Egypt: full name, the Arab Republic of Egypt; Gumhuria Misr al-Arabia

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Egypt: (full name, the Arab Republic of Egypt; Gumhuria Misr al-Arabia)


Egypt is a state in the Near East, occupying northeastern Africa and the Sinai Peninsula in Asia. On the west it is bordered by Libya, on the south by the Sudan, and on the northeast by Israel and the territory allotted by the UN in 1947 for the creation of an Arab state. On the north Egypt is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east by the Red Sea and the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. Egypt is located at the crossroads of the sea and air routes linking Europe and America with Asia and East Africa. The Suez Canal, the shortest sea route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, runs through Egypt.

The area of Egypt is 1,001,400 sq km, of which about 96 percent is desert. In 1971 the population was 34 million. The capital is Cairo. In 1972, Egypt was administratively divided into 25 muhafazat (governorates).

Egypt is a republic, and since 1971 it has been a member of the Federation of Arab Republics. Its constitution was ap-proved in a referendum held on Sept. 11, 1971. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the citizens for six years, with the right to be reelected for a second term. The president determines the general policies of the state, appoints the chairman of the government (the Council of Ministers), his deputies, and the members of the government; appoints and removes civilian and military officials as well as diplomatic representatives; issues decrees and resolutions; proclaims states of emergency and war; and has the right to grant pardons and conclude and ratify international treaties. He is the supreme commander in chief of the armed forces. The Council of National Defense is headed by the president.

The highest legislative body is the unicameral People’s Assembly, which consists of at least 350 deputies elected by the citizens for a five-year term. (The president may appoint ten deputies.) All citizens at least 21 years old have the right to vote. The People’s Assembly confirms the general plan for the socioeconomic development of Egypt and the state budget, and it adopts laws on major economic and political issues.

The Council of Ministers exercises executive authority jointly with the presdent. The muhafazat are headed by governors appointed by the central government. The local governmental bodies are the people’s councils of the muhafazat, cities, and villages.

The constitution declares that the principles of Muslim law are the basic source of legislation. The judicial system consists of central and local courts of the first and second instance, and there are provisions for the creation of special courts (for example, state security tribunals). There is a State Council—a judicial body for the consideration of administrative disputes and disciplinary actions. The supreme constitutional court supervises the constitutionality of laws and the interpretation of legislative norms. The procurator is responsible for adoption of measures for the protection of rights of citizens, for the observance of the laws, and for the security of the society and the integrity of the political system.

The country’s subtropical and tropical location, and negligible precipitation have produced an arid climate and a region of desert and semidesert. Economic activity is concentrated in the valley and delta of the Nile—about 3 percent of the area of the country—in isolated oases, and in various coastal sections.

West of the Nile Delta the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (approximately 1,000 km long) is low, rocky, and steep; east of the delta, it is low and sloping, with sandbars. In the delta, it is low and lagoonal. The Red Sea coast (approximately 1,900 km long) is primarily narrow beaches bordered by steep mountains; the coast is fringed with a broad band of coral reefs.

Terrain. Most of the country is made up of plateaus with elevations from 300 to 1,000 m—the plateaus of the Libyan desert (about two-thirds of the area of Egypt), the Arabian Desert, and the Nubian Desert. In the northern and eastern Libyan Desert, stony detritic surfaces (hammadas andserir) with belts of ridged sands up to 650 km long prevail. In the west there is a vast sand sea, with barchans up to 300 m high. The Nile Valley lies between the stony precipitous plateaus of the Libyan and Arabian deserts. Within Egypt the Nile is about 1,200 km long, and its width ranges from 1–3 km in the south to 20–25 km in the north. The plateau gradually rises to 2,000 m toward the east, falling off toward the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez.

In the northeast lies a detached land mass, the Sinai Peninsula—the highest part of the country (Mount Katrinah, 2,637 m). The major depressions are near coastal areas and sections adjoining the Nile, primarily in the northwest, where there are depressions below sea level (the Qattarah, 133 m; the Fayyum, 43 m).


Geological structure and mineral resources. Egypt is located in the northeastern part of the African Platform. The greater southeastern part of the country is occupied by the slope of the Nubian-Arabian shield of the platform, which includes the elevation of the Eastern Desert, the Nile syneclise, and the Nubian anteclise. The northwest lies in the Libyan-Sinai zone of subsidences, including the Libyan-Egyptian syneclise and the Syrian arc of folding. Among the discontinuous dislocations are the northwest-southeast, southwest-northeast, latitudinal, and meridional fractures. The fractures bordering the grabens of the Red Sea and the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba belong to the East African system.

The foundation of the platform is made up of gneisses, crystalline shales, volcanic lavas, Precambrian granites, conglomerates, and graywackes, faulted by granites whose absolute age is 430–460 million years. Basement rocks, submerging in the northwest, are covered by sedimentary deposits. Prevalent in the south are formations of Nubian sandstones of the Jurassic-Campanian stage, marine clays with streaks of limestones of the Maastricht-Lower Eocene, and limestones of the Lower Middle Eocene. In the north limestones, sandstones, and clays of the Upper Paleozoic-Lower Cretaceous and limestones of the Lower and Middle Cretaceous-Eocene prevail. Oligocene-Pliocene marine sandstones, clays, lime-stones, and gypsums unconformably cover all the older formations. Continental sands, conglomerates, and clays of the Pliocene-Anthropogenic system fill the valley of the Nile and the depressions. Iron, zinc, lead, tin, molybdenum, chromium, nickel, beryllium, tantalum, niobium, and gold ores have been found in the Precambrian rocks of the shield, and there are deposits of talc. Associated with deposits of the platform mantle are beds of phosphorites (Tharthur, Mahamid, Quseir, and Safajah; total reserves in 1971, 2.5 billion tons), iron ores (Aswan and al-Bahriyah; 371 million tons), coal (Maghara; 51,800,000 tons), manganic ores (Sharm ash-Shaykh and Umm Bugma), and deposits of gypsum, salt, and building materials. There are deposits of oil and gas associated with the anticlinal folds of the zone of shield subsidences and with the block structures of the grabens of the Gulf of Suez. Reserves of oil total approximately 650 million tons (1969).


Climate. A desert climate prevails, with sharp daily fluctuations of temperature. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) ranges from 11° to 12°C in the north to 15° to 16°C in the south. The average temperature of the warmest month (July) ranges from 25° to 26°C in the north to 30° to 34°C in the south. The annual total of average daily temperatures is 7,000°-9,000°, which, with sufficient moisture, ensures the cultivation of several harvests of agricultural crops during the year, including those that need the most warmth. However, the total annual precipitation in most of Egypt is less than 100 mm, which makes agriculture impossible without irrigation. Only in certain areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea does the annual precipitation total 200–400 mm, falling primarily in the winter. In the spring comes the strong, dry, hot southerly or southwesterly wind—the khamsin—which blows from the Sahara for about 50 days.

Rivers and lakes. The only permanent river and the main source of water is the Nile, which flows into the Mediterranean. The Yusuf branch carries some of the Nile’s waters to Lake Birket Qarun. At its estuary the Nile forms a delta whose area is approximately 24,000 sq km. The delta has numerous branches and lakes linked to the sea. After construction of the Aswan High Dam in the south, the large Nasser Reservoir was formed (volume, 164 billion cu m). Flood time on the Nile comes in late summer and autumn; however, the level of the river is regulated to a considerable degree by a system of dams in Egypt and the Sudan. There are substantial supplies of underground water, some of which is used in such oases as al-Kharijah, ad-Dakhilah, al-Farafirah, al-Bahriyah, and Siwah.

Soils and flora. Because of the extremely arid climate, the soils and flora of Egypt are very poorly developed. With the exception of the Nile Valley, its delta, and cultivated oases, many regions are devoid of a solid vegetative cover. Weakly developed skeletal soils and solonchaks are found. The soils of the valley and delta of the Nile, which are composed of ancient and modern alluvia, have the greatest value. They are partially replenished with nutrients during flood time. However, as agriculture shifts from the basin system of irrigation to the permanent system, here is an increasing need for artificial fertilizers. There are various species of grasses and xerophytic shrubs in the semideserts and deserts.

Fauna. The fauna of Egypt is richest in the Nile Delta, where many birds are found, including permanent species and those that migrate from Europe for the winter (for example, storks, herons, pelicans, flamingos, and wild ducks). The Nile perch, tiger fish, sheatfish, and balti are among the fish inhabiting the Nile. In the deserts and semideserts there are numerous reptiles (snakes and lizards), insects, and various species of mammals, including jackals and hyenas. The Nubian goat is protected in the Wadi-Rishrash Preserve southeast of Cairo.

Natural regions. The Nile Valley is artificially irrigated and cultivated. The Nile Delta, also cultivated, is irrigated naturally and has lakes and various swamp areas. The diversity of the relief in the Libyan Desert is a result of the shifting sands. In the Arabian Desert and the northern Nubian Desert, stony and detritic formations prevail on dissected plateaus and elevations. The Mediterranean coast is a low-lying plain with various Mediterranean natural features and is, to a considerable degree, cultivated. The Sinai Peninsula—a semidesert region bounded by faults occupied by the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba—has seasonal streams (wadis) and the sparse vegetation that grows along their banks.


Most of the population (over 98 percent in 1970) is Arab (Egyptian). The approximately 300,000 Nubians live north of Aswan in the Nile Valley, the Bedouins (nomadic cattle raisers) live in the deserts on the coast of the Red Sea, and small groups of Berbers live in the Siwah oasis. Emigres from various countries of Europe and Asia (Armenians, Syrians, Greeks, Italians, French, and English) live in the cities. The official language is Arabic. The state religion is Sunni Islam. Some Egyptians (5 percent) follow Christianity (the Copts). The official calendar is the lunar hejirah, but the Gregorian and Coptic calendars are also used.

Egypt has a high rate of natural population growth—about 2.5 percent a year. About 50 percent of the inhabitants are below age 20. In 1968–69 the economically active population totaled 8,051,000. Significant changes in the class composition of the population took place after the revolution of 1952. The policy of industrialization pursued by the government resulted in the growth of the working class, especially between 1960 and 1970. In 1969, 49 percent of the economically active population was employed in agriculture (in 1950, 57 percent), 11 percent in industry (in 1950, 8 percent), 0.25 percent in the power industry, 4 percent in construction, 4 percent in transportation and communications, 10 percent in finance and commerce, and 22 percent in other branches of industry.

The undermining of large-scale feudal land ownership and the restrictions on landowning changed the social composition of the countryside. In 1965 wage laborers numbered 4,182,000, of whom 1,303,000 were employed in agriculture, 756,000 in industry (including the power industry), 328,000 in construction, and 1,795,000 in maintenance and services. Most Egyptians are fellahin (farmers). According to various estimates, the number of nomadic cattle raisers fluctuates between 50,000 and 100,000 or more.

The population is distributed extremely unevenly, with about 99 percent concentrated in the Nile Delta and Nile Valley, the Suez Canal Zone, and the oases, where the average density reaches 1,000 inhabitants per sq km. About 57 percent of the population is rural. Its relative proportion has decreased as the urban population has increased (20 percent in 1897, 24.9 percent in 1937, 31 percent in 1947, 37.9 percent in 1960, and 43.2 percent in 1970).

In 1970 there were 17 cities with populations over 100,000. The largest were Cairo (4,961,000), Alexandria (2,032,000), Giza (712,000), Port Said (313,000), and Suez (315,000).

Egypt is one of the earliest seats of human civilization. (See EGYPT, ANCIENT.)

Table 1. Administrative divisions
MuhafazahArea (sq km.)Population (thou.; census of 1966)Administrative center
Bani Suwayf..........1,313928Bani Suwayf
Kafr ash Shaykh..........3,4921,118Kafr ash-
Red Sea..........202,68538al-Ghurdaqah
Minuf..........1,5141,458Shibin al Kawm
New Valley..........296,20759al-Kharijah
Port Said..........397283Port Said

Period of the formation and dominance of feudal relations (fourth through mid-19th century). In 395, after the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Egypt became a province of Byzantium. Large-scale land ownership prevailed in the economy of the province, where land was held by the Byzantine emperor, the local aristocracy, and Coptic monasteries. By the early seventh century, virtually the entire population of Egypt (the Copts) had adopted Monophysitic Christianity, which was hostile to the official Byzantine Orthodox Church. Egypt was conquered by the Arabs between 639 and 642 and was made part of the Arab Caliphate. The native Coptic population, which had suffered from the exploitation of the large landowners and had been persecuted by the Byzantine authorities and Orthodox clergy, did not resist the Arabs but often supported them. After they conquered Egypt, the Arabs did not alter the early feudal relationships existing there. They did not infringe upon the rights of the local landowners but obligated them to pay taxes to the treasury of the vicegerent.

The landholdings of the Byzantine emperors were proclaimed, the property of the Muslim community—that is, state lands—and the peasants (fellahin) who worked them were to pay a land tax (the haraj) to the authorities of the caliphate. The tax department remained in the hands of the former Coptic employees. As early as the seventh century a substantial number of Egyptians converted to Islam; how-ever, the process of conversion lasted for a number of centuries. At the same time, the Arabic language spread, and by the late 17th century, the Coptic language survived only in the divine service of Egyptian Christians.

With the disintegration of the Abbasid Caliphate, which began in the late eighth and the ninth centuries, Egypt achieved de facto independence. The country was ruled by the Tulunid dynasty from 868 to 905 and, after a short-lived restoration of the caliph (905–935), by the Ikhshidid dynasty (935–969). The economic and political importance of Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean increased greatly under the Fatimids (909–1171; in Egypt, from 969). In the second half of the tenth and the 11th century, irrigated farming, animal husbandry, and handicrafts were significantly developed. Most of the articles produced by craftsmen were exported to Southwest Asia, providing substantial income for the Egyptian treasury.

In 1171 power in Egypt passed to Salah-al-Din (Saladin), the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Under the Ayyubids (1171–1250) most state land was turned into iqta, the rent from which went to small and middle feudal lords as compensation for military service. The Ayyubid sultans surrounded themselves with a guard made up of Mamelukes (slave warriors). Between 1217 and 1221 the Ayyubids repelled the onslaught of the Crusaders against Egypt. In 1250 the commanders of the Mamelukes seized power in Egypt and created a strong army. Mameluke military leaders seized the best lands, state handicraft enterprises, and the income from customs. The Mameluke state experienced an economic upsurge during the second half of the 13th and the early 14th century, maintaining lively trade relations with Europe and the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. In the 14th century the Mameluke feudal lords acquired unlimited power on their estates, extracting rents arbitrarily and enjoying administrative and judicial immunity. The expansion of the power of the Mameluke beys was accompanied by an increase in the predatory exploitation of the peasantry. In the second half of the 14th and the 15th century, the incidence of famine and epidemics increased, and the population of the country declined.

The Mameluke state, which had repelled the attack of Timur in the early 15th century, fell under the attacks of the Turkish conquerors. In 1517 the Turkish sultan Selim I annexed Egypt to the Ottoman Empire. The lands of the Mameluke sultans and the Mamelukes who had actively fought against the Turks were confiscated and became the property of the Turkish sultan. The actual owners of the land were the multazimin—tax farmers of state lands. Primarily representatives of the upper strata of Arabic tribes and the commanders of Turkish troops, they contributed a portion of the rent to the Turkish pasha, the vicegerent of the sultan in Egypt, but enjoyed the right of uncontrolled exploitation of the peasants who were dependent on them. The weakening of the Ottoman Empire that began in the late 17th century permitted the Mamelukes to achieve a de facto gain in their political power in Egypt in the early 18th century. The Mameluke ruler Ali Bey proclaimed the country’s independence, taking the title of sultan of Egypt, but in 1772 he was overthrown. After his death, a struggle for power developed among local Mameluke groupings. The arbitrary rule of the Mameluke beys and their robbery of the fellahin, artisans, and merchants resulted in the economic decline to the country. These developments gave rise to a popular movement against the Turkish and Mameluke oppressors. (The most significant event was an uprising in Cairo under Omar Makram in 1795).

At the end of the 18th century Egypt was occupied by French forces. The occupation regime provoked discontent among the Egyptian people, which was manifested by uprisings in Cairo in 1798 and 1800 and by partisan war in the provinces. In 1801 the French surrendered to Anglo-Turkish forces, and the authority of the Ottoman Empire was formally reestablished in Egypt. There were popular uprisings against the Turkish janissaries and the Mameluke feudal lords in Cairo in 1804–05. The uprising of 1805, which was supported by the commander of one of the units of the Turkish Army, the Albanian Muhammad Ali, was victorious. In May 1805 the Cairo clergy proclaimed Muhammad Ali ruler of Egypt. The new ruler dealt summarily with the leaders of the uprising and then proceeded to destroy the Mameluke feudal lords (1811). Beginning in 1829 he distributed the liberated lands and the fellahin inhabiting them to his relatives and retainers, thus contributing to the emergence of a new feudal landlord class.

Under Muhammad Ali, a state monopoly over the sale of agricultural crops was established. The production of export crops (cotton, sugarcane, and indigo) increased significantly. Between 1816 and 1820 the system of state monopolies was extended to industry, handicrafts, and domestic and foreign trade. During the 1820’s and 1830’s secular schools of the European type were opened, and the introduction of the scientific and technical achievements of Europe was encouraged. The first books were printed in Egypt, and the first Egyptian newspaper began publication in 1827.

Substantial money was spent to establish a regular army of about 200,000 men on the basis of compulsory service. The army was used for conquests in Arabia (1811–18) and the Sudan (1820–22). Between 1824 and 1828, Egyptian troops participated with Turkish forces in the struggle against the Greek national liberation revolution of 1821–29. At the battle of Navarino in 1827 the Egyptian-Turkish fleet was smashed, and Egyptian forces were withdrawn from Greece.

Attempting to end Egypt’s vassalage to Turkey, Muhammad Ali began a war against Turkey in 1831 which culminated in the defeat of Turkish forces. The sultan recognized Muhammad Ali’s right to govern Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the pashalik of Adana. During the second war between Egypt and Turkey (1839–40), Great Britain and Austria supported the Turkish sultan. In the autumn of 1840 a British landing force disembarked in Syria, an Anglo-Austrian squadron blockaded Egyptian ports, and the British fleet threatened Alexandria. Despite his military successes, Muhammad Ali was forced to capitulate because of anti-Egyptian uprisings in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine and because of the intervention of the European powers. Only Egypt and the eastern Sudan remained his hereditary possessions. The Egyptian Army was reduced to 18,000 men, and the Anglo-Turkish treaty of 1838 on freedom of trade for European merchants in the Ottoman Empire was extended to Egypt. This undermined the state monopoly over foreign and domestic trade and caused the decline of Egyptian industry.

The origin of capitalist relations under conditions of the incipient enslavement of the country by Anglo-French capital (mid-19th century-1882). The systematic penetration of Egypt by British and French capital, beginning in the late 1840’s, resulted in the country’s economic and financial enslavement. Under Abbas Pasha (ruled 1849–54), manufactories and secular schools were closed. Under conditions that were extremely disadvantageous to Egypt, the British were granted a concession to lay a railroad from Alexandria to Suez and Cairo. (The railroad was built in 1857.) Egypt’s financial enslavement was reinforced as a result of the construction of the Suez Canal, which was completed in 1869.

Beginning in the 1860’s the growing demand for Egyptian cotton resulted in the expansion of crop area and irrigation, the construction of cotton-ginning plants and railroads, and a considerable growth of the urban population. The law on the rights of owners to sell and mortgage land, which was promulgated in 1858 by Said Pasha (1854–63), promoted the development of private landed property and commodity-money relations in agriculture. At the same time, tax reform was carried out, including the substitution of a cash tax for the tax in kind and the introduction of taxation of peasant households on an individual basis.

Under Ismail Pasha (ruled 1863–79), Egypt achieved significant internal autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. The first representative body of a consultative nature—the Assembly of Delegates—was established in 1866. In 1867, Ismail Pasha received the hereditary title of khedive from the sultan, and beginning in 1873, Egypt could negotiate financial and economic agreements with foreign states directly.

As a result of foreign loans granted under usurious interest rates, the country’s foreign debt totaled £94 million by 1876, of which Egypt had in fact received only £46 million. Payment of the state debt required increased taxation and domestic loans, and therefore, the country’s financial situation continued to deteriorate. In 1875, Ismail was forced to sell Egypt’s shares in the Suez Canal Company (44 percent) to the British government. In May 1876, after Ismail officially proclaimed bankruptcy, a commission made up of representatives of the creditor powers established financial control over Egypt. In August 1878, in response to the commission’s demand, Ismail appointed a government (the “European cabinet”), which included representatives of the British and French governments, who had the right to veto any of his decisions.

Foreign domination, Egypt’s financial enslavement, and the reactionary regime, which was strengthened under the khedive Tewfik (1879–92), provoked the indignation of all strata of Egyptian society. The ideology of the national liberation movement began to emerge. In 1879 the first Egyptian political organization, Watan, was founded. It advanced the slogan “Egypt for the Egyptians.” On Sept. 9, 1881, units of the Cairo garrison under Colonel Ahmad Arabi Pasha rebelled. In early February 1882 a cabinet was formed, which was headed by Mahmud Sami al-Barudi, a member of the Watan organization. Arabi Pasha was named minister of war. The new national government abolished Anglo-French financial control, and a constitution was drafted.

The occupation of Egypt by Great Britain and the development of capitalism under the colonial regime (to 1917). Alarmed by the growth of the national liberation movement, Great Britain and France sent military squadrons to Egypt and in May 1882 demanded the exile of Arabi Pasha and his associates and the retirement of the national government. The khedive accepted their demands, but mass civilian and military demonstrations forced him to restore Arabi to the post of minister of war. Great Britain provoked a military conflict with Egypt, and in July 1882 the British fleet bombarded Alexandria, opening the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882. On Sept. 14, 1882, British forces entered Cairo. Arabi and his supporters were arrested and exiled, and a British colonial regime was established in the country, although formally Egypt remained part of the Ottoman Empire. The British consul general was the de facto ruler of the country (from 1883 to 1907, Cromer; from 1907 to 1911, Gorst; and from 1911 to 1914, Kitchener). The power of the khedive and the Egyptian government was limited. Great Britain turned Egypt into a supplier of cotton and agricultural raw materials for British industry. Under the Anglo-Egyptian agreement on a condominium in the Sudan (1899), that country also became a de facto colony of Great Britain.

British policies aroused discontent among the Egyptian bourgeoisie. During the 1890’s national political organizations and circles began to appear. The writers and publicists Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid played a major role in awakening Egyptian self-consciousness. A new upsurge in the national liberation movement began in 1906, under the immediate impetus of the violence directed by British authorities against the peasants of the village of Dinshaway in June 1906. Mass meetings and demonstrations were held in the country, and The Watan Party, which was founded by Mustafa Kamil in 1907, intensified its activity. British authorities promulgated a law on the press (March 1909), which prohibited criticism of British policy in Egypt, and a law “on suspicious persons” (July 1909), which established a legal basis for the repression of patriots. Some members of the Watan Party went underground, while others emigrated. In December 1914, Egypt was proclaimed a British protectorate, and the khedive Abbas II Hilmi (ruled 1892–1914) was deposed by the British. His successor was Husayn Kamal (1914–17), who took the title of sultan. Martial law was proclaimed in the country.

The period of the general crisis of capitalism (to the revolution of 1952). The curtailment of imports of industrial goods during World War I (1914–18) stimulated the development of local industry. The number of workers and artisans increased. The military situation made it possible for the Egyptian bourgeoisie and landlords to accumulate capital by supplying the army and speculating in food products. The growth of the Egyptian bourgeoisie during the war and the increased exploitation of the toiling people created the preconditions for a powerful upsurge in the national liberation struggle.

A new upsurge in the national liberation struggle in Egypt began under the influence of the liberating ideas of the October Revolution in Russia. In late 1918 a campaign to collect signatures in support of the demand for Egyptian independence that had been made by the national bourgeois organization the Wafd (founded in 1918) turned into powerful anti-British uprisings. The first socialist and communist groups were established in Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said between 1918 and 1919 and merged to form the Socialist Party of Egypt (from 1922, the Communist Party of Egypt).

The scope of the national liberation movement forced Great Britain to abolish the protectorate in February 1922 and recognize Egypt as an “independent and sovereign state.” However, British forces remained in Egypt, and British capital retained a dominant position in Egypt’s economy.

On Apr. 19, 1923, a constitution was promulgated, under which Egypt became a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. The parliamentary elections of 1923 brought victory to the Wafd Party. In January 1924 the party’s leader, Saad Zaghlul, formed the first Wafd government, which revealed its bourgeois-landlord character in its armed suppression of strikes of Egyptian workers. Repressive measures were directed against the Communist Party of Egypt and the General Confederation of Labor (founded in 1921), and in 1924 both organizations were banned.

From September to October 1924 the Zaghlul government attempted to have British troops removed from Egypt and the Sudan, but the negotiations failed. Taking advantage of the assassination in November 1924 of Lee Stack, the British commander of the Egyptian Army and the governor-general of the Sudan, Great Britain presented an ultimatum to Egypt. Because Egypt refused to meet the demand to withdraw Egyptian forces from the Sudan, the British seized the customs house at Alexandria and began military operations against Egyptian units in the Sudan. Zaghlul’s government resigned as a protest.

Although the Wafd Party again received a majority in the parliamentary elections of 1925 and 1926, the British government would not allow the formation of a Wafd government. Under pressure from the Egyptian bourgeoisie, a law on joint-stock companies was adopted (1927), providing for the participation of Egyptian entrepreneurs in newly created foreign companies. Drawing on the Misr National Bank, which had been founded in 1920, the Egyptian bourgeoisie founded about a dozen national commercial and industrial companies. In 1931 the Egyptian bourgeoisie also secured the introduction of a protective tariff, which to some extent protected Egyptian industry from foreign competition.

A new attempt to regulate relations with Great Britain failed. The draft of an Anglo-Egyptian treaty (the Sarwat-Chamberlain Draft Treaty, November 1927), which provided for the maintenance of British troops in Egypt and for British control over the Egyptian Army, was not ratified by the Egyptian Parliament. In an atmosphere generated by the anti-British movement, a cabinet led by the Wafd leader Mustafa al-Nahas Pasha came to power in March 1928. However, it was forced into retirement in June 1928, and the cabinet that replaced it suspended the Constitution of 1923. The parliamentary elections of 1929 brought victory again to the Wafd Party. The Nahas government, which was formed in January 1930, reopened negotiations with the British government, but these also failed (May 1930). Removed in June 1930, the Nahas government was replaced by a cabinet led by Ismail Sidqi, which abolished the Constitution of 1923 and introduced a reactionary constitution (1930).

The government’s refusal to satisfy the demands of the Wafd congress (January 1935) for the restoration of the Constitution of 1923 and the conclusion of an Anglo-Egyptian treaty that would secure the independence of Egypt provoked indignation throughout the country. On November 13 there was an anti-British demonstration by 40,000 people in Cairo. A general strike began on November 21, and in December there were clashes with the police and troops and street fighting. In 1935 the opposition bourgeois parties, led by the Wafd Party, established the National Front. On December 12 the National Front demanded the restoration of the Constitution of 1923, parliamentary elections, and the reopening of negotiations with Great Britain. The Constitution of 1923 was reestablished on Dec. 13, 1935. In May 1936 the Wafd Party won the parliamentary elections, and on August 26 the Wafd government concluded a treaty with Great Britain, which somewhat expanded Egypt’s rights in domestic and foreign affairs. In 1937, King Faruk (1936–52) dismissed the Wafd cabinet, and reactionary right-wing parties held power until February 1942.

During World War II (1939–45) the territorial and material resources and army of Egypt were used by Great Britain to conduct military operations against the Italo-German forces in Libya. In January 1942 Egypt was threatened by fascist invasion, and palace circles prepared to stage a profascist coup. Under these conditions, in February 1942 the British government forced King Faruk to return to power the Wafd Party, which had supported the anti-Hitlerite coalition.

Between October and November 1942, British forces routed Italo-German forces at al-Alamayn (El Alamein), and by early 1943 the fascist threat to Egypt had been eliminated. The crushing defeat of the fascist German Army by Soviet forces at Stalingrad in late 1942 had an enormous imluence on the growth of the democratic movement in Egypt. The struggle of Egyptian workers to establish trade unions gained strength, and the first labor law was promulgated in September 1942. The Communist movement revived, and a number of Marxist circles and organizations were founded. On Aug. 26, 1943, Egypt established diplomatic relations with the USSR. The movement for complete national independence developed with renewed strength, with the active participation of workers, students, and the middle strata of the cities. In 1945, Egypt was accepted into the United Nations.

During 1945–46 there were numerous workers’ strikes, demonstrations, and meetings. Democratic organizations emerged—the Youth Front of the Nile Valley, “the National Committee of Workers and Students of Egypt, and the Communist organization Haditu (the Democratic Movement for the National Liberation, founded in 1947). Communists participated actively in mass democratic organizations and fought for the creation of a leftist front that would unite radical currents into bourgeois nationalist parties.

On Feb. 21, 1946, an enormous anti-imperialist demonstration, which had been organized by the National Committee of Workers and Students, was held in Cairo. Troops and the police were ordered into action against the demonstrators. Between February and December 1946, Ismail Sidqi’s reactionary cabinet issued laws banning strikes, Communist activity, all democratic organizations, a number of trade unions, and the legal progressive press. Nevertheless, between 1947 and 1948 there were mass demonstrations in Cairo and Alexandria and strikes of textile workers at Shubra al-Khaymah and al-Mahalla al-Kubra.

In 1946 the Egyptian government again raised the question of revising the Treaty of 1936. After unsuccessful negotiations with Great Britain in 1946, during which the British government refused to accept Egypt’s demand, the Egyptian government sent a complaint to the UN Security Council in 1947. Only the USSR, Poland, and Syria supported Egypt’s demand for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Egypt and the liquidation of the condominium in the Sudan.

The Palestinian war (Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49), in which Egypt took part, was used as a pretext by Egypt’s ruling elite to intensify the use of repressive measures against the democratic movement. Martial law was declared on May 14, 1948, and there were mass arrests of Communists and other members of the democratic movement. The war, in which the Egyptian Army suffered defeat, revealed the rotten condition of the regime. Speculation by big Egyptian merchants in the delivery of foodstuffs and munitions to the army also aroused discontent throughout the country. The secret army organization the Free Officers, which was led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, intensified its activities.

In the parliamentary elections of 1950 the Wafd Party won the majority of seats. The Nahas government, which was formed in January 1950, abolished martial law and freed political prisoners, thus strengthening the movement for the abolition of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936. (Strikes occurred in Cairo and Alexandria in March 1950 and in the Suez Canal Zone in April 1950, and demonstrations were held in Cairo and Alexandria in June and August 1951.) In response to the mass national liberations movement, on Oct. 15, 1951, the Egyptian Parliament adopted a law denouncing the Treaty of 1936. Great Britain unleashed aggressive operations in the Suez Canal Zone, and additional British troops were transferred to Egypt. The nation rose in a partisan struggle against the British occupiers. Workers ceased to do maintenance work at British military bases and institutions. On Jan. 26, 1952, during mass anti-imperialist demonstrations in Cairo, reactionary forces organized pogroms and arson of foreign institutions, shops, and movie theaters. Taking advantage of the situation, King Faruk declared a state of emergency: demonstrations were prohibited, and the Wafd government was removed. An acute political crisis ensued, which was, reflected in the disintegration of the feudal-landlord system and the instability of state power. By July 1952, six cabinets had fallen.

