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Complete Guide  to Egypt travel & Tours
Complete Egypt

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Pharaonic history

Egyptian history

Prehistory

 

Some 60,000 years ago the Nile River began its yearly inundation of the land along its banks, leaving behind rich alluvial soil. Areas close to the floodplain became attractive as a source of food and water. In time, climatic changes, including periods of aridity, further served to confine human habitation to the Nile Valley, although this was not always true. From the Chalcolithic period (the Copper age, beginning about 4000 BC) into the early part of the Old Kingdom, people apparently used an extended part of the land.

In the 7th millennium BC, Egypt was environmentally hospitable, and evidence of settlements from that time has been found in the low desert areas of southern, or Upper, Egypt; remains of similar occupation have been discovered at Nubian sites in modern Sudan. Enough pottery has been found in Upper Egyptian tombs from the 4th millennium BC (in the Predynastic period) to establish a relative dating sequence. The Predynastic period, which ends with the unification of Egypt under one king, is generally subdivided into three parts, each of which refers to the site at which its archaeological materials were found: Badarian, Amratian (Naqada I), and Gerzean (Naqada II and III). Northern sites (from about 5500 BC) have yielded datable archaeological material of apparent cultural continuity but no long-term sequences such as those found in the south.

 

The Hellenistic and Roman Periods

 

The occupation of Egypt by the forces of Alexander the Great in 332 BC brought an end to Persian rule. Alexander appointed Cleomenes of Naucratis, a Greek resident in Egypt, and his Macedonian general, known later as Ptolemy I, to govern the country. Although two Egyptian governors were named as well, power was clearly in the hands of Ptolemy, who in a few years took absolute control of the country.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty

Rivalries with other generals, who carved out sections of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC, occupied much of Ptolemy's time, but in 305 BC he assumed the royal title and founded the dynasty that bears his name (see Ptolemaic Dynasty). Ptolemaic Egypt was one of the great powers of the Hellenistic world, and at various times it extended its rule over parts of Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Libya, Phoenicia, and other lands.

 

Partly because native Egyptian rulers had a reduced role in affairs of state during the Ptolemaic regime, they periodically demonstrated their dissatisfaction by open revolts, all of which were, however, quickly suppressed. In the reign of Ptolemy VI, Egypt became a protectorate under Antiochus IV of Syria, who successfully invaded the country in 169 BC. The Romans, however, forced Antiochus to give up the country, which was then divided between Ptolemy VI and his younger brother, Ptolemy VIII; the latter took full control upon the death of his brother in 145 BC.

 

The succeeding Ptolemies preserved the wealth and status of Egypt while continually losing territory to the Romans. Cleopatra VII was the last great ruler of the Ptolemaic line. In an attempt to maintain Egyptian power she aligned herself with Julius Caesar and, later, Mark Antony, but these moves only postponed the end. After her forces were defeated by Roman legions under Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BC.

 

Roman and Byzantine Rule

 

For nearly seven centuries after the death of Cleopatra, the Romans controlled Egypt (except for a short time in the 3rd century AD, when it came under the power of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra). They treated Egypt as a valuable source of wealth and profit and were dependent on its supply of grain to feed their multitudes. Roman Egypt was governed by a prefect, whose duties as commander of the army and official judge were similar to those of the pharaohs of the past. The office, therefore, was one with which the native population was familiar. Because of the immense power of the prefects, however, their functions were eventually divided under Emperor Justinian, who in the 6th century AD put the army under a separate commander, directly responsible to him.

Egypt in the Roman period was relatively peaceful; its southern boundary at Aswan was only rarely attacked by the Ethiopians. Egypt's population had become Hellenized under the Ptolemies, and it included large minorities of Greeks and Jews, as well as other peoples from Asia Minor. The mixture of the cultures did not lead to a homogeneous society, and civil strife was frequent. In 212, however, Emperor Caracalla granted the entire population citizenship in the Roman Empire.

 

Alexandria, the port city on the Mediterranean founded by Alexander the Great, remained the capital as it had been under the Ptolemies. One of the great metropolises of the Roman Empire, it was the center of a thriving commerce between India and Arabia and the Mediterranean countries. It was the home of the great Alexandrian library and museum and had a population of some 300,000 (excluding slaves).

