Egyptian history dates back to about 4000 B.C., when the kingdoms of upper and lower Egypt, already highly sophisticated, were united. Egypt's golden age coincided with the 18th and 19th dynasties (16th to 13th century B.C.), during which the empire was established. Persia conquered Egypt in 525 B.C., Alexander the Great subdued it in 332 B.C., and then the dynasty of the Ptolemies ruled the land until 30 B.C., when Cleopatra, last of the line, committed suicide and Egypt became a Roman, then Byzantine, province. Arab caliphs ruled Egypt from 641 until 1517, when the Turks took it for their Ottoman Empire.
Capital and largest city : Cairo Other large cities Alexandria,Giza, Shubra el Khema, El Mahalla and el Kubra.
Languages: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes
Ethnicity/race: Eastern Hamitic stock (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) Greek, Nubian, Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French)
Religions: Islam (mostly Sunni ) 94% , Coptic Christian and other 6%.
Economic summary: Agriculturel Produects cotton, rice, corn, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats. Industries: textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, construction, cement, metals, light manufactures. Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc. Exports: crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals. Imports: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, fuels. Major trading partners: Italy, U.S., Syria, Germany, Spain, France, China, UK, Saudi Arabia
Transportation: Railways: Highways: total: 64,000 km; paved: 49,984 km; unpaved: 14,016 km Waterways: 3,500 km; note: includes Nile River, Lake Nasser, Alexandria-Cairo Waterway, and numerous smaller canals in delta; Suez Canal navigable by oceangoing vessels drawing up to 17.68 m. Ports and harbors: Alexandria, Damietta, El Dekheila, Port Said, Suez, Zeit. Airports: 87
International disputes: Egypt and Sudan retain claims to administer the two triangular areas that extend north and south of the 1899 Treaty boundary along the 22nd Parallel, but have withdrawn their military presence; Egypt is developing the Hala'ib Triangle north of the Treaty line; since the attack on Taba and other Egyptian resort towns on the Red Sea in October 2004, Egypt vigilantly monitors the Sinai and borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip; Egypt does not extend domestic asylum to some 70,000 persons who identify as Palestinians but who largely lack UNRWA assistance and, until recently, UNHCR recognition as refugees.
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