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Egypt Country Overview download Chinese version for more introduction

Egypt, country located in the northeastern corner of Africa. Egypt’s heartland, theNile River valley and delta, was the home of one of the principal civilizations of the ancient Middle East and, like Mesopotamia farther east, was the site of one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies.


Quick facts

Official   name

Jumhūriyyat Miṣr al-ʿArabiyyah

(Arab Republic of Egypt)

Form   of government

Interim   government

Head   of state

President:   Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Head   of government

Prime   Minister: Sherif Ismail



Official   language


Official   religion


Monetary   unit

Egyptian   pound (LE)


(2014   est.) 86,730,000

Total   area (sq mi)


Total   area (sq km)


Urban-rural   population

Urban:   (2012) 42.9%

Rural:   (2012) 57.1%

Life   expectancy at birth

Male:   (2011) 68.6 years

Female:   (2011) 71.4 years


percentage   of population age 15 and over literate

Male:   (2010) 80.3%

Female:   (2010) 63.5%

GNI   per capita (U.S.$)

(2013)   3,160



The economy of Egypt was a highly centralized planned economy focused on import substitution under President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In the 1990s, a series of International Monetary Fund arrangements, coupled with massive external debt relief resulting from Egypt's participation in the Gulf War coalition, helped Egypt improve its macroeconomic performance. Since 2000, the pace of structural reforms, including fiscal, monetary policies, taxation, privatization and new business legislations, helped Egypt move towards a more market-oriented economy and prompted increased foreign investment. The reforms and policies have strengthened macroeconomic annual growth results which averaged 8% annually between 2004 and 2009 but the government largely failed to equitably share the wealth and the benefits of growth have failed to trickle down to improve economic conditions for the broader population, especially with the growing problem of unemployment and underemployment. After the 2011 revolution Egypt's foreign exchange reserves fell from $36 billion in December 2010 to only $16.3 billion in January 2012, also in February 2012 Standard & Poor's rating agency lowered the Egypt's credit rating from B+ to B in the long term. In 2013, S&P lowered Egypt's long-term credit rating from B- to CCC+, and its short-term rating from B to C on worries about the country's ability to meet its financial targets and maintain social peace more than two years after President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in an uprising, ushering in a new era.



I   Healthcare

In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 4.66% of the country's GDP. In 2009, there were 16.04 physicians and 33.80 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 73.20 years in 2011, or 71.30 years for males and 75.20 years for females. Egypt spends 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product on health including treatment costs 22 percent incurred by citizens and the rest by the state.


As a result of modernization efforts over the years, Egypt's healthcare system has made great strides forward. Access to healthcare in both urban and rural areas greatly improved and immunization programs are now able to cover 98% of the population. Life expectancy increased from 44.8 years during the 1960s to 72.12 years in 2009. There was a noticeable decline of the infant mortality rate (during the 1970s to the 1980s the infant mortality rate was 101-132/1000 live births, in 2000 the rate was 50-60/1000, and in 2008 it was 28-30/1000).


According to the World Health Organization in 2008, an estimated 91.1% of Egypt's girls and women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to genital mutilation.


II.  Health insurance

The Egyptian government has been keen on extending the coverage of health insurance. The total number of insured Egyptians reached 37 million in 2009, of which 11 million are minors, providing an insurance coverage of approximately 52 percent of Egypt's population.


Agricultural sector

During the 1970s, despite significant investment in land reclamation, agriculture lost its position as the leading economic sector. Agricultural exports, which were 87% of all merchandise export by value in 1960, fell to 35% in 1974 and to 11% by 2001. In 2000, agriculture accounted for 17% of Gross Domestic Production and 34% of total employment.


Cotton has long been a primary exported cash crop, but it is no longer vital as an export. Production in 1999 was 243,000 tons. Egypt is also a substantial producer of wheat, corn, sugarcane, fruit and vegetables, fodder, and rice; substantial quantities of wheat are also imported, especially from the United States of America and Russia, despite increases in yield since 1970, and significant quantities of rice are exported. Citrus, dates, and grapes are the main fruits by acreage. Agricultural output in tons in 1999 included corn, 9,350,000; wheat, 6,347,000; rice, 5,816,000; potatoes, 1,900,000; and oranges, 1,525,000.[clarification needed] The government exercises a strong degree of control over agriculture, not only to ensure the best use of irrigation water but also to confine the planting of cotton in favor of food grains. However, the government's ability to achieve this objective is limited by crop rotational constraints.


Egypt's fertile area totals about 3.3 million hectares (8.1 million acres), about one-quarter of which is land reclaimed from the desert. However, the reclaimed lands only add 7 percent to the total value of agricultural production. Even though only 3 percent of the land is arable, it is extremely productive and can be cropped two or even three times annually. Most land is cropped at least twice a year, but agricultural productivity is limited by salinity, which afflicts an estimation of 35% of cultivated land, and drainage issues.