The national liberation revolution.THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST AND ANTIFEUDAL STAGE (1952-MID-1961). On the night of July 23, 1952, during the internal political struggle, the military organization the Free Officers carried out a revolutionary coup d’etat, relying on the support of the army. The Hilali government, which had been in power between March 2 and June 28 and from July 22, 1952, was overthrown. The Revolutionary Command Council, which was established on July 26, 1952, assumed complete power. On the same day, King Faruk renounced the throne in favor of his seven-month-old son, and a Regency Council was formed under the authority of the Revolutionary Command Council. The leaders of the Free Officers joined the Revolutionary Command Council, whose official leader was General Muhammad Naguib, although power was actually exercised by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

On Sept. 9, 1952, under a decision of the Revolutionary Command Council, an agrarian reform law was issued that provided for the confiscation of royal lands and the withdrawal from landlords of holdings exceeding a maximum of 200 feddans (approximately 208 acres). (The law was repeatedly modified in the interest of the peasantry.) The old constitution was abolished on Dec. 10, 1952, and in January 1953 all political parties were banned. On June 18, 1953, the monarchy was officially abolished, and Egypt was proclaimed a republic. The first republican constitution of Egypt was adopted on June 23, 1956, as a result of a national referendum. Nasser was elected president.

From mid-1953, two currents appeared in the Revolutionary Command Council. The first was represented by Naguib, who considered the revolution completed and whose position corresponded to the interests of the Egyptian big bourgeoisie and the imperialist West. At the head of the other current stood Nasser, who supported the extension of revolutionary reforms and the deepening of socioeconomic reforms. The political crisis in the council between February and April 1954 ended in victory for Nasser, and Naguib was removed from power.

Seeking to strengthen Egypt’s political independence, in September 1952 the Revolutionary Command Council and the government demanded that Great Britain completely evacuate its troops. On Feb. 12, 1953, an Anglo-Egyptian agreement abolishing the condominium of the Sudan was signed, and on Oct. 19, 1954, an agreement on the withdrawal of British forces from Egypt was concluded, which was implemented in June 1956. Egypt’s sovereignty was restored. The USA responded to Egypt’s refusal to enter into a military alliance with the imperialist states by refusing to grant Egypt the modern arms necessary for the creation of a national armed force. Consequently, Nasser, who had become prime minister on Apr. 17, 1954, signed an agreement with the socialist countries for the delivery of the necessary weapons (September 1955).

When Egypt refused to cancel its agreement with the socialist countries for the purchase of arms, the USA (July 19, 1956), Great Britain, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (July 21, 1956) declared that Egypt had forfeited the loan that had been promised earlier for the construction of the Aswan Hydroelectric Energy Complex. On July 26, 1956, President Nasser issued a decree nationalizing the Suez Canal Company, thus laying the foundation for a strong state sector in the Egyptian economy. After the failure of attempts of the imperialist powers to pressure or blackmail Egypt into altering its decision on the canal company, Great Britain and France joined the imperialist aggression against Egypt in 1956, which had been initiated by Israel. The Egyptians courageously defended the independence of their homeland, and they received decisive support from the USSR, other socialist countries, and all peace-loving forces. Anglo-French forces were withdrawn from Egypt in December 1956 and Israeli forces in March 1957.

Immediately after the onset of aggression, the Egyptian government sequestered all property and capital belonging to British subjects and French citizens. On Jan. 15, 1957, a law was issued on the “Egyptianization” of foreign banks, insurance firms, and foreign trade, industrial, transportation, and other companies. The property of Great Britain and France was “Egyptianized” immediately. Other foreign banks, enterprises, firms, and insurance companies were assigned to Egypt over the course of five years. (Belgian and Italian banks and companies were nationalized in 1960–61.) Some of the shares held by foreigners were redeemed by private Egyptian capital. The State Economic Organization was established in January 1957 to administer the nationalized and mixed enterprises. The principles of planning were introduced into the economy. On Jan. 29, 1958, a Soviet-Egyptian agreement on economic cooperation—an important contribution to the struggle for Egypt’s economic independence—was signed in Moscow.

On Feb. 1, 1958, Egypt and Syria were unified, and the United Arab Republic (UAR) was proclaimed. Cairo became the capital of the UAR, which was divided into northern and southern regions consisting of Syria and Egypt, respectively. In March 1958 the National Assembly of the UAR ratified the provisional constitution. The political and economic measures of the government of the UAR, the beginning of industrialization, and the strengthening of the state sector of the economy corresponded to the interests of the people and contributed to the elimination of feudal and semifeudal vestiges, the consolidation and safeguarding of the country’s political independence, and strengthening of its economic independence. At the same time, the big bourgeoisie, prosperous peasants, and other propertied strata derived substantial benefits from the reforms that had been implemented and from the unification of Egypt and Syria. The Egyptianized divisions of foreign banks began to serve primarily the interests of local entrepreneur-bankers, and members of the big bourgeoisie began to occupy the dominant positions in the country’s economy.

The leaders of the Egyptian revolution attempted to use the national bourgeoisie to create a modern economy. However, they understood that in due time the big capitalists would claim political power. With the aim of weakening the position of the big bourgeoisie, the Misr Bank and the National Bank—bulwarks of Egyptian capital—were nationalized in 1960. Egyptian and Syrian capitalists actively opposed government measures that were directed at increasing state control over the economy. They sabotaged the implementation of the ten-year program for the development of the economy of the UAR, which had been devised around 1960 and which envisioned substantial investment of private capital in heavy industry and the power industry. The capitalists of the UAR were unwilling to contribute capital to the “unprofitable” branches of the economy that were essential to the maintenance of the state’s independence.

The government of Egypt was faced with a choice: either it must capitulate to the big capitalists and the imperialist powers supporting them or it must implement new reforms in the interests of the toiling people. The latter path—deepening the revolution—was chosen. From mid-1961, the state launched an attack on the big capitalists and landlords, which was subsequently extended to a substantial portion of the middle bourgeoisie and middle landowners.

THE ANTICAPITALIST STAGE (FROM JULY 1961 ). On July 20, 1961, President Nasser issued decrees nationalizing 149 banks, insurance companies, and major companies and industrial enterprises. On the basis of this decree the state sector was expanded and strengthened. On July 21 and 22 laws were promulgated on the redistribution of the profits of companies and enterprises (25 percent of the profits of state enterprises were alloted to industrial and office workers) and on the participation of industrial and office workers in the administrative councils of companies, enterprises, and institutions. On July 25 a decree further reducing the maximum for large-scale landownership in Egypt was signed. A seven-hour workday was established for private and state industrial enterprises. A presidential decree introduced universal state planning in the northern region of the UAR (Syria), where the strengthening of the state sector was initiated.

The coup d’etat of Sept. 28, 1961, which was carried out by Syrian army officers, expressed the reaction of the big Syrian bourgeoisie to Nasser’s decrees. Syria left the UAR, but Egypt retained the name of the UAR until 1971. In order to avert counterrevolutionary actions by the Egyptian bourgeoisie, in October–November 1961 the government of the UAR directed repressive measures against certain representatives of the big bourgeoisie and leaders of scattered bourgeois-landlord parties. Measures were adopted to exclude capitalists and landlords and members of their families from the administrative bodies of the country. In the 1960’s a number of measures aimed at improving the situation of the toiling masses were implemented. A minimum wage was established for industrial and office workers in state and private enterprises, the length of workers’ vacations was increased, their privileges in the public health and educational systems were expanded, and pensions and social security were improved.

The National Congress of Popular Powers, which was held in Cairo in May-June 1962, adopted the Charter of National Action (June 30, 1962), which became the political program for the development of the UAR. It rejected the capitalist path of development as unacceptable for the UAR and stressed that only socialism could secure economic and social progress. The charter conceded broader political rights to the toiling people and equality for women. At the same time, it indicated that nationalization did not mean the abolition of private property. Under the charter, workers and peasants were to hold at least 50 percent of the seats in all elected bodies. The charter mobilized the people of the UAR to struggle against the intrigues of imperialism and its accomplices, to give as much support as possible to the national liberation movement in Africa and Asia, and to join with the anti-imperialist forces of the world.

In accordance with the decision of the National Congress of Popular Powers, in October 1962 a presidential decree was issued on the creation of a mass political organization, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU, founded in 1963). The establishment of the ASU demonstrated the effort to tie the struggle for national liberation to the struggle to build in the UAR a society that would not be based on the exploitation of one human being by another. Local, city, and provincial organizations were called upon to become the links between the government and the people.

By 1965 about 90 percent of the major enterprises of the UAR had become state property. Transportation, the credit and banking system, insurance, and foreign trade (100 per-cent of the imports and 7$ percent of the exports) were also included in the state sector. More than 800 factories and installations had been built by 1965, some with the participation and aid of the Soviet Union. The construction of the Aswan Hydroelectric Energy Complex—the largest in Africa and the Near East—was begun in 1960 with the aid of the USSR. By 1966 the position of the big bourgeoisie and a substantial part of the middle bourgeoisie had been undermined, but semifeudal vestiges remained very strong in the countryside, and the prosperous peasants and other propertied strata in the city and countryside had become stronger.

As the revolution developed and deepened, the arrangement of class forces changed. In the first stage, the new regime essentially relied on the support of the national bourgeoisie, whose interests it defended. In the second stage, the government drew on the support of the people, whose rights were continuously expanded. (According to the Charter of National Action, the term “the people” refers to workers, peasants, soldiers, officers, the revolutionary intelligentsia, and the petit and middle “‘nonexploitative” bourgeoisie.) The bourgeoisie was restricted by law, but this did not prevent the existence of a “bureaucratic” and a “military” bourgeoisie, both of which emerged as counterrevolutionary forces, weakening the power of those who upheld the socialist orientation of the country.

Important changes occurred in political life. After the creation of the UAR, Arab nationalism became the dominant ideology, and the existence of classes and the class struggle was denied. Between 1959 and 1960 the UAR carried out an anti-Communist campaign, arresting Egyptian and Syrian Communists and persecuting members of the democratic movement. However, the subversive activity of the Egyptian and Syrian bourgeoisie intensified, forcing the leadership of the UAR to reacknowledge the existence of classes and the class struggle. With the deepening of the revolution in its second stage, the leaders of the UAR proclaimed as their goal the struggle fora socialist reconstruction of the country. But not all of Egypt’s leaders shared the views formulated in the Charter of National Action.

The development of the Egyptian revolution was greatly influenced by the successes of the USSR, the entire world socialist system, the anti-imperialist struggle in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and the revolutionary workers’ and communist movements. In March 1964 a new provisional constitution was promulgated, proclaiming the UAR a socialist democratic republic. Around May 1964, political prisoners—Communists and other left-wing activists, including those arrested between 1959 and 1960—were freed from the prisons and concentration camps. In 1964 payment of the compensation previously promised to landlords for the land that was taken from them under the terms of the agrarian reform law was abolished, and President Nasser signed a decree lowering the fee for the land received by the fellahin under the law. The consistent implementation of agrarian reform provoked resistance by the large landowners. Between May and June 1966 the government created the Committee for the Struggle Against the Vestiges of Feudalism. A political offensive was launched against the large landowners who were actively opposing the revolution.

After the beginning of its national liberation revolution Egypt began to play an increasingly prominent role in international relations. It took a number of anti-imperialist actions in foreign policy, struggling actively against the creation of the aggressive Baghdad Pact. In April 1955 an Egyptian delegation led by Nasser participated in the first Afro-Asian Bandung Conference of 1955 and fully supported its resolutions. In 1964 a conference of the heads of Arab states convened in Cairo on Egypt’s initiative to discuss the major problems of economic and political relations among the Arab states. The UAR supported the Yemen Arab Republic in its struggle against the monarchists. In November 1966 the UAR and Syria signed an agreement on their common defense that provided for the coordination of military and political actions and the repulsion of the enemy in the event that one of the countries was attacked. The UAR was one of the founders of the Organization of African Unity (1963). Beginning in 1958, Nasser traveled to the USSR several times and visited other socialist countries.

On June 5, 1967, Israel attacked the UAR. Taking advantage of surprise and air superiority, the aggressor occupied the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli troops moved to the east bank of the Suez Canal. Israel and the countries supporting it—the USA and other imperialist powers—attempted to overthrow the progressive national regimes in the UAR, Syria, and other Arab countries, to shatter the national liberation revolution and movement in the Near East, and to destroy the friendship between the Arab peoples and the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Moreover, the ruling circles of Israel intended to expand Israeli territory at the expense of neighboring Arab states. As a result of the energetic actions of the Soviet Union, which demanded in its declarations of June 5 and June 7, 1967, that Israel cease its aggression, and thanks to the efforts of other socialist states and the positions of the UN Security Council, which adopted numerous resolutions (June 6, 7, 9, and 10, 1967) on the necessity for the cessation of Israeli aggression, military operations ended in the Near East on June 10, 1967.

Israeli aggression had forced the government of Egypt to close the Suez Canal. In the struggle to eliminate the consequences of aggression, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries offered Egypt a great deal of economic and military aid. After the Arab summit conference (Khartoum, August-September 1967) the UAR also began receiving financial aid from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya. Between 1967 and 1968, President Nasser succeeded in defeating the efforts of right-wing forces to change the country’s policy. (They had advocated increased taxes on workers, increased support for the private sector, and termination of the nationalization of the property of the big and middle bourgeoisie.) After the military defeat in June 1967 the Egyptian Army was purged. Experts with advanced and secondary special technical education were called up; and those who were primarily responsible for Egypt’s defeat in the war against Israel—certain ministers, generals, and senior officers—were prosecuted.

On Mar. 30, 1968, Nasser proclaimed the revolutionary Program of March 30, which provided for the mobilization of all the country’s forces and resources for the struggle to eliminate the consequences of Israeli aggression and to deepen socioeconomic reforms. Under the program, elections were held to the General National Congress of the ASU (1968). The congress adopted a resolution on the implementation (beginning in 1969) of the third successive reduction of the maximum for large-scale landownership. At the same time, the government undertook measures designed to strengthen the private sector in industry and trade, in the interests of stimulating an increase in commodity production. Efforts were focused on completing the construction of the Aswan Hydroelectric Energy Complex (the project was finished in January 1971).

In 1969, after the Israeli violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution of June 10, 1967, on a cease-fire in the Near East, the government of the UAR took measures to create a national defense system in which broad strata of the population would participate. In February 1970 the Supreme Civil Defense Council was established under the chairmanship of A. al-Sadat, and committees for the fight against aggression began to be organized.

On Sept. 28, 1970, President Nasser died. In October 1970, Anwar al-Sadat was elected president of the UAR.

Egypt has supported and continues to support a just political settlement of the Near Eastern crisis on the basis of the UN Security Council’s Resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, which points out that the basic condition of a settlement must be the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Arab territory occupied by the Israeli Army in June 1967. The government of Egypt put forward a new peace initiative in February 1971, proposing as the first stage in the settlement the pullback of Israeli forces from the east bank of the Suez Canal, making it possible to open the canal to international navigation. Egypt stipulated that the first stage would necessarily be followed by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all Arab land seized in June 1967.

In May 1971 the Egyptian government was reorganized, and in July elections were held to the local and directing bodies of the ASU. On July 27, 1971, the General National Congress of the ASU adopted a Program of National Action, which in effect supplemented the Charter of National Action of 1962. The program provided for the further development of Egypt’s economy, giving priority to the growth of the public sector “as the foundation of socialist development,” the elimination of illiteracy, and the continuation of the struggle against Zionist aggression. Sources of danger for the revolutionary course of the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt are the remaining property owners in the city and countryside and the bureaucratic bourgeoisie.

On Sept. 1, 1971, Egypt, Libya, and Syria formed the Federation of Arab Republics, whose purpose was to strengthen the resistance of the Arab countries to Israeli aggression in the Near East and to contribute to the deepening of the national liberation revolutions in the Arab countries. A referendum was held in Egypt on Sept. 11, 1971, the new constitution was approved, and the country became known as the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Constitution of 1971 proclaimed the Arab Republic of Egypt a “state with a democratic socialist system based on a union of the forces of the toiling people.” In January 1972 a new Egyptian government was formed. Aziz Sidqi was appointed prime minister. M. Fawzi retired in 1974. The new government adopted a program of deepening progressive socioeconomic reforms and strengthening the republic’s friendship with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries as much as possible. It condemned the subversive policies of the USA in the Near East and Israel’s continuing aggression and stubborn unwillingness to implement the November 1967 resolution of the Security Council. The expansionist policies of Israel and its refusal to comply with UN resolutions led to the renewal of hostilities in the Near East in October 1973. The Egyptians repulsed the attacks of the aggressor and crossed the Suez Canal. On Oct. 22, 1973, the UN Security Council adopted a cease-fire resolution. In December 1973 a peace conference on the Near East began meeting in Geneva.

On May 27, 1971, a treaty of friendship and cooperation between the USSR and the UAR was signed in Cairo. The treaty raised Soviet-Egyptian friendship to a new level, consolidated the friendly relations already existing between the countries, became the basis for further strengthening their relations, and provided for the expansion of all forms of cooperation.

Egypt maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 states (1974) and belongs to many international organizations.


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Ob”edinennaia ArabskaiaRespublika: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1968.
Beliaev, E. A.Araby, Islam i arabskii khalifat . . . . Moscow, 1965.
Semenova, L. \.Salakh-ad-DinimamliukivEgipte. Moscow, 1966.
Kil’berg, Kh. I. Vosstanie Arabi-pashi v Egipte . . . . Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Rotshtein, F. A. Zakhvat i zakabalenie Egipta, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1959.
Atsamba, F. M. Formirovanie rabochego klassa v Egipte i ego ekonomicheskoe polozhenie (1914–1952). Moscow, 1960.
Fridman, L. A. Kapitalisticheskoe razvitie Egipta (1882–1939). Moscow, 1963.
Goldobin, A. M. Egipetskaia revoliutsiia 1919 g. Leningrad, 1958.
Seiranian, B. G. Egipet v bor’be za nezavisimost’ 1945–1952. Moscow, 1970.
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Al-Rafii, A. Tarikh al-haraka al-Qawmiyya [The History of the National Movement], 4th ed., parts 1–2. Cairo, 1955.
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23, 1952]. Cairo, 1959.
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History of Egypt to the 18th century based on E. A. BELIAEV’S section in the article “Ob”edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika,”Sovetskaia istoricheskaia entsiklopediia, vol. 10; From the 18th century to 1952,

N. G. KALININ; from 1952,1. P. BELIAEV

The Arab Socialist Union (ASU; al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki al-Arabi) is a mass political organization that unites peasants, workers, the intelligentsia, and representatives of national capital. Established in 1963 under a resolution of the National Congress of Popular Powers (1962), it had about 5 million members in 1972.

The Federation of Labor, which was founded in 1957, belongs to the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the Pan-African Federation of Trade Unions. It maintains extensive ties with Soviet trade unions. Other Egyptian organizations include the National Peace Council and the Society of Friendship with the USSR, which was founded in 1965.


General state of the economy. As a result of the revolution of 1952 and the implementation of important socioeconomic measures, Egypt, which chose the noncapitalist path of development, was transformed from a backward agrarian country into one of the most developed agrarian-industrial countries of the Near East. The government adopted a course designed to overcome the onerous consequences of protracted colonial rule, dislodge foreign capital from key positions in the economy, liquidate semifeudal landholdings, create a diversified national economy, and extensively develop the state sector. Foreign and national banks and insurance companies and the Suez Canal have been nationalized and turned into state property, and major industrial enterprises have been nationalized or placed under state control. Decrees restricting the activity of private capitalist enterprises have been adopted, and state control has been established over foreign trade. A planned system of developing the economy was first introduced in 1957. The state sector, which occupies the leading position in the economy, accounts for up to 85 percent of the productive capacity of industry. Only handicraft and repair shops, small mills and factories, and some domestic trade are still under private ownership. Production of the means of production is increasing rapidly. A significant portion of the domestic demand for light industrial goods is met through domestic production.

The structure of the national economy changed between 1952 and 1969. In 1969 agriculture provided 29.5 percent of the national income of the country (in 1952, 31.3 percent), industry 22.8 percent (in 1952, 15.8 percent), construction 4.7 percent (in 1952, 3.1 percent), transportation and communications 5.0 percent (in 1952, 6.7 percent; the decline was due to the closing of the Suez Canal), commerce and finance 9.3 percent (in 1952, 8.9 percent), and other branches of the economy 28.7 percent (in 1952, 34.2 percent). Between 1960 and 1965 the national income (in constant prices) increased by 34.4 percent, reaching ££1,728,000,000, and the per capita income increased by 19 percent, from E£50.2 to E£59.8.

Before the revolution of 1952, the country’s agriculture was dominated by large-scale semifeudal landholding combined with small-scale parcelized land tenure. At the same time, there were capitalist farms that made extensive use of hired labor. A substantial number of agricultural workers had no land. They cultivated plots leased from landlords under the enslaving conditions of the corvée or under share cropping arrangements that forced them to give up three-fourths of the harvest, or they worked as hired hands on capitalist farms.

