The Arab Republic of Egypt spans across both Asia and Africa via the Sinai Peninsula plateau. It edges onto the Mediterranean Sea to the North, as well as the Red Sea to the East. To the Northeast lies Israel (beyond the Gaza strip), to the West lies Libya and to the South lies Sudan. Although it is the largest country in the Arab World, much of its land is the uninhabitable Saharan Dessert and most of the population is densely crowded around the banks of the Nile River. Cairo (capital), Alexandria and Giza are the major metropolises, each home to more than 2 million residents.
In Egypt, Western culture meets Middle Eastern traditions. Religious practices are commonplace and modern influences increasingly seep into ancient soils. Folkdances display authentic customs whilst world famous music, film and TV infuses Arab media. Egyptians are generally very tight-knit with their extended families and place great worth on spending time together over food, festivals or everyday life.
95% of the population are ethnically Egyptian. As cities expand and urbanisation propagates, tribal communities such as the Bejas and the Doms are progressively being engulfed. Other Egyptian ethnicities include Berbers, Nubians, Arabs, Greeks and Turks. Islam is the dominant religion, whilst Coptic Orthodox Christianity comprises the second largest majority.
As life expectancy is relatively high, the country's age structure is considerably well distributed. The economy is now beginning to reap the demographic dividends of a young and abundant labour force (28.2 million) which will become even more pertinent in coming years if standards of living continue to improve.
Egypt is a global middle power. It has both a president and a prime minister and the legal system is an amalgam of Islamic religious law and Western legislation remnant from the colonial era.
In recent years, Egypt has experienced a prolonged struggle for democracy following political turmoil and mass protests. In 2014, revolution was in the making and resulted in a public election for a new head of state as well as a modified constitution which was approved by referendum. Issues of governance have intensified since the upheaval with unaddressed problems persisting in human rights' practices, citizen participation in political life, governmental accountability, trust in the police force and public representation in development priorities.
Egypt is widely regarded as an important economic nation of Africa. Geostrategically, it is favourably placed at the crossroads of three continents and the mouth of the Suez Canal. Major industries include tourism, pharmaceuticals, construction, textiles, food processing and light manufacturing. The Egyptian economy was formerly highly centralised until recent privatisation saw positive financial outcomes. However this was short-lived as public discontent over limited job opportunities and poor living conditions came to a head in the recent revolution, investor confidence dropped and market growth slowed.
- Education: Cairo contains three of the world's thirty largest mega-slums where children are more likely to spend their days scavenging through rubbish dumps than to attend school. This is particularly true of rural and Upper Egypt. Although free formal education was introduced in the 1950's, low institutional capacity has meant there are scarcely enough teachers to manage the influx of students so even those who are able to attend school usually end up with a compromised quality of education. This then feeds into the problem of unemployment.
- Unemployment: A shrinking public sector, jobless growth in services, low foreign investment and high illiteracy has culminated in an epidemic of unemployment. Whilst international agencies approximate youth unemployment at 13%, the internal census reports figures as high as 39% for school-leavers aged 20-24. Females bear the brunt as they are four times more likely not to find a job. Consequently, they commonly drop out of the job contest as discouraged unengaged people in conjunction with cultural norms to marry and bear children at a young age. More opportunities to upskill youth in specialty industries are required.
- Refugee population: Egypt is flooded with an unknown number of refugees and asylum seekers which place added strain on public services and housing. Being a sanctuary of relative peace amidst conflict in Palestine, Iraq and Sudan, anywhere between 500 thousand and 3 million evacuees have taken up residency within Egypt's borders.
CIA WorldFact Book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
Egypt Tourism Authority - http://en.egypt.travel/practical_info/egypt_facts/#the-people
United nation Development Program - http://www.eg.undp.org/content/egypt/en/home/countryinfo/