- Egypt has the largest Arabic population in the world.
- The formal name of Egypt is the Arab Republic of Egypt.
- The literacy rate for Egyptian men is 83% and 59.4% for women.
- Egyptian history is generally considered to have begun in 3200 B.C. when King Menes (also called Narmer) united the Upper and Lower Kingdoms. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C. and was replaced by Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. Arabs introduced Islam and the Arabic language into Egypt in the seventh century.
- As of July 2011, the population of Egypt was 82,079,663, making it the 15th most populated country in the world. Approximately 99% of the population lives on about 5.5% of the land.
- Ramses II (1279-1212 B.C.) is often considered the greatest pharaoh (“great house”) of the Egyptian empire. He ruled Egypt for 60 years and was the only pharaoh to carry the title “the Great” after his name. He had over 90 children: approximately 56 boys and 44 girls. He had eight official wives and nearly 100 concubines. He also had red hair, which was associated with the god Seth.
- The famous Great Pyramid at Giza was built as a burial place for King Khufu (2589-2566 B.C.) and took more than 20 years to build. It is built from over two million blocks of limestone, each one weighing as much as two and a half elephants. It stands about 460 feet (149 m) high-taller than the Statue of Liberty. The base of the Great Pyramid takes up almost as much space as five football fields.
- Ancient Egyptians believed that mummification ensured the deceased a safe passage to the afterlife. The mummification process had two stages: first the embalming of the body, then the wrapping and burial of the body. Organs were stored in canopic jars, each jar representing a god.
- Ancient Egyptian women had more rights and privileges than most other women in the ancient world. For example, they could own property, carry out business deals, and initiate divorce. Women from wealthy families could become doctors or priestesses.
- In Egypt, both men and women wore eye make-up called kohl, which was made from ground-up raw material mixed with oil. They believed it had magical healing powers that could restore poor eyesight and fight eye infections.
- For ancient Egyptians, bread was the most important food and beer was their favorite drink. Models of brewers were even left in tombs to ensure that the deceased had plenty of beer in the next world.
- The ancient Egyptians had three different calendars: an everyday farming calendar, an astronomical calendar, and a lunar calendar. The 365-day farming calendar was made up of three seasons of four months. The astronomical calendar was based on observations of the star Sirius, which reappeared each year at the start of the flood season. Finally, priests kept a lunar calendar that told them when to perform ceremonies for the moon god Khonsu.
- Hieroglyphs were developed about 3,000 B.C. and may have started as early wall paintings. In contrast to English’s 26 letters, there are more than 700 different Egyptian hieroglyphs.
- Egypt’s first pyramid was a step pyramid built by famed Egyptian architect Imhotep for the pharaoh Djoser in 2600 B.C.
- The ancient Egyptians worshipped more than 1,000 different gods and goddesses. The most important god of all was Ra, the sun god.
- Over its long history, Egypt has been known by many different names. For example, during the Old Kingdom (2650-2134 B.C.), Egypt was called Kemet or Black Land, which referred to the dark, rich soil of the Nile Valley. It was also called Deshret, or Red Land, which referred to Egypt’s vast deserts. Later, it was known as Hwt-ka-Ptah or “House of the Ka of Ptah.” Ptah was one of Egypt’s earliest gods. The Greeks changed Hwt-ka-ptah to Aegyptus.
- The Sahara Desert at one time was lush grassland and savannah. Overgrazing and/or climate change in 8000 B.C. began to change the area from pastoral land to desert. Now it is the world’s largest hot desert at over 3,630,000 square miles—roughly the size of the United States. Antarctica is considered the largest desert (of any type) in the world.
- The first pharaoh of Egypt is considered to be King Menes, who united the Upper and Lower Kingdoms in 3150 B.C. He named the capital of the united lands Memphis, which means “Balance of Two Lands.” Legend says he ruled for 60 years until he was killed by a hippopotamus.
- The 2011 Egyptian revolution began on January 25th. Egyptian protestors
focused on lack of free speech and free elections, police brutality, government
corruption, high unemployment, inflation, and continued use of emergency
law. An estimated 800 people died and over 6,000 were injured in the process.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11th.
- Egypt’s Nile River is the world’s longest, running 4,135 miles (6,670 km). Ancient Egyptians would measure the depth of the Nile using a “nilometer.” The English word “Nile” is derived from the Semitic nahal, meaning “river.” Ancient Egyptians called the river iteru, meaning “great river.
- The Egyptians called the pyramids mer, a word whose etymology is debated. The English word “pyramid” comes from the Greek word pyramis, a type of wheat cake shaped like a pyramid.
- “Pyramid Power” or “pyramidology” refers to the belief that pyramids possess supernatural powers. For example, in 1959, Czech Radio engineer Karel Drbal patented the idea that pyramids could sharpen blunt razor blades. Late actress Gloria Swanson slept with a miniature pyramid under her pillow because it “made every cell in her body tingle.
- The first mummy is, according to legend, Osiris who was murdered by Seth. Isis wrapped him in bandages and he came back to life as the god of the dead, or the afterlife.