Irrigation plays a major role in a country the very livelihood of which depends upon a single river, the Nile. Most ambitious of all the irrigation projects is that of the Aswan High Dam, completed in 1971. A report published in March 1975 by the National Council for Production and Economic Affairs indicated that the dam had proved successful in controlling floodwaters and ensuring recurring water supply, but that water consumption had been more than needed and shall be controlled. Some precious land was lost below the dam because the flow of Nile silt was stopped, and increased salinity remains a major problem. Furthermore, five years of drought in the Ethiopia highlands—the source of the Nile River's water—caused the water level of Lake Nasser, the Aswan High Dam's reservoir, to drop to the lowest level in 1987. In 1996, however, the level of water behind the High Dam and in Lake Nasser reached the maximum level since the completion of the dam. Despite this unusual abundance of water supply, Egypt can only use 55.5 billion cu m (1.96 trillion cu ft) every year, according to the Nile Basin Agreement signed in 1959 between Egypt and Sudan. Another major project designed to address the water scarcity problem is the New Valley Project (the "second Nile"), aimed at development of the large artesian water supplies underlying the oases of the Western Desert.


Industrial sector

 i.    Automobiles manufacturing

El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing Company is Egypt's state owned automobile company, founded in 1960 in Helwan, Egypt. Established in 1962, the company manufactures various vehicles under license from Zastava Automobili, Daimler AG, Kia, and Peugeot. Their current lineup consists of the Jeep Cherokee; the open-top, Wrangler-based Jeep AAV TJL; the Kia Spectra; the Peugeot 405; and the Peugeot 406.


Other manufacturers such as AAV - Arab American Vehicles, the Ghabbour Group, WAMCO - the Watania Automotive Manufacturing Company, and MCV Egypt - Manufacturing Commercial Vehicles, produce automobiles in Egypt. MCV Egypt was established in 1994 to represent Mercedes-Benz in the commercial vehicle sector in Egypt, producing a range of buses and trucks for domestic sale and for export throughout the Arab World, Africa, and Eastern Europe. The manufacturing plant at Salheya employs over 1000 people. Also there is Russian AutoVAZ manufacturing 'Lada'.


ii.      Chemicals

Abu Qir Fertilizers Company (AFC) is one of the largest producers of nitrogen fertilizers in Egypt and the Middle East. It produces about 50% of the Egyptian Nitrogen Fertilizers. The company and the 1st Ammonia Urea plant was established at 1976. It is located at Abu Qir bay, 20 kilometers East Of Alexandria, and there is Egypt Basic Industries Corporation (EBIC), one of the largest producers of greenfield ammonia plant.


Services sector

 i.    Banking & insurance

The banking sector has gone through many stages since the establishment of the first bank in 1856, followed by the emergence of private sector and joint venture banks during the period of the Open Door Policy in the 1970s. Moreover, the Egyptian banking sector has been undergoing reforms, privatization, and mergers and acquisitions from 1991 up to today.


The banking system comprises 57 state owned commercial banks. This includes 28 commercial banks, four of which are state-owned, 26 investment banks (11 joint venture banks and 15 branches of foreign banks), and three specialized banks. Although private and joint venture banks are growing, many remain relatively small with few branch networks.


Egypt's banking system has undergone major reforms since the 1990s and today consumers are faced with a liberalized and modernized system which is supervised and regulated according to internationally accepted standards. Although the mortgage market is underdeveloped in Egypt and as yet foreigners cannot yet obtain a mortgage for a property in Egypt. In the near future, a new mortgage law will enable purchasers to take out property loans. This will open up the market considerably and create a storm of development and real estate activity in the near future.


 ii.    Communications

Egypt has long been the cultural and informational centre of the Arab world, and Cairo is the region's largest publishing and broadcasting centre.

The telecommunications liberalisation process started in 1998 and is still ongoing, but at a slow pace. Private sector companies operate in mobile telephony, and Internet access. There were 10 million fixed phone lines, 31 million mobile phones, and 8.1 million Internet users by the August, 2007.

iii.     Transport

Transport in Egypt are centered in Cairo and largely follow the pattern of settlement along the Nile. The main line of the nation's 4,800-kilometer (3,000 mi) railway network runs from Alexandria to Aswan and is operated by Egyptian National Railways. The badly maintained road network has expanded rapidly to over 21,000 miles (34,000 km), covering the Nile Valley and Nile Delta, Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, the Sinai, and the Western oases.


In addition to overseas routes, Egypt Air provides reliable domestic air service to major tourist destinations from its Cairo hub. The Nile River system (about 1,600 km (990 mi).) and the principal canals (1,600 km.) are important locally for transportation.


The Suez Canal is a major waterway of international commerce and navigation, linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea. The ministry of transportation, along with other governmental bodies are responsible for transportation in Egypt. Major ports are Alexandria, Port Said, and Damietta on the Mediterranean, and Suez and Safaga on the Red Sea.



The politics of Egypt is based on republicanism, with a semi-presidential system of government. Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, executive power was assumed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution. In 2012, Mohamed Morsi was elected as Egypt's fifth president but was deposed by army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who was subsequently elected as Egypt's sixth president in 2014.


Foreign relations

The permanent headquarters for the League of Arab States (The Arab League) is located in Cairo. The Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Araby is the present Secretary General of the Arab League. The Arab League moved out of Egypt to Tunis in 1978 as a protest at the peace treaty with Israel, but returned in 1989.Egypt was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, after the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty at the Camp David Accords. Egypt has a major influence amongst other Arab states, and has historically played an important role as a mediator in resolving disputes between various Arab nations, and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Most Arab nations still give credence to Egypt playing that role, though its effects are often limited. Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996. A territorial dispute with Sudan over an area known as the Hala'ib Triangle, has meant that diplomatic relations between the two remain strained.




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