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Portal:Egypt

The Egypt Portal

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Egypt (/ˈɪpt/ (About this soundlisten) EE-jipt; Arabic: مِصرMiṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip (Palestine) and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, and many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, and declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, and occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967. In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, officially withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a semi-presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has been described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian.

Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 100 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the thirteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

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Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, an Italian humanist, was sent on a diplomatic mission to Mamluk Egypt by Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, in order to convince Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri not to retaliate against his Christian subjects in response to the fall of Granada to the Spanish and the subsequent persecution of Moors.

Martyr was instructed by the Catholic Monarchs to deny reports of forced conversions of their Spanish Muslim subjects. He began his voyage in August 1501, reaching Venice in October. The ambassador later sailed for Alexandria and reached the port city on December 23. He toured Alexandria after being initially denied an audience with the Sultan. When the approval finally came, he traveled to Cairo and met with al-Ghuri on February 6, 1502. The Sultan received Martyr well in his Cairo palace, amid local unrest fueled by envoys from other Muslim states. Another secret meeting was arranged, during which Martyr was inquired about the forced conversions. He told the Sultan that the Granadan Moors had chosen the Catholic faith by their own will and blamed the tension on Jews. Martyr promised Spanish naval assistance to al-Ghuri should war break out with the Ottoman Empire. The ambassador's arguments appeared to have convinced the Sultan, who assured Martyr that Christians would be protected and allowed the renovation of their places of worship in the Holy Land. Martyr visited a number of ancient sites in and around Cairo, including the pyramids of Giza. He was given a farewell ceremony on February 21 and sailed back to Venice on April 22. Read more...
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Sharif in 2015

Omar Sharif (Arabic: عمر الشريفEgyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈʕomɑɾ eʃʃɪˈɾiːf]; born Michel Dimitri Chalhoub [miˈʃel dɪˈmitɾi ʃælˈhuːb], 10 April 1932 – 10 July 2015) was an Egyptian film and television actor. He began his career in his native country in the 1950s, but is best known for his appearances in both British and American productions. His films included Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Funny Girl (1968). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Lawrence of Arabia. He won three Golden Globe Awards and a César Award.

Sharif, who spoke Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Italian fluently, was often cast as a foreigner of some sort. He bridled at travel restrictions imposed by the government of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, leading to self-exile in Europe. He was a lifelong horse racing enthusiast, and at one time ranked among the world's top contract bridge players. Read more...

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An early Ramesside Period mural painting from Deir el-Medina tomb depicts an Egyptian couple harvesting crops.
The cuisine of ancient Egypt covers a span of over three thousand years, but still retained many consistent traits until well into Greco-Roman times. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often accompanied by green-shooted onions, other vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, game and fish. Read more...

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