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Egyptian

Geography & Topography

Capital: Cairo

Area: 1,002,450 km2

Population: 79,602,000

Language: Arabic, English, French

Religion: Sunni Muslim, Coptic Christian

Currency: Egyptian pound

History

Egypt is one of the oldest countries in the world. The civilization in Egypt dates back to more than 9000 BC. There is so much to learn and to teach about the history of Egypt, it is impossible to cover it all. However, here is a short summary of Egypt’s rich history. One of the earliest forms of writing was the hieroglyphic alphabet and evidence has shown that the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions date back to the year 3.200 BC. In the period between 2700 and 2200 BC, the famous Giza Pyramids were built. This period is also known as ‘The Old Kingdom’.

Then between 1550 and 1070 BC began the rising of Egypt as an international power as its territory expanded vastly. It was during this period that the kingdom was ruled by pharaohs that are still very well known today. Just to name a few: Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamen and Ramesses II. The last pharaoh who ruled the kingdom was Nectanebo II as he was defeated in battle against the Persians in 343 BC.

After being ruled by the Arabians and Ottomans up until 1798, it was Napoleon Bonaparte who wanted to be the ruler of Egypt. In 1798 he colonized Egypt but quickly discovered this was a lost cause. Participating in this conflict were also Ottoman, Mamluk and British forces. In 1801, the French were chased away by these forces. This did not mean that the struggle for power was over as in 1805 the Albanian leader Muhammad Ali was recognized as the viceroy of Egypt by the Sultan of Istanbul.

In 1869 the Suez Canal was completed and supported financially by the French. Due to the extraordinary costs and taxation of the Canal, Albania had to sell its ownership to the British government. Bit by bit, they were taking control over Egypt and in 1882 it was officially under the British flag. It was not until 1952 that the Egyptian people took back their beloved country. The Egyptian Republic was officially declared on 18 June 1953, the first president of the republic being Muhammad Naguib.

 

Performing Arts

Music

The ancient Egyptians believed that the God of Thoth was the inventor of music. Although there are several findings confirming that Egyptians were using musical instruments during the Predynastic period, there is more solid evidence of musical instruments being used during the “Old Kingdom period”. This is the period where flutes, harps and double clarinets were introduced. During the Middle Kingdom, lutes, lyres and percussion instruments were added to orchestras. The typical kind of music that was played on these instruments is called sufi dhikr.

The most recognizable instruments in ancient Egyptian music are:

Egyptian Oud

Oud: The oud is a typical egyptian musical instrument. It is also a very popular instrument across the Middle-East.

Simsimiyya

 

 

 

Simsimiyya: The simsimiyya is a traditional Egyptian instrument. It is used mostly by people playing Swahili or coastal music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance

Slaves on the right dancing for the wealthy people on the left.

Dancing in Egypt dated back all the way to the New Kingdom. Back then, people were dancing at ceremonies, rituals and military events and they adapted their dance to the kind of event they were performing at.

However, dancing in public was not for the wealthy people, but for the poor. This was seen as something for the slaves. For example, on building sites there would be music, so the slaves could work in rhythms.

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Egypt has won the African Cup of Nations (soccer) six times.
  • Most of the egyptian population lives along River Nile because it is the only place in the country where food can be grown.
  • In ancient Egypt, men as well as women wore make-up as they believed it had healing powers and protected them against the sun.
  • Ancient Egyptians believed that the world was flat and that the River Nile was running through the exact middle.
  • When a body was mummified, the Egyptians took out the brain through the nostril and all other internal organs. These organs are placed in separate jars that would be standing alongside the mummified body. Only the heart would remain inside the body as they believed that this was the soul of the body.
  • The people who built secret corridors inside the pyramids would not come out alive. The intention was that no one would know the exact routes within the pyramid so that the pharaohs buried there would rest in total peace.

Egyptian Community in Australia:

More information on the Egyptian community: