U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes:  Egypt, March 1995 
Bureau of Public Affairs 
March 1995 
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--
Type:  Republic.   
Independence:   1922.   
Constitution:  1971.  
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. 
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 
of living. 
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 
European Influence 
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 
governmental reforms. 
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. 
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). 
National Security 
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 
agricultural area. 
Natural Resources  
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 
public issues. 
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 
United Nations. 
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 
commercial purchases. 
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. 
Travel Notes 
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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