Capital | Cairo
Population | 80,471,869
Area | 1,002,450 SQ KM
Official Language | Arabic
Holidays | Revolution Day, 23 July (1952)
Currency | Egyptian Pound (EGP)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | October to May to avoid the heat
Connecting with the Culture | Battling tour buses and camel drivers to see the Great Pyramids. Taking a lazy afternoon drift along the Nile in a felucca at Aswan. Feeling very small in Karnak’s Great Hypostyle Hall. Living out an oriental fantasy; sipping tea and smoking a shisha (waterpipe) with a thousand and one other’s at one of Cairo’s landmark coffeehouses.
Read | Max Rodenbeck’s Cairo: The City Victorious, a fascinating history and first-person travelogue.
Listen | to Umm Kulsoum, forever Egypt’s diva
Watch | Cleopatra, an over-the-top romp with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Eat | fuul, and taamia – salty fava-bean paste and falafel.
Drink | fresh fruit juices such as mango, strawberry or lemon
In a Word | Inshallah (God willing)
Characteristics | Camels; pyramids; deserts; fezzes; turbans; baksheesh; bush moustaches; incessant honking; tour guides; tacky King Tut souvenirs
Surprises | The pyramids at Giza get all the attention, but Egypt boasts dozens of pyramids; visit the massive Bent Pyramid at Dashour and you might have it all to yourself.