Currently viewing country profile for Egypt
While best known for its pyramids and ancient civilisations, Egypt has played a central role in Middle East politics in modern times.
Its wars with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, then its eventual peace with its adversary in 1979, have seen Egypt move from being a warring nation to become a key representative in the peace process.
Egypt's ancient past and the fact that it was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to open up to the West following Napoleon's invasion have given it a claim to be the intellectual and cultural leader in the region. The head of Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque is one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam.
But the historic step by President Anwar Sadat to make peace with Israel in the 1979 Camp David agreement led to Egypt being expelled from the Arab League until 1989, and in 1981 Mr Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists angry at his moves to clamp down on their activities.
Since then, President Hosni Mubarak has taken a more moderate line, but Islamic groups have continued their campaigns sporadically. They have been responsible for deadly attacks that have often targeted tourists and resort areas, and more recently have begun to target Egypt's Coptic Christian community.
Campaigners for political reform have become more vocal in recent times and have taken to the streets in defiance of an emergency law, in force since 1981. Activists say the law restricts political expression.
Widespread anti-government demonstrations in January 2011 - encouraged by the flight of the long-term leader of Tunisia amid unrest - threatened President Mubarak's tenure.
Although Egypt has changed its constitution to allow the opposition to contest presidential polls, potential candidates must meet strict criteria for participation. A ban remains on religious political parties.
Egypt's teeming cities - and almost all agricultural activity - are concentrated along the banks of the Nile, and on the river's delta. Deserts occupy most of the country.
The economy depends heavily on agriculture, tourism and cash remittances from Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
However, rapid population growth and the limited amount of arable land is straining the country's resources and economy.
- Full name: Arab Republic of Egypt
- Population: 84.5 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Cairo
- Area: 1 million sq km (386,874 sq miles)
- Major language: Arabic
- Major religions: Islam, Christianity
- Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 73 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Egyptian Pound = 100 piastres
- Main exports: Petroleum, petroleum products and cotton
- GNI per capita: US $2,070 (World Bank, 2009)
- Internet domain: .eg
- International dialling code: +20
Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces: Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi
Mohammed Hussein Tantawi heads the military council which has been exercising power on an interim basis since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in response to a popular uprising in February 2011.
The council has set a tight timetable for a return to civilian rule. In March, Egyptians approved a set of constitutional changes aimed at allowing the country to move quickly to new elections.
It is hoped that a parliamentary election can be held as early as September, and a presidential vote soon after. The rapid agenda has been criticised by some in the opposition for allowing too little time for new democratic parties to organise.
Born in 1935, Mr Tantawi has been a career army officer since 1956, experiencing active service in the Suez crisis of 1956, the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Mr Tantawi has held the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces since 1991. Before the 2011 revolution he was also defence minister.
He is closely identified with the Mubarak era, but gained some credit with the pro-democracy campaign for refusing to fire on protestors.
President: Muhammad Hosni Mubarak (resigned)
Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's longest-serving ruler since Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century and one of the longest-serving leaders in the Arab world, stepped down in February 2011 after 30 years in power and handed control to the army.
He was responding to weeks of street protests, which began in January 2011, only days after the president of Tunisia fled a popular uprising.
In April 2011, he was arrested along with his two sons, Ala and Gamal, on suspicion of corruption during his rule as president. He reportedly suffered a heart attack during interrogation.
Mr Mubarak was charged with ordering violence against protestors during the uprising and went on trial in August.
Mr Mubarak won a fifth consecutive term in presidential elections in September 2005. The poll was the first under a new system that allows multiple candidates to stand, but the main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was banned from open political activity and could not field a candidate.
Mr Mubarak succeeded Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in 1981. He pursued friendly relations with the West, breaking the isolation imposed on Egypt by Arab countries opposed to peace with Israel.
Since 1952, when army officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy, Egyptian leaders have been drawn from the military.
Egypt is a major regional media player. Its press is one of the most influential and widely-read in the region, and its TV and film industry supplies much of the Arab-speaking world with shows from its Media Production City.
Press laws allow prison sentences for libelling the president, state institutions and foreign heads of state. Nevertheless, journalists openly express their views on political and social issues, including vigorous criticism of government officials and policies and direct criticism of the president.
Television is the most popular source for news. There are two state-run national TVs and six regional channels, but many viewers turn to pan-Arab stations for news.
Egypt is a big force in satellite TV. Most leading Arab pay TV networks have a presence at Media Production City in Cairo. Egypt was the first Arab nation to have its own satellite, Nilesat.
