• 73.5

    Life Expectancy at Birth (years)

  • 6.4

    Mean Years of Schooling

  • 0.59

    Gender Inequality Index

  • 72%

    Adult Literacy Rate (ages 15 and older)

  • 54.1%

    Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24)

  • 26.7%

    Internet users

About Egypt

Where is Egypt?

Picture of the countryside in Egypt with the Pyramids in the background

The Arab Republic of Egypt is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and the southwest corner of Asia, via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Most of Egypt's territory of 1,010,000 km² lies within the Nile Valley, but it is also considered a Mediterranean country as it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north. It is also 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 87 million inhabitants (two-thirds of which are below 29 years), Egypt is the largest country in North Africa and the Arab World, the third-largest in Africa, and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 km², where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara Desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

 

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.

 

Egypt ranks 110 out of 187 countries in the 2014 Human Development Index (HDI), up from 112 in 2012. Based on the current population growth rate of 1.6%, the total population is expected to exceed 100 million by 2030. This poses numerous development challenges considering that 26.3% of Egyptians live below the poverty line, high unemployment rates (13.4%) particularly among youth (29%) and women (24.5%), significant inequalities between urban and rural areas, poor quality of public services, etc.

 

Despite the significant progress recorded on each of 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, there are many issues concerning gender equality and the empowerment of women that pose challenges to development.  Egypt ranks 130 on the Gender Inequality Index out of 187 countries (Human Development Report).

At this point in Egypt's History...

Boat sails carrying Millennium Development Goals logos from the Sailing the Nile project

Egypt has witnessed a prolonged struggle for democracy that was at its highest intensity during the period of January 25 2011 when massive young and determined activists took to the streets of Cairo and other major cities and sustained a continuous largely peaceful demonstrations for a period of 18 days, until President Mubarak stepped down and a new political phase in the country’s history began. Since then, dramatic and continuously changing political, economic and social dynamics provide Egypt and its development partners with new development opportunities and challenges.  Along with the rest of the UN development system, UNDP is responding to the new needs Egyptian citizens face as they work to build a new Egypt that fulfils their demands for “bread, freedom and social justice”.  At the same time, UNDP remains engaged on a wide range of development issues that have been on the country’s agenda for some time and which require sustained attention.

Challenges Facing Egypt


Egypt's growing population which, according some estimates, may exceed 100 million people by 2020 continues to place a burden on limited resources. Although Egypt is doing well in improving certain social and economic indicators and a recent report concluded that the country is potentially on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, progress still needs to be made in many other areas.

 

Poverty Challenges include persistence in poverty (reaching 25.5% in 2012) despite relatively consistent economic growth, reflecting large disparities and inequitable growth; jobless growth with unemployment standing at around 12.4%, 90% of which are youth; unemployment was recorded was four times higher among women; shrinking public sector; inefficient safety net programmes unable to target the poor; and the Digital Divide: a globally competitive ICT sector needed to generate long-term employment aiming at equitably benefiting underprivileged Egyptians.

 

Governance Challenges include issues that had been previously identified that have perhaps amplified following the January 25th revolution. These include: Poor accountability, weak political parties, low citizen participation in political life, marginal role for representative civil society participation in, and monitoring outcomes of, Development, low trust of citizens in Government, especially the police, weak citizen’s voice in setting development priorities, women's position in public and political life, Human rights practices in some state institutions.

 

Environment Challenges include air pollution resulting in smog episodes; water scarcity and lack of quality sanitation systems and water pollution where only 70% of the urban population have sanitation and as low as 4 % in rural Egypt; climate change risks including water resources, coastal zones and agriculture; land and coastal zone management; solid waste management; loss of biodiversity; and depleting oil and gas resources.

Country flag
Country map
Statistics
Capital
Cairo
Population
84 million
Area (in sq. km)
1,002,450
Area (in sq. mi)
387,048
Language
Arabic
Poverty rate
22% of population below national poverty line (2002-2012)
Per capita income
US$ 5,547 (GDP)
Human Development Index
0.662

Sources: UNDP Human Development Report 2013