Egypt, the legendary country of the pharaohs is the first tourist destination in Africa and Egypt has a thousand faces and a thousand exciting ways to go through it like the Nile , the great African river, Luxor, Karnak, Gizeh, the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel , Thebes, Abu Simbel , the capital Cairo, (full of animation and museums , the oldest Christian monastery and the mosques ), Alexandria, which was the most beautiful city of the Mediterranean. But in addition, Egypt is its desert and its oases, and the coast of the Red Sea, destiny of divers and lovers of the fauna and Egypt is also the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula . Egypt has many historic monuments turned to UNESCO heritage .
Discover them with egyptopia.com the tourist and cultural guide to Egypt.
Recommendations to consider when traveling to Egypt
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Geography of Egypt
Location: Egypt locates in North Africa and Southwest Asia, with the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea on its shorelines.
Total area: about1,001,449 square kilometers of land. Westward Egypt stands Libya, southward is Sudan, and eastward locates Gaza Strip and Israel.
Major Physical Regions in Egypt:
1) Nile Valley and Delta: It represents the most important cultivable part and the most crowded region of the total area of Egypt since it covers only about 5.5% of the land and inhabited by about 99% of the population. The Nile Valley and the Delta are the outcome of the Nile River that flows from the southward borders with Sudan to the Mediterranean Sea, and stretches to cover 1,600 kilometers through out Egypt. It is the main source of water and the prominent reason that enabled ancient Egyptians in forming their Great Civilization in the past and is still helping Egyptians today in regaining their ancient glory and heritage. The construction of the dams in Egypt including the High Dam and Aswan Dam played a great role in saving the Nile river water and boosting agriculture in Egypt.
2) Western Desert or Libyan Desert: Covers approximately 700, kilometers and is famous for the Great Sand Sea that extends from Siwa Oasis to Jilf El Kabir. Among the major governorates of Egypt that can be regarded as a part of this desert: Marsa Matruh, El Wadi El Gadid of the New Valley. There are also some major oasis in this desert including Siwa Oasis, El Kharga, El Dakhla, El Frafera, and El Faiyum Oasis.
3) Eastern Desert or Arabian Desert: Cover about 220,000 square kilometers of land and the most distinguishing feature of this part of Egypt is the Red Sea hills, and sharply cut Wadis, and the major governorate in this Area is El Ghardaqah.
4) Sinai Peninsula: Extends for about 61, 100 square kilometers, and is divided into: North Sinai with El Arish as its capital, and South Sinai with El Tur as its Capital. The most prominent features of this area are the Red Sea Hills with its red color and Mount Catherine that is regarded as the highest mountain in the area. In addition to that there are other areas in Sinai Peninsula including the limestone Plateau and the sandy coastal plain that traverses from the Suez Canal till Gaza Strip.
Governorates of Egypt: Egypt is divided into 26 governorates the major ones of them are Alexandria, Cairo, Port Said and Suez Canal.
Demographics in Egypt
According to July 2007 surveys, Egypt is regarded as the third most populous country in Africa, since its population reaches about 80,335,036 and the ratio of population growth is 1.721%. In addition to the great population of Egypt, there is also a huge number of immigrants who move to it, for leading a better life on the land of the Nile River and the fertile Delta. There is also a huge number of immigrants who move to Egypt as an asylum including Palestinians, and Iraqi and their number is approximately 500,000 and 3 million.
The majority of the inhabitants carry the Egyptian nationality, while only about 1% of the inhabitants are Nubian, Bedouin, and some French, Italian, Greek people. The majority of the Egyptians are Muslims while about 10 % are Christians, and Coptic Orthodox.
The major part of the population live in the major governorates on either sides of the Nile including Cairo, Giza and also in Alexandria and Suez Canal.
The Egyptian Pound (EGP) is the official currency for the Arab Republic of Egypt, with every pound consisting of 100 piasters (units of currency). Approximately, one USD equals 5.50 pounds, while one Euro equals 8 pounds. Usually, there would not be a great difference in money changing between banks and the authorized exchange offices, however, if you pay your hotel bill or your Nile cruise fare with a foreign currency, the exchange rate would be considerably lower, not for your advantage.
In large cities’ tourist spots, most businesses accept both foreign currencies and credit cards. It is rather impossible, however, to find an ATM or exchange office available or even credit card payment accepted in small towns and villages.
Egypt visa is accessible at your application in the Egyptian consulates which spread all over the world or upon your arrival to Egypt borders. The latter facility, however, is restricted to travelers of some countries. To make sure of the visa application requirements, it is necessary to contact the Egyptian consulate in your country. Citizens from the U.S, the European Union, Japan, most Arab countries and Southern America can get the visa in destination.
