Egypt Tours, Red Sea & Travel

   

Modern Egypt - What it's Like Today

This page offers general information for anyone planning to visit Egypt for the first time. We suggest you read this page especially if this is your first time visiting Egypt; it could help you plan better and make your stay much more enjoyable.

 

An Introduction to Modern Egypt

For centuries, this remarkable country has held a fascination for travelers. Although most recognized for its ancient and impressive monuments, it is today a land of many cultures, where different religions are practiced harmoniously and where the modern West contrasts sharply with the traditions of the East. Egypt's contributions to the world are many, including the calendar, digital systems medical surgery, sanitation, graphic arts, architecture, mummification and monotheism.

 

Sight-seeing in Egypt is awe-inspiring and the shopping is unique. Whether one wishes to step back in time thousands of years, or bargain for gold, silver, inlay work and fine arts, Egypt as a holiday destination is unique.

 

Geography of Egypt

Egypt is located in the northeastern corner of Africa. Rectangular in shape, it covers an area of 386,000 square miles. To the west lies the Libyan Desert, and to the east a desert plateau. The Sudan, on Egypt's southern border, is a natural stretch of the desert and grassy plain leading into Africa. To the north lies the Mediterranean Sea. The area to the south between Cairo and Aswan is known as Upper Egypt, while the part stretching north of Cairo to the Mediterranean is referred to as Lower Egypt.

 

Egypt lies within the eastern extremes of the Sahara desert that dominates the North African landscape. Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean coast to the shores of the Red Sea the desert covers an area of c.9,100,100 km2. This is the largest desert in the world and occupies one quarter of the African continent. Average rainfall is less than 255 mm per year and temperatures can sore to extremes of 580c. It seems remarkable that such a landscape of extremes could also be home to the world's longest river. The Nile rises in South Central Burundai, 6741 kilometers away from the Mediterranean Sea where the river has formed a vast delta. Egypt, home of the ancient Pharaohs, has a vibrant legacy that spans over 5000 years; present throughout modern Egypt not only in priceless antiquities but in spirit as well.

 

Two main tributaries feed the Nile: the Blue Nile, which rises in Lake Tana, Ethiopia and central Africa, and the White Nile which rises in Southern Sudan and central Africa. Both flow separate courses until they merge at Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, Egypt's southern neighbor. It was the extremities of Egypt's location that fuelled such a great and remarkable civilization. Surrounded by deserts and seas Egypt had a natural buffer perimeter that could allow cultural contacts and even absorption but more importantly keep enemies at bay.

 

Cairo - the Capital of Egypt

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is the largest city on the African continent with more than 15 million inhabitants. The city offers an abundance of historical sites that radiantly display its 4,000 years of culture. The Citadel, Alabaster Mosque, Sultan Hassan Mosque and many other mosques wrote the Islamic history of Cairo and gave it the title of 'the town of the 1,000 minarets'.

 

Cairo is also the ideal destination for visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza. Located on the Plateau of Giza only minutes from Cairo is the Great Pyramid of Cheops, built some 4,700 years ago, and today the most famous monument in the world. Also at this site are the smaller Pyramids of Chephren and Mykerionos, the famous Sphinx and the wooden sun boat (Solar Boat).

 

The Egyptian Museum houses the largest collection of antiquities in the world, including the treasures of King Tut-Ankh-Amun; while Old Cairo offers an interesting journey back to the early days of Christianity. At the famous Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, established about 1400 A.D., visitors can experience its old-world character and bargain for real treasures in carpets, jewelry and antiques.

 

The Population of Egypt

The population of Egypt currently stands at about 61 million inhabitants, with the heaviest concentration around Cairo, Alexandria, and the cultivated areas.

 

Languages of Egypt

The official language in Egypt is Arabic. However, a great number of Egyptians speak foreign languages, in particular English and French, so communication between most Egyptians and visitors from western countries is usually not a problem.

 

Religions of Egypt

Islam is the state religion of Egypt, with the majority of the population (some 93%) being Muslim. The remainder is primarily Christian, with very small minority of other religions.

 

Electricity in Egypt

Electricity is standard 220 volts A/C 50 Hz (European standard). Power outlets are round two-prong European style. If you plan to use electrical appliances that require 110 volt / 60 Hz (American standard) you'll need to bring along a power converter.

 

Climate in  Egypt

The climate is predictably dry, sunny and warm most of the year with very little rainfall in winter. The winter temperatures are similar to European spring. June, July and August are rather hot, but the evenings are refreshingly cooler due to the desert breezes that blow into the Nile Valley. For additional information on the weather in Egypt including average air and water temperatures visit our Egypt Climate & Weather page.

 

Time Zone in Egypt

Egypt observes Eastern European Time which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Example: when it's noon in New York, it's 7:00 p.m. in Cairo. Daylight saving time is also followed so time differences will change in the Spring and Fall.

 

Currency in Egypt

The local currency is 'Egyptian Pound' or in short,  (LE). It's divided into 100 Piasters (PT). Bank notes: 20 LE, 10 LE, 5 LE, 1 LE, 50 PT and 25 PT. Although seldom used coins are in 20 PT, 10 PT, 5 PT. The rates for the Egyptian currency fluctuate daily according to the international exchanges but has been fairly stable since the early 1990's. For more information on currency visit our Money Matters page. For current exchange rates visit our Currency Converter page.

 

Banking Hours in Egypt

As a general rule, banks are open from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and again in the evening from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Most banks are closed on Friday and Saturday. The Misr Bank branches at most major hotels and airports are open around the clock. Banks are also closed on official holidays.

 

In addition to the above, there are at least six other holidays that vary by date throughout the year as determined by the Islamic Lunar calendar.

 

Business Hours in Egypt

Government Offices:  From 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. daily. Closed on Fridays, Saturdays and official holidays.

 

Commercial Offices:   From 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. daily. Closed on Fridays.

 

Merchant (Shopping) Hours in Egypt

Merchants and local shops are usually open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

 

Please note that if a local shop is owned by a Christian it is usually closed on Sunday; likewise, if it is owned by a Muslim it is usually closed on Friday. These are the weekly worship days observed by the different religions. Some shops and services, including some of the Khan El-Khalili bazaars, close or close early on Friday and Sunday.