Since 1952 agrarian reform has been carried out in the country. In 1952 the maximum landholding for one person was limited to IMfeddans (84 hectares [ha]). In 1961, the maximum was lowered to \Wfeddans (42 ha) and in 1969, to 5Qfeddans (21 ha), with a family limited to a holding of 100 feddans. Lands exceeding the maximum were confiscated and transferred for a fee to peasants who were landless or short of land, on the condition that they join agricultural cooperatives. Waqf lands (the holdings of Muslim religious institutions) were confiscated and turned over to peasants. Landless peasants and peasants who were short of land received 340,000 ha of workable land between 1952 and 1971. In 1962 a law was adopted that prohibited foreigners from owning land in Egypt. The government aids agricultural cooperatives by granting credits, seeds, chemicals, fertilizers, and agrotechnical consultations.

The development of Egypt’s economy has been greatly aided by the Soviet Unon and other socialist countries. The USSR alone participated in the construction and modernization of more than 100 industrial enterprises and other installations, including the Aswan hydroelectric energy complex on the Nile. (In 1970 the income from the Aswan complex totaled E£125 million.) The construction of 523 units in the state sector with a total value of E£ 1,462,800,000 is projected in the plan for 1970–71 through 1974–75.

The Israeli aggression of 1967 did significant material damage to Egypt. The loss of income (E£95 million in 1966) owing to the temporary closing of the Suez Canal and the occupation of the Sinai Peninsula, where most of the country’s oil is drilled, created great economic difficulties for the country. However, the accelerated exploitation of new oil deposits made it possible to reach and to exceed significantly the previous level of oil production. Mobilizing domestic resources and relying on the economic and technical aid of the USSR and other socialist countries, as well as on the financial aid of Arab countries, Egypt is successfully continuing its economic development.

Agriculture. The main branch of agriculture is irrigated farming, based primarily on the use of the Nile. Egypt suffers from a land shortage. Agricultural lands occupy only 2.8 percent of the total area of the country, and 2.7 million ha are cultivated annually (an average of slightly more than 0.06 ha per inhabitant). Thanks to abundant solar heat and light, as well as artificial irrigation, up to three crops a year are harvested from the same planted area. The Nasser Reservoir, which was created at the Aswan High Dam, has made it possible to irrigate an additional 360,000 ha of land (1970) and to shift 351,000 ha from basin to year-round irrigation. In the future the area of workable land will be increased by 20 percent, and the area of sown land by more than 30 percent.

Farming provides more than 75 percent of the total value of agricultural produce of the country. The main agricultural crop is high-grade long-fibered cotton, which is grown primarily on the delta and in the lower part of the Nile Valley. In 1971, Egypt produced 4.5 percent of the world’s cotton. A substantial amount of the cotton is exported. Excluding the USSR, Egypt produced 47 percent of the world’s extra long-fibered cotton in 1970. Among the country’s other agricultural crops, the most economically important are rice, which is cultivated in the northern part of the Nile Delta and the Fayyum oasis, and sugarcane, which is grown in the central and southern areas of the Nile Valley. Cereals and legumes, including wheat, corn, beans, and lentils, are widely grown throughout the country (Table 2). Vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, mandarin oranges, lemons, and grapes, are grown primarily in the suburbs of major cities. The date palm is grown in oases.

Table 2. Cultivated land and yield of main agricultural crops
 Area (thousand ha)Yield (thousand tons)
1 Annual average 2 1969–70 3 1970–71 4 1969
Cotton ...................761738685   
   fiber cotton .........   396452509
   cottonseed .........   725849870
Rice .......................2563484809711 8452,605
Corn ......................6606786321 3781 9132393
   of unrefined
   sugar) .................
Wheat ...................6055575481,1111,4591,516
Onions ...................14272942816415854

Animal husbandry is poorly developed because of the lack of pasture lands. Camels are bred by nomads, and sheep and goats are raised by nomads and fellahin. Dairy cattle are raised by fellahin in the suburbs. In the countryside water buffalo and cows are the main draft animals. Poultry is also raised, including chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey. In 1969–70 there were 3.6 million head of cattle, including 1.8 million head of water buffalo, 2.2 million head of sheep, 0.8 million head of goats, and 0.2 million head of camels.

There is fishing on the Mediterranean coast, in lakes, and on the Nile. Sardines, anchovies, tunny, mullets, gray mullets, and flounder are caught in the Mediterranean, and carp are caught in the Nile and in various lakes.

Industry. Between 1952 and 1969–70 the gross industrial product (in current prices) increased from E£860 million to E££2,312,800,000. In 1969 the textile industry accounted for about 30 percent of the value of industrial production, the food and condiments industry, 28 percent, machine building and metalworking, 6 percent, chemicals, 11 percent, mining, 8 percent, electric energy, 5 percent, building materials, 3 percent, and canning, woodworking, and other branches of industry, 9 percent. The construction of the Aswan High Dam hydroelectric energy complex and domestic metallurgical and machine-building enterprises has been exceptionally important for the industrialization of the country.

The petroleum industry is the most important branch of mining. Since Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula, where the al-Bilaiyim, Ras Matarma, and other oil deposits are located, the newly opened Morgan deposits have provided more than 70 percent of Egypt’s oil output. (The Morgan deposits, which are located on the Gulf of Suez, are drilled by the Egyptian-American Gulf Oil Company.) The deposits near al-Alamayn, which have also been developed, are worked by the mixed Egyptian-American company Vepco. The General Petroleum Company, which belongs to the Egyptian government, drills at a number of deposits, including Ras Abu Bakr, Karim, Al Ghurdaqah, and Ras Gharib, all of which are located on the west coast of the Gulf of Suez. Natural gas was discovered near Abu Madi and Abu Qir, and in 1969, 71 million cu m were extracted. Phosphorites are exploited primarily near Safaga and Quseir. Salt is extracted from Lakes Maryut and Burullus, soda in Wadi al-Natrun, gypsum in the vicinity of Abu Rawasha and Bani Mazar, granite at Aswan, and glass sands near Cairo and Abu Zanimah. Iron ore is mined by the open-pit method, chiefly near Aswan. The main region for the mining of manganese ore is Umm Bugma on the Sinai Peninsula, which was seized by Israel in 1967.

In 1971 the production of electric energy was eight times that of 1952. The increase was primarily due to the hydroelectric power plant at the Aswan High Dam, whose projected capacity is 2.1 million kilowatts. Electric power is brought to industrial centers and many other populated points in the country over high-voltage lines built with the technical assistance of the USSR.

The most highly developed branch of manufacturing is light industry—particularly textiles, which meets the country’s needs for cotton and, to some extent, woolen, silk, and synthetic fabrics. The main centers for the production of cotton and woolen yarn and fabrics are concentrated in the Nile Delta: al-Mahalla al-Kubra,, Kafr ad-Dawwar, Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta, Dumyat, Port Said, Qalyub, Damanhur, and Kafr as-Zaiyat. Synthetic fibers and fabrics are manufactured in Cairo, Hulwan, and Kafr ad-Dawwar. Carpet weaving has been developed to a significant degree in Asyut and Damanhur. In a number of populated areas in the delta and valley of the Nile there are enterprises for ginning cotton and pressing cottonseeds, rice polishing, the manufacture of paper from rice chaff, and the production of cottonseed, linseed, and nut oil. The sugar industry is developed in upper Egypt. Its main centers are Kawm Umbu, Idfu, and Armant. Tobacco enterprises, which are located primarily in Cairo, Alexandria and Giza, rely on imported raw materials.

The main center for metallurgy is Hulwan. The Hulwan Metallurgical Combine, which supplies Egyptian industry with rolled steel, has been expanded since 1968 with the economic and technical aid of the USSR. Steel production is supposed to reach 1.5 million tons in 1975. In Naj Hammadi an aluminum plant is being built, also with the economic and technical aid of the USSR.

The machine-building industry is concentrated primarily in Hulwan, Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said, where there are plants for the production of metal-cutting presses, railroad cars, bicycles, and refrigerators, automobile and aircraft assembly plants, shipyards, and radio and electrical engineering factories. Cement factories are concentrated primarily in Hulwan and Alexandria. The main centers for the oil refining industry are Suez and Alexandria. However, the oil refineries in Suez stopped work as a result of the Israeli aggression in 1967. As of 1972, a coke by-products plant was being built in Hulwan with the aid of the USSR (The first production line was put into operation in 1964.) Nitrogen fertilizers are produced at chemical plants in Aswan and Hulwan (approximately 450,000 tons of calcium nitrate a year), and superphosphates (about 400,000 tons a year) are produced in Kafr as-Zaiyat, Abu Zaabal, and Asyut (see Table 3).

Table 3. Output of major industrial products
1million kW-hrs 2 thousand tons 3 1971, excluding 5.5 million tons at the Sinai Peninsula deposits 4 1969 5 units 6million m
Electric energy1 ................................9922,9407,592
Oil2 .....................................................2,3793,31915,5003
Petroleum derivatives2 ....................2,2384,1973,197
Iron ore2 ............................................2404604
Manganese ore2...............................2092764
Pig iron2.............................................143250
Rolled steel2......................................50229
Automobiles and buses5...................1,1075,659
Mineral fertilizers2...............................217520824
Cotton thread2..................................56105164
Cotton cloth6.....................................317483815

Transportation. Most internal hauling is by motor vehicles and railroads, and to a lesser extent, by river transport. There are 21,600 km of paved and dirt roads (1969; 9,300 km paved). Automobile roads link Cairo with Aswan, Alexandria, Port Said, and Suez, as well as with several points on the Nile Delta, oases in the Libyan Desert, and the coast of the Red Sea. In 1969 there were 121,800 automobiles and 28,100 trucks. In 1970 there were 7,200 km of railroads, of which 4,200 km were wide-gauge. The main trunk lines are Cairo-Aswan, Cairo-Alexandria, Cairo-al-Ismailyah, Port Said-Suez, Hulwan-Bahriyah, Kharijah oasis-the Nile Valley, and Alexandria-as-Sallum. Navigable routes along the Nile exceed 3,000 km. There is navigation on the Nile and the mainline canals Bahr Yusef, Ibrahimiyah, Ismailiyah, Mansuriyah, Tewfikia, Raiyah al-Minufiyah, al-Mahmudiyah. Goods are carried abroad by air and sea. In 1969 the tonnage of the river fleet was about 1.2 million. The main seaports are Alexandria, Port Said, and Suez, and there are major airports in Cairo, Alexandria, and al-Uqsur.