Due to new international regulations, the traveler must declare the sum of foreign currencies he has, if exceeding 10000 UDS. Apart from that, entry and exit regulations are quite flexible especially for tourists traveling with tour operators.
In spite of being examined and inspected, personal objects, whether used or new, are exempted from all kinds of duties and taxes. On condition they are registered at the traveler’s entry, photo or video cameras, typewriters, calculators, radios, laptops, jewelry, and other objects are also exempted from customs duties.
Before departure, tourists should submit the original customs declaration to be checked. As long as dedicated to personal use, food, one liter of alcoholic beverages, and medicine are also exempted. Custom duties, however, are imposed on any other excessive amount.
Clothes in Egypt
When it comes to the mode of dressing, Egyptians are fairly conservative. However, unlike in other Islamic countries, in Egypt you may find people dressed in various styles: You can see men dressed in Western-styled suits, jeans, and Egyptian-styled garment. On the other hand, women can be seen putting on Islamic headscarves covering their hair while others wear face-covering veil. In big Egyptian cities, however, women are considered to be more liberal that you can see them dressed in jeans wear without any scarves.
It is recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Likewise, it is recommended to put on jackets or pullovers during winter nights. As for tourist women, changing the mode of dressing is unnecessary except at entering mosques where it is a must to wear headscarves and other scarves that would cover their shoulders. It is necessary that one takes off their shoes at entering a mosque, therefore, you may want to put on socks under shoes or go barefoot.
Arabic is the official language of the state used by almost all the inhabitants. The Egyptian slang is also preferable slang for almost all the Arabic speakers because it can be easily learnt by foreigners and understood by the speakers of all the other Arabic slang. Moreover, most of the Egyptians are bilingual or multilingual, thus no language problems may hinder the visitors of Egypt from interacting with Egyptian people or asking them for help.
Religons in Modern Egypt
Islam is the official religion in modern Egypt since it entered it in 461 on the hands of Amr Ibn El As and about 90 % of the inhabitants are Muslims. In spite of that there are other religions in Egypt including the Christian Orthodox whose total number reaches about 3 million people. In addition to that there are about 7 million Coptic and one million of other Greek Orthodox and other minute number of Jewish people.
In spite the existence of different religions in Egypt, all the Egyptians enjoy national unity. This may be attributed to the indiscrimination between the two sects to the extent that the Muslims celebrate the feast day of Christians in 7th of March, and the Christians celebrate the feasts of Muslims as well. Religion plays a great role in the life of Egyptians and affects greatly on their traditions and costumes nowadays.
Health and Hygiene Tips
A traveler may suffer from gastroenteritis or diarrhea resulting from: hot weather, air conditioning, difference in local hygiene standards from developed countries. To avoid diarrhea and stomach pains, it is recommended to drink mineral water and not to eat fresh vegetable or fruits outside major hotels. However, in case you desire to taste some, it is recommended that you wash them first with mineral water.
Toilets are rarely available outside the tourist sites, thus, such a matter is to be taken into consideration. In case you get unclean, it is advisable not to use public toilets and bring towels or handkerchiefs
Remember, it is a nice manner to tip with about one pound for using the water closet.
Travelling with Children
Also Children have the chance to enjoy their time in Egypt, whether by swimming or diving in the beaches’ crystal water by visiting the various temples, pyramids, churches, mosques and museums.
If having a classic tour visiting monuments, extra caution must be paid during the excursion. When crossing roads in big cities whether traffic lights are absent or in operation, due care must be paid. In order to avoid diarrhea, great care must be taken with food, especially fruits and vegetables which are not cooked.
Discount for Student
Visiting monuments, museums, and tourist attractions as well as using some means of transportation, Students can enjoy a discount up to 50% off. Normally, students can use their school ID and college ID which are often accepted, however, it is more preferable that they get the International Student Identity Card (ISIC).
Security and Recommendations
Egypt is one of the safest countries in the world. One can stroll in its streets at any time day and night peacefully without fear. Probably, the only two things that might bother you is the importunity of vendors or the curiosity of children.
Tourists will see a policeman noticeably present in the tourist sites. In Cairo, policemen are dressed in black in winter and white in summer. In other cities, however, they are dressed in khaki (a dusty yellow color). In tourist places, policemen are dressed in either black or in white (if responsible for protecting the monuments and tourists).
* It is recommended that women wear in a decent way to avoid harassment.
* Kindly make sure the recommendations on minefields in the Sahara Desert and Sinai are obeyed.
* It is recommended that you wear boots so as to avoid snake bites and scorpion stings.
* Kindly make sure your luggage is brought in the means of transport you are using especially at leaving the airport, hotel or cruise in order to avoid luggage mess.
* Drug possession and trafficking is considered a crime for which one is to be severely punished.