of GDP in FY 1991.
Petroleum products represented about 45% of export earnings during that
period. The fall in world oil prices after the 1991 Gulf war pushed
Egypt's benchmark "Suez Blend" to an average price of $15 per barrel in
1991, compared with $20 per barrel in 1990. Thus, the value of Egyptian
crude oil exports dropped to $1.2 billion in 1991 versus $1.5 billion in
Petroleum production dropped slightly in 1991 to 44 million tons at
870,000 barrels per day. To limit the domestic consumption of oil,
Egypt is encouraging the production of natural gas. Natural gas output
continues to increase and reached 7.2 million metric tons equivalent in
Twelve petroleum exploration agreements were signed in 1992, under which
six companies are expected to spend over $90 million to drill 24 wells.
Since 1991, the government has tried to attract enough foreign
investment to maintain existing exploration and production and attract
new investment. In October 1991, the government adopted a market-
determined petroleum export pricing formula.
Transport and Communication
Transportation facilities in Egypt are centered on Cairo and largely
follow the pattern of settlement along the Nile. The major line of the
nation's 4,800-kilometer (2,800-mi.) railway network runs from
Alexandria to Aswan. The well-maintained road network has expanded
rapidly to over 21,000 miles, covering the Nile valley and delta,
Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, the Sinai, and the Western oases.
Egyptair provides reliable domestic air services to major tourist
destinations from its Cairo hub (in addition to overseas routes). The
Nile River system (about 1,600 km. or 1,000 mi.) and the principal
canals (1,600 km.) are important locally for transportation. The Suez
Canal is a major waterway of international commerce and navigation,
linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Major ports are Alexandria,
Port Said, and Damietta on the Mediterranean, and Suez and Safraga on
the Red Sea.
Egypt has long been the cultural and informational center of the Arab
world, and Cairo is the region's largest publishing and broadcasting
center. There are eight daily newspapers with a total circulation of
more than 2 million, and a number of monthly newspapers, magazines, and
journals. The majority of political parties have their own newspapers,
and these papers conduct a lively, often highly partisan, debate on
Radio and television are owned and controlled by the government through
the Egyptian Radio and Television Federation. The federation operates
two national television networks and three regional stations in Cairo,
Alexandria, and Ismailia. The government also beams daily satellite
programming to the rest of the Arab world, the U.K., and the U.S.
Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in May 1989, and the Arab League
headquarters has returned to Cairo from Tunis. Former Egyptian Foreign
Minister Abdel Meguid is the present Secretary General of the Arab
League. President Mubarak chaired the Organization of African Unity
from 1989 to 1990 and again in 1993. In 1991, Egyptian Deputy Prime
Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali was elected Secretary General of the
Egypt played a key role during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. President
Mubarak helped assemble the international coalition and deployed 35,000
Egyptian troops against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. The Egyptian
contingent was the second largest in the coalition forces. In the
aftermath of the Gulf war, Egypt signed the Damascus declaration with
Syria and the Gulf states to strengthen Gulf security.
Egypt also played an important role in the negotiations leading to the
Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which, under U.S. and Russian
sponsorship, brought together all parties in the region to discuss
Middle East peace. Since then, Egypt has been an active participant in
the peace process and has been a strong supporter of the bilateral
discussions leading to the 1993 "declaration of principles" and the
October 1994 signing of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty.
Egyptian-Israeli relations improved after Labor's 1992 victory in
Israeli national elections, and Egypt and Israel are committed to
improving their bilateral relationship. By mid-1993, President Mubarak
and Prime Minister Rabin had met twice, and other senior-level bilateral
contacts have increased. There has also been progress on the return of
Sinai antiquities to Egypt and on issues relating to military personnel
missing in action. Agricultural cooperation continues to be the most
active area of Egyptian-Israeli technical cooperation.
President Mubarak has long been a supporter of a strong U.S.-Egyptian
relationship based on shared interests in regional security and
stability and the peaceful resolution of international disputes.
President Mubarak was the first Arab leader to visit the U.S. after
President Clinton's inauguration. President Clinton visited Egypt in
October 1994 enroute to Jordan for the signing of the Jordan-Israel
peace treaty. The two countries have worked closely together to promote
a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to resolve
conflicts in Africa--including most recently participation by Egyptian
soldiers in UN peace-keeping efforts in Somalia.