Egypt became an economic mainstay of the Roman Empire not only because of its annual harvest of grain but also for its glass, metal, and other manufactured products. In addition, the trade brought in spices, perfumes, precious stones, and rare metals from the Red Sea ports. Once part of the empire, Egypt was subject to a variety of taxes as well.

In order to control the people and placate the powerful priesthood, the Roman emperors protected the ancient religion, completed or embellished temples begun under the Ptolemies, and had their own names inscribed on them as pharaohs; the cartouches of several can be found at Isna, Kawn Umbu, Dandara, and Philae. The Egyptian cults of Isis and Serapis spread throughout the ancient world. Egypt was also an important center of early Christendom and the first one of Christian monasticism. Its Coptic or Monophysite church separated from mainstream Christianity in the 5th century.

 

During the 7th century the power of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire was challenged by the Sassanids of Persia, who invaded Egypt in 616. They were expelled again in 628, but soon after, in 642, the country fell to the Arabs, who brought with them a new religion, Islam, and began a new chapter of Egyptian history.

 

Egypt Under the the Byzantinans

 

Alienated by the religious intolerance and heavy taxation of the Byzantine government, the Coptic Egyptians offered little resistance to their Arab conquerors. A treaty was subsequently signed, by which the Egyptians agreed to pay a poll tax (jizyah) in return for an Arab promise to respect the religious practices, lives, and property of the Copts. Besides the poll tax, the male population, estimated at between 6 and 8 million, paid the kharaj, a tax levied on agricultural land.

 

Local Government

 

No changes in the administration were made by the Arabs, who adopted the Byzantine decentralized system of provincial governors reporting to a chief governor, resident in the capital, Alexandria. They did, however, later move the capital to a new, more central location, called Al Fustat ("the tent"), a few miles south of present-day Cairo.

For the next two centuries Egypt was ruled by governors appointed by the caliph, the leader of the Muslim community. In this system, mild and generous rule alternated with severity and religious oppression, depending on the character of the governor appointed, his relationship with the population, and his financial needs. Immigration of Arab tribes and the replacement of the Coptic language by Arabic in all public documents began a slow process of Arabization that was eventually to turn Coptic-speaking Christian Egypt into a largely Muslim and wholly Arabic-speaking country. Coptic became a liturgical language.

 

Internal Strife

 

Under the Abbasid caliphs (750-868), governors were appointed for brief periods, and Egypt was plagued by a series of insurrections arising from conflicts between the different sects of Muslims who had settled there: the Sunni, or orthodox majority, and the minority Shia sect. On several occasions the Copts also rose to protest excessive taxation. Such uprisings were met with repression and persecution by the government. Internal conditions became so bad in the late 8th century that a group of new immigrants from Andalusia allied themselves with an Arab tribe and seized Alexandria, holding it until an army arrived from Baghdad and exiled them to Crete. Insurrections continued to break out among the Arabs, who even defeated a governor and burned his baggage. Rebellions by the Copts continued until Caliph Abdullah al-Mamun led a Turkish army to put down the revolts in 832. This was a period of ruthless and unscrupulous governors, who abused the population and extorted money from them. The only bulwark against such oppression lay in the chief qadi, the country's leading Muslim magistrate, who maintained the sacred law—the Sharia—in the face of abuse of power, and helped ease the rapacity of the governors.

Despite a predominantly rural population, commercial centers flourished, and Al Fustat grew to become a trading metropolis.From 856 onward Egypt was given as an iqta, a form of fief, to the Turkish military oligarchy that dominated the caliphate in Baghdad. In 868 Ahmad ibn Tulun, a 33-year-old Turk, was sent to the country as governor. A man of ability and education, Tulun ruled wisely and well, but he also turned Egypt into an autonomous province, linked with the Abbasids only by the yearly payment of a small tribute. Tulun built a new city, Al Qita'ì ("the Wards"), north of Al Fustat. Under his benevolent rule Egypt prospered and expanded to annex Syria. Tulun's dynasty (the Tulunids) ruled for 37 years over an empire that included Egypt, Palestine, and Syria.

 

The Fatimid

 

After the last rule by the Tulunids, the country fell into a state of anarchy. Its weak and defenseless condition made it an easy prey for the Fatimids, a Shiite dynasty that in 909, rejecting the authority of the Abbasids, had proclaimed their own caliphate in Tunisia and by the mid-10th century controlled most of North Africa. In 969 they invaded and conquered Egypt and subsequently founded a new city, Cairo, north of Al Fustat, making it their capital. See Caliphate.

