What is the terrain and geography like in Egypt?
The Arab Republic of Egypt is located in northeast Africa and, with the Sinai Peninsula, extends into southwest Asia. It consists of 1,002,000 square kilometers of land. There are three land borders: Israel, Libya, and the Sudan, as well as four water barriers: the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Suez, Gulf of Aqaba, and the Red Sea. Most of the country is part of the band of desert stretching from the Atlantic Coast of Africa to the Middle East.
Geological changes have produced four distinct physical regions: the Nile River's Valley and Delta, where 95% of the population lives: the Western Desert, with two-thirds of the country's total land area in barren limestone plateaus and depressions; the Eastern Desert, scored by gullies in rugged hills; and the Sinai Peninsula, geographically a barren part of the Asian Continent, separating slowly from Africa.
Only the Nile Valley, Delta, and a few desert oases can support productive agriculture. The date palm is the most prevalent indigenous tree, though frequently eucalyptus, acacia, sycamore, juniper, jacaranda, and tamarind are seen. Papyrus, once prevalent throughout Egypt, exists now only in botanical gardens.
According to reports written in the first century A.D., seven branches of the Nile ran through the Delta to the Mediterranean. Since then, nature and man have closed all but two outlets: the Damietta and the Rosetta. A network of canals, salt marshes, and lakes now supplement these channels.
Lower Egypt is the area north of the 30th parallel of latitude, which passes through Cairo and Suez. Upper Egypt is everything south. The highest point in the country, Jebel Katrinah (Mount St. Catherine), is 8,600 feet above sea level--a part of the red-colored Sinai terrain that gave the Red Sea its name. Nearby is Jebel Musa (Mount Sinai), the legendary site where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
The lowest point, the Qattarah Depression in the Western Desert, drops at places to 132 meters below sea level. Alexandria receives the majority of Egypt's limited rainfall, with 19cm (about 7 ½ inches) being the yearly average. Two cm (about ½ inch) is the usual annual total in Cairo.