An important pillar of the bilateral relationship remains U.S. security
and economic assistance to Egypt, which expanded significantly in the
wake of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979. In FY 1993, total
U.S. assistance levels to Egypt were $1.3 billion in foreign military
sales (FMS) grants and $815 million in economic support fund grants.
The Egyptians have used FMS to support their military modernization
program. PL 480 food aid in FY 1993 amounted to $50 million, down from
$150 million annually in previous years, due to Egypt's increased
U.S. assistance promotes Egypt's economic development, supports U.S.-
Egyptian cooperation, and enhances regional stability. U.S. economic
aid stimulates economic growth by funding major projects in electric
power generation, telecommunications, housing and transport, and the
financing of commodity imports such as raw materials and capital
equipment. Power plants built with U.S. assistance generate more
electricity than the Aswan High Dam.
Vice President Gore and President Mubarak launched in September 1994 a
bilateral partnership for economic growth and development, designed to
foster high-level economic policy dialogue between the two governments.
The Gore-Mubarak initiative will encourage and facilitate private sector
contacts, strengthen technology cooperation, and promote economic growth
and development. It will also foster job growth and technological
development of Egyptian firms. In addition, it will enhance the
environment for the development of the Egyptian private sector and
increase the impact of existing U.S. assistance on Egyptian economic
Since 1975, the United States has provided $2.2 billion to improve and
expand water and sewage systems in Cairo, Alexandria, and other Egyptian
cities. U.S. military cooperation has helped Egypt modernize its armed
forces and strengthen regional security and stability. Under FMS
programs, the U.S. has provided F-4 jet aircraft, F-16 jet fighters, M-
60A3 and M1A1 tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters,
antiaircraft missile batteries, aerial surveillance aircraft, and other
The U.S. and Egypt also participate in combined military exercises,
including deployment of U.S. troops to Egypt. Units of the U.S. 6th
Fleet are regular visitors to Egyptian ports.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Edward S. Walker, Jr.
Deputy Chief of Mission--Edmund J. Hull
Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs--Russell A. Lamantia
Counselor for Political Affairs--Jeffrey Millington
Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Laron L. Jensen
Counselor for Public Affairs--Marjorie A. Ransom
Counselor for Agricultural Affairs--Franklin D. Lee
Counselor for Administrative Affairs--Warren E. Littrel, Jr.
Consul General--Nick Hahn
Labor Affairs Officer--Barbara Leaf
Director, AID Mission--John Wesley
Defense Attache--Col. Joseph P. Engleheardt, USA
Chief, Office of Military Cooperation--Maj. Gen. Otto Habedanke, USAF
The U.S. embassy in Cairo is located on Lazoughli Street, Garden City,
near downtown Cairo. The mailing address for the embassy from the U.S.
is American Embassy, APO AE 09839-4900; from Egypt, it is 8 Sharia Kamal
El-Din Salah, Garden City, Cairo. The telephone number is (20) (2)355-
7371; fax (20) (2)355-7375; telex 93773 Amemb UN. The embassy is closed
on all U.S. federal holidays and some Egyptian holidays.
Climate and clothing: Clothing should be suitable for hot summers and
temperate winters. Modest attire is required.
Customs: Visas are required. Travelers are advised to obtain visas
through any Egyptian embassy or consulate prior to travel, although
visas can also usually be obtained on arrival at Cairo Airport. Shots
are not required for visitors coming from the United States or Europe,
but yellow fever immunizations are required of travelers coming from
infected areas. The Department of State Medical Division recommends
that visitors to Egypt obtain typhoid, tetanus, polio, meningitis, gamma
globulin, hepatitis B, measles-mumps-rubella, and rabies immunizations;
however, travelers should consult their physicians.
Health: Travelers should be aware of prevalent rabies hazards, and, in
some outlying areas, malaria.
Telecommunications: Telephone service is good and international direct
dialing is available. Telegrams can be sent from the main post office
and hotels, and telex service is available.
Transportation: Several international airlines serve Cairo. There is
domestic air service between Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, Luxor, Hurghada,
the Sinai, and the New Valley. Rail service is available from Cairo to
Aswan in the south and to Alexandria in the north. Taxis are often
shared with other customers. Settle on a price before entering a taxi.
Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public
Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC --
Managing Editor, Background Notes Series: Peter A. Knecht -- Editor,
March 1995 Egypt: Marilyn J. Bremner -- This material is in the
public domain and can be reproduced without consent; citation of this
source is appreciated.
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