1.002,000 sq km (386,874 sq miles).
61.9 per sq km.
Cairo (El Qahira). Population: 6,789,000 (1996).
Egypt is bounded to the north by the Mediterranean, to the south by Sudan, to the west by Libya, and to the east by the Red Sea and Israel. The River Nile divides the country unevenly in two, while the Suez Canal provides a third division with the Sinai Peninsula. Beyond the highly cultivated Nile Valley and Delta, a lush green tadpole of land that holds more than 90% of the population, the landscape is mainly flat desert, devoid of vegetation apart from the few oases that have persisted in the once fertile depressions of the Western Desert. Narrow strips are inhabited on the Mediterranean coast and on the African Red Sea coast. The coast south of Suez has fine beaches and the coral reefs just offshore attract many divers. The High Dam at Aswan now controls the annual floods that once put much of the Nile Valley under water; it also provides electricity.
Arabic is the official language. English and French are widely spoken.
Islam is the predominant religion. All types of Christianity are also represented, especially the Coptic Christian Church.
GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from May to September).
Most areas 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Certain rural parts still use 110-380 volts AC.
Full IDD is available. Country code: 20. Outgoing international code: 00.
Several of the major hotels in Cairo have introduced fax facilities; check with the hotel concerned before travelling.
International telegram services are available from the Central Post Offices in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan and main hotels.
The postal system is efficient for international mail. Airmail to western Europe takes about five days. There are Poste Restante facilities at the Central Post Office; a small fee is charged when mail is collected. All post offices are open daily 0900-1400 except Friday, and the Central Post Office in Cairo is open 24 hours.