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is a country mainly in North Africa, with the
Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Western
Asia. Covering an area of about 1,010,000 square
kilometers (390,000 sq mi), Egypt borders the
Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip
and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the
east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in
Africa and the Middle East. The great majority
of its estimated 82 million live near the banks
of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000
square kilometers (15,000 sq mi), where the only
arable agricultural land is found. The large areas
of the Sahara Desert are sparsely inhabited. About
half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas,
with the majority spread across the densely-populated
centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other
major cities in the Nile Delta.
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and
some of the world's most famous monuments, including
the Giza pyramid complex and its Great Sphinx.
The southern city of Luxor contains numerous ancient
artifacts, such as the Karnak Temple and the Valley
of the Kings. Egypt is widely regarded as an important
political and cultural nation of the Middle East.
is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces
and in the desert oases. In the 10th millennium
BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers
replaced a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes
and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate
the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara.
Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River
where they developed a settled agricultural economy
and more centralized society.
By about 6000 BC the Neolithic culture rooted
in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era,
several predynastic cultures developed independently
in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture
and the successor Naqada series are generally
regarded as precursors to Dynastic Egyptian civilization.
The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda,
predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years.
Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted
with their southern counterparts for more than
two thousand years, remaining somewhat culturally
separate, but maintaining frequent contact through
trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian
hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the
predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels,
dated to about 3200 BC.
unified kingdom was founded circa 3150 BC by King
Menes, giving rise to a series of dynasties that
ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptians
subsequently referred to their unified country
as tawy, meaning "two lands", and later
kemet (Coptic: kimi), the "black land",
a reference to the fertile black soil deposited
by the Nile river. Egyptian culture flourished
during this long period and remained distinctively
Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs.
The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt
set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c.2700-2200
BC., famous for its many pyramids, most notably
the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth
Dynasty Giza Pyramids. (Credit: