Cairo, Egypt’s sprawling capital, name that means "the victorious city" - is set on the Nile River. At its heart is Tahrir Square and the vast Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities including royal mummies and gilded King Tutankhamun artifacts. Nearby, Giza is the site of the iconic pyramids and Great Sphinx, dating to the 26th century BC. In Gezira Island’s leafy Zamalek district, 187m Cairo Tower affords panoramic city views.
Greater Cairo is spread across three of Egypt's administrative governorates. The northeastern part is known as Kaliobia Governorate, while the west bank is part of the governorate of Giza and the eastern parts and southeastern parts are other governorates known as Cairo governorate. The three districts are collectively known as greater Cairo.
The city is marked by the traditions and influences of the East and the West, both the ancient and the modern. However, Cairo also reflects Egypt's growing poverty and it struggles to cope with problems caused by massive population growth, urban sprawl and deteriorating infrastructure and public services.
Because present-day Cairo is located near the Nile River, it has long been settled. In the 4th century, for example, Romans built a fortress down on the banks of the river called Babylon. In 641, Muslims took control of the area and moved its capital from Alexandria to the new, growing city of Cairo. At this time it was called Fustat and the region became a center of Islam. In 750, though, the capital was moved slightly north of Fustat but by the 9th century, it was moved back.
In 969, the Egypt-area was taken from Tunisia and a new city was built north of Fustat to serve as its capital. The city was called Al-Qahira, which translates to Cairo. Shortly after its construction, Cairo was to become the center of education for the area. Despite Cairo's growth, however, most of Egypt's governmental functions were in Fustat. In 1168, though the Crusaders entered Egypt and Fustat was intentionally burned down to prevent the destruction of Cairo. At that time, Egypt's capital was then moved to Cairo and by 1340 its population had grown to nearly 500,000 and it was a growing trading center.
In the mid-to late 1800s, Cairo began to modernize and in 1882 the British entered the region and economic center of Cairo moved closer to the Nile. Also at that time, 5% of Cairo's population was European and from 1882 to 1937, its total population grew to over one million. In 1952 however, much of Cairo was burned in a series of riots and anti-government protests. Shortly thereafter, Cairo began to again grow rapidly and today its city population is over six million, while its metropolitan population is over 19 million. In addition, several new developments have been built nearby as satellite cities of Cairo.
Cairo is the economic center of Egypt and much of the Egypt's industrial products are either created in the city or pass through it on the Nile River. Despite its economic success, its rapid growth has meant that city services and infrastructure cannot keep up with demand. As a result, many of the buildings and roads in Cairo are very new. Cairo is also the center of the Egyptian education system and there are a large number of universities in or near the city. Some of the largest are Cairo University, the American University in Cairo and Ain Shams University.
The climate of Cairo is desert but it can also get very humid due to the proximity of the Nile River. Wind storms are also common and dust from the Sahara Desert can pollute the air in March and April. Precipitation from rainfall is sparse but when it does occur, flash flooding is not uncommon. The average July high temperature for Cairo is 94.5˚F (35˚C) and the average January low is 48˚F (9˚C).
Address: Airport Rd, Cairo Governorate 11432, Egypt. Airport Code: CAI. Elevation: 381'. Province: Cairo.
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