State radio's monopoly was broken with the arrival of private music stations in 2003.
Around 16.7 million Egyptians were online by December 2009 (InternetWorldStats.com). In recent years, bloggers have uploaded videos showing human rights violations and activists have embraced Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
OpenNet Initiative has found no evidence of general internet filtering. The authorities have, however, pursued online writers and bloggers over their activities online and offline.
Egypt was listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2009 as one of the 10 worst countries to be a blogger.
- Al-Ahram - state-owned daily, the oldest newspaper in the Arab world
- Al-Ahram Weekly - English-language
- Al-Jumhuriyah - state-owned daily
- Al-Akhbar - semi state-owned daily
- Al-Ahali - opposition
- Al-Wafd - opposition
- Al-Messa - pro-government
- The Egyptian Gazette - pro-government daily
- The Daily News Egypt - private daily
- Egypt Today - English-language monthly
- Egypt Radio Television Union (ERTU) - state-run, operates domestic and satellite networks, including Nile TV International and Nile TV thematic channels
- Dream TV - private satellite network, operates Dream 1 targeting young viewers and Dream 2, an entertainment channel
- Al-Mihwar - private, via satellite
- Egypt Radio Television Union (ERTU) - state-run, operates eight national networks and external services Radio Cairo and Voice of the Arabs
- Nile FM - private, Western pop
- Nogoum FM - private, Arabic pop
- Middle East News Agency (MENA) - state-run
circa 7000 BC - Settlement of Nile Valley begins.
circa 3000 BC - Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt unite. Successive dynasties witness flourishing trade, prosperity and the development of great cultural traditions. Writing, including hieroglyphics, is used as an instrument of state. Construction of the pyramids - around 2,500 BC - is a formidable engineering achievement.
669 BC - Assyrians from Mesopotamia conquer and rule Egypt.
525 BC - Persian conquest.
332 BC - Alexander the Great, of ancient Macedonia, conquers Egypt, founds Alexandria. A Macedonian dynasty rules until 31 BC.
31 BC - Egypt comes under Roman rule; Queen Cleopatra commits suicide after Octavian's army defeats her forces.
642 AD - Arab conquest of Egypt.
969 - Cairo established as capital.
1250-1517 - Mameluke (slave soldier) rule, characterised by great prosperity and well-ordered civic institutions.
1517 - Egypt absorbed into the Turkish Ottoman empire.
1798 - Napoleon Bonaparte's forces invade but are repelled by the British and the Turks in 1801. Egypt once more becomes part of the Ottoman empire.
1859-69 - Suez Canal built.
1882 - British troops take control of Egypt.
1914 - Egypt becomes a British protectorate.
1922 - Fuad I becomes King of Egypt and Egypt gains its independence.
1928 - Muslim Brotherhood founded by Hassan al-Banna.
1936 - April - Farouk succeeds his father as King of Egypt.
1948 - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria attack the new state of Israel.
1949 February - Hassan al-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood is assassinated.
1949 - Committee of the Free Officers' Movement formed.
1952 January - At least 20 people are killed in anti-British riots in Cairo.
1952 - Coup by the Free Officers' Movement. Farouk abdicates in favour of his infant son Ahmed Fuad II.
1953 - Coup leader Muhammad Najib becomes president as Egypt is declared a republic.
1954 - Fellow coup leader Gamal Abdel Nasser becomes prime minister and in 1956 president, ruling unchallenged until his death in 1970.
1954 - Evacuation Treaty signed. British forces, who began a gradual withdrawal in 1936 finally leave Egypt.
1956 July - Nasser nationalises the Suez Canal to fund the Aswan High Dam.
1956 October - Tripartite Invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel due to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. A ceasefire is declared in November.
1958 February - Egypt and Syria join to form the United Arab Republic (UAR) in the first step of their aim for Arab unity.
1961 - Syria withdraws from the union with Egypt but Egypt remains known as the UAR.
1967 May - Egypt, Jordan sign defence pact. Israel says it increases danger of war with Arab states.
1967 June - Six-Day War in which Israel defeats forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel takes control of Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
1970 September - Nasser dies and is replaced by his Vice-President, Anwar al-Sadat.
1971 - Treaty of Friendship between Egypt and the Soviet Union is signed.
1971 - Egypt's new constitution is introduced and the country is renamed the Arab Republic of Egypt.
1971 - The Aswan High Dam is completed. It proves to have a huge impact on irrigation, agriculture and industry in Egypt.
1973 October - Egypt and Syria go to war with Israel during Israel's celebration of Yom Kippur to reclaim the land they lost in 1967. Egypt begins negotiations for the return of Sinai after the war.
