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Football is the Popular National Sport of Egypt. Egyptian Football clubs Al-Ahly, El Zamalek, Ismaily, El-Ittihad El-Iskandary and El Masry are the most popular teams and enjoy the reputation of long-time regional champions. The great rivalries keep the streets of Egypt energized as people fill the streets when their favorite team wins. The Cairo Derby is one of the fiercest derbies in Africa and the world, the BBC even picked it as one of the toughest 7 derbies in the world. The Egyptian national football team is ranked among the best in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings. The country is home to many African championships such as the Africa Cup of Nations. While Egypt's national team has not qualified for the FIFA World Cup since 1990, the Egyptian team won the Africa Cup Of Nations an unprecedented seven times, including two times in a row in 1957 and 1959 and an unprecedented three times in a row in 2006, 2008, and 2010 setting a world record.
Facts and Statistics :
Location: North East Africa bordering Palestine (Gaza Strip) 11 km, Israel 266 km, Libya
1,115 km, Sudan 1,273 km
Climate: Desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters
Population: 82,202,428 (October 2012 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Eastern Hamitic stock (Egyptians, Bedouins, and Berbers) 99%, Greek, Nubian,
Armenian, other European (primarily Italian and French) 1%
Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 94%, Coptic Christian and other 6%
Language in Egypt :
For almost 13 centuries Arabic has been the written and spoken language of Egypt. Before the Arab invasion in AD 639, Coptic, the language descended from ancient Egyptian, was the language of both religious and everyday life for the mass of the population; by the 12th century, however, it had been totally replaced by Arabic, continuing only as a liturgical language for the Coptic Orthodox Church. Arabic has become the language of both the Egyptian Christian and Muslim. The written form of the Arabic language, in grammar and syntax, has remained substantially unchanged since the 7th century. In other ways, however, the written language has changed the modern forms of style, word sequence, and phraseology are simpler and more flexible than in classical Arabic and are often directly derivative of English or French.
Egypt Relegion :
Islam is practiced by the majority of Egyptians and governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives. Islam emanated from what is today Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad is seen as the last of God's emissaries (following in the footsteps of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, etc) to bring revelation to mankind. He was distinguished with bringing a message for the whole of mankind, rather than just to a certain peoples. As Moses brought the Torah and Jesus the Bible, Muhammad brought the last book, the Quran. The Quran and the actions of the Prophet (the Sunnah) are used as the basis for all guidance in the religion.
Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day. Friday is the Muslim holy day. Everything is closed. Many companies also close on Thursday, making the weekend Thursday and Friday.
During the holy month of Ramadan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing. Expatriates are not required to fast; however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public.
Each night at sunset, families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (iftar). The festivities often continue well into the night. In general, things happen more slowly during Ramadan. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule. Shops may be open and closed at unusual times.
Christianity is a minority religion in Egypt. Egyptian Christians are known as Copts and account for about 10% of the population. Despite the small proportion of Christians within Egypt, Egypt's Christian population is the largest in terms of absolute numbers in the greater region of the Middle East and North Africa. The history of Christianity in Egypt dates to the Roman era. Alexandria was an early center of Christianity, and from the 4th century until the Islamic conquest of Egypt in 640 A.D., Egypt was almost 100% Christian.
Over 95% of Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and Oriental Orthodox Church. The Coptic Church constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East and has approximately 4 to 8 million followers in Egypt, in addition to 3 to 4 million abroad, but no one really knows since there hs not been a census. 10% is the generally accepted figure, but it may be higher. The actual number may be between 11-13 million according to an article cited in Coptic Christianity in Egypt. The Coptic Orthodox Church is headed by the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy See of Saint Mark, currently Pope Shenouda III. Affiliated sister churches are located in Armenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Lebanon and Syria.
Other native Egyptian Christians are adherents of the Coptic Catholic Church, the Coptic Evangelical Church and various Coptic Protestant denominations. Non-native Christian communities are largely found in the urban regions of Alexandria and Cairo, and are members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Maronite Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, or the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Religious minorities :
Egypt recognizes only three religions; Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Other faiths practiced by Egyptians, such as s small Bahá'í community, are not recognized by the state. Individuals wishing to include such religions on their state issued identifications are denied, and had been put in the position of either not obtaining required identification or lying about their faith. A 2008 court ruling allowed members of unrecognized faiths to obtain identification and leave the religion field blank.
