6,000 years ago a civilization emerged in the Nile Valley – Nahr-an-Nil – which developed a central state during a continuous battle with the flood. The Egyptian empire built the pyramids and developed a culture that was the origin of the so-called “western civilization”. This community succeeded in feeding a very large population in terms of the limited area that could be utilized. It was a center that had extensive economic, diplomatic and cultural links with the outside world. In the last millennium before our era (BCE), the downturn for society initially led to foreign rulers – pharaohs. They came from the Libyan and Sudanese dynasties. Later it became directly subject to other empires: the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.
During the period when Egypt was first Greek and since Roman domination, Alexandria (Al-Iskandariyah) was one of the largest cultural centers in the classical world. Its famous library was the largest in the world until it burned during Caesar’s reign. It contains works by the greatest philosophers, scientists and literatures of the time. When the Arabs conquered the country in the year 642, not much was left of the greatness of the past. Like other peoples, the Egyptians adopted the Islamic faith and the Arabic language.
According to Countryaah, during the reign of the Fatimid Caliphs three centuries later, the new capital, Cairo (Al-Qahirah), became one of the most brilliant intellectual centers of the Islamic world. Its university attracted scholars and students of all its own – especially from Muslim Africa.
Between the 10th and 15th centuries, the country’s geographical location made it one of the hubs for trade between Asia and the Mediterranean – including Venice and Genoa. The active trade was in no way disturbed by the presence of European crusaders in Palestine in the 11-13. century and the almost constant war situation.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||1,204,000,000,000 USD|
|GDP growth rate||4.20%|
|GDP per capita||$ 12,700|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||25.2%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Industrial production growth rate||0.60%|
|Investment volume||14.7% of GDP|
|National debt||103.00% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||$ 34,020,000,000|
|Number of visitors||9,628,000|
1500-1882 Ottoman Lordship
When the Crusaders first fled, Egypt was conquered by the new advancing power in the Islamic world – the Ottoman Sultanate. It happened in the 16th century. At the same time, however, Egypt entered a period of economic decline. Trade between Europe and the Far East increasingly occurred by sea south of Cape of Good Hope, and this abolished Egypt’s monopoly on this trade.
Until the 19th century, Turkish domination was not much more than nominal. The real power lay in the hands of mameluk chiefs. In 1805, an Albanian military commander, Mohamed Alí, assumed power. He drastically eliminated the Mameluk chiefs and created a centralized state apparatus. He reorganized the army and established a state monopoly on foreign trade in sugar and cotton. Egypt extended its autonomy to the Sultanate of Istanbul, laying the foundations for a modern economy.
Under Mohamed Ali’s successors, dependence on Europe increased. The economic resolution reached such highs that, in order to pay off its debt, the country in 1874 had to sell all its shares in the Suez Canal (As-Sways Canal) to Britain. The canal had been built jointly with the French in 1860-70. The situation got worse, one loan followed another, and in 1879 overseas forced the creation of a Public Debt Box, led by an Egyptian, a French and an English minister. They took over the management of the country’s finances.
1882 European invasion
This degree of interference in the country’s affairs triggered a nationalist reaction, supported by the army. The same year, Jediven Ismail was overthrown and his son Tawfiq was forced to throw foreign ministers at the gate and appoint a national government. However, the imperialist response did not wait: In 1882, an English-French fleet of English soldiers landed in Alexandria and they occupied the country. The British administration integrated Egypt into the capitalist world economy. Agriculture was geared towards exports – especially through cotton production. Strong production growth and economic recovery in the early decades of the 20th century brought huge profits to foreign investors and the small layer of large landowners.
The English occupation of the land was formally “legalized” in 1914, when it was made English Protectorate. At this time, opposition to British rule was led by the Nationalist Party, dominated by radical intellectuals led by Mustafa Kemal and Muhammad Farid. The national uprising in 1919 led to some concessions from the British: Egypt gained formal autonomy in 1922, but it was of such a nature that it was in fact a continuation of the protectorate. The gradual participation of Egyptian capital in economic life was opened. The Nationalist Party was replaced by the Wafd Party, which more clearly represented the interests of the emerging Egyptian citizenship. The following 25 years, the governmental power shifted between Wafd and the royal house, backed by foreign interests.