Important Gods and Goddess of Ancient Egypt
- Amun: Creator god, associated with fertility. Sometimes pictured as a goose, but most often represented as a man
- Anubis: Necropolis god, connected with mummification. Usually has the head of a dog or jackal
- Hathor: Goddess of women also sky goddess or necropolis goddess. Has the head of a cow or cow’s horns, often with a sun disk on her head
- Horus: Sky god. Has the head of a hawk, often with a double crown
- Isis: Wife of Osiris; guardian and magician. Often has the hieroglyph of her name on her head
- Osiris: Ruler of the Underworld, god of dying vegetation, and husband of Isis. Usually shown as a mummy, holding a scepter, and wearing a white crown with plumes and horns
- Re: Sun god. Has the head of hawk, often with a sun disk on his head
When to Travel - Weather
The best time to vaction Egypt, like many places, depends on the region where you want to visit. Historically tourism has shown that from December to February is peak season and summer which is from June to August is the low season.
Summer season is really unbearable almost anywhere in Cairo, especially around Aswan and Luxor. Daytime temperature gets to 105°F and the combination of dust, heat and noise makes walking the city streets really tough.
On the other hand, a blazing sun is what’s sought after on the beaches of Southern Sinai, the Alexandrian coast or the Red Sea. Just be ready to compete with a large crowd of locals on their summer Egypt holidays.
When visiting somewhere near Luxor, winter will be the best time to travel. Cairo isn’t quite as pleasant with its chilly evenings and up in the Mediterranean coast, Alexandria will have frequent downpours resulting to flooded, muddy streets.
The best compromise for an all-Egypt tour is to visit during March to May (spring season) or September to November (autumn season). Most of Egypt’s religious and state holidays last only a day or two the most so it is unlikely that it will disrupt any travel plans.
Buses will be fully booked around the two Islamic feasts and Ramadan which is the Muslim month of fasting is likely to interrupt any plans to travel. Restaurants and cafés are mostly closed even during daylight hours and bars completely cease to operate for the whole duration. Office hours are also reduced and operation is done randomly.
Egypt Cuisine and Drink
Egypt vacations will provide a fantastic time to try a distinct variety of food: not too spicy and well-flavored with herbs. A recommended place to try a great selection of Egyptian cuisine is the Felfela chain of restaurants in Cairo.
Like many coastal countries, Egypt boasts its fish restaurants and markets – so fish and seafood dishes are a must-eat. Fish markets are more often seen with food stalls nearby where you can just pick a specific kind of fish and it will be cooked for you.
Classic Egyptian dishes include the most common Ful Medames which is made of fava beans, either partially or entirely mashed and is cooked slowly in a copper pot. Olive oil is also an ingredient and garlic is sometimes added too. This dish is usually served with Egyptian baladi (bread) or shami (Levantine pita).
Another must-try dish is Falafel (known as Ta’miya). This is also fava beans made into balls and deep fried. Believed to be invented by Egyptian Bedouins, the dish is served as a fast food or snack.
One famous cuisine is koshary which is a mixture of macaroni, rice, lentils, chickpeas and tomato sauce. This is very popular among the locals, thus a popular dish for adventure travelers.
The Egyptian cuisine has some similarities to cuisine of the Arabic-speaking countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. Shawarma-sandwiches are common in the region as well.
Widely available in Egyptian market are various exotic fruits. Fresh grown guavas, watermelons, mangoes and small melons are displayed in fruit stalls especially in non-tourist marketplaces.
On the other hand, as a Muslim nation, alcoholic drinks are forbidden for strictly observant Muslims. But Egyptians adopted a practical view towards alcohol for non-Muslims and foreigners. Bottled and alcoholic drinks are available throughout the country especially in larger towns and cities as well as centers for tourists. Stella is a common beer in Egypt although local brands with higher alcohol variant are also available.
Popular Sights of Egypt
Highlights of any vacation to Egypt include famous archeological sites from both North and South Egypt. The most famous are:
The Pyramids of Giza – situated high on the desert plateau to the west of the Urban district of Cairo, the Pyramids of Giza symbolizes the exemplary pyramid structures of ancient Egyptian civilization. Together with the Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau, they both are the iconic image of Egypt.
Midan Tahrir – meaning the “Liberation Square”, commonly known as Tahrir Square is located at the epicenter of modern Cairo. It is also considered the city district to the streets and institutions nearby. The Egyptian Museum and the Arab League are some of the institutions found here.
Temples of Luxor and the West Bank – the East Bank of Luxor refers to core part of Luxor township and is centered in the twin foci of the Temple of Karnak and the temple of Luxor. Unlike the West Bank which is a place for mortuary temples and cemeteries, the East bank represented the main settlement of the living - a position that has hardly changed. Also, majority of hotels and tourist facilities are to be found in the East Bank.
Valley of the Kings – also known as the “gates of the kings” is an archeological site located behind the west bank of Luxor. This site is where most of the pharaohs of Egypt of the New Kingdom were buried making it one of the most significant archeological destination not just in Egypt but in the world.
Abu Simbel – this locality has been rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser behind the Aswan Dam by a massive archeological rescue plan sponsored by UNESCO. The multifaceted temples in Abu Simbel dedicated to the Pharaoh Ramsis II “the Great” remain a suggestive and remarkable destination of Egypt.
!!! Hope all the above suggestions & general hints help you to make your tour a very remarkable one!
Have a Wonderful Time
Egypt Unlimited Tours Team