Egyptian culture has six thousand years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations and for millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and other African countries. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity, and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of Egypt's ancient culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself with roots in ancient Egypt.
Egypt is a recognized cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world, and contemporary Arab culture is heavily influenced by Egyptian literature, music, film and television. Egypt gained a regional leadership role during the 1950s and 1960s, which gave a further enduring boost to the standing of Egyptian culture in the Arab world.
Egyptian media are highly influential throughout the Arab World, attributed to large audiences and increasing freedom from government control. Freedom of the media is guaranteed in the constitution; however, many laws still restrict this right. After the Egyptian presidential election of 2005, Ahmed Selim, office director for Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi, declared an era of a "free, transparent and independent Egyptian media."
Today, the Egyptian media is experiencing greater freedom. Several Egyptian Talk shows, like 90 Minutes and Al- Ashera Masa'an, which air on private channels, and even state television programs such as El-beit beitak criticize the Government, which was previously banned.
Literature is an important cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Middle East. The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition. Vernacular poetry is perhaps the most popular literary genre among Egyptians, represented by the works of Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.
Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. In antiquity, Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, including two indigenous instruments: the ney and the oud. Percussion and vocal music also became an important part of the local music tradition ever since. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmud Osman, who influenced the later work of Egyptian music giants such as Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez. From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, while Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other festivities. Some of the most prominent contemporary Egyptian pop singers include Amr Diab and Mohamed Mounir.
Egypt is one of the boldest countries in the middle east in the music industry. The next generation of the Egyptian music is considered to be the rise, as the music was disrupted by some foreign influences, bad admixing, and abused oriental styles. The new arising talents starting from the late 1990s are taking over the rein now as they play different genres of many cultures. Rock And Metal music are prevailing widely in Egypt now,as much as the oriental jazz and folk music are becoming well-known now to the Egyptian and non-Egyptian fans.
Egypt celebrates many festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulid. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by all Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavor in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt during Ramadan to witness the spectacle. The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Coptic: sham en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.
Like any crossroads culture, Egyptian cuisine has picked and chosen those ingredients and food that grow best as well as best meet the flavor and nutritional needs of their people. Bridging Africa and Asia as it does, Egypt has a lot from which to choose.
Tourist hotel meals will offer well prepared if unexciting meat/vegetable/starch entrees but that's not the real food of the real people. To eat "real," you have to eat "street." And Egypt is a culinary adventure. "Eating street" as we define it, doesn't confine itself to standup meals from cart vendors -- it's more the everyday cuisine of the everyday person in the street. These everyday Egyptians eat well. Meats are largely grilled or roasted, whole or minced, with lamb and chicken predominating. You see a lot of cows but they seem to serve more as farm equipment than beef.
The shish kabob style is extremely popular and is served either with or without the skewers but always with traditional accompaniments: greens and tomato salad, tahini sauce and pita bread. So you can stuff your own sandwich if you want. Bread is always whole wheat pita, coated with coarse ground wheat, round, fragrant and sheer heaven when hot from the oven. Often pita plus a dipping sauce, tahini, hummus or babaganoush, makes a fast food meal and a healthy, delicious one at that.
Egyptians have embraced the tomato and we never had one that wasn't bursting with color and flavor. The traditional and ubiquitous salad is chopped tomato, coriander, mint, little hot green peppers (not jalapenos but close) and onions, coated with garlic oil. It's great for digestion but death on the breath. Bring mints. Other veggies that grow well and show up all the time include beans, mostly chick pea and fava, which are eaten stewed for breakfast, hearty stewed for lunch and dinner and ground and pasted for tahini and hummus with great amounts of garlic.
Grilled pigeon is the acclaimed delicacy and like any small game bird is long on flavor but short on ease of eating. Fish on the Red Sea, perch and tuna, both fried, but flavorful without excess oil.
Middle Eastern desserts are nothing special; they do bake but, to the Western taste, figs, date and nut fillings in largely unsweetened dough isn't a dessert. Better to eat the fresh figs, dates (of which there must be 200 different types and grades), oranges and pomegranates without baked modifications. Speaking of fruit, juice bars abound in the streets and fresh squeezed oranges sweetened with cut sugar cane is heaven in a hot climate.
Beverages. In a Moslem country alcohol is frowned on and is wildly expensive to tourists. But Stella, the local beer, is mild, not overly "beery" and comes in huge bottles which is handy to quench the permanent thirst in the desert climate. Tea,Coffe and karkadaih "hibiscus" are traditional drinks in Egypt.