Cairo (literally "The Vanquisher") is the capital of Egypt, and the largest city in Africa, and the Arab World, as well as one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a center of the region's political and cultural life. Even before Cairo was established in the tenth century, the land composing the present-day city was the site of national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo is also associated with Ancient Egypt due to its proximity to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids in adjacent Giza.
Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab World, as well as the world's second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city, and the Arab League has been based in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of 6.8 million spread over 453 km2, Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. With an additional ten million inhabitants just outside the city, Cairo resides at the center of the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the eleventh-largest urban area in the world. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic, but its metro – currently the only on the African continent – also ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 700 million passenger rides annually.
Cairo is located in northern Egypt, known as Lower Egypt, 165 kilometers south of the Mediterranean Sea and 120 ilometers west of the Gulf of Suez and Suez Canal. The city is along the Nile River, immediately south of the point where the river leaves its desert-bound valley and branches into the low-lying Nile Delta region. Although the Cairo metropolis extends away from the Nile in all directions, the city of Cairo resides only on the east bank of the river and two islands within it on a total area of 214 km2
Until the mid-19th century, when the river was tamed by dams, levees, and other controls, the Nile in the vicinity of Cairo was highly susceptible to changes in course and surface level. Over the years, the Nile gradually shifted westward, providing the site between the eastern edge of the river and the Mokattam highlands on which the city now stands. The land on which Cairo was established in 969 was located underwater just over three hundred years earlier, when Fustat was first built.
Low periods of the Nile during the 11th century continued to add to the landscape of Cairo; a new island, known as Geziret al-Fil, first appeared in 1174, but eventually became connected to the mainland. Today, the site of Geziret al-Fil is occupied by the Shubra district. The low periods created another island at the turn of the 14th century that now composes Zamalek and Gezira. Land reclamation efforts by the Mamluks and Ottomans further contributed to expansion on the east bank of the river.
Because of the Nile's movement, the newer parts of the city – Garden City, Downtown Cairo, and Zamalek – are located closest to the riverbank. The areas, which are home to most of Cairo's embassies, are surrounded on the north, east, and south by the older parts of the city. Old Cairo, located south of the center, holds the remnants of Fustat and the heart of Egypt's Coptic Christian community, Coptic Cairo. The Boulaq district, which lies in the northern part of the city, was born out of a major 16th-century port and is now a major industrial center. The Citadel is located east of the city center around Islamic Cairo, which dates back to the Fatimid era and the foundation of Cairo. While western Cairo is dominated by wide boulevards, open spaces, and modern architecture of European influence, the eastern half, having grown haphazardly over the centuries, is dominated by small lanes, crowded tenements, and Islamic architecture.
Northern and extreme eastern parts of Cairo, which include satellite towns, are among the most recent additions to the city, as they developed in the late-20th and early-21st centuries to accommodate the city's rapid growth. The western bank of the Nile is commonly included within the urban area of Cairo, but it composes the city of Giza and the Giza Governorate. Giza has also undergone significant expansion over recent years, and today the city, although still a suburb of Cairo, has a population of 2.7 million. The Cairo Governorate is just north of the Helwan Governorate, which was created in 2008 when some of Cairo's southern districts, including Maadi and New Cairo, were split off and annexed into the new governorate.
In Cairo, and along the Nile River Valley, the climate is a desert climate, but often with high humidity due to the river valley's effects. Wind storms can be frequent, bringing Saharan dust into the city during the months of March and April. High temperatures in winter range from 13°C to 19°C, while night-time lows drop to below 8 , often to 5 °C. In summer, the highs rarely surpass 40°C, and lows drop to about 20°C. Rainfall is sparse, but sudden showers do cause harsh flooding. In New Cairo, the temperatures often drop below zero during winter.