Al Fustat, however, remained the commercial hub of the country under the Fatimids. It was an impressive, multistoried urban center with an excellent underground sewage system. An Iranian traveler, Nasir-i-Khosrau, who visited Egypt in 1046, marveled at the rich markets and the security of the land. Egypt was then enjoying a period of tranquillity and prosperity.

 

The Fatimids, although Shiites in their beliefs, for the most part coexisted peacefully with the predominantly Sunni population. They founded the oldest university in the world, Al Azhar, and Cairo became a great intellectual center.

 

The Ayyubids

 

Tranquillity disappeared with later Fatimid rulers, who could not control their unruly regiments of Berber and Sudanese soldiers. A low Nile caused serious famine in 1065. New danger appeared with the First Crusade from western Europe, which established Christian control over Syria and Palestine in the late 1090s. The Fatimid caliphs, by now pawns in the hands of their generals, appealed to Nur ad-Din of Halab (Aleppo), and he sent an army to help them against the Crusaders in 1168. Saladin, one of Nur ad-Din's generals, was installed as vizier. In 1171 he abolished the Fatimid caliphate, founding the Ayyubid dynasty and restoring Sunni rule to Egypt. Saladin reconquered most of Syria and Palestine from the Crusaders and became the most powerful Middle Eastern ruler of this time. His nephew, Sultan al-Kamil, who reigned 1218-1238, successfully defended Egypt against a Christian attack in 1218-1221, but after his death Ayyubid power declined. The Ninth Crusade, led by Louis IX of France, was repelled in 1249, with the aid of the Mamelukes, slave troops in Ayyubid service. The following year the Mamelukes overthrew the Ayyubids and established their own ruling house.

 

The Mamelukes

 

The first Mameluke dynasty, the Bahri, held power as sultans of Egypt until 1382. Hereditary succession was frequently disregarded and the throne usurped by the more powerful emirs (military commanders). Many among them were remarkable rulers, such as Baybars I, who halted the Mongol advance into Syria and Egypt in 1260. Two other Mongol invasions were repelled by the Mamelukes, who also expelled the Crusaders from the region and captured 'Akko, their last stronghold in Palestine, in 1291. In the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the Mameluke realm extended north to the borders of Asia Minor.

 

The age of the Mamelukes was one of extraordinary brilliance in the arts. It was also an age of commercial expansion; Egypt's spice traders, the Karimi, were merchant princes who vied with the emirs in patronizing the arts.

 

After the death of the last great Bahri sultan, al-Nasir, in 1341, Egypt lapsed into decline. His descendants were mere figureheads who allowed real power to remain in the hands of the emirs. In 1348 the plague known as the Black Death swept over the land, radically reducing the population.

The second dynasty of Mameluke sultans, the Burjis, was of Circassian origin and ruled from 1382 to 1517. Most of the Burji rulers exercised little real authority; their dynasty was marked by continual power struggles among the Mameluke elite. In the midst of rebellion and civil strife, the Mamelukes continued to hold Egypt and Syria by virtue of their ability to repel invasions. By the early 16th century, however, they were threatened by the growing power of the Ottoman Empire, and in 1517 the Ottoman Sultan Selim I invaded Egypt and ruled it.

 

The Ottoman

 

Although the real hold of the Ottoman Turks over Egypt was to last only until the 17th century, the country remained nominally part of the Ottoman Empire until 1915. Rather than exterminate the Mamelukes, the Ottomans used them in their administration. They established a governor and settled six ocaks (regiments) in Egypt as a garrison. In time the roman ocaks intermarried with the native people, playing an important role in the country's economic and political life. Rural areas were treated as crown lands, parceled into plots called iqta, the produce of which went to the Ottoman elite.

The Mameluke come back:

As time went on, an inflationary trend that historians have noted in 16th-century Europe had repercussions in Egypt as well. Rising prices led to rivalry among the ocaks over the country's wealth. This weakened their control, and the Mamelukes stepped into the breach. By the mid-17th century the Mameluke emirs, or beys, had established their supremacy. Land taxes were farmed out among them, and the urban guilds, which were closely allied with the roman ocaks, were heavily taxed as a means of diminishing Ottoman influence and of increasing revenue. The Ottomans acquiesced in the system so long as the tribute was regularly paid.