Foreign trade. In order to create favorable conditions for the development of domestic production, the government restricts imports of goods that are produced in sufficient quantities in the country. At the same time, it encourages imports of industrial equipment and raw material and stimulates the export of domestically produced goods. Between 1969 and 1970, the value of exports was E£328.1 million and the value of imports, E£324.9 million. The most important export commodities are cotton and the articles manufactured from it (cotton thread and cotton fabric representing about 70 percent of the value of Egypt’s exports), followed by rice and onions. The chief imports are foodstuffs (about 20 percent), machines, chemical goods, means of transportation and related equipment, mineral raw materials, and ferrous metals. In 1970 the socialist countries accounted for approximately 35 percent of Egypt’s imports and 60 percent of its exports, with 12 percent of the country’s import trade and 37 percent of its export trade going to the USSR alone. The German Democratic Republic accounted for 4.5 percent of Egypt’s imports and 5.9 percent of its exports, Czechoslovakia for 4.0 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, and the Arab countries for 6.5 percent and 8.1 percent. Egypt’s other foreign trade partners are the USA (6 percent of the imports and 1 percent of the exports), the Federal Republic of Germany (7.8 percent and 2.7 percent), Italy (6.6 percent and 3.3 percent), India (8 percent and 5.4 percent), France (7.4 percent and 2 percent), and Japan (1.5 percent and 3.2 percent).

Foreign tourism brings Egypt considerable income (US $66 million, 1969). In 1969, Egypt was visited by 345,300 people, who came from the USSR, other socialist countries, developing countries (primarily Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq) and the developed capitalist countries (chiefly Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria). The main tourist centers are Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Aswan, Al Uqsur, and (prior to the Israel aggression of 1967) the Suez Canal Zone (Port Said, Suez, and Al Ismailiyah).

The monetary unit is the Egyptian pound. According to the exchange rate of the Gosbank (State Bank) of the USSR in April 1972, 1 Egyptian pound was worth 2.08 rubles.

Internal differences. The territory of Egypt may be divided into regions according to the level of economic development. Lower Egypt (the Nile Delta and the muhafazath of Cairo and Alexandria) is the most highly developed agrarian industrial region, specializing in the production of high-grade longfibered cotton for export. Most of the country’s heavy and light industry is concentrated in this area. Middle Egypt (the Nile Valley south of the southern border of the muhafazah of Cairo to the latitude of the city of al-Minya) is primarily an agrarian region that specializes in the production of cotton and the cultivation of cereals and legumes. Upper Egypt (the Nile Valley south of al-Minya) is an agrarian industrial region that specializes in the cultivation of sugarcane, corn, and cotton. The region has a food and condiments industry, and in the extreme southern area (Aswan), there is an electric energy industry and a chemicals industry. The Suez Canal Zone is a transportation and industrial region.


Dlin, N. A. Ob”edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika. Moscow, 1963.
Ob”edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika (reference book). Moscow, 1968.
Gataullin, M. F.Ekonomika OAR na novom puti. Moscow, 1966.
Lushnikova, L. I.Gosudarstvennye finansy OAR. Moscow, 1971.
Matiukhin, I. S. OAR: Ekonomika i vneshniaia torgovlia. Moscow, 1966.
Teodorovich, T. V. “Nekotorye voprosy planirovaniia ekonomicheskogo razvitiia OAR.” In the collection Planirovanie v razvivaiushchikhsia stranakh Afriki, Moscow, 1970.
Dement’ev, I. A., and I. A. Genin. Ob”edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika. Moscow, 1959.
Issaw, C. Egipet v ser. XX v. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from English.)


Egypt’s armed forces consist of land and air forces, a navy, and a command of missile forces. The supreme commander in chief is the president. General direction of the army is exercised by the deputy supreme commander in chief (the minister of war), the General Staff, and the commanders of the armed services. The army is recruited on the basis of a universal military service law (1960). The period of active military service is three years (for those with secondary education, 18 months), and the draft age is 18 years. Officers are trained in military schools, military colleges, and the military-engineering academy.

Medicine and public health. The birth rate per 1000 inhabitants in 1968 was 38.2, the death rate 16.2, and infant mortality (1970), 68.0 per 1,000 life births. (In 1952 the figures were 45.1, 17.7, and 127.1, respectively.) The average life span is 51.6 years for men and 53.8 for women.

The country’s major diseases are infectious and parasitic (typhoid, paratyphoid, malaria, and epidemic hepatitis). Schistosomiasis, which afflicts about one-half the population, is an important public health problem. The high incidence of blindness (75,000 people with complete loss of vision and 120,000 with impaired vision) is due to the prevalence of conjunctivitis and trachoma.

The Arab Republic of Egypt may be divided into four medicogeographic regions. In the Nile Valley and delta, the overwhelming majority of the diseases known in the entire country are encountered, and their incidence is higher than in other parts of Egypt. Anthroponoses are prevalent, including typhoid and paratyphoid, dysentery, amebiasis, epidemic hepatitis, poliomyelitis, and trachoma. Focuses of transmissible diseases are found in this region (malaria, wuchereriasis, leishmaniasis, and diseases caused by arbor viruses), and brucellosis, Q fever, and leptospirosis are encountered. In desert regions, certain natural factors influence human health. For instance, the wide range of daily temperatures results in an increased incidence of catarrhal diseases, and the high concentration of dust in the atmosphere and the extremely dry air contribute to a high incidence of diseases of the respiratory organs. However, there is no incidence of geohelminthiases and contagious diseases. Some areas of the Libyan Desert and the Sinai Peninsula are breeding grounds of relapsing tick-borne fever. On the Mediterranean coast catarrhal diseases occur frequently, but geohelminthiases are rarely encountered. Phlebotomus fever is endemic. In the oases the incidence of malaria has declined considerably, and schistosomiasis has been virtually eliminated. The Dakhilah oasis is a focus for endemic goiter. Gastroenteric diseases are prevalent in the Siwah oasis. The incidence of ascariasis is low. Ancylostomiasis is encountered in the Bahriyah oasis.

The Ministry of Public Health includes divisions of rural public health, preventive medicine, endemic tropical diseases, hospitals, pharmacies, and school hygiene, as well as a laboratory for public health and institutes engaged in the production of vaccines and serums. Permanent committees have been established on problems of schistosomiasis, the implementation of rural public health programs, and the fight against infectious diseases. There is a department of public health in each muhafazah, and teams consisting of a nurse-mid wife, medical worker, and laboratory technician work in each district. In 1969–70 the budget of the Ministry of Public Health was E££39,677,000 (E££6,761,000 in 1952–53).

Since 1952 measures have been taken to develop the pharmaceutical industry and make drugs cheaper. The All-Egyptian Organization for the Production of Pharmaceuticals and Chemical and Medical Compounds was established. In 1962, a chemical-pharmaceutical plant and a plant for the production of antibiotics were built in Abu Zaabal with the aid of the USSR. The government assumed the functions of distributing medicines and supplying pharmacies, and by 1969 prices for medicines had declined by an average of 25 percent. Medical services are free for most working people.

In 1968 there were 175 hospitals with 68,000 beds (2.16 beds per 1000 inhabitants)—almost 100 percent more than in 1952. Medical care is also offered by physicians in private practice, the dispensaries of general state hospitals, dispensaries for the treatment of skin and venereal diseases, and medical teams. Approximately 375 rural public health centers have been established in the countryside. In 1969 there were 16,200 doctors—one doctor per 1,900 inhabitants. (In 1956 there were 7,600 doctors—one doctor per 3,100 inhabitants.) In 1969 there were 2,000 dentists, 5,400 pharmacists, and about 20,000 middle-level medical personnel.

Physicians are trained at six university medical departments, which graduate about 1,500 students per year. Dentists are trained at university departments in Cairo and Alexandria, and nurses are trained at 18 nursing schools.

There are health resorts at Aswan, Hulwan, and al-Uqsur.


Veterinary services. Cattle plague and African horse plague have been eliminated in the country. Smallpox of sheep and goats is a serious problem (80 new focuses in 1970), and compulsory free vaccinations against it are given every year. Cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been recorded (15 new focuses; all figures in this section are for 1970). The incidence of brucellosis (387 new focuses) has not been definitively established, but on the basis of random examinations, an average of 3.4 percent of water buffalo and 2.5 percent of cows are afflicted. Animals that react positively to the test are slaughtered. Poultry farmers suffer substantial losses owing to Newcastle disease (375 focuses), smallpox of fowl, and chicken cholera. Rabies, which is enzootic, is an important problem (the wild animals of the Nile Valley are a reservoir of the virus). Sporadic cases of malignant anthrax and Q fever have been recorded. (In some regions up to 27 percent of the animals are afflicted with the latter disease.) Piroplasmidosis and helminthiases are prevalent. The major diseases of horses are strangles and epizootic lymphangitis. There are four veterinary scientific research centers, as well as two veterinary departments (at the University of Cairo and the University of Asyut). Egypt has more than 1,500 veterinarians.


Before the revolution of 1952 about 90 percent of the adult population was illiterate. After the revolution, reforms were carried out in elementary and secondary education. Free, compulsory elementary education was proclaimed. Since independence was achieved, illiteracy has decreased to 62 percent of the population (1970).

The system of public education consists of a number of links. For children between the ages of three and six there are kindergartens, whose enrollment was 24,400 in 1968. In the school year 1969–70 the elementary schools’ enrollment was more than 3.6 million, representing 88 percent of the children of the appropriate age group. (In 1950, only 25 percent of the children of elementary school age were enrolled in schools.) General and technical preparatory schools with three-year curricula had 793,000 pupils in the academic year 1969–70, and general and technical secondary three-year schools had an enrollment of approximately 535,000 students in 1969–70. Most of the secondary schools offer a general curriculum, with preparation for specialization in the humanities, natural sciences, or physical mathematical sciences in the final year of study. Teachers for elementary and preparatory schools are trained in elementary teachers colleges with five-year programs based on the curriculum of the preparatory schools. In the academic year 1969–70 more than 25,000 students were enrolled in teachers colleges.

Since 1956 centers for vocational education have been organized to meet the country’s need for highly-skilled workers. The centers accept graduates of secondary schools. The length of the vocational education program varies from nine months to three years, depending on the student’s specialization. By 1970, 32 centers had been established with the technical assistance of the USSR.

The system of higher education includes six universities, institutes, and graduate teachers colleges. The university is the most important form of higher education, with an enrollment of more than 140,000 students out of a total of 174,000 students in the academic year 1967–68. The program of study in the university ranges from four to 5l/2 years, depending on the department. All Egyptian universities have departments of humanities, natural sciences, engineering, medicine, and agriculture. In addition, a number of universities have faculties of pharmacy, law, and business. The major universities are the University of Cairo, Ayn Shams, and al-Azhar in Cairo, and the University of Alexandria. The network of technical institutes is being expanded. The At Tabin Metallurgical Institute, which was built with the assistance of the USSR, was opened in 1968. However, there is still a lack of graduate specialists with higher technical education. A considerable number of young people are sent abroad for higher education, some to the USSR.

