As a matter of fact, Egyptians don’t call the country in which they live as Egypt. Actually, the name Egypt comes from the old Greek word Aegyptos or maybe it could come from the old Egyptian words which mean the land of Hutkaptah or the house of Ptah’s spirit which is a local god that ancient Egyptians used to worship. On the other side, the word Copt or Qibt in Arabic could be considered to generally mean Egyptian but nowadays Egyptians use them in order to refer to Egyptian Christians. Even the news uses this term. Today, Egypt is called by the Arabic name Misr. In fact, this name is mentioned in the Koran as it is older than the Conquest of Muslims on the country at the ages of Amr Ebnu Al- Aas. In addition, Misr could be used to refer to the whole country or the capital Cairo.
Fun Facts about Egypt:
Egypt's Size & Geography:
The area of the country is about one million square kilometers. Besides, it is isolated from the neighboring countries by oceans, seas or deserts. From the north, there is the Mediterranean Sea and from the east is the red sea. Furthermore, it is isolated from Israel and Palestine by the desert of Sinai and from Libya by the Western desert.
Source of Water (The Nile):
The most important river in Egypt is the Nile River which comes from Ethiopia in the south of Africa and there is also the Suez Canal which joins between the Red and the Mediterranean Sea. What’s more, the highest place in Egypt is Catherine Mount. Because Egypt is considered as the gift of the Nile and the rainfalls are not enough for agriculture and for the large amount of people, the Nile is regarded as the source of life in Egypt. In the 20th century, people tried to control their usage and amount of exploitation for the river. That appeared in the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 which stopped the floodwaters that used to submerge the whole country. Because of this Dam, Egyptians were able to cultivate crops twice a year.
Egypt is different from its neighboring countries and is distinctive because it witnessed the beginning of the first and the most amazing civilization in the whole world. In fact, this civilization lasted for seven thousand years and it still amuses and surprises the world because of its greatness. Egypt was ruled by Pharaohs for a lot of years and then later the Greeks and Romans.
After this period, Christianity entered in Egypt and the country remained Christian for many centuries. Due to the Muslim Conquest in the 7th century, a new religion was brought to the country but it took a while for the majority of the Egyptians to be Muslims. In the 16th century, Egypt became under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire which was ruled from Constantinople known today as Istanbul. In the era of the modern history, Napoleon and the French army occupied Egypt in 1798 and stayed there till 1801. A lot of writers talked about this period which lasted for three years as a whole turning point and great transformation in the Egyptian culture.
After the expulsion of the French army by the British government in 1801, the leader of the Ottoman Army Muhammad Ali Pasha controlled the country with his troops in 1805. As a matter of fact, Muhammad Ali Pasha ruled Egypt till his death and then his sons and grandsons assumed the power till the end of the monarchy by Egyptian officers in 1952. Due to the occupation of the British army to Egypt in 1882 and because of the consequences of the First World War, Egyptians started to search for their independence from the Ottomans and from the British. In 1919, the Wafd which was considered as the basic nationalist political party was established. In 1922, Egypt was declared independent and the foundation of the constitution began in 1923.
Later in 1952, the Free Egyptian Officers obliged King Farouk to concede his throne and his ruling to the country. In 1953, the monarchy vanished and the establishment of the republic started. In 1954, Gamal Abdel Nasser appeared as the powerful officer who could control and rule the country. That’s why he became the president. Under his ruling, Egyptians had the chance to start their own culture that could be modern and Egyptian at the same time after the end of the foreign occupation, conquest and oppression in their country. Later in 1967, Egypt lost the war against Israel and the Israeli government occupied part of Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, Muhammad Anwar El Sadat became the president. In 1973, he entered in a war against Israel in order to get Sinai back and after the end of this war he started to sign agreements in order to achieve peace with Israel. Sadat was killed in 1981 and Muhammad Hosni Mubarak became the president in 1999 till his resignation in 2011 because of the Egyptian revolution in February.
Language and Religion in Egypt:
Egypt has a great population of about more than ninety percent and the majority is Sunni Muslims. As for Christians, they are about six percent and the majority belongs to the Orthodox Church while the others belong to the Catholic or the Protestant Churches. The main language in the country is Arabic but there are other minorities like the Nubians who speak two various languages that are associated to the Sudanese languages. They form less than one percentage of the Egyptian population and live in the south around Aswan. On the other side, there are Berber speakers who live in the Siwa Oasis and they are Muslims. There are also Armenians, Greeks and other nationalities who are either Christians or Jews and who speak Arabic or other European languages.
The Egyptian Literature:
Actually the old Egyptian literature is very different and various as it contains a lot of subjects and issues. It goes back to the Old Kingdom between two thousand and seven hundred fifty five and two thousand and two hundred fifty five before Christ. In addition, it lasted till the end of the ruling of Greeks and Romans after three hundred and thirty two before Christ. The Egyptian literature as a matter of fact contains diverse subjects like similes, metaphors and alliterations. On the other side, there is the religious literature in the Ancient Egypt which involves hymns calling, praising or asking their gods besides magical and other texts written in their morgues and graves. There is also the worldly literature which comprises stories, instructions, poems, wisdom writings as well as medical, mathematical and scientific texts.
