Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place. Egypt's economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel NASSER but opened up considerably under former Presidents Anwar EL-SADAT and Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK. Cairo from 2004 to 2008 aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth. The global financial crisis slowed the reform efforts. The budget deficit climbed to over 8% of GDP and Egypt's GDP growth slowed to 4.6% in 2009, predominately due to reduced growth in export-oriented sectors, including manufacturing and tourism, and Suez Canal revenues. In 2010, the government spent more on infrastructure and public projects, and exports drove GDP growth to more than 5%, but GDP growth in 2011 is unlikely to bounce back to pre-global financial recession levels, when it stood at 7%. Despite the relatively high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $497.8 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 27 $473.4 billion (2009 est.) $452.3 billion (2008 est.) note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $218.5 billion (2010 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 70 4.7% (2009 est.) 7.2% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $6,200 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 138 $6,000 (2009 est.) $5,900 (2008 est.) note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 13.5% industry: 37.9% services: 48.6% (2010 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products, chemicals, processed food
Exports - partners: US 7.95%, Italy 7.26%, Spain 6.78%, India 6.69%, Saudi Arabia 5.53%, Syria 5.3%, France 4.39%, South Korea 4.27% (2009)
Imports - partners: US 9.92%, China 9.63%, Germany 6.98%, Italy 6.88%, Turkey 4.94% (2009)
According to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the Egyptian banking system currently consists of 39 banks, split between commercial and non-commercial, public and private sector banks. In practice, the vast majority of these banks operate as commercial banks, although there are a few specialized banks (such as for agriculture and real estate). National Bank of Egypt is a large public sector bank, as is Bank Misr, and Banque du Caire. All banks in Egypt are subject to supervision by the CBE. However, the Arab International Bank, Nasr Social Bank, and the National Investment Bank are exempted due to special provisions in law and treaty.
Egypt aggressively consolidated and reformed the banking system under the 2003 banking law (Law 88 of 2003) Presidential Decree (No. 64 for 2005 which raised the minimum capital requirements for banks sharply (from LE 100 million to LE 500 million for domestic banks and from $10 million to $50 million for branches of foreign banks).
The Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges, now called the Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX), is the only stock exchange in Egypt and it has grown significantly in volume and value in the past few years. The volume of listed securities has more than quadrupled from 5,311 in 2005 to about 25,556 in 2008 and the total value traded has more than tripled from LE 160,635 million in 2005 to LE 529,000 million in 2008.
The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.Government type: republic
Capital: name: Cairo time difference: UTC+2 daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in April; ends last Thursday in September
Independence: 28 February 1922 (from UK)
National holiday: Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)
Constitution: 11 September 1971; amended 22 May 1980 and 25 May 2005
Legal system: based on English common law, Islamic law, and Napoleonic codes; judicial review by Supreme Court and Council of State (oversees validity of administrative decisions); accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Chief of state: President Muhammad MURSI (since 30 June 2012); vice president Mohamed MEKKY (since 13 August 2012) head of government: Prime Minister Hisham QANDIL (since 24 July 2012) cabinet: Prime Minister GANZOURI asked to form a new government on 27 November 2011
elections: presidential election (first round held on 23-24 May 2012; runoff held on 16-17 June 2012 election results: percent of vote (first round) - Mohammed MURSI 24.3%, Ahmed SHAFIQ 23.3%, Hamdin SABBAHI 20.4%, Abdul Moneim Aboul FOTOUH 17.2%, Amr MOUSSA 11.1, other 3.7%; (runoff) - Mohammed MURSI 51.7%, Ahmed SHAFIQ 48.3% For names of current Ministers, click here.
Disputes - international:
Sudan claims but Egypt de facto administers security and economic development of Halaib region north of the 22nd parallel boundary; Egypt no longer shows its administration of the Bir Tawil trapezoid in Sudan on its maps; Gazan breaches in the security wall with Egypt in January 2008 highlight difficulties in monitoring the Sinai border; Saudi Arabia claims Egyptian-administered islands of Tiran and Sanafir