About Egypt

Where is Egypt?

Picture of the countryside in Egypt

The Arab Republic of Egypt has a unique geographical position in Northeast Africa, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, on the Mediterranean and Red Sea, and its connection to Sub Saharan Africa through the Nile Valley. Egypt is at the center of the Arab world and controls the Suez Canal; the shortest sea link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

The country is defined by desert and the Nile, the longest river on Earth. The Nile flows north out of central Africa, cascading over the cataracts (waterfalls) through Upper (southern) Egypt and Lower (northern) Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea—with a mountainous desert to the east, a rolling drier desert to the west, and the vast Sahara to the south.

Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

With over 90 million inhabitants - two-thirds of which are below 29 years - Egypt is Africa's third most populous country after Nigeria and Ethiopia, and it has the highest population in the Arab world. About 95 percent of Egyptians live along the Nile—on less than 5 percent of Egypt's territory — making the Nile Valley one of the world's most densely populated areas, especially in greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

The main sources of foreign currency are remittances from workers abroad, Suez Canal fees, tourism, and oil. The Aswan High Dam, completed in 1971, provides hydroelectricity, as well as a controlled water supply for year-round irrigation and desert reclamation.

The country has witnessed significant political and economic changes since 2011. Through this transition, which includes periods of political unrest, the main income sources of the economy have been negatively impacted, particularly in the tourism sector, as well as revenues from the Suez Canal, oil and remittances from Egyptians working abroad, affected by the global economy.

Despite the visible progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Egypt has not reached the anticipated targets for poverty reduction, environment protection and gender equity. On the latter, while positive trends are beginning to emerge, Egypt is still working on issues related to gender equality and the empowerment of women. 

Egypt ranks 131 on the Gender Inequality Index out of 155 countries. Women now hold 89 of parliamentary seats; the highest in Egypt's history, 44 percent have reached at least secondary education compared to 60 percent of their male counterparts, and 23 percent participate in the labour market compared to 74 percent for men (Human Development Report, 2015).

To address major issues, in line with the 2030 Agenda, the Egyptian Government has launched a working plan called Egypt’s Vision 2030, also known as Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS), which encompasses the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. SDS promotes economic flourishing based on justice, social integrity and participation. It is under the SDS that all development plans in Egypt are incorporated while at the same time being strongly guided by the SDGs.

At this point in Egypt's History...

Boat sails carrying Millennium Development Goals logos from the Sailing the Nile projectPhoto: Moe Adel / CC 2.0

Egypt has witnessed a revolution that started in January 25, 2011 when massive young Egyptians took the streets of Cairo and other major cities, and sustained a largely peaceful demonstrations for a period of 18 days, until Former President Mubarak stepped down and a new political phase in the country’s history began. The country has undergone dramatic and continuously changing political, economic and social situations which affected Egypt and its development partners development priorities and actions.

In 2014, Egyptians wrote a new constitution, and elected a new president H.E. Abdel Fattah El Sissy. A new parliament was sworn in following the elections which took place end of 2015.

Along with the rest of the United Nations development system, UNDP is supporting the government and responding to the new needs the Egyptian citizens face as they work to build a new Egypt that fulfils people's demands.