 

The period from the 16th to the mid-18th century was an age of commercial prosperity when Egypt, at the crossroads of several commercial routes, was the center of a flourishing intermediary trade in coffee, textiles, and spices.

The Ottoman governor quickly became a puppet, first in the hands of the regiments, which held the military power, and then in the hands of the Mamelukes, who came to control the ocaks. The leading Mameluke bey, called the Shaikh al-Balad ("chief of the city"), thus became recognized as the real ruler of the land. The beys imposed higher taxes to finance their military expeditions in Syria and Arabia. Although defeated in Syria by the Ottomans, who once more sought to reinforce their authority, the Mamelukes dominated Egypt until 1798. The last 30 years of the 18th century were marked by plagues and famine that reduced the population to a bare 4 million.

 

The Time of Muhammad Ali

 

The French occupation of Egypt in 1798, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, was a brief interlude, for the French never acquired full dominion or control. The grain-producing regions of Upper Egypt remained in Mameluke hands. Napoleon's invasion was too short-lived to have any lasting impact, but it marked the beginning of a renewed European interest in Egypt. In 1801 an Anglo-Ottoman force expelled the French. For the next few years, struggles between Mamelukes and Ottomans for mastery ruined the country until Muhammad Ali, an Ottoman general of Albanian origin, seized power with the cooperation of the local population. In 1805 the Ottoman sultan declared him the governor of Egypt.

Muhammad Ali, a man of genius, slowly and methodically destroyed or bought off all his opponents until he became the only source of power in the country. To gain control of all the trade routes into Egypt, he embarked on wars of expansion. He first conquered Al Hijaz (the Hejaz, now in Saudi Arabia) in 1819 and Sudan from 1820 to 1822; by 1824 he was ready to help the Ottoman sultan put down an insurrection in Greece. The European powers, however, intervened to halt Egyptian advances in Greece, and Muhammad Ali was forced to withdraw his army.

 

At home, Muhammad Ali encouraged the production of cotton to supply the textile mills of Europe, and he used the profits to finance industrial projects. He established a monopoly over all commodities and imposed trade barriers to nurture industry. He sent Egyptians abroad for technical education and hired experts from Europe to train his army and build his manufacturing industries (which, however, were never as successful as he hoped they would be).

 

In 1831 Muhammad Ali invaded Syria, thereby coming into conflict with his Turkish overlord. The Egyptians defeated the Ottoman armies, and by 1833 they were threatening the Turkish capital, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Once again, Russia, Britain, and France intervened, this time to protect the sultan. Muhammad Ali's forces withdrew, but he was left in control of Syria and Crete.

 

Egyptian expansion and control over trade routes conflicted with Britain's growing interest in the Middle East as a market for its burgeoning industrial production. The threat to the integrity of the Ottoman Empire also disturbed Britain and roused fears of Russian encroachment in the Mediterranean. For these reasons the British opposed Egypt, and when Muhammad Ali again rebelled against the sultan in 1839, they stepped in for the third time to make him back down. He was offered hereditary possession of Egypt, but had to give up his other conquests and remain an Ottoman vassal.

 

Bankruptcy and Foreign influance

 

After the death of Muhammad Ali in 1849, Egypt came increasingly under European influence. His son, Said Pasha, made some attempt to modernize the government, but left a huge debt when he died. His successor, Ismail , increased the national debt by borrowing lavishly from European bankers to develop the country and pay for the Suez Canal, which was opened in 1869. These spendthrift rulers drove the country into bankruptcy and ultimately into the control of their British and French creditors. In 1876 an Anglo-French commission took charge of Egypt's finances, and in 1879 the sultan deposed Ismail in favor of his son Tawfik Pasha. Army officers, disgusted by the government's weakness, then led a rebellion to end foreign control. Tawfik appealed to the British for help, and they occupied Egypt in 1882.

 

Egypt Under the British

 

British interest in Egypt stemmed from the Suez Canal as the short route to India. Promises to evacuate the country once order had been restored were broken, and the British army remained in occupation until 1954. Although Tawfik remained on the throne as a figurehead prince, the British consul general was the real ruler of the country. The first and most important consul general was Sir Evelyn Baring (known after 1892 as Lord Cromer).

