Cairo,Egypt All Information About it

Welcome to Egypt

Cairo, Egypt, Africa

Founded: a.d. 969
Location: Near the head of the Nile River delta, Egypt; northeastern Africa
Time Zone: 2 pm Cairo time = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Elevation: 194 m (636 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 43°40’N, 79°22’W
Coastline: (Greater Cairo) approximately 27 km (17 mi)
Climate: Desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters; rain is rare, and hamsin dust storms can occur in the spring.
Annual Mean Temperature: January -4°C (24°F); July 21.7°C (71°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 141 cm (55.5 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 81.3 cm (32 in)
Government: governor-council
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: Egyptian pounds
Telephone Area Codes: 20 (Egypt), 02 (Cairo)

1. Introduction

Located on the banks of the Nile River, Cairo is Africa’s largest city, as well as the largest city in the Arab world. In the course of its thousand-year history it has been the capital of the great Egyptian dynasties of the Middle Ages, a British colonial enclave, and a modern industrialized city. Today it is a teeming, vibrant national capital with one of the world’s highest population densities per square mile. Even as the city struggles with the social and environmental effects of overcrowding, it dominates Egypt politically, economically, and culturally and remains a prime tourist destination in spite of a campaign of terrorist activity by Islamic extremists seeking to destabilize the country’s government.

2. Getting There

Cairo, the largest city in Africa, is located on the Nile River, 160 kilometers (100 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea and 135 kilometers (80 miles) west of the Red Sea.

Highways

Cairo is connected by highway with all other major cities in Egypt. The Desert Road links Cairo and Alexandria; there are main roads connecting Cairo with Ismailiyyah and Luxor. In addition, there is the Red Sea Highway, completed in the early 1990s. Roads connect Cairo with Libya to the west and Israel to the east (however, special permission must be obtained to enter Egypt from Israel in a private vehicle).

Bus and Railroad Service

Rail service is available between Cairo and all areas of the Nile River Valley. An air-conditioned nonstop express train, the turbino, makes three trips daily between Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo’s main railway station is located at Maydan Ramsis. Several bus companies offer inter-city bus service between Cairo and Alexandria, the Nile Valley, the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, the Suez Canal, and other destinations. There is nonstop bus service between Cairo and Alexandria, and buses run between Cairo and all major towns.

Airports

Cairo International Airport, an important connecting point between Europe, Asia, and Africa, offers regular service by most major airlines. EgyptAir offers both domestic flights to Luxor, Aswan, and Hurghada and international service.

Shipping

Although it is located on the Nile River, Cairo is not one of Egypt’s major shipping cities, all of which have ports on the Mediterranean (Alexandria, Suez, and Port Said).

3. Getting Around

Greater Cairo is spread out over both banks of the Nile River, which runs north-south through the center of the city. The neighborhoods of Gizah, Aguza, Mohandisin are on the west bank, the districts of Gazirah and Geziret Al-Rawdah on islands in the river, and the major urban center on the east bank, together with a number of suburbs. Downtown Cairo’s streets and avenues are laid out around a series of traffic circles—Maydan Talaat Harb, Maydan Orabi, Maydan Mustafa Kamel, and, at the heart of the city, Maydan Tahrir.

Cairo Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 9,690,000
Area: 20 sq km (7.7 sq mi)
Nicknames: Mother of the World, The Well-Guarded

Metropolitan Area

Population: 12,000,000
Description: Central Cairo, Giza, Shubra al-Khaymah, and parts of Giza and Qalyubiyah provinces
Area: 215 sq km (83 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 17
Percentage of national population 2: 16%
Average yearly growth rate: 2.1%

  1. The Cairo metropolitan area’s rank among the world’s urban areas.
  2. The percent of Egypt’s total population living in the Cairo metropolitan area.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Packed buses offer local service in Cairo, stopping at the Maydan Tahrir, the Maydan Ataba and Opera Square, the Pyramids Road, Ramses Station, and the Citadel. Minibuses offer more reliable and somewhat more expensive service. Also available are privately owned and operated 12-seat taxis. Cairo’s commuter rail service, the Metro, runs both above-and underground. The trains are clean; service is efficient; and fares are reasonable.

