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Egypt

Today, the ancient wonders attract millions of tourists each year to the pyramids, temples, mosques and great monuments of the Nile Valley, as well as the stunning diving resorts of the Red Sea. In 430 BC, when Herodotos exclaimed in awe over the magnificent monuments in Egypt, many of them were already 2,500 years old. Most, from the pyramids of Giza to the astonishingly beautiful temples of Karnak or Philae, or the painted tombs in the Valley of the Kings, can still be visited today. The sheer age of this great civilisation is mind-blowing. The life-giving Nile pours across the map, feeding an emerald ribbon of irrigated fields adjacent to villages shaded by date palms.

Practical Information

Area: 1 002 000 km² (386 874 miles²)

Capital: Cairo (El Qahira). Population: 16.7 million

Population: 74.9 million

Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP symbol E£) = 100 piastres

Government: Republic.

Tipping: 10 to 12% is added to hotel and restaurant bills but an extra tip of 5% is normal.

Legal drinking age: 21

Time zone: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Friday in April to last Thursday in September)

Languages: Arabic

Additional descriptions

Egypt: Social customs

Islam is the dominant influence and many traditional customs and beliefs are tied up with religion. The people are generally courteous and hospitable and expect similar respect from visitors. Shaking handsRead more will suffice as a greeting. Because Egypt is a Muslim country, dress should be conservative and women should not wear revealing clothes, particularly when in religious buildings and in towns (although the Western style of dress is accepted in modern nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and bars in Cairo, Alexandria and other tourist destinations). Official or social functions and smart restaurants usually require more formal wear. Smoking is very common.Photography: Tourists will have to pay a fee to take photographs inside pyramids, tombs and museums.

Egypt: Food and local specialties

Egyptian cuisine is excellent, combining many of the best traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, and there are both large hotel restaurants and smaller specialist ones throughout the main towns. Some ofRead more the larger hotels in Cairo and its environs have kitchens serving top quality cosmopolitan dishes. In the centre of Cairo, American-style snack bars are also spreading. Restaurants have waiter service. Although Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is available in cafe-style bars and good restaurants. The national specialties are: Foul (bean dishes). Stuffed vine leaves. Roast pigeon. Grilled aubergines. Kebabs. Kahwa (thick, strong coffee). Shay bil na’na’ (mint tea). Karkaday (clear, bright red drink made from hibiscus flowers). Aswanli (dark beer made in Aswan). Zibib (alcoholic aniseed-flavoured drink).

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