 

A nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kamil, a European-educated lawyer, was backed by Tawfik's successor, Abbas II, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Kamil agitated for self-government and an end to the British occupation but was ignored by British authorities.In this period Egyptian agriculture was so completely dominated by cotton grown to feed the textile mills of Lancashire, England, that grain had to be imported to feed the rural population. Irrigation projects were carried out to increase the arable land, and in due course the entire debt to Britain was paid.British promises to evacuate diminished as Egypt and the Suez Canal became an integral part of British Mediterranean defense policy. The illegal occupation was, in fact, internationally sanctioned in 1904, when France recognized British rights in Egypt in return for British acknowledgment of French rights in Morocco.

 

Protectorate Declared

 

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 brought nationalist activities in Egypt to an end. When Turkey entered the war on the side of Germany, Britain declared Egypt a protectorate and deposed Abbas II in favor of his uncle, Hussein Kamil, who was given the title of sultan. Legal ties between Egypt and Turkey were finally severed, and Britain promised Egypt some changes in government once the war was over.

The war years resulted in great hardship for Egyptian peasants, the fellahin, who were conscripted to dig ditches and whose livestock was confiscated by the army. Inflation was rampant. These factors were responsible for increasing resentment against the British and set the stage for the violent upheaval that was to come after World War I ended in 1918.

 

Allied promises that former Ottoman territories would be allowed self-determination raised hopes in Egypt of independence once the war was over. A new nationalist movement, the Wafd ("delegation"), was formed in 1918 to plan for the country's future. Hopes were dashed when Britain refused to consider Egyptian needs, and Saad Zaghlul, the leader of the Wafd, was exiled. The country erupted in violent revolt, and Britain was forced to reconsider its decision. Zaghlul was released, but his efforts to get a hearing at the Paris Peace Conference were thwarted by the British. Violence continued until 1922, when Britain unilaterally declared Egypt an independent monarchy under Hussein's successor, who became king as Fuad I. The British, however, reserved the right to intervene in Egyptian affairs if their interests were threatened, thereby robbing Egypt of any real independence and allowing British control to continue unabated.

 

The new constitution of 1924 set up a bicameral legislature but, under pressure from the British and Fuad, gave the latter the right to nominate the premier and to suspend Parliament. The result was a tripartite struggle for mastery over Egypt involving the king, the British ambassador, and the Wafd, which was the only grass-roots party. One government after another fell after trying unsuccessfully to extract concessions from the British. In 1936, under pressures caused by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, an Anglo-Egyptian treaty was finally signed, but it continued the physical occupation of Egypt by the British army and the involvement of the British army in internal affairs.

 

 

The Coup of 1952

 

World War II (1939-1945) suspended further political bargaining. The war years brought inflation, interparty strife, and disillusion with the Wafd. Fundamentalist religious organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and Communist groups developed.In 1948 Egypt and several other Arab states went to war in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the establishment of the state of Israel. Blaming the government for its loss, the army turned against King Faruk, Fuad's son, who showed no aptitude for government and a blatant disregard for public well-being and morality. In 1952 a group of army officers carried out a successful coup d'etat that ousted the king and in 1953 declared Egypt a republic.

Egypt as a republic :

 

The first president of the republic, General Muhammad Naguib, was a figurehead. The real leader was Gamal Abdel Nasser of the Revolutionary Command Council, the officers who had plotted the revolution. In April 1954 Nasser became prime minister. In November of that year, Naguib was removed from power, and Nasser assumed complete executive authority. In July 1956 Nasser was officially elected president.

 

At first Nasser followed a pro-Western policy and successfully negotiated the evacuation of British forces from Egypt in 1954. Soon he turned to a policy of neutrality and solidarity with other African and Asian nations and became an advocate of Arab unity.

 

The Suez Crisis

 

In efforts to acquire armaments, which the Western world would not supply to Egypt, Nasser turned to the Eastern bloc. In retaliation, the World Bank turned down Egypt's request for a loan to finance the Aswan High Dam project. Nasser therefore nationalized the Suez Canal and sought to use its revenues to finance the dam. Angered by that move, Britain and France, the main stockholders in the canal, joined with Israel in attacking Egypt in 1956. Pressure from the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) forced the three countries to evacuate Egyptian territory, and United Nations (UN) forces were placed as a buffer between Egypt and Israel. Pursuing his dream of Arab unity, Nasser in 1958 effected a union between Egypt and Syria under the name of the United Arab Republic. Although it lasted only three years before the Syrians rebelled and reaffirmed their independence, Egypt retained the official name of the republic for many years afterward.