1975 June - The Suez Canal is re-opened. It had been closed since the 1967 war.
1976 - Anwar al-Sadat ends the Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union.
1978 September - Camp David Accords for peace with Israel are signed.
1979 March - The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is signed. Egypt is then condemned by other Arab nations and excluded from the Arab League.
1981 6 October - Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated by Jihad members.
A national referendum approves Hosni Mubarak as the new president.
1987 October - Mubarak begins his second term.
1989 - Egypt rejoins the Arab League.
1993 October - Mubarak begins his third term in office.
1995 June - Mubarak is the target of an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, upon his arrival at a summit of the Organisation of African Unity.
1997 - Fifty-eight tourists are killed by gunmen in front of the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor. It is alleged that Egypt's Islamic Group (Jemaa Islamiya) is responsible.
1999 October - Mubarak begins his fourth term in office.
2000 December - Egypt, Lebanon and Syria agree on a billion-dollar project for a pipeline to carry Egyptian gas under the Mediterranean to the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
2002 February - Hundreds of passengers are killed after their train catches fire south of Cairo.
2004 October - Bomb attacks target Israeli tourists on Sinai peninsula; 34 people are killed.
2004 November - Funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is held in Cairo.
2005 February-April - Pro-reform and opposition activists mount anti-government demonstrations.
2005 May - Referendum vote backs a constitutional amendment that will allow multiple candidates to stand in presidential elections.
2005 July - Scores of people are killed in bomb attacks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.
2005 September - President Mubarak is re-elected for a fifth consecutive term.
2005 December - Parliamentary polls end with clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. The National Democratic Party and its allies retain their large parliamentary majority. Muslim Brotherhood supporters, elected as independents, win a record 20% of seats.
More than 20 Sudanese migrants die after police break up a protest camp outside the UN offices in Cairo.
2006 February - Up to 1,000 people die when a ferry carrying about 1,400 passengers from Saudi Arabia to Egypt sinks in the Red Sea.
2006 April - Bomb attacks in the Red Sea resort of Dahab kill more than 20 people.
2006 August - Egypt praises the way the guerrilla group Hezbollah held out in the war with Israel in Lebanon after earlier questioning its judgement.
2006 November - Egypt is one of at least six Arab countries developing domestic nuclear programmes to diversify energy sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports.
President Mubarak promises democratic and constitutional reform in an address to parliament. Opponents are sceptical.
2006 November - Upsurge in arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members.
2007 March - Referendum on constitutional amendments. The authorities say 76% of voters approve changes, opposition groups say the poll was rigged.
2007 April - Amnesty International criticises Egypt's record on torture and illegal detention.
More than 30 members of the Muslim Brotherhood go on trial, the first time in seven years that members of the group have been tried under military jurisdiction.
2007 June - Parliamentary elections. Governing National Democratic Party wins most votes.
2007 October - Independent, opposition newspapers protest against "government harassment" after seven journalists are imprisoned and an editor is put on trial.
Dustur newspaper editor Ibrahim Eissa sentenced to six months in jail for reporting rumours about President Mubarak's health. Rights groups demand change to law on reporting "false information".
2008 April - Military courts sentence 25 leading Muslim Brotherhood members to jail terms in crackdown targeting the organisation's funding. More than 800 arrested over a month. Brotherhood boycotted municipal elections after only 20 candidates allowed to stand.
2008 November - The governing NDP says it will privatise some state firms and distribute free shares to citizens. State will retain majority stakes in strategically important assets such as iron, steel, transport and tourism
Security forces redeploy in Sinai after clashes over smuggling into Gaza Strip with local Bedouin left several tribesmen dead.
2009 February - Leading opposition figure Ayman Nour freed after serving three years of five-year sentence on forgery charges that he said were politically motivated.
Bomb attack in popular tourist area of Cairo kills a French student and injures 24 other people. Authorities arrest three suspects, say small Islamist cell thought to be responsible.
2009 April - Egyptian authorities say they arrested 49 people the previous year on suspicion of helping Hezbollah send money and aid to Hamas in Gaza.
2009 May - Egyptian police clash with Coptic Christian pig farmers trying to stop their animals being taken away for slaughter as a precaution against swine flu.
Interior Ministry says seven people with suspected links to al-Qaeda arrested in connection with Cairo bomb attack which killed a French student in February.
2009 June - US President Barack Obama makes key speech in Cairo calling for a new beginning between the United States and the Muslim world.
