About Egypt

Egypt is officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt and is located in north-eastern Africa and southwestern Asia. Cairo, the capital and largest city, is the most modern in the Middle East and Africa.

It is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by Israel and the Red Sea, on the south by Sudan, and on the west by Libya. The country has a maximum length from north to south of about 1086 km (about 675 m) and a maximum width, near the southern border, of about 1255 km (about 780 m). It has a total area of about 1,001,450 sq km (about 386,662 sq m). Less than one-tenth of the land area of Egypt is settled or under cultivation, this consists of the valley and delta of the Nile, a number of desert oases, and land along the Suez Canal.

Throughout Egypt, days are commonly warm or hot, and nights are cool. Egypt has only two seasons: a mild winter from November to April and a hot summer from May to October. The only differences between the seasons are variations in daytime temperatures and changes in prevailing winds. In the coastal regions, temperatures range between an average minimum of 14° C in winter and an average maximum of 30° C in summer.

Temperatures vary widely in the inland desert areas, especially in summer, when they may range from 7° C at night to 43° C during the day. During winter, temperatures in the desert fluctuate less dramatically, but they can be as low as 0° C at night and as high as 18° C during the day.

Credit Cards:
Credit cards are fast becoming a way of life for international travelers. Using a credit card is generally safer than carrying cash and can prevent confusion about local exchange rates and currencies. Unfortunately, credit cards are not widely accepted in all international destinations, including Egypt. Major credit cards are accepted in large hotels and tourist shopping areas in Egypt, but you will have to rely on cash for the majority of your purchases.

The Egyptian pound is the official currency for the Arab Republic of Egypt. The pound is divided into 100 piasters, or 1000 milliemes. The ISO code for the Egyptian pound is EGP, although LE is also frequently used as notation. The Egyptian government fixed the exchange rate through force, which led to the use of a de facto gold standard. As far as the global community knows, gold is still often used in internal transactions. Egyptian banknotes were issued for the first time in 1899.

Egypt is a country with an extensive cultural mix, In every major city in Egypt you will find traditions that remain from the time of the Pharaohs , and in other parts you will find pure tribal customs that were brought in by many invaders throughout the centuries. That contradiction and contrast between areas of Egypt, when you compare it with other Middle Eastern countries, is what makes Egypt seem advanced against some of the others. Yet here you will find that the customs and mentality tends to be full of warmth towards visitors and foreigners. I guess this could be the secret why Egypt is considered the most attractive country in the region for travelers. The pure nature of the local Egyptians when they are always there when you need help, or when they invite you into their houses when they hardly know you, or when they smile in your face, makes a visit to Egypt a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Driving in Egypt is an unforgettable experience. Below is some information that will help you avoid any possible problems and make you aware of what to expect when driving in Egypt.

For many visitors, driving in Egypt is definitely not like “back home” and you will find great congestion in and around the main cities, while Cairo, with the world’s largest population, is particularly busy and often hazardous.

Egyptian drivers use their horns much more often than in other countries and may just be greeting each other while using them. Drivers circulate according to a law unto their own and donkeys and oxen can often be seen walking along the road. Driving in Egypt is therefore not for the faint hearted but if you prefer to keep away from the wheel, many city taxis are available and you will enjoy an exciting ride from the back seat!

Driving on the out of town highways throughout the country is less stressful and, provided you keep your wits about you, it should present few problems. Most traffic going south from Cairo uses a route running along the western shore of the Nile. In recent years a new road along the east bank of the river has been under construction. Although it too is a single lane road, it is less congested and currently it is passable from Cairo to Minya and from Asyut to Luxor.

Duty Free Procedures:
When travelling from the EU* to the UK you do not have to pay any tax or duty on goods you have bought in another EU country as long as tax was included in the price when you purchased the items, the items are for your own use, and have been transported to the UK by you. This includes gifts, but does not include any item that is intended to be used as payment or to be resold.If you bring back large quantities of alcohol or tobacco, a Customs Officer is more likely to ask about the purposes for which you hold the goods.

Egypt’s economic spectrum has great diversity, including involvement with agriculture, textiles and some industry.Egypt has had a very strong economic growth in recent years, a situation that continues even as of 2005, with a growth in GDP of 4.5% divided on a population growth of 1.8%.

In recent years, Egyptian bureaucracy has been slimmed to facilitate national activities and foreign investments. While exporters earlier had to deal with several state authorities, they now only need to face one.

But despite the positive growth, Egypt still exhibits extreme differences between rich and poor, and is by any standard still to be considered a poor country. However, a growing number of the inhabitants can be considered as middle class or rich.

