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Egypt

Land and Resources

Mount Catherine, Qattara Depression, Nubian Desert, desert locations, climate of Egypt

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Egypt is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea; on the east by the Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Red Sea; on the south by Sudan; and on the west by Libya. The country has a maximum length from north to south of 1,105 km (687 mi) and a maximum width, near the southern border, of 1,129 km (702 mi). It has a total area of 997,739 sq km (385,229 sq mi).

Less than one-tenth of the land area of Egypt is settled or under cultivation. This territory consists of the valley and delta of the Nile, a number of desert oases, and land along the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean with the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea. More than 90 percent of the country consists of desert areas, including the Libyan Desert (also known as the Western Desert) in the west, a part of the Sahara, and the Arabian Desert (also called the Eastern Desert), which borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez, in the east.

The Libyan Desert includes a vast sandy expanse called the Great Sand Sea. Located there are several depressions with elevations below sea level, including the Qattara Depression. Also found in the Libyan Desert are the oases of Siwa, Bahriyah, Farafra, Dakhla, and Kharijah. Much of the Arabian Desert occupies a plateau that rises gradually east from the Nile Valley to elevations of about 600 m (about 2,000 ft) in the east and is broken along the Red Sea coast by jagged peaks as high as 2,100 m (7,000 ft) above sea level. In the extreme south, along the border with Sudan, is the Nubian Desert, an extensive region of rocky and sandy plains and dunes.

The Sinai Peninsula consists of sandy desert in the north and rugged mountains in the south, with summits looming more than 2,100 m (7,000 ft) above the Red Sea. Mount Catherine (Jabal Katrinah), the highest elevation in Egypt, is on the Sinai Peninsula, as is Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa), where, according to the Hebrew Bible, Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Climate

The climate of Egypt is characterized by a hot season from May to September and a cool season from November to March. Extreme temperatures during both seasons are moderated by the prevailing northern winds. In the coastal regions average annual temperatures range from a maximum of 37°C (99°F) to a minimum of 14°C (57°F). Wide variations of temperature occur in the deserts, ranging from a maximum of 46°C (114°F) during daylight hours to a minimum of 6°C (42°F) during the night. During the winter season desert nighttime temperatures often drop to 0°C (32°F). The most humid area is along the Mediterranean coast, where the average annual rainfall is about 200 mm (about 8 in). Precipitation decreases rapidly to the south; Cairo receives on average only 25 mm (1 in) of rain a year, and in many desert locations it may rain only once in several years.

Natural Resources

Egypt has a wide variety of mineral deposits, some of which, such as gold and red granite, have been exploited since ancient times. The chief mineral resource of contemporary value is petroleum, found mainly in the Red Sea coastal region, at Al ‘Alamayn (El ‘Alamein) on the Mediterranean, and on the Sinai Peninsula. Other minerals include phosphates, manganese, iron ore, and uranium. Natural gas is also extracted.



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