Why Is Egypt Called the Gift of the Nile?

JD Dallet/arabianEye/Getty Images

Egypt is called the gift of the Nile because the Nile River annually flooded its banks in ancient times, creating fertile farm fields for people to plant their crops. The term “gift of the Nile” was coined by the renowned philosopher and historian Herodotus.

During Herodotus’ time in the 5th century B.C., Egypt enjoyed an advanced civilization and culture. Herodotus admired the very deep connection that Egyptians had with the river and stated that Egypt was, “A land won by the Egyptians and given them by the Nile.”

The Nile River flows through Egypt and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt sits in the fertile river valley on the edge of the Saharan desert. Before the construction of the Aswan

High Dam in 1970, the flooding of the Nile River into the valley occurred every year after the snow melted in the East African mountain range. When the flood water receded, it left a layer of silt. Rich in nutrients, this layer of topsoil allowed the farmers to grow their crops, and gave rise to ancient Egyptian civilization. Because of its location, the people who lived on the banks of the Nile River were largely isolated. This gave rise to a common language, religion and culture. With the construction of the Aswan High Dam, Egyptians have access to water throughout the year. Without the Nile River, Egypt would not have been able to develop or advance the way it has, and that is why it is described as the ‘gift of the Nile’.