Egypt plans to expand electricity capacity to 32,000 megawatts (MW) over the next five years. The minister, Hassan Yunis, announced that the additional capacity will come principally from 11 new thermal plants and expansions: Kureimat 2 and 3, Talkha, Tabbin, Nuberiya 3, Cairo West, Sidi Krier, el-Atf, Abu Qir, Ain Sokhna and Sharm el-Sheikh. In 2005, nearly 75 percent of Egypt’s electric generating capacity was powered by natural gas, some 14 percent by petroleum products, and the remaining 12 percent by hydroelectric, mostly from the Aswan High Dam according to the IEA.

Electricity in Egypt is 220 Volts.

Police: 122
Emergency Police: 122, Traffic Police: 128, Tourist police: 126

Fire Brigade: 180
Heliopolis: 633-0954, Maadi: 525-3873, Giza: 761-0259/761-0258/761-0257, Tahrir: 391-5289.391-0115/391-1727 Ext.: 271

The highest lands are in the south and the land slopes gently toward the Mediterranean Sea. There are some mountains located on the southern Sinai peninsula. Some of these reach over 2600 meters (8530 feet high). The land at the Mediterranean is at sea level. very dry; there is almost no rainfall on a regular basis. The people depend on the annual summer floods of the Nile River for water. The floods begin in June and end in October. Without the Nile, there would likely be no Egypt.

Egypt has a Constitution that was adopted in 1971. It defines how the country is ruled. It says that there will be a President, and the President will be elected every six years. A presidential nominee is chosen by a two-thirds majority vote of the People’s Assembly, and then that nominee is elected by popular referendum.

The People’s Assembly is a part of the Egyptian government. 434 of the members are elected by the people, and 10 are appointed by the President. They approve new laws and budgets. The members of The People’s Assembly are elected every 5 years.

Nearly all Egyptians have access to health care. Between 1982 and 1987 (during the first five-year plan), the government established 14 public and central hospitals, 115 rural health units, and 39 rural hospitals. The total number of beds increased by 9,257 during this period (to a total in 1985 of 96,700). In 1987, 190 general and central hospitals were established (26,200 beds), as well as 2,082 rural health units, and 78 village hospitals. In 2000, 95% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 94% had adequate sanitation.

For almost 13 centuries Arabic has been the written and spoken language of Egypt. Before the Arab invasion in AD 639, Coptic, the language descended from ancient Egyptian, was the language of both religious and everyday life for the mass of the population; by the 12th century, however, it had been totally replaced by Arabic, continuing only as a liturgical language for the Coptic Orthodox Church. Arabic has become the language of both the Egyptian Christian and Muslim. The written form of the Arabic language, in grammar and syntax, has remained substantially unchanged since the 7th century. In other ways, however, the written language has changed the modern forms of style, word sequence, and phraseology are simpler and more flexible than in classical Arabic and are often directly derivative of English or French.

Medical services:
Called Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico, Pharaoh’s Revenge in Egypt, and a host of other names in other countries, a stomach upset can spoil any holiday. No matter what your precautions, a change in water and diet can result in diarrhea and nausea. It is advisable to stay away from raw fruit and vegetables, and drink plenty of liquids.

Amebic dysentery, caused by a microscopic single-celled animal, an amoebae, is a much more serious matter. The amoebae are ingested with unclean food or drink. Symptoms are similar to gippy tummy but the condition persists and can cause serious damage. With proper treatment recovery is quick. Drink bottled water, which is inexpensive and readily available.

It is extremely unlikely that any tourist will develop schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Bilharzia is caused by blood flukes or flat worms which enter the body of persons wading or swimming in still or slow-moving water. Bilharzia is curable as long as reinfection does not occur. Symptoms include inflammation, cough, late-afternoon fever, skin eruptions, swelling and tenderness of the liver; and blood in stools and urine in the more acute stage of the disease.

Almasry Alyoum Business, Today Egypt (business), Cairo Press Review, Egyptian Gazette (history), FilBalad Arabic, Middle East Times.

Naturism or nudism is a cultural and political movement advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public. It may also be a lifestyle based on personal, family and/or social nudism.

The naturist philosophy has several sources, many of which can be traced back to the health and fitness philosophy in Germany in the early twentieth century, though the concept of returning to nature, and creating equality are also cited as inspiration. From Germany the idea spread to England, Canada, the United States and beyond where a network of clubs developed. The model of German naturism is to promote naturistic family and recreational sports, with the DFK being a member of the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB). French naturism, on the other hand, developed on the basis of large holiday complexes. This concept in turn influenced Quebec and then the United States. A subsequent development was tourist naturism, where nudist resorts would be built to cater for the nudist tourist, without any local base. This concept is most noticeable in the Caribbean.

