Story Book Lands – #4: EGYPT


“Every country is a story book land.”

Story Book Lands An initiative brought to life by our International Services Avenue in collaboration with our Blog Team as an extension of One SKY 1.0 – A mobile photography competition executed by the International Services Avenue. Story Book Lands will be a brief guide to the 8 countries represented by the 8 participating clubs in the competition.

Salām ‘alaykum (ألسّلام عليكم)! (Hello! in Egyptian Arabic)

Egypt is a country located in the North-Eastern corner of Africa and its Capital is known as Cairo.

Most Widely Spoken Language: Egyptian Arabic

Official Language: Modern Standard Arabic

Official Currency: Egyptian Pound

Egypt is a country well known for its rich history of more than 3000 years. The Nile River valley and delta, which is situated at the heart of Egypt, was the home of one of the principal civilizations and was one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies.

Egypt was mostly ruled by native dynasties but were interspersed with foreign rulers too due to its strategic location being a hub for traders as a route between Africa, Europe and Asia. Some of the foreign rulers were Alexander the Great, Greeks, French and Romans. Under the Greek dynasty, Alexandria city became an advanced literate society. What is now Egypt was conquered by the Romans until their power was overthrown by Arab Muslims.

More than 90 percent of Egypt consists of desert areas and the two main deserts are the Libyan Desert and a part of the Sahara Desert. 22% of River Nile which is the longest river in Africa and in the world runs through Egypt. The general climate of Egypt consists of low annual precipitation with sunshine occurring throughout the year.

Famous For?

Pyramids of Giza are the last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This magnificent pyramid complex which is a jewel of Egyptian attractions, is located on the Giza Plateau. There are three pyramids in the complex, which house the tombs of ancient pharaohs and are guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx which is made out of limestone. Archaeologists are still puzzled over how these enormous structures were built centuries earlier.

Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and home of Cleopatra, this seaside city has an unparalleled history. It was once the capital of Egypt during the Greco-Roman era and was one of the most glamorous cities to ever exist. Tragically many of Alexandria’s most famous historic sites, including the Lighthouse of Alexandria and a library that housed more than 500,000 books, were destroyed by devastating earthquakes.

Subsequently when the Arabs invaded Egypt in 641, they moved the capital to Cairo, and the center of Alexandria was eventually destroyed during the 1882 Bombardment of Alexandria. Due to these even though currently there are only a few historic remnants of its illustrious past and former glamor this strategically located city still has plenty to offer in terms of culture and history.

Karnak is one of the most impressive sites in Egypt. It has badly been damaged overtime but it is still the largest ancient religious site ever built, and represents the combined achievement of many generations of Egyptian builders. This complex consists of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples. The Hypostyle Hall which is the most famous structure of the complex is a hall with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows.

Abu Simbel is a temple built by Ramses II. It is adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside and with interior extravagantly decorated with wall paintings on the inside.

Due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam the temple and other sights around were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile. Because of this the entire temple was moved from its original setting and was lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 meters higher and 200 meters back from the river during the 1960s in a massive UNESCO operation that took four years.

Aswan, Egypt’s most serene city is nestled along the banks of the Nile River. Aswan is the base for excursions to many temples. It’s backed by orange-hued dunes and has a very chilled-out atmosphere.

Due to Aswan being the gateway to Africa in ancient Egypt it’s home to a large community of Nubian people. You can learn more about these people at the Nubian Museum, which is filled with treasures and relics that were kept safe from the flood of Nubia.

Egyptian Culture

In spite of the many ancient civilizations which were established in Egypt, the country unquestionably belongs to a social and cultural tradition that is Arab and Islamic. Islam is the official religion of Egypt, and nearly all Egyptian Muslims adhere to its Sunni branch.

The official language is Arabic, and most Egyptians speak one of several  dialects of that language. The spoken dialect differs from the literary language. In the country side during the entire day men wear djellabas tucked up around the waist and can be seen working in lands with age-old equipment. Women help with less strenuous tasks with older women in long black robes and younger ones in more colorful cottons. In some villages tribal identity is still considered very important.

Lifestyles in the larger cities are quite different from those of the countryside and are, in many ways, more similar to  urban culture found in western countries.

Egyptian Cuisine Specialties

Communication Tips: The “thumbs up” sign is thought to be offensive in the country. Conversations often involves body language and touching but only between the same sexes. Egyptians tend to speak at a much closer distance than in many countries. If you keep your distance, the perception might be that you find your counterpart’s physical presence distasteful.

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Home to the ancient Pharaohs and the longest river in the world, this oldest travel destination on earth has a fascinating history that reaches back to the dawn of civilization and is bound to bring out the explorer in you!

Ma’is salāma! (Good Bye! in Egyptian Arabic)

See you soon with another country!

Like / React to picture by the Rotaract Club of Cairo Royal, Egypt  for One Sky 1.0 to make them the Winner!


Compiled By:

Tishani Ranawana

International Service Director – 2019/20
One Sky 1.0 – Co Chair

Samiddhi Wanigasekara

Membership Development Director – 2019/20
One Sky 1.0 – Co Chair

Aloka Weerawardane
( Co-Editor – 2019/20 )

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