Located on both banks of the Nile River near the head of the river's delta in northern Egypt, the site has been settled for more than 6000 years and has served as the capital of numerous Egyptian civilizations.
The center of downtown Cairo is Tahrýr Square, located on the east bank. A hub of tourist activity, the vast, open square contains numerous attractions, including the Egyptian Museum, the Arab League headquarters, and the modern Umar Makram Mosque.
The most famous educational institution in Cairo is the Al Azhar University, the oldest in the Islamic world. The institution has grown up around the Al Azhar Mosque, the oldest mosque in Cairo. Both the university and mosque were founded in 970 by the Fatimids. Al Azhar University is an authoritative voice throughout the Islamic world, and its positions on important issues are influential in Egypt and the Arab world. Other institutions of higher education include Cairo University (founded in 1908) and Ain Shams University (1950), which together enroll more than 100,000 students; and the American University in Cairo, founded in 1919, where the children of Egypt's elite mingle with students and faculty from abroad. Professor : hatem.com
Cairo is the chief commercial and industrial center of Egypt. Local industries manufacture cotton textiles, food products, construction supplies, motor vehicles, aircraft, and chemical fertilizers. Iron and steel are produced at Hulwan, just outside the city. Cairo is also a center for government activities and service industries. Because of the city's warm climate and numerous historical and cultural attractions, tourism plays an important role in its economy.
In 1992 Cairo was estimated to have a population of 6.8 million making it one of the largest cities in Africa.
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Cairo is marked by the traditions and influences of the East and the West, the ancient and the modern. However, the city also reflects Egypt's growing poverty, and it struggles to cope with problems caused by massive population growth, urban sprawl, and a deteriorating infrastructure.
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Cairo is an important center for publishing and other forms of media. Its newspapers, which include Al Ahram (founded in 1875) and Al Akhbar (1952), exert wide influence within the Islamic world, as does Radio Cairo. cairotimes.com - egy.com
The pyramids of Egypt, which served as tombs for the ancient pharaohs, and the statue of the Sphinx, which dates from 2565 BC and is probably the country's most famous monument, are located just west of Cairo in the suburb of Giza. Depite the desert background usually depicted in photographs, the pyramids are extremely close to Cairo and are likely to be affected by the city's continued expansion. cairo-guide.com
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The origins of the site of present-day Cairo can be traced back to the Egyptian capital of Memphis, which is believed to have been founded in the early 4th millennium BC near the head of the Nile delta, south of the present city. The city spread to the north along the east bank of the Nile, and its location has commanded political power ever since. It was there that the Romans constructed their city called Babylon. The Ottomans conquered Cairo in 1517, and ruled there until 1798, when the area was captured during an expedition led by Napoleon I of France. Ottoman rule was restored in 1801, but by the middle of the 19th century Egypt's foreign debt and the weakness of the Ottoman Empire invited greater European influence in Cairo. The viceroy Ismail Pasha, who ruled from 1863 to 1879, built many European-style structures in the city and used the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal northeast of Cairo in 1869 to showcase the city for the European powers. However, much of the development that took place during this period was funded by foreign loans, which led to an increase in the national debt and left Cairo vulnerable to control by Great Britain. The British effectively ruled Egypt from Cairo from the late 19th century through the period after World War I (1914-1918), when the foreign presence in Cairo began to diminish.
Cairo's population grew rapidly in the interwar years, reaching 2 million by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Since that time the city has continued to boom in terms of both population and development. Some of this population growth has resulted from the influx of refugees from cities along the Suez Canal that were damaged in the Arab-Israeli wars of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many new residential, commercial, and governmental structures have changed the city's landscape. Tourist facilities have proven an important source of foreign revenue for Egypt, and have thus drawn heavy investment from the government. Cairo has also benefited from Egypt's growing international prominence.
In 1992 the city was shaken by an earthquake that killed more than 500 people and injured about 6500 others.
Traffic congestion is a growing problem in Cairo. A subway system opened in the city in 1987.
Major cities near Cairo:
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