Total Population: 71.3 Million

Population literacy rate:

It is essential to follow a few basic health precautions in Egypt – health care facilities are not always up to Western standards, and if you fail to take these precautions, you may end up having a bad holiday experience.

Food and Water in Egypt- The tap water in Egypt is generally either un-cleaned or over-chlorinated, so it is best to stick to bottled water. Food is generally safe at restaurants, but hygiene standards are often poor so avoid peeled fruit and vegetables, or food that has been left to stand.

Swimming in Egypt- Generally, all rivers and lakes should be avoided as bilharzia is present in most still water. This causes a bad reaction similar to food allergies, and can be treated but should rather be avoided.

Health Risks in Egypt- Bird flu is a big risk, and all birds – live or dead, should be avoided. Rabies occurs at times, so travellers should be vaccinated against this disease.

Public holidays:

  • 7 Jan *Coptic Christmas Day.
  • 26 Feb Birth of the Prophet.
  • 25 Apr Sinai Liberation Day (Sinai only).
  • 28 Apr *Sham el-Nassim (Coptic Easter).
  • 1 May Labour Day.
  • 23 Jul National Day.
  • 10 Sep – 13 Sep Bairam Feast (End of Ramadan).
  • 11 Sep *Coptic New Year.
  • 6 Oct Armed Forces Day.
  • 16 Nov – 17 Nov Grand Feast.
  • 7 Dec Islamic New Year.

Despite the appearance of political and military stability, Egypt may be standing at the edge of a precipice as the state remains grounded in rigid authoritarianism while the population, including a struggling civil society, readies itself to make the leap to democratization. This characterization has far-reaching implications for relations between citizens and the government, as well as Egypt’s foreign affairs posture, particularly in the Middle East. State repression of civil, political, and religious actors, the ineffectual provision of social services, and two religious divides, between Coptic Christianity and Islam on the one hand, and secular and conservative Islamic traditions on the other, make for an incendiary domestic environment. The resulting over-reliance on security services to quash dissent could result in a population more amenable to less democratic methods of regime change and/or the development of stronger linkages between regional Islamist groups, whether they be political, militant, or some combination thereof.

When taking a Nile Cruise check your boat’s policy for tipping. The Sonesta Moon Goddess policy, for example, asks you not to tip individuals but put what you think is justified, based on the level of service you received, into an envelope when you check out. It will be distributed to the entire crew.

Tipping is expected when using most WC (bathrooms). The norm is 50 piastres (1/2 of an Egyptian pound -$0.09 USD). Since you will probably not have any 50 piastre notes (they are hard to come by) you will be tipping 1 LE or $0.18 USD. This baksheesh entitles you to some toilet paper (bring your own) and possibly a clean WC and keeps a person employed.

TV channels:
Satellite TV and local tv & radio are available in most of the hotels.

A value added tax of 10% is payable on goods and services including hotel and restaurant bills.

Visa & Entry Requirements:

Most tourists and visitors to Egypt can obtain an entry visa at any of the major airports or ports of entry. All foreigners arriving in Egypt should have a valid passport (with at least 6 months left before expiry) to get an entry visa. The visa can also be obtained from Egyptian Diplomatic and Consular Missions abroad, or when in Egypt ( for extension or renewal) from the visa department at the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA) building at Mogamma.

There are 2 types of Egyptian Visa:

Tourist Visa: is usually valid for a period not exceeding three months and granted on either single or multiple entry basis.

Entry Visa: is required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt.

The Visa is valid only for travel within three months from the date of issue and is valid only for One- month stay in Egypt, beginning on the date of arrival. If you have a reason to extend your stay, you can do that from the ministry of interior affairs in Egypt after declaring the reasons for that and their acceptance for that reasons.

What to Wear:
Egypt is a conservative country and visitors should respect this attitude. No topless or nude bathing is permitted. On the practical side, leave your synthetics at home as they will prove to be too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter – bring materials that breathe. It is advisable to wear cotton in summer as the heat can be like a furnace. In winter wear layers that can be taken off during the heat of the day and put back on for cool evenings. Wear loose and flowing garments, which are not only modest, but practical in a hot climate. Have you ever wondered why the Bedouin wear layers of flowing robes? Why they cover their heads and the back of their necks? Centuries of living in desert climates have taught them that loose garments keep one cooler and layered garments allow wind to enter and circulate, creating a natural ventilation system. Protecting the head and neck from loss of moisture prevents heat stroke. Bring comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and temple floors are far from even. In summer, wear a hat to protect yourself from the heat of the Egyptian sun.Working Hours:
Working hours are from 9 am to 4 or 5 PM approximately.