Sightseeing

Organized tours to Cairo’s major tourist attractions, such as the Giza and Saqqara pyramids and the Sphinx, are offered by hotels, private guides, and travel agencies.

4. People

More than one-quarter of all Egyptians live in Cairo. The population of the city proper stood at 9,690,000 in 1998 while the population of the greater metropolitan area has been variously estimated between 12 and 18 million. The city’s population is more homogenous today than during the colonial period when large numbers of Europeans lived in Cairo. Today about 95 percent of the city’s residents were born in Egypt, and 90 percent are Muslims. Cairo’s population also includes significant numbers of people from other African countries, especially Sudan (Sudanese are thought to number about 400,000). About 20,000 African Muslims from other countries are students at Al-Azhar University. Even more are refugees who fled their home-lands.

5. Neighborhoods

Downtown Cairo, whose center is the plaza of Maydan Tahrir, is a bustling district of shops, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial establishments, as well as museums, gardens, and art galleries. It also affords a scenic view of the Nile River.

To the east of central Cairo is the walled medieval section of the city known as Islamic Cairo, which includes poorer residential districts, historic architecture dating back over a thousand years, and the bustling Khan Khalili marketplace. Its main street, Shar’a Mu’iz, is lined with buildings from several eras of Egyptian history, including those of the early dynasties before the Ottoman Era.

Garden City, south of Maydan Tahrir, is an upscale district with expensive homes and numerous embassies. To the east is the area dominated by the Citadel, a medieval fortress that was home to Egypt’s rulers for some 700 years. In the vicinity are three mosques and several museums.

Northeast of Cairo’s central and historic districts is the wealthy residential suburb of Heliopolis, home to Egypt’s former president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Although named for an ancient Egyptian city, Heliopolis was actually planned and laid out with reference to European models and is more spacious than other parts of Cairo. (Egyptians generally call the suburb Masr al-Gedida, or New Cairo). Many members of the professional classes live in the neighborhood, which has a large Christian minority.

The exclusive residential suburb of Zamalek—Cairo’s wealthiest neighborhood—is located on the island of Gazirah, occupying the northern two-thirds of the island; the remainder is the site of private sports clubs and parks.

The newer suburbs of Duqqi, Mohandisin, Aguza, Gizah, and Imbabah are located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the older part of the city.

6. History

The first settlement in the region of present-day Cairo was al-Fustat, founded in A. D. 641 as a military encampment by the Arabic commander ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. Under the dynasties that ruled Egypt over the following centuries, the town grew into a major port city. In A. D. 969 Jawhar, the leader of an Islamic sect called the Fatimids, founded a new city near al-Fustat, initially naming it al-Mansuriyah (its name was later changed to al-Qahirah, or Cairo). When the Fatimids became the rulers of Egypt, founding a dynasty that lasted for two centuries, Cairo became their capital.

When Saladin, a Sunni Muslim, defeated the Crusaders and founded the Ayyubid dynasty in the twelfth century, he retained Cairo as his capital, and it became the center of a vast empire. (Al-Fustat, however, was burned down as part of the “scorched earth” strategy that defeated the Crusaders.) In the thirteenth century, the Ayyubids were eclipsed by Turkish military conquerors known as the Mamluks, who ruled Egypt from A. D. 1260 to 1516. During the first hundred years of Mamluk rule, Cairo experienced its most illustrious period. Al-Azhar University, which had been founded in the tenth century, became the foremost center of learning in the Islamic world, and Cairo played a key role in the east-west spice trade. Most of its greatest buildings were constructed during this period.

Egyptian Museum, Alabaster Mosque, Khan el-Khalili

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