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The Arab Republic of Egypt is mostly in Northeast Africa, but the Sinai Peninsula forms a land bridge with Asia, where it borders Israel and is separated from Saudi Arabia by the Gulf of Aqaba. The larger portion of Egypt is separated from Saudi Arabia by the Red Sea. It is bounded by Libya on the west and Sudan to the south, and its northern border is on the Mediterranean Sea.

A disputed area of land is the Hala'ib Triangle, in the southeastern corner of Egypt, which is a 7,950 square-mile section of land on the African coast of Red Sea. Since Sudan gained independence in 1956, both Sudan and Egypt have claimed control over the area. Egypt has administered the area since the mid-1990s.

Nearly all of Egypt is desert, the only exception being the Nile Delta region, where the Nile River drains into the Mediterranean Sea, and the Nile Valley, which is where ninety-nine percent of the country's population resides. Egypt includes portions of the Sahara and Libyan deserts, which are mostly uninhabitable and uninhabited, except for a few oases.

Most of the rain that falls on Egypt occurs in the winter. South of Cairo, there is very little rain, but the rainfall can be as high as sixteen inches or more on a small strip of Egypt's northern coast, most of it between October and March. The Sinai Mountains see snow, and snow falls on some of the country's northern coastal cities. Most years, Egypt is the driest country in the world. Temperatures in the interior of the country can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Egypt was one of the earliest human habitations. Sometime around 10,000 BC, a hunter-gatherer society was replaced by people who had learned to grind grain. While much of Europe was wearing animal skins and fighting one another with clubs, Egyptians were living a sophisticated life.

Until about 8,000 BC, Egypt was a rich savannah, and agricultural region. Changes in the climate, perhaps aggravated by overgrazing of the land, led to desertification of the land, creating the Sahara Desert, forcing people to migrate to areas along the Nile River. Each summer, rainfall would cause the Nile River to rise. Most years, the river would flood. As the rains stopped, the water would drain, leaving behind a layer of rich silt.

As more and more people settled along the valley, it became necessary for them to develop an organized social order to ensure that they made the best use of the available water supply. This order evolved into one in which farmers were at the bottom, bureaucrats and governors in the middle, and the pharaoh at the top.

Egypt has long been known for its pyramids, which are huge structures made of brick or stone, some of which are among the largest structures on earth. Ancient Egyptians built more than a hundred pyramids between 2700 BC and 1700 BC, most of them located around Cairo, although there is one at Abydos in southern Egypt.

Egypt was evangelized in 45 AD by the Apostle Mark and others, and was largely a Christian country prior to the 7th century, when Islam arrived. Today, Islam is the state religion, claiming at least ninety percent of the country's population. leaving about nine percent Coptic Christians, and some other Christian denominations. The Egyptian government recognizes only three religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, with all other religions subject to persecution, including atheists. In practice, Coptic Christians face discrimination at most levels of government, and Egypt expelled its Jewish population in the late 1950s.

Over the years, Egypt has been a part of the Roman Empire in the Hellenistic era. The Byzantines took power for a short time in the 7th century before losing it to various Muslim rulers. In 1517, Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire, but the Turks allowed Egypt a degree of self autonomy. Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798, but after the French were defeated by Britain, Egypt experienced power struggles for a time before an Ottoman army took control once more, and again allowed Egypt a degree of self autonomy. In 1882, Egypt became a British protectorate, and remained such until 1953 when the Egyptian military took control of the government, declaring the Egyptian Republic.

Like many African countries, Egypt's experience with independence has not been peaceful. Used as a pawn in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, the country has also been through internal protests, conflicts, and wars.

Egypt's legal system is based on Islamic and civil law, with Islamic jurisprudence the chief source of legislation. Its penal code includes a law against blasphemy, which allows a death penalty against people who may be tried in absentia. The Egyptian military is active in political affairs, and exempts itself from laws that apply to other segments of the population.


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