Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Egypt is country located in 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 lies Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share land border with Egypt.
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage along the Nile Delta back to the 6th–4th millennia BC. Considered a mother of civilisations, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Archeological areas 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 reflects its unique transcontinental location being simultaneously Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African. 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.
The Giza Necropolis is the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 2700–2200 BC, which constructed many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza pyramids.
In ancient Egyptian history, the Old Kingdom is the period started 2700–2200 BC. It is also known as the "Period of the Pyramids" as it encompasses the reigns of the great pyramid-builders of the Fourth Dynasty, such as King Sneferu, who perfected the art of pyramid building, and the kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, who constructed the pyramids at Giza. Egypt attained its first sustained peak of civilization during the Old Kingdom, the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods (followed by the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom), which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley.
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (also known as The Period of Reunification) is the period in the history of ancient Egypt following a period of political division known as the First Intermediate Period. The Middle Kingdom Strated 2040 to 1782 BC, stretching from the reunification of Egypt under the reign of Mentuhotep II in the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty. The kings of the Eleventh Dynasty ruled from Thebes and the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty ruled from el-Lisht.
The New Kingdom, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the sixteenth century BC and the eleventh century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth dynasties of Egypt. Its exact beginning of the New Kingdom between 1570 BC and 1544 BC. The New Kingdom followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt's most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power. Later part of this period, under the Nineteenth and Twentieth dynasties (1292–1069 BC), is also known as the Ramesside period. It is named after the eleven pharaohs who took the name Ramesses, after Ramesses I, the founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Alexander the Great conquered Persian-controlled Egypt in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Achaemenid Empire. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, his empire quickly unraveled amid competing claims by his closest friends and companions. Ptolemy, a Macedonian who was one of Alexander's most trusted generals and confidants, won control of Egypt from his rivals and declared himself pharaoh. Alexandria, a Greek polis founded by Alexander, became the capital city and a major center of Greek culture, learning, and trade for the next several centuries. The Ptolemaic Kingdom expanded its territory to include eastern Libya, the Sinai, and northern Nubia.
To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.
The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide following the burial of her lover Mark Antony who had died in her arms (from a self-inflicted stab wound), after Octavian had captured Alexandria and her mercenary forces had fled. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless, Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest.
After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, the Ptolemaic Kingdom ( 305–30 BC), which had ruled Egypt since the Wars of Alexander the Great brought an end to Achaemenid Egypt (the Thirty-first Dynasty), took the side of Mark Antony in the last war of the Roman Republic, against the eventual victor Octavian, who as Augustus became the first Roman emperor in 27 BC, having defeated Mark Antony and the pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, at the naval Battle of Actium. After the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra, the Roman Republic annexed the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Augustus and many subsequent emperors ruled Egypt as the Roman pharaohs. The Ptolemaic institutions were dismantled, and though some bureaucratic elements were maintained the government administration was wholly reformed along with the social structure. The Graeco-Egyptian legal system of the Hellenistic period continued in use, but within the bounds of Roman law. The tetradrachm coinage minted at the Ptolemaic capital of Alexandria continued to be the currency of an increasingly monetized economy, but its value was made equal to the Roman denarius. The priesthoods of the Ancient Egyptian deities and Hellenistic religions of Egypt kept most of their temples and privileges, and in turn the priests also served the Roman imperial cult of the deified emperors and their families.
The Holy Family visited the area during the Flight into Egypt, seeking refuge from Herod. Further it is held that Christianity began to spread in Egypt when St. Mark arrived in Alexandria, becoming the first Patriarch, though the religion remained underground during the rule of the Romans.
Under the Romans, St. Mark and his successors were able to convert a substantial portion of the population, from pagan beliefs to Christianity. As the Christian communities in Egypt grew, they were subjected to persecution by the Romans, under Emperor Diocletian around 300 AD, and the persecution continued following the Edict of Milan that declared religious toleration. The Coptic Church later separated from the church of the Romans and the Byzantines. Under the rule of Arcadius (395-408), a number of churches were built in Old Cairo. In the early years of Arab rule, the Copts were allowed to build several churches within the old fortress area of Old Cairo.
The Ben Ezra Synagogue was established in Coptic Cairo in 1115, in what was previously a Coptic church that was built in the 8th century.
In 639 an Islamic army were sent against Egypt by the second Khalipha, Umar, under the command of Amr ibn al-As. The Islamic army defeated a Byzantine army at the battle of Heliopolis. Amr next proceeded in the direction of Alexandria, which was surrendered to him by a treaty signed on November 8, 641. Alexandria was regained for the Byzantine Empire in 645 but was retaken by Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repulsed. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of the country.
Following the first surrender of Alexandria, Amr chose a new site to settle his men, near the location of the Byzantine fortress of Babylon. The new settlement received the name of Fustat, after Amr's tent, which had been pitched there when the Arabs besieged the fortress. Fustat quickly became the focal point of Islamic Egypt.
Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt declared itself a republic. Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 102,3 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 fourteenth-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 kilometers (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 centers of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.