The Nile Delta (Arabic: دلتا النيل ) is the delta formed in Northern Egypt (Lower Egypt) where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo.
The Nile is considered to be an "arcuate" delta (arc-shaped), and resembles a triangle or lotus flower when seen from above. The outer edges of the delta are eroding, and some coastal lagoons have seen increasing salinity levels as their connection to the Mediterranean Sea increases. Since the delta no longer receives an annual supply of nutrients and sediments from upstream due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the soils of the floodplains have become poorer, and large amounts of fertilizers are now used. Topsoil in the delta can be as much as 70 feet in depth. Also the topsoil falls off in the land and causes the water to rise.
People have lived in the Nile Delta region for thousands of years, and have been intensively farming for at least five thousand years. The Nile River used to be flooded on an annual basis, but this ended with the construction of the Aswan Dam. Records from ancient times (Pliny the Elder), show that the delta had seven distributaries: (from east to west) the Pelusiac, the Tanitic, the Mendesian, the Phatnitic (or Phatmetic), the Sebennytic, the Bolbitine, and the Canopic (also called the Herakleotic, e.g. at [Callisthenes] Alexander 1.31). There are now only two main branches, due to flood control, silting and changing relief: The Damietta (corresponding to the Phatnitic) to the east and the Rosetta (corresponding to the Bolbitinic) on the western part of the delta. The Rosetta Stone was found in the Nile Delta in 1787 in the port city of Rosetta (anglicized name of Rashid). In pharaonic times, this area was Lower Egypt. It was also called the "Land of Goshen".
Several hundred thousand water birds winter in the delta, including the world’s largest concentrations of little gulls and whiskered terns. Other birds making their homes in the delta include grey herons, Kentish Plovers, shovelers and cormorants. Also found are egrets and ibises.
Other animals found in the delta include frogs, turtles, tortoises, mongooses, and the Nile monitor. Nile crocodiles are no longer found in the Nile Delta. Fish found in the delta include the Striped mullet and soles.