2009 July - Egyptian officials say 25 militants suspected of having al-Qaeda links were arrested for plotting attacks on ships in the Suez Canal.
2009 August - Twenty-six members of an alleged cell of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah go on trial in Cairo on charges of plotting attacks in Egypt and helping to send weapons to Hamas in Gaza.
2009 November - Row between Egypt and Algeria following violence at football matches.
2009 December - Foreign activists protest in Cairo against Egypt's refusal to let aid convoys into Gaza.
2010 January - Coptic Christians clash with police after an apparently sectarian shooting outside a church.
2010 February - Former UN nuclear chief Mohammed ElBaradei returns to Egypt and, together with opposition figures and activists, forms a coalition for political change. ElBaradei says he might run in presidential election scheduled for 2011.
2010 March - President Mubarak undergoes gall-bladder surgery in Germany, returning to Egypt three weeks later.
2010 June - Muslim Brotherhood fails to win any seats in elections to the Shura consultative upper house of parliament; alleges vote was rigged.
2010 November - Coptic Christians clash with police in Giza over construction of church.
Parliamentary polls, followed by protests against alleged vote rigging. Muslim Brotherhood fails to win a single seat, though it held a fifth of the places in the last parliament.
2011 January - 21 killed in bomb at church in Alexandria where Christians had gathered to mark the New Year.
Anti-government demonstrations, apparently encouraged by Tunisian street protests which prompted sudden departure of President Ben Ali.
President Mubarak reshuffles his cabinet but fails to placate demonstrators, whose calls for his resignation grow louder. Days later he promises to step down in September.
2011 February - President Mubarak steps down and hands power to the army council.
2011 March - Egyptians approve package of constitutional reforms aimed at paving the way for new elections.
2011 April - Former President Mubarak and his sons, Ala and Gamal, are arrested on suspicion of corruption.
2011 April-August - Protests continue in Cairo's Tahrir Square over slow pace of political change. Islamist groups come to the fore. Army finally disperses protestors in August.
2011 August - Former President Mubarak goes on trial in Cairo, charged with ordering the killing of demonstrators earlier in the year.
2011 October - Clashes between Coptic Christians and security forces kill 24 people.
Egypt and Israel swap 25 Egyptians in Israeli custody for a US-Israeli citizen accused of spying.
2011 November - Violence in Cairo's Tahrir square as security forces clash with protesters accusing the military of trying to keep their grip on power. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf resigns in response to the unrest. Start of parliamentary elections.
2011 December - National unity government headed by new Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri takes office.
2012 January - Islamist parties emerge as victors of drawn-out parliamentary elections.
2012 March - Pope Shenouda III, the veteran head of the Coptic Church, dies.
2012 April - Crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia over the Saudi detention of an Egyptian lawyer briefly threatens the substantial aid that the Saudis provide Egypt.
First free presidential poll
2012 May - Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi tops the first round of voting in first free presidential elections, narrowly ahead of Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. Official media put turnout at a low 43%.
Military leaders announce the end of the state of emergency in place since Anwar al-Sadat's assassination in 1981, as its last renewal expires.
2012 June - Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi narrowly wins presidential election.
Court sentences ex-President Mubarak to life in prison for complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
2012 July - President Mursi submits to a Supreme Court ruling that the parliamentary elections were invalid, after initially ordering parliament to meet in defiance of a military decree dissolving it in June.
2012 August - New prime minister Hisham Qandil appoints a cabinet dominated by figures from the outgoing government, technocrats and Islamists, excluding secular and liberal forces.
Islamist fighters attack an army outpost in Sinai, killing 16 soldiers, and mount a brief incursion into Israel, highlighting the tenuousness of government control over the largely-lawless area.
President Mursi dismisses Defence Minister Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Annan and strips military of say in legislation and drafting the new constitution.
2012 September - Egypt kills 32 militants and destroys 31 smuggling tunnels to Gaza in an offensive against militants who attacked troops in Sinai in August.
Tension over new constitution
2012 November - Bishop Tawadros is chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians.
President Morsi issues a decree stripping the judiciary of the right to challenge his decisions. The decree is met with angry protests by the secular and liberal opposition. Egypt's top judges accuse him of undermining the independence of the judiciary and announce a strike.
The Islamist-dominated constituent assembly approves a draft constitution that boosts the role of Islam, in a session boycotted by liberal, left-wing and Christian members, further enraging opposition protesters.
Mr Morsi cancels decree on judiciary powers in the face of growing protests, but insists referendum a the draft constitution set for 15 December will go ahead and gives military power of arrest.
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