Now the capital of modern day Egypt, Cairo is a hub in the junction of three major continents – Asia, Africa and Europe. The largest city in Africa, Cairo is home to 8 million people (about one-tenth of the Egyptian population), most of which are Muslim.
The Triumphant City, Cairo, known officially as Al-Qāhirah is one of the world’s largest cities and promises many sites to see for visitors. It is the administrative capital of Egypt and, and is very close to almost every Egyptian pyramid, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza on the very edge of the city.
Cairo, Egypt is a spectaculay city full of life and movement, and it is always that way almost 24 hours every day, with the noisy beeping of horns, children playing in the streets and merchants selling their items and services. And here, modern Egyptians feel most at home in this powerful, modern and yet ancient city.
Cairo, Egypt offers great culture, including art galleries and music halls, including the Cairo Opera House.
As well it should, Cairo being one of the largest cities in the world.
It also offers some of the grandest hotel accommodations and restaurants in the world, such as the Four Seasons and the Cairo Marriott.
Cairo provides locals and tourists alike an incredible selection of shopping, leisure and nightlife activities. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalili souk, (or bazaar) mostly unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centers showcasing the latest fashions.
All the wealth of the East can be seen here. Particular good buys are spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass and copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics and mashrabiya. Sample some of the famous street markets, like Wekala al-Balaq, for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers Bazaar for appliqué-work, visit Mohammed Ali Street for musical instruments and, although you probably won’t want to buy, the Camel Market makes a memorable trip. This part of the word has been for over a thousand years, a true shopper’s paradise.
Cairo’s city streets are redolent with black-and-white taxis (usually Fiats or Ladas) so getting a cab is never a problem. Simply stand at the side of the road and at the sight of an approaching taxi point one hand towards the road.
The taxi driver will slowly go past you. When he does, yell out a district or landmark near your destination (eg. “Al-Azhar”) and if the driver wants to take you there, he will stop for you.
Single males should sit in the front seat next to the driver. It is customary for single females to stay in the back seat. Once in the cab, name your specific destination. Only newbies discuss price at this point, as to do so ensures that the driver will spend the entire trip negotiating for a high fare. If the driver insists on knowing how much you will pay, give him your price. If he does not agree with you, you can get out and find another cab.
Meters are usually turned off or not in use. The meter rate is really a disadvantage for taxi drivers as it is really too low, having been installed years ago and not in-keeping with the rising costs of operation. This is why Cairenes ignore the meter and instead pay the going market rate for the distance covered.
It is not unusual for taxis to pick up extra passengers going in the same direction, so don’t be afraid if you should find yourself sharing the ride.
From its inception, the economy of Cairo has been based in governmental functions, commerce, trade and industrial production. Large-scale modern industrialization has built up the textile industry since the 1920s, which uses the famous Egyptian cotton as the staple ingredient. Food processing is another big industry, whereby canning and freezing the wide variety of fruits and vegetables grown in the fertile Nile Delta has grown to a consistently successful sector. Processing tobacco and sugarcane grown in Upper Egypt remains a hopping business, too. In addition to the production of iron and steel, Egypt also produces some of its own end products such as cars and refrigerators.
Finally, not to be overlooked is the ever-growing tourism industry, for which it is likely Egypt and her mysteries will remain prominent on the global stage.
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Egypt Cairo History
The beginnings of the site of today’s Cairo can be tracked back to when the capital of Egypt was Memphis, which is said to have been founded in the beginning of the 4th millennium BC near the head of the banks of the Nile delta which was south of the current Cairo. The city spread to the north along the east bank of the Nile, and its present situation has attracted political dominance ever since.
It was in Cairo that the Romans built their city named Babylon. The area was later known as Al Fustat by Arab Muslims who relocated there from the Arabian Peninsula in 641 AD.
When a rebellious branch of Muslims known as the Fatimids took over Egypt in 969, they built their seat of government in the city and named it Al Qāhira (Cairo). The 12th century saw the Christian Crusaders attack Cairo, but they lost to the Muslim army from Syria which was led by Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty in the city.The Mamluks built their capital in Cairo in the 13th century, and the city became famous throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.
The decline of Cairo occurred after the middle of the 14th century when the bubonic plague known as the Black Death hit the city, killing hundreds, causing a decline in population. In 1517 the Ottomans invaded and conquered Cairo until Napoleon I of France captured the city during an expedition in 1798. But years later, Ottoman rule was restored in 1801.
Egyptian foreign debt by the middle of the 19th century and the decline of the Ottoman Empire attracted greater European influence in Cairo. Ismail Pasha, the viceroy who ruled from 1863 to 1879, constructed many European-style buildings and monuments in Cairo and took the opportunity of the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal northeast of Cairo in 1869 to display the city for the European powers.
Unfortunately, much of the improvements that happened during this time were funded by foreign loans, which caused an increase in the country’s debt and left the capital a “sitting duck” to British dominance. Great Britain consequently ruled the country from Cairo from the second half of the 19th century through the time after World War I from 1914 to 1918 when the colonial presence in Cairo started to lessen.
During the interwar years, Cairo’s population grew rapidly reaching over 2 million by the start of World War II in 1939. Since then, Cairo has continued to progress in terms of both population and development. In part, this population growth was a result of the influx of immigrants from cities along the Suez Canal that were destroyed in the 1960s and late 1970s during the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The city’s landscape has been modified by many new residential, commercial, and governmental structures. Tourism has become an important source of foreign revenue for the country, and as a result has drawn a lot of investment from the government.
The city has also progressed from Egypt’s growing international distinction. The birth in 1945 of the Arab League made Cairo a political capital. Egypt’s ongoing efforts in the Middle East peace process has also helped put the country on the map.
The assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 by Islamic fundamentalists within the army was a tragic event for the city as it happened during a military parade. The 1992 earthquake that hit the city caused a fatality of more than 500 and injured about 6500 others.