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Open LookLex Encyclopaedia

Open the online Arabic language course

Short facts

Egypt is a republic with partial democracy. The coutnry has 70 million inhabitants, the largest cities are Cairo, Alexandria and Giza. The leader of the country is President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in office since 1981.
Democracy faces a challenge, as limited democratic elections have shown that representatives from, or close to, the Muslim Brotherhood, are the most popular. The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical, Islamist organization, which is believed by most observers to be running for democractic elections to win power to turn democracy into a Islamic theocracy.
Egypt is today identified by 4 ethnic groups plus groups understood as residential foreigners. Egyptians is by far the largest group, while Nubians, Bedouins and Berbers all count a few hundred thousands. Nubians live in the extreme south, Bedouins dominate the Sinai and Berbers live in the oases Siwa and Qara. The inhabitants of Nile Delta and in the Western oases are considered Egyptian, yet they are largely of Libyan descent 2000 to 3000 years ago.
Egypt is either very green, or very dry, shifting between the Nile valley and delta and the oases or desert. The desert shifts between sand dunes, stoney steppes to wild mountains. A new valley is being developed, using surplus water from the Nasser Lake. The Toshka Lakes are since long a reality, but agricultre is yet only in its earliest stages.
The majority of Egyptians are Muslims of the Sunni branch, while around 10% are Christians, most of them Coptic.

By Tore Kjeilen