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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Country profile: Egypt
Map of Egypt

While best known for its pyramids and ancient civilizations, Egypt has played a central role in the political situation within the region in modern times. Its three wars with Israel in 1948, 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.

Overview

The historic step taken by President Sadat in the Camp David agreement with Israel saw the expulsion of Egypt from the Arab League until 1989, and in 1981 Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists angry at his moves to clamp down on their activities.

Since then President Mubarak has taken a more moderate line, but Islamic groups have continued their campaigns sporadically, and have been responsible for several large-scale killings of tourists.

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 means that it is seen by many as 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.

Facts

EGYPT FACTS
Population: 65m
Capital: Cairo
Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam
Form of government: Republic
Monetary unit: 1 Egyptian Pound = 100 piastres
Main exports: Petroleum, Petroleum Products and Cotton
Internet domain: .eg
Time zone: gmt +2hrs (+3hrs during summer time)
International dialling code: +20

Leaders

Egyptian President
President Mubarak
President: Muhammad Husni Mubarak

A former Commander of the Air Force and Vice-President, Husni Mubarak was elected President of Egypt and became Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces after the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat in October 1981. He was the target of an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1995. He was re-elected for his fourth term in office in October 1999.

  • Prime minister: Atif Muhammad Ubayd
  • Deputy prime minister: Yusuf Amin Wali
  • Foreign minister: Ahmad Mahir al-Sayyid
  • Interior minister: Habib Ibrahim Habib al-Adli

    Media

    Egypt was the first Arab nation to have its own satellite, Nilesat 101.

    Satellite TV has changed the face of Egyptian media and the Egyptian TV and movie industry supplies much of the Arab-speaking world with shows from its Media Production City in Cairo.

    Egypt is planning to attract more media companies to its recently launched "Free Media Zone" by offering its existing media infrastructure and adding government economic support.

    Arabic TV channels have big audiences abroad.

  • Media restrictions
    Egypt is ranked as "not free" by analysts at the international media freedom watchdog Freedom House. There is some political control of the media and regulation but little evidence of direct repressive action against individual journalists.

  • TV
    There are two national terrestrial TV channels and six regional stations in Egypt. Domestic terrestrial TV is controlled by the state-owned Egypt Radio Television Union (ERTU).

  • Press and news agencies
    MENA - Middle East News Agency is the official press agency of the Egyptian Government. There are 18 principal newspapers and many magazines, of which 10 are online and two are in English.

  • Radio
    There are eight national radio networks broadcasting on FM, MW and shortwave. ERTU also holds the radio monopoly in Egypt.

    There is an external radio service, Radio Cairo, which broadcasts in 33 languages on shortwave. An Arabic-language service, Voice of the Arabs broadcasts to Europe and the Middle East.

    One station that is heard well, especially in northern Egypt, is Radio Monte Carlo, part of the French external service Radio France Internationale.

  • Internet
    In April 1999, Egypt had over 200,000 internet users and 52,000 online subscribers. That represented an increase of nearly 50 per cent since December 1998. There are four internet service providers.

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