Egypt and the Sudan
JEAN-MARC RAN OPPENHEIM
Egypt and the Sudan lie in the northeast corner of Africa. Separated from southwest Asia by the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal, Egypt is on the southern littoral of the Mediterranean Sea. The Red Sea forms the east coast of Egypt, and its western and southern frontiers are contiguous with Libya and the Sudan, respectively. About 95 percent of Egypt's surface is desert; the remaining 5 percent is the Nile river valley and the Nile delta. The Sudan shares a border with Egypt to the north; the Red Sea and Ethiopia are to the east, Uganda and Congo to the south, and Libya, Chad, and the Central African Republic to the west.
The Nile River, which runs from the Sudan through Egypt, has been pivotal to the agricultural economies of both countries since the beginning of settled society in neolithic times; it united them during the rise of the great civilization of ancient times. Most of Egypt's cities and towns are located in the Nile river valley and delta, home to about 98 percent of the population. Similarly, more than 50 percent of the Sudanese population is settled in an area known as el-Gezira, an area north of the confluence of the Blue and White Niles in the Sudan's middle latitudes.
Of Egypt's more than sixty-five million people, 93 percent are Sunni Muslim and about 6 percent are Coptic Christian. Ethnically, much of Egypt's northern population is Arab, while its southern inhabitants are mostly Nubians—closer in ethnicity to their sub-Saharan African neighbors than to the Arabs. Until the 1950s Egypt hosted Italians, Greeks, Maltese, Armenians, Syro-Lebanese, and Jews who had arrived in the nineteenth century at the