Facts and Statistics
North East Africa bordering Palestine (Gaza Strip) 11 km, Israel 266 km, Libya
1,115 km, Sudan 1,273 km
desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters
76,117,421 (July 2004 est.)
Eastern Hamitic stock (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) 99%, Greek,
Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%
(mostly Sunni) 94%, Coptic Christian and other 6%
Language in Egypt
For almost 13 centuries
has been the written and spoken language of Egypt. Before the
Arab invasion in AD 639, Coptic, the language descended from ancient Egyptian, was the
language of both religious and everyday life for the mass of the population; by the 12th century,
however, it had been totally replaced by Arabic, continuing only as a liturgical language for the
Coptic Orthodox Church. Arabic has become the language of both the Egyptian Christian and
Islam is practised by the majority of Egyptians and governs their personal, political, economic
and legal lives. Islam emanated from what is today Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad is
seen as the last of God's emissaries (following in the footsteps of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, etc) to
bring revelation to mankind.
Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon,
sunset, and evening. The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day. Friday is the
Muslim holy day. Everything is closed. Many companies also close on Thursday, making the
weekend Thursday and Friday.
Each night at sunset, families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast
(iftar). The festivities often continue well into the night. In general, things happen more slowly
during Ramadan. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule. Shops may be open and
closed at unusual times.
. The family is the most significant unit of Egyptian society.
. Kinship plays an important role in all social relations.