Egypt has a cultural tradition dating back
thousands of years, with the pyramids as powerful
monuments of a high civilization. The country has long
been a regional cultural center. Naguib Mahfouz became
the first Arabic-speaking Nobel laureate in literature
in 1988 and here is the largest film industry in the
For three millennia, Pharaonic Egypt flourished
during periods known as the Old Kingdom, the Middle
Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Culture and science
flourished. The country's influence on other
civilizations was great.
Latest population statistics of Egypt, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Among many who testify to high culture are the
pyramids, which are enigmatic tombs, and the sphinx of
Giza outside Cairo. The oldest pyramids are located in
Sakkarah (near ancient Memphis) south of Cairo. Slightly
younger are the great pyramids at Giza. Luxor further
south on the Nile contains several famous temples and
the rare Kings Valley, where in 1922 Pharaoh
Tutankhamon's richly equipped tomb was found (see
Calendar). The items from the tomb can be found in a
museum in Cairo. In Abu Simbel, southern Egypt, in the
1960s, a temple with large statues of Pharaoh Ramses II
was moved to save a large dam; Swedish engineering
companies participated in the move.
Important architectural structures were also created
during Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times.
The Islamic-Arab conquest of the area 642 quickly
made its mark on social life. The al-Azharma Mosque was
founded in 970, and this is where the foremost
educational institution of the Muslim world originated
(see Religion and Education).
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Egypt. Artists and albums are also included.
Through Napoleon's campaign in Egypt at the end of
the 18th century, the country came under French
influence. Although the French presence became short,
the influence of the West consisted of newly founded
schools, scientific institutions and improved
communications. On the French initiative, the
construction of the Suez Canal, which was inaugurated in
1869., began the construction of a very old dream of a
sailing route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Today's grand construction project is the ongoing
construction of a brand new capital several miles east
in the desert from Cairo.
In the district that is sometimes called Khediven's
Cairo, about 350 buildings have been restored since
2014, which in itself also indicates that large parts of
the city suffered from long-term decay. The Khedive was
Ismail Pascha, ruler of Egypt, though under Ottoman
supremacy. In the second half of the 19th century he
transformed Cairo into a European-style metropolis. Like
many other countries, he was impressed by Paris and the
then new boulevard system with wide streets and grand
buildings. In Cairo, among other things, a spate of
detached houses and alleys was demolished next to older
monumental buildings. Now the question is what will
happen to Cairo's “European” heart, which among other
things houses state authorities, when the new capital is
ready. The middle class has largely already moved to
In 2002, the new library was opened in Alexandria at
the site of the old library before it burned down in the
300s. The old library was built about 2,500 years ago
and had borrowers like the Greek Arkimedes. In the fire,
priceless cultural works disappeared.
Egyptian literature has evolved over thousands of
years. The oldest finds include inscriptions on
earthenware and writings on papyrus depicting daily life
and religious rituals.
After the Arab conquest, the foundation for an Arabic
literature was laid. The Arabic language was given an
important culture-bearing role. The Qur'an is written in
Arabic and recitation of it and of poetry and stories is
still today a highly developed art and a popular
pleasure. The popular weekend celebrations are also very
colorful, especially during the fasting month of
Ramadan, when the neighborhood in the evenings is
illuminated by home-made lanterns hanging over the
streets. In 2018, a well-known puppet figure, the doll
Al-Aragoz, was granted Unesco cultural heritage.
During the 20th century, Egyptian literature from
Western-inspired Roman art went to one with a stronger
Arabic anchor. This is especially noticeable in Naguib
Mahfouz (1911–2006) and Yusuf Idris (1927–1991). In
their books on the poor of the Nile villages and the
winding alleys of Cairo, they also carried on a popular
storytelling tradition, which made them popular
throughout the Arab world.
They have had a successor in Alaa al-Aswany, who had
a major breakthrough with the novel Yacoubian's house
(2003) and a few years later was the best-selling author
in the Arab world. He is also politically active, and
was one of the founders of the opposition movement
Kifaya (see Modern History).
Another award-winning author is Nawal El Saadawi, a
physician who has become the forefront of the women's
movement throughout the Arab world.
Regime criticism has long been a sensitive chapter
for writers and other intellectuals. The censorship
formally ceased in 1974 but has in practice been
maintained by the security service and by scribes at al-Azhar,
who have forced post-censorship of literature and film.
Islamist groups have threatened Islamic-critical
cultural workers with death. The author Farag Foda was
murdered in 1992 by a radical Islamist group and in 1994
Mahfouz was subjected to a murder trial. Many writers
and other cultural workers have practiced
self-censorship or published abroad.
The visual arts have been important since the
pharaohs' graves were adorned with paintings. In modern
times, Egyptian art has been greatly influenced by the
Western world. Only in the mid-1990s did Egyptian
artists break with these influences. Well-known Egyptian
artists are Abdelwahhab Morsi, Adel al-Siwi, Gazbia
Serri, Inji Eflatoun and Wahib Nasser.
Music is also an important part of Egyptian life.
With song they are called to prayer and the Qur'an is
recited singing. In Arabic music improvisation is
important. Singer Umm Kulthum (1898-1975) is still
regarded by many as the greatest music artist in the
Arab world of all time.
One of the film's most famous stars was the belly
dancer Tahiya Karioka (1915-1999). A pioneer behind the
success of the film industry was the producer and actor
Mary Queeny (1913–2003). The industry's best known name
is the actor Omar Sharif (1932–2015), who starred in a
wide range of international films and was nominated for
an Oscar for his role in Lawrence of Arabia. Actor Rami
Malek highlighted his Egyptian descent when in 2019 he
received an Oscar for his starring role in the movie
Bohemian Rapsody. He plays rock singer Freddie Mercury,
a role that may be sensitive to even commenting in
Egypt, where gays state that they are subjected to
persecution and the media can be punished when reporting
Choices for the lower house are held
The NDP wins 419 out of 508 seats in the popular assembly. Both al-Wafd (New
Delegation Party, see Political system) and formally independent candidates with
ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood claim that cheating is occurring.
Elections to the upper house are held
The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)
takes 80 of 88 seats at stake in the general election, al-shura.
Protest against extended exemptions
Demonstrations break out in Cairo when the exception laws, which have been in
force since 1981, are renewed again.
Mubarak is operated
President Hosni Mubarak spends three weeks in Germany, where he undergoes
Mohamed ElBaradei forms opposition movement
The former head of the UN Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) returns to Egypt and,
together with opposition supporters, forms the National Movement for Change.
ElBaradei says he is considering running for the 2011 presidential election.