Small communities spread throughout the desert regions of Egypt are clustered around oases and historic trade and transportation routes. The government has tried with mixed success to encourage migration to newly irrigated land reclaimed from the desert. However, the proportion of the population living in rural areas has continued to decrease as people move to the cities in search of employment and a higher standard of living.
Egypt has endured as a unified state for more than 5,000 years, and archaeological findings show that primitive tribes lived along the Nile long before the dynastic history of the pharaohs began. In about 3150 BC, Egypt was united under a single ruler known as Mena, or Menes, who inaugurated the 30 pharaonic dynasties into which Egypt's ancient history is divided—the Old and Middle Kingdoms and the New Empire. The pyramids at Giza (near Cairo), which were built in the fourth dynasty, testify to the power of the pharaonic religion and state. The Great Pyramid, the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), is the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth, and territorial extent in the period called the New Empire (1567-1085 BC).
The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 BC, who in turn were successively replaced by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks and British. Almost fully independent from Britain in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.
Egypt has a population of 78,887,007 (2006 est.).
The vast majority of the population of Egypt consists of ethnic Egyptians (94% of the population or 74.1 million according to the CIA Factbook, 72.5 million according to Al-Ahram Weekly). The vast majority of Egyptians are native speakers of modern Egyptian Arabic (Masri). According to the CIA World factbook, approximately 90% of the population is Muslim and 10% is Christian (9% Coptic Orthodox, 1% other Christian).
Ethnic minorities in Egypt include the Bedouin Arab tribes of the Sinai Peninsula and the eastern desert, the Berber-speaking community of the Siwa Oasis and the Nubian people clustered along the Nile in the southernmost part of Egypt. There are also sizable minorities of Beja and Dom.
The country was host to many different communities during the colonial period, including Greeks, Italians, Syrians, Jews and Armenians, though most either left or were compelled to leave after political developments in the 1950s. The country still hosts some 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly Palestinians and Sudanese.
The literacy rate in modern Egyptian society is about 71% of the adult population. Education is free through university and compulsory from ages six through 15. Rates for primary and secondary education have strengthened in recent years. Ninety-three percent of children enter primary school and about one-quarter drop out after the sixth year; in 1994-95, 87% entered primary school and about half dropped out after the sixth year. There are 20,000 primary and secondary schools with some 10 million students, 13 major universities with more than 500,000 students, and 67 teacher colleges. Major universities include Cairo University (100,000 students), Alexandria University, and the 1,000-year-old Al-Azhar University, one of the world's major centers of Islamic learning.
Population: 78,887,007 (July 2006 est.)
0-14 years: 32.6% (male 13,172,641; female 12,548,346)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 25,102,754; female 24,519,698)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 1,510,280; female 2,033,288) (2006 est.)
Median Age Total: 24 (2007) Male: 24 (2007) Female: 24 (2007)
Population growth rate: 1.75% (2006 est.)
Birth rate: 22.94 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate: 5.23 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 31.33 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.29 years
male: 68.77 years
female: 73.93 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.83 children born/woman (2006 est.)
Ethnic groups: Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4% (2006 census). Ethnic minorities include Bedouins (Beja, ca. 1 million), Nubians (ca. 300,000 in 1996), Dom (ca. 230,000 in 1996), Greeks (ca. 40,000), Berbers (ca. 5,000).
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.4%
female: 59.4% (2005 est.)