 

Arab Socialism

 

Within Egypt the Nasser regime suppressed political opposition and established a one-party system as a means of reforming political life. A series of decrees limited land ownership and undermined the authority of the landowning elite. In 1961 foreign capital invested in Egypt was nationalized, as were public utilities and local industries, all of which became part of the public sector. This new order, which Nasser called Arab Socialism, aimed at greater social equality and economic growth. In 1962 a national charter was drawn up, and the official National Union Party was renamed the Arab Socialist Union. Women, who had been emancipated earlier, were elected to the union, as were workers. The first woman cabinet minister was appointed.

 

Wars of the 1960s

 

In 1962 Egypt became embroiled in a civil war in Yemen, backing a republican movement against monarchist forces. This venture cost lives and money and left the country weakened. In 1967 Nasser, continuing the Arab struggle against Israel, closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli shipping and requested that the UN forces be withdrawn from the border. The Israelis, believing that Nasser was preparing for war, struck first, attacking and destroying Egyptian airfields and positions in the Sinai. Israeli forces advanced until they reached the right bank of the Suez Canal. This Six-Day War left Israel in possession of the whole Sinai Peninsula. The UN Security Council called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories. Israel Did decline and continued to occupy the Sinai. When negotiations seemed to be leading nowhere, Nasser turned to the USSR, which rearmed Egypt in return for a naval base.Nasser died suddenly in 1970. Problems of succession to the post of president were settled when Vice President Anwar El-Sadat, a long-time colleague of Nasser, was chosen to succeed him.

 

The Sadat Regime

 

Sadat was elected by opposing political factions as a compromise candidate, on the assumption that he could be manipulated. The new president, however, outwitted his would-be puppeteers and, with the support of the army, put them under arrest. He freed political prisoners who had been incarcerated by Nasser for opposing his policies, and called for a regime of economic and political liberalization, especially for the press, which Nasser had strictly controlled.

 

The 6th of october war

 

clashes between Egypt and Israel had continued after 1969, and this "war of attrition" had resulted in high Egyptian casualties and burdensome military expenditures. Sadat tried to find a way out of that impress negotiation. successfully he secretly planned a for a war to free the occupied sinai from Israel. He first repaired his fences with the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, which financed arms purchases from the Soviet Union. Then, on October 6, 1973, on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan(10th of Ramadan), Egypt launched an air and artillery counterattack across the Suez Canal. Within hours, thousands of Egyptian soldiers had successfully crossed into the Sinai. Protected by a missile umbrella that destroyed Israeli aircrafts, they overran and captured the string of Israeli fortifications known as the Bar-Lev line. Israel was caught unprepared. It was a total victory . By the middle of the month, however, with immidate aid from the united states ,it had regained the initiative and was able to encircle Egyptian units on the outskirts of Suez. The United Nations then imposed a cease-fire, and an armistice line patrolled by UN forces was eventually established between the Egyptian and the Israeli armies.

 

Peace treaty with Isreal

 

After the war Sadat was ready for negotiations. In 1974 and 1975 Egypt and Israel concluded agreements—again mediated by Kissinger—providing disengagement on the Sinai front. In June 1975 Egypt reopened the Suez Canal, permitting passage to ships carrying Israeli cargoes. Israel withdrew beyond the strategic passes and from some of the oil fields in the Sinai.Meanwhile, Egypt's economic position was growing rapidly worse; by early 1976 the country's debt to the USSR was estimated at $4 billion. The following year, surprising all, Sadat asked the Soviet military advisers to leave the country and threw his lot in with the United States, declaring it held the key to peace in the Middle East. Even more surprising, on November 19, 1977, Sadat flew to Israel and addressed the Knesset (parliament) . The historic journey was followed by further negotiations under U.S. auspices. At a tripartite conference with U.S. president Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland, in September 1978, Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin agreed on a framework for an Israeli-Egyptian settlement. A peace treaty between the two nations, based on the Camp David accords, was signed in Washington, D.C., on March 26, 1979.

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