Written by José Roberto Maluf, President of the General Committee and International Relations of the WOCA 2019
It was surely history class that awoke our curiosity for the wonders of Egypt. Our imaginations soared in an attempt to understand just what kind of ancient people were able to build such wonderous monuments and acquire so much knowledge on so many different subjects without the aid of modern instruments and machinery. The fact is, 6,000 years ago, one of humankind’s oldest civilizations was flourishing, developing a rich and fascinating history, filled with archaeological mystery and treasure and a culture defined chiefly by two geographical features: the Nile River and the Sahara Desert. The extensive Nile River, which runs south-north through a narrow valley in the middle of the desert, gave life to Egypt. It was thanks to its annual floods – the river spilling it banks and fertilizing the soil – that the Egyptians could survive and develop agriculture in such an inhospitable region. Agriculture became the leading economic activity. Cotton, flax, wheat, barley, sesame, vegetables, fruits and olive trees were the main cultivars.
The river also played a fundamental role in transporting people and goods, facilitating trade and interaction with other peoples. As for the desert, it protected the Egyptian people from invasions, forming an effective shield. Egypt’s kings, the pharaohs, were considered descendants of the gods and their absolute power was symbolized through monuments, temples and enormous sculptures. Pyramids like those in Giza are considered some of the oldest monumental structures in the world. These impressive and extraordinary tombs for Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure were erected during the ancient empire and are guarded over by the famous Great Sphinx, with its enormous dimensions, lion’s body and human face. The Egyptians developed a unique style of writing, the hieroglyphs, and built a network of canals for irrigation and drainage, not to mention inventing the plow. They were soldiers, diplomats and good traders.
Ancient Egypt was polytheistic and Ra was worshiped as the most powerful god. They believed in the afterlife and were masters at preserving the body through an embalming technique, known as mummification. Religion regulated every aspects of daily life, with ceremonies for birth, marriage, death and other events that involved society as a whole. The Egyptians left us a rich heritage of advanced knowledge in engineering and architecture, mathematics, geometry, perfumery, pharmacology and medicine. They studied the human body, developed surgical techniques and apparatus, and even went as far as performing brain surgeries. They created everything, from the calendar to the toothpaste.
Egypt was the scene of one of the most important and impressive civilizations of antiquity, between the years 3200 BC and 32 BC, when Roman rule began to spread. From the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the Egyptians were first part of the Ottoman during a movement known as Arab Spring, which erupted around the Arab world, caused by an economic crisis and a lack of democracy.
Mohamed Morsi won the first election after Mubarak and became the first democratically elected civilian president in Egypt. He suffered expressive pressure from the opposition, which accused him of encouraging the “Islamisation” of the country. Morsi was deposed, and in July 2013, Adly Mansour assumed interim leadership. He was the judge who promulgated a new constitution after winning a referendum. A new election was set for May 2014, seeing victory secured by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is the current president of Egypt. Today the Arab Republic of Egypt, located in
northeastern Africa and Southwest Asia, home to the Sinai Peninsula, is bathed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and bordering with Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast.
It is the third most populous country in Africa, home to 95 million people. The official religion is Islam, 90% of Egyptians are considered Muslims and a legislation is based on Islamic law.Arabic is the official language and Cairo is the nation’s capital. The regions along the Nile River, both the valley and the delta, are the most developed areas, in a proportion that sees 99% of the population use only 5.5% of the country’s total 1,001,450 Km2. The rest of the territory is made up of desert and therefore supports only a tiny population. Concentrated in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, the
Nile Delta and near the Suez Canal, the Egyptians have became a very urbanized people. Egypt is the second largest economy in Africa thanks to oil reserves, its main export product, as well as iron, phosphate, natural gas and hydroelectric power. There are considerable coal deposits located along the Sinai Peninsula. In agriculture, the country stands out in textile and food production, as well as rice, wheat, cotton and maize cultivation. The steel, cement and petrochemical industries are also worth highlighting.