Eyewitness Introduction to Egypt: "The Gift of the Nile"

Article excerpt

northeastern corner of Africa, lying at the crossroads between the two continents of Europe and Asia (in the Sinai Peninsula), while bordering Libya, Sudan, Israel and the Red Sea. Egypt is the most ancient tourist country in the world. Several health fact-finding missions in the last few years were made to this small country that is frequently defined by the Valley of the Nile. With the spreading deserts on either side, or a very rich heritage of ancient relics, these scenic vistas are without equal elsewhere in the world. Although there are significant cultural differences among the population, Egypt has a long history of ethnic and religious compassion. Among the many rarities, main tourist attractions include the three great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, amazing ancient wonders of the world. These fact-finding missions included how health and medical care are defined, how people and culture are intertwined with its physical features, land use, and the economy and its resources.

Key Words: Egypt, Nile, Culture, Health, Economy

Egypt is sometimes noted as "the gift of the Nile" because the waters of this famous river have always been the vital spirit of the country. Before the Aswan High Dam was built, the Nile River would flood and deposit fertile fine grained sandy sediment across the bottom of the entire valley. The Nile is the vital artery of the country because its water alone gives a current fertility to the narrow strip known as the Nile Oasis. Every year, millions of tourists visit the capital city Al Qahirah (Cairo), to see these ancient wonders, which is an important source of revenue. If your memory serves you correctly, you may recall the tales of Cleopatra and Rome, Mark Antony, and of course, Iulius Caesar, the romantic and sometimes tragic stories which told of events that spanned the period of time between 69 BC - 30 BC.

Egypt covers about 1,001,450 square kilometers/386,660 square miles in territory. The population according to the 2005 census was approximately 74,635,910, yielding a densely populated country consisting of approximately 67.2 individuals per square km, or 174 per square mile. Life expectancy is estimated at 62.4 years. Infant mortality is high at a rate of 67.5 per 1,000 live births. The official language is Arabic, but there are also other languages including English, French and regional ethnic dialects, depending on the geographical area of residence of the natives. Ethnic groups include Eastern Hamitic (Egyptian, Bedouin, and Berber) which comprise 95% of the population, with the remaining 5% made up of persons of Greek, Nubian, Armenian, Italian, or French heritage. The literacy rate is approximately 50.5%. Muslin (mostly Sunni) 94% and Coptic Christian (about 6%) are the most popular religions. The currency is the Egyptian Pound with the GDP per capita equal to $790 United States dollars.

The climate in Egypt is mainly dry and barren, with mild winters and really hot summers. The form of Government is Republic with two legislative bodies (Advisory Council and People's Assembly). According to recent publications, the wealth of the economy is derived from public services 55%, agriculture 34%, and industry 11%. Transportation within Egypt is plentiful. Bus service in each town is very slow, but surprisingly, adequate. Taxis are everywhere and quite inexpensive. Conversations were often held between the taxi driver and me. I discovered that the drivers were often very educated, with professions as engineers, pharmacists, teachers or even medical physicians. There is a palpable air of "we are all in this together" which allowed a stranger, such as myself, to understand that the American concept of "loneliness" is virtually non-existent in this culture. There is good railroad service with air-conditioned trains connecting Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan. Egypt Air and the United Arab Airlines also operate regular flights between these major cities.

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