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Sunday, 20 October 2013


Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in Africa with a metropolitan population of over 19 million.

It is situated on the east bank of the River Nile eight miles above the apex of the delta and 100 miles from the Mediterranean.

Cairo has long been settled. In the 4th century Romans built a fortress down on the banks of the Nile river .

In 641, Muslims took control of the area and founded the city of El Fustat (Old Cairo) moving its capital there from Alexandria.

In 969 El Azhar, a Muslim university and mosque was founded at El Fustat. From its inception it has been a significant influence in Muslim higher education. It is said to be the oldest university in the world.

A  new city was built by the Fatimid ruler Gowhar north of El Fustat in about 1000 to serve as its capital. The city was called Al-Qahira, which translates to Cairo.

In 1168 the Crusaders entered Egypt and El Fustat was intentionally burned down to prevent the destruction of Cairo. Under the Mamelukes (1250–1517) the city prospered.

Cairo's growth began to slow beginning in 1348 and lasting into the early 1500s due to the outbreak of numerous plagues and the discovery of a sea route around the Cape of Good Hope, which allowed European spice traders to avoid Cairo on their routes east.

Cairo became the capital of the virtually-autonomous kingdom of Egypt established by Mehmet Ali in 1805

In 1882 the British entered the region and economic center of Cairo moved closer to the Nile. At that time 5% of Cairo's population was European.

The intercontinental airline service made its debut in 1927. The flight, by Imperial Airways, was from London to Cairo.

During World War II Cairo was the headquarters of the Allied forces in north Africa.

In 1952 much of Cairo was burned in a series of riots and anti-government protests.

The Cairo Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1970. Ironically the Cairo fire station was located inside the same building.

On January 25, 2011 over 20,000 protesters entered the streets of Cairo protesting over Egypt's government. The protests continued for several weeks and hundreds were killed and/or wounded as both anti and pro-government demonstrators clashed.

As of 2006 Cairo's population density was 44,522 people per square mile (17,190 people per sq km). This makes it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. .

With the attractions of the pyramids and sphinx at Giza and the Egyptian museum, which has one of the world's leading archaeological collections, Cairo has a very substantial tourist industry.

Cairo's film and publishing industries serve most of the Middle East.

Its metro is one of the busiest in the world and it is the only one in Africa.

Sources, Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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