Major cities along the Nile River include Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, Luxor and Abu Simbel in Egypt and Khartoum, Sudan. Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city on the African continent. Alexandria is on the delta of the Nile River along the Mediterranean Sea. Aswan harbors the Aswan High Dam, which protects northern Egypt from flooding. Luxor is a historical site where pharaohs were buried.
Cairo is near the delta and several ancient Egyptian cities. The pyramids of Giza are near Cairo, along with the Great Sphinx and the ancient city of Memphis. Alexandria is a tourist destination along the Mediterranean coast at the delta of the river. The second-largest city in Egypt housed an ancient lighthouse and a library, both of which were destroyed by a massive earthquake.
Aswan sits on Lake Nasser, the body of water formed after the Nile River was dammed. The southern part of the lake contains the ancient city of Abu Simbel. Cruises along the Nile River pass through many ancient sites and several locks that control water flow.
The Nile River gets its name from the Greek word "nelios," which means "river valley." The ancient Egyptians called the river "Ar," meaning "black," because of the black silt left behind after the Nile floods every year. The river was vital to the economy and agriculture of ancient Egyptian civilization.