Ancient Egypt has proven to be one of the most interesting times in history. These early civilisations date back some 6000 years ago when people began to settle along the banks of the Nile. To Egyptians, one of the most important events in their history was the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt around 3100 BC by the legendary King Menes thus beginning the Pharaonic Age.
With this unification came a centralised power in the hands of one Pharaoh resulting in the first truly organised society. It should be noted however, that life before unification in Egypt was very impressive. There was a strong belief in the afterlife, early Egyptians were the first to build with stone and to create arches. They had a comprehensive system of writing and learned to chart the sky to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. The lasting effects of these early peoples can be seen in the pyramids and other incredible monuments they left behind.
Arab conquest came in the 7th century AD. This invasion resulted in Islam coming to the country which has endured to this day. Cairo was established as the capital and became a centre of religion, learning and of art and agriculture. Despite being under Arab control, local hereditary dynasties were allowed to develop and maintain some degree of control over their respective regions.
The Egyptians were able to stop the Mongol invasions in the 13th century but were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 16th century. Egypt merely became a province in a larger empire, however, it was a period of institutional unity because both the Egyptians and the Turks had a joint interest in preserving Islam.
In 1798 the French attempted to weaken Britain’s hold over India by invading Alexandria. The Ottomans were desperate to reclaim the territory and with the help of the British they were able to force the French to surrender in 1802. As years passed, Britain recognised the importance of gaining control of the Suez Canal resulting in British occupation in 1882. In 1917, Egypt was declared as a British protectorate, however, at the end of the First and Second World Wars, anti-British sentiments were high. A revolution broke out in 1952 when Free Officers led by Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser took control of the government. In 1956, Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal bringing invasions from Britain, France and Israel. Despite these invasions, Egypt was ultimately successful in removing the foreign troops.
By the 1960s support for Palestine was growing in Egypt and in 1967, troops were moved into the UN controlled Sinai Peninsula. Israel responded with a surprise attack that wiped out the Egyptian air force. This is now known as the Six Days War and was a humiliating defeat for Egypt. When President Nasser died unexpectedly in 1970, his vice president Anwar Sadat took control focussing on economic policies and opening the doors to the West. This culminated in the Camp David Accords beginning in 1978. This agreement meant that Egypt essentially recognised Israel’s right to exist and the Israelis agreed to withdraw from Sinai. The accords however did not settle the issue of a permanent homeland for Palestinians and so Egypt remained in the conflict at a diplomatic level.
Sadat was assassinated in 1981 and was replaced by Hosni Mubarak. Although seen as indecisive, Mubarak managed to rehabilitate Egypt in some respects pleasing the Arab population without breaking the treaty with Israel. However, Islamic extremists were denied any sort of recognition from the state as having any legal political standing and in the 1980s and 1990s they turned to force with many attacks on the president. Mubarak won a fifth term in 2005 but was forced to resign in 2011 in response to mass protests. Power was then relinquished to an interim military authority.
Egypt is slowly recovering from the political turmoil that has plagued it in recent decades. Its immense history and incredible attractions remain a huge draw to tourists the world over. This tourism has proven to be a massive boost for the Egyptian economy and Egypt’s future certainly looks brighter.
Egypt Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Egypt.
Learn about the history and culture of Egypt, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Egypt's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Egypt for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Egypt tours today!
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AfricaExperts is the exclusive division of Goway that specializes in planning and organizing Egypt tours and experiences. Choose from a simple city stopover, see the country highlights on our classic itineraries, enjoy a beach stay, locally escorted tour, a stay of distinction, or a cruise on the Nile and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Egypt.
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