Egypt, Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: Misr, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and the Sinai Peninsula in the southwest corner of Asia. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip of Palestine to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. The Gulf of Aqaba in the northeast separates Egypt from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Cairo is the capital and largest city of Egypt, while Alexandria, the second-largest city, is an important industrial and tourist hub at the Mediterranean coast. At approximately plus 100 million inhabitants, Egypt is the 14th most populated country in the world, and the third most populated in Africa, behind Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage along the Nile Delta back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which reflects its unique transcontinental location being simultaneously Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century.
Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About 43% of Egypt's residents live across the country's urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centers of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, and the largest city on the Mediterranean coast. Founded in c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great, Alexandria grew rapidly and became a major centre of Hellenic civilization, eventually replacing Memphis, in present-day Greater Cairo, as Egypt's capital. Called the "Bride of the Mediterranean" internationally, Alexandria is a popular tourist destination and an important industrial centre due to its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.
The city extends about 40 km (25 mi) along the northern coast of Egypt, and is the largest city on the Mediterranean, the second-largest in Egypt after Cairo, the fourth-largest city in the Arab world, the ninth-largest city in Africa, and the ninth-largest urban area in Africa.
Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library, the largest in the ancient world; and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the intellectual and cultural centre of the ancient Mediterranean for much of the Hellenistic age and late antiquity. It was at one time the largest city in the ancient world before being eventually overtaken by Rome.
The city was a major centre of early Christianity and was the centre of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which was one of the major centers of Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire. In the modern world, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria both lay claim to this ancient heritage. By 641, the city had already been largely plundered and lost its significance before re-emerging in the modern era. From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major centre of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centers in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean and Red Seas and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.