Furthermore, there are texts and writings that talk about the economy, the principles of administration as well as documents like letters. However, they couldn’t be considered as actual type of literature. In fact, the authors of these texts and documents who went back to the Old and the Middle Kingdom were very respected by the public. They were brought up inside the upper classes of the society and the people who used to listen to them were educated and sophisticated like them. What’s more, a large number of these compositions were written in order to teach students who were learning how to write and read to copy them and write them over and over again so that they could be loyal and faithful to the ruler and his family. Indeed these texts were copied by students and children in the New Kingdom beside other modern texts in order to highlight and focus on the professionalism of the Egyptian army. Other stories involve mythological elements and tales and could also include traditions of oral novels that were said and moved from one generation to another through telling and oral narration.
As for the old literature inside the pyramids, it comprises texts and writing written in their graves and carved inside its walls. These texts talked about the ancient Pharaohs Kings and Queens at the last period of the Old Kingdom and they were formed in order to make sure that this king will have a good peaceful life full of serenity and calmness after death. Furthermore, these documents involve religious rituals, hymns to gods as well as mythological factors. Other carvings in these graves include biographies about the taking part of the buried person in historical and great events and incidents. Despite the fact there are any wisdom texts existed from the Old Kingdom, some writings from the Middle Kingdom could be original copies from the Old Kingdom like the Instruction of the Vizier Phah-hotep which contains illustration to principal and fundamental virtues such as honesty and loyalty that must spread and enter in the human relationships.
The Egyptian Festivals & Feasts:
Modern Egypt is full of festivals as its people celebrate many festivals and fests each year. From the most important feast are the following:
1- Shem Al Nassim: It is celebrated in April right after the Coptic Easter. This feast refers to the beginning of the spring and it means smelling the breeze. The celebrations of this feast include picnics out of the house besides eating Renga and Fessikh which are salted fish as well as scallions and colored eggs.
2- The Independence Day: It is celebrated in June due to the declaration of turning Egypt into a republic in 1953 and the withdrawal of the foreign troops from the Egyptian lands in 1956.
3- The Revolution Day: It is called so as it is celebrated in July because of the end of the monarchy besides the beginning of the Republic in the fifties.
4- The Armed Forces Day: It is celebrated in the tenth of October due to the cross of the Egyptian Troops in 1973 to the Suez Canal during the war against Israel in order to get the Occupied Sinai Peninsula back.
The Egyptian Customs and Traditions:
As a matter of fact, customs and traditions in Egypt could appear to foreigners as weird and different and could lead to their confusion. Therefore, in order to be able to perceive and understand Egyptians and their way of life, you must learn their language and know more about their culture, customs, and traditions in addition to values inside the family. Once you perceive these ethics and values, moving from one place to another inside Egypt will be very entertaining and amusing. Generally, Egyptians are very friendly and love to help people beside they could be adjusted in any nature and under any circumstances. If you get lost and don’t know where to go, you could ask anyone in the street and they will gladly help you. In fact, there is a hilarious thing which is when you ask an Egyptian about something, he could bring others in order to discuss the answer and give you the best solution.
As for drinking alcohol, the majority of Egyptians refuse drinking alcohol because of religious values but they don’t mind or interfere in other’s business if they find out that someone of their friends drink. On the contrary, it is very essential that in the case of your drinking, you must drink in a moderate way. As for pork meat, Egyptians especially Muslims don’t eat pork but there are places that vend this kind of meat beside other kinds.
On the other side, there is the Holy Month named Ramadan as during it, Egyptians celebrate each other and go to eat at their friends’ houses after a long day of fasting that lasts from dawn till dusk. In Ramadan, Egyptians stay awake till night in order to pray and do spiritual activities. Besides, they treat each other in a good way; give money for charitable organizations in addition to sharing love and good feelings.
In Egypt, there are few regulations which women even the foreigners have to respect. In ticket lines inside subways, women have to stand with other women in queues. What’s more, there are cars inside the underground subways reserved only for women in order to protect them from any sexual harassment inside men cars because of the large amount of crowds. If you want to talk to a woman, you shouldn’t do that unless you know her personally.
On the other side, there is a large percentage of crimes as well as violence is Egypt due to terrorism or family conflicts. Nonetheless, some crimes due to robbery or theft are found too. In addition, there is also sexual assault and that’s why women in remote areas must be warned in order to protect themselves. Drugs also are prohibited by the law and if you were found with a bag full of drugs, you will be arrested.
To conclude, Egypt is a country that full of culture and civilization which lasted for seven thousand years. Its people are very friendly and are glad to help anyone who is need. In addition, they have a lot of traditions that must be respected so that they could not get angry at you. That’s why is considered as one of the best countries for tourists to come and enjoy their vacations and holidays.