Cairo, as well as neighbouring Giza, has been established as Egypt's main centre for medical treatment, and despite some exceptions, has the most advanced level of medical care in the country. Cairo's hospitals include As-Salam International Hospital- Corniche El Nile; Maadi (Egypt's largest private hospital with 350 beds), Ain Shams University Hospital, Dar El Fouad Hospital, as well as Qasr El Ainy General Hospital.
Cairo has long been the hub of education and educational services not only for Egypt but also for the whole Arab world. Today, Cairo is the center for many government offices governing the Egyptian educational system, has the largest number of educational schools, and higher learning institutes among other cities and governorates of Egypt.
Transportation in Cairo comprises an extensive road network, rail system, subway system, and maritime services. Road transport is facilitated by personal vehicles, taxi cabs, privately owned public buses, and Cairo microbuses. Cairo, specifically Ramses Square, is the center of almost the entire Egyptian transportation network.
The subway system, officially called "Metro (مترو)", is a fast and efficient way of getting around Cairo. It can get very crowded during rush hour. Two train cars (the fourth and fifth ones) are reserved for women only, although women may ride in any car they want.
An extensive road network connects Cairo with other Egyptian cities and villages. There is a new Ring Road that surrounds the outskirts of the city, with exits that reach outer Cairo districts. There are flyovers, and bridges such as the Sixth of October bridge that, when it doesn't experience heavy traffic, allows fast means of transportation from one side of the city to the other.
Cairo traffic is known to be overwhelming and overcrowded. Traffic moves at a relatively fluid pace. Drivers tend to be aggressive, but are more courteous at intersections, taking turns going, with police aiding in traffic control of some congested areas.
Football is the most popular sport in Egypt, and Cairo has a number of sporting teams that compete in national and regional leagues. The best known teams are Al-Ahly and El Zamalek, whose annual football tournament is perhaps the most watched sports event in Egypt as well as the African and Arabian World. Both teams are known as the "rivals" of Egyptian football, and are the first and the second champions in the African continent and the Arab World. Both teams play their home games at Cairo International Stadium or Naser Stadium, which is Cairo's largest stadium and one of the largest stadiums in the world.
Over the ages, and as far back as four thousand years, Egypt stood as the land where civilizations have always met. The Pharaohs together with the Greeks and the Romans have left their imprints here. Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula, led by Amr ibn al-A'as, introduced Islam into Egypt. Khedive Mohammad Ali, with his Albanian family roots, put Egypt on the road to modernity. If anything, the cultural mix in this country is natural, given its heritage. Egypt can be likened to an open museum with monuments of the different historical periods on display everywhere.
Inaugurated in May 2005, Al-Azhar Park is located adjacent to Cairo's Darb al-Ahmar district. The Park was created by the Historic Cities Support Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), an entity of the Aga Khan Development Network, and was a gift to Cairo from His Highness the Aga Khan. It is interesting to note that the city of Cairo was founded in the year 969 by the Fatimid Imam-Caliphs who were ancestors of the Aga Khan.
Egyptian Media Production City in Cairo
The 6 October city-based Media Production city is the biggest ever built information and media complex, which, together with the Egyptian media satellites "Nilesat 101", "Nilesat 102", will allow Egypt to step into the new world of the 21st century. Thereby, Cairo will be well-qualified and well-equipped to maintain its pioneering role in the field of satellite television
Old buildings in Downtown Cairo. In the center is the statue of Talaat Pasha Harb, the father of the modern Egyptian economy
Cairo is also in every respect the center of Egypt, as it has been almost since its founding in 969 AD. With a population of 18.8 million, almost 25% of all Egyptians live there. The majority of the nation's commerce is generated there, or passes through the city. The great majority of publishing houses and media outlets and nearly all film studios are there, as are half of the nation's hospital beds and universities. This has fueled rapid construction in the city—one building in five is less than 15 years old.
This astonishing growth until recently surged well ahead of city services. Homes, roads, electricity, telephone and sewer services were all suddenly in short supply. Analysts trying to grasp the magnitude of the change coined terms like "hyper-urbanization".
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