The largest libraries are the National Library in Cairo (founded in 1870; 1 million volumes), the Alexandria Municipal Library (founded in 1882; more than 70,000 volumes), and the libraries of the universities of Cairo and Alexandria. The main museums are the Egyptian Museum, the Coptic Museum (1908), the Museum of Islamic Art (1881), the Geological Museum (1899), the Museum of Egyptian Civilization (1939), the Museum of Agriculture (1930), and the Museum of Modern Art (1920), all of which are located in Cairo. The Greco-Roman Museum (1892) and the Naval Museum (1948) are located in Alexandria.


Natural and technical sciences. The scientific and technical knowledge accumulated in ancient Egypt was primarily in mathematics, geography, astronomy, medicine, and construction.

Egyptian science achieved striking successes in the first centuries of the Common Era. Alexandria became a center of Hellenistic culture. Scientific research was conducted primarily in the Academy of Alexandria and the Mouseion of Alexandria. In this period science began to be differentiated into independent branches such as astronomy, mathematics, and statics, whose development was stimulated by the needs of navigation and shipbuilding, the system of land tenure, and military affairs. At the same time, technical knowledge and medicine developed. The greatest scholars of the period were the mathematicians Euclid and Diophantus, the astronomer Ptolemy, and the physician Herophilus.

In the late tenth and early 11th centuries Egyptian geographers completed voyages to Asian and African countries and wrote descriptions of them. The scientific center Dar al-Ulum (the House of Knowledge), was established in Cairo in the early 11th century. The mathematician al-Misri and the mathematician and physicist ibn al-Haytham were among those who worked at the center. In 1004 an observatory was built, where astronomical tables based on observations were compiled. Medicine and chemistry were further developed. Geographical explorations were continued in the 13th and 14th centuries, prompted by Egypt’s increasing economic ties with Europe and the countries bordering on the Indian Ocean. Between the 15th and 18th centuries Egyptian science went through a period of stagnation.

The development of modern research in the natural sciences in Egypt—above all, applied research—was associated with economic reforms carried out by Muhammad Ali in the first third of the 19th century. Improved agricultural techniques were introduced for a number of crops important to Egypt, including cotton, sugarcane, and indigo. A great deal of attention was devoted to problems of medicine. Egyptian scientific specialists were trained in foreign universities. The first prominent Egyptian physicians were Ahmed ar-Rashidi and Muhammad al-Baqalim. Muhammad Safwat was well known in veterinary medicine, Ahmad Nada in pharmacology and chemistry, and Mahmud al-Falaki in astronomy. Canals and irrigation works were built in the second half of the 19th century. Among Egypt’s prominent civil engineers were Ibrahim Ramadan, who worked on the Suez Canal and who was also a well-known mathematician and geodesist, Salama Ibrahim, and Muhammad Sakib. The first scientific societies and institutions were established: the Egyptian Geographic Society (1875), bacteriological laboratories (1885), the Geologic Service (1898), and the Agricultural Society, including a number of laboratories (1898).

Scientific research underwent further expansion in the first half of the 20th century, as industry and culture developed. In addition to the universities in Cairo and Alexandria, the Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (1903), the Red Sea Institute of Oceanography and Fishing (1929), and the Research Institute and Hospital for Tropical Diseases (1932) were established. The National Research Council was founded in 1939 and the Egyptian Academy, with five divisions, in 1941. The Institute of Industrial and Chemical Research was organized in 1951.

Egyptian science entered a new stage of development after the revolution of 1952. Soviet scientists offered a great deal of aid for Egyptian research in nuclear and molecular physics, astronomy, parasitology, and the use of solar energy and water resources, as well as for training scientific personnel. A group of Soviet specialists began work in Egypt in 1963, offering technical assistance in prospecting for mineral deposits and in geological study of the country.

Egypt is making considerable efforts to increase scientific research in the universities and in the scientific institutes attached to them, such as the Medical Scientific Research Institute of the University of Alexandria and the Cancer Study Institute of the University of Cairo.

Scientific research is done in a number of ministries that have scientific research centers and laboratories. The Agricultural Scientific Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture includes all the ministry’s scientific research institutes and laboratories, its experimental stations, and its institutes for scientific research on the deserts. Significant success has been achieved in producing improved varieties of cotton. Since 1958, with the aid of the USSR, Egyptian scientists have been conducting a research program in soil science for theoretical purposes and ultimately for the promotion of the rational use of the land supply. There are scientific research institutes of nutrition, tropical medicine and endemic diseases, ophthalmology, serums and vaccines, and weapons in the fight against rabies, all of which are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Health. The Ministry of Civil Engineering directs a scientific research institute of construction, which studies building materials and designs. The Station for Hydrodynamic Research (near Cairo), the Nile Control Division, and the Division of Land Surveys are under the Ministry of Irrigation. The Ministry of Industry, Petroleum, and Mineral Deposits has scientific research institutes for chemistry, standardization, petroleum, coal, and geologic exploration, as well as central laboratories. The Suez Canal Administration operates a laboratory and a station for hydrodynamic research.

The Scientific Research and Technological Academy is under the jurisdiction of the prime minister. The academy includes 14 specialized councils on problems of industry, petroleum and mineral resources, plant and animal life, land and water resources, energy sources, the environment, and the social sciences and has well-equipped research centers and institutes under the direct supervision of its president. The National Research Center (1956) attached to the academy is the largest scientific institution in the country. A multibranched research organization, the center is engaged primarily in work on industrial and agricultural technology, as well as on the fundamental and applied sciences. Technological research is done in metallurgy, textiles, petroleum, glass and ceramics, paper and fibers, vegetable oil, leather, soil science, and livestock breeding. The National Research Center includes scientific research institutions for various branches of chemistry, physics, technology, and medicine (including problems of nutrition, pharmacology, and ophthalmology).

Also under the jurisdiction of the Scientific and Technological Academy is an Atomic Energy Center (a nuclear reactor and laboratories for nuclear physics, geology, and chemistry, which were built in Inshas ar-Raml with Soviet aid). The Atomic Energy Center studies problems of the peaceful use of atomic energy, particularly radioisotopes. The Scientific and Technological Academy includes three specialized institutes: the Scientific Research Institute of Oceanography and Fishing (branches in Alexandria, Suez, and al-Ghurdaqah and stations in Aswan), the Institute of Astronomy, with observatories in Hulwan and Al Fayyum, and the National Institute for Metrology and Standards.

The first recorded efforts at planning and coordinating research were made in 1939. The Scientific Council was organized in 1956 and became the first institution to deal successfully with questions of the organization and planning of research. In 1961 it was replaced by the Ministry of Scientific Research, and in 1965 by the Supreme Council of Scientific Research. The Ministry of Scientific Research was re-created in 1968.

Social sciences.PHILOSOPHY. Medieval philosophy, like all of Egyptian culture, developed from the eighth century in the general channel of Arab culture, of which it was an integral part. Arab philosophy flourished between the ninth and 12th centuries, after which a period of decline began, giving way to relative stagnation from the 16th century. Arab culture, including philosophy, entered a new period in the 19th century, with the development of bourgeois ideology and the rise of the national liberation movement. Egypt became one of the centers of Arab social thought.

The 19th century was characterized by the endeavor to reform traditional religious beliefs. The ideas of the Muslim reformer Jamal ad-din al-Afghani, which were developed in Egypt by his disciple, Muhammad Abduh, enjoyed great popularity in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th century. As some members of the Egyptian intelligentsia became accustomed to Western European culture, a movement for enlightenment developed, and under the leadership of Tana Husayn, a rationalist approach to the Koran as a literary historical source emerged. The struggle against the traditional world outlook was expressed more radically in the statements of followers of Darwin—Shibli Shmaiil (a Lebanese scholar who lived in Egypt) and Salama Musa. At the same time, attempts were made to reconcile evolutionary theory with religion (Ismail Mazhar). In the early 20th century, the concepts of vulgar materialism, the positivism of H. Spencer, and the teachings of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer were also disseminated.

From the late 1930’s scholars with specialized training in philosophy began to work out philosophical problems. Prominent Egyptian philosophers were exponents of various philosophical trends, including atheistic existentialism (Abdarrahman Badawi, who tried to trace his doctrine to (Sufism), religious existentialism (Zakari Ibrahim), logical positivism (Zaki Naguib Mahmud), and Freudianism (Mustafa Ziwar). Among those who claimed originality for their ideas were Yusuf Marad (the “theory of integration”), Kamil Hussayn (the “biological interpretation of history”), and the writer lawfiq al-Hakim (the “theory of equilibrium”). Religious thinkers continued to be important in philosophy. Yusuf Karam’s views were close to neo-Thomism, and Osman Amin developed the doctrine of Juwaniyya—the internal essence of being, understood intuitively. The essayist Abbas Mahmud al-Aqqad was also an important religious thinker. Marxist-Leninist ideas began to spread in the 1940’s. Significant contributions to the criticism of idealist philosophy and to the popularization of the principles of historical and dialectical materialism were made by Mahmud Amin al-Alim, Fuad Mursi, and Adib Dimitri. At the same time, efforts were made by such philosophers as Yahya Hubaydi to bring together the ideas of socialism and Islam, as well as marxist philosophy and Western idealist doctrines.

There are subdepartments of philosophy in the humanities departments of the University of Cairo, Ayn Shams University, and the University of Alexandria. The University of Al-Azhar remains an international center for the training of Muslim theologians. Problems of philosophy are treated in the journals at-Talia (since 1965), al-Fikr al-Muasir (since 1965), al-Katib (since 1960), and al-Magalla (since 1957).


HISTORY. Regional Egyptian historiography originated in the ninth century. The earliest historical work that has come down to us is by Abdarrahman ibn Abd al-Hakim. It unites the various genres developed by the historians of the Arabic caliphate and introduces a new genre characteristic of Egyptian historiography—the khitat (a historical topographical description of cities and monuments). Unlike traditional works of Arabic historiography, which were organized chronologically, ibn Abd al-Hakim’s work was thematically organized. For example, it includes sections on the administrative structure of Egypt and its system of finances and taxation. However, the chronicle remained the prevalent form of historical writing. Taken as a whole, the chronicles provide an almost uninterrupted history of Egypt from the Arab conquest to the mid-19th century. The most famous accounts of the early Middle Ages and the Fatimids were written by al-Qindi, alHasan ibn Zulak, al-Musabbihi, al-Quda’i and ibn Zafir al-Azdi, and the best known chronicles of the Mameluke period are by Abdallah ibn al-Zahr, Baybars Davidar, and ibn Dukmak. The major historians of the Mameluke period were alMakrizi, Abu al-Mahasin, ibn Taghri-birdi, al-Sakhawi, al-Suyuti, and ibn lyas. In addition to the chronicle, biography was an important genre in Egyptian historiography. Among its most prominent exponents were ibn Haggar al-Askalani (author of two large biographical dictionaries of 14th-century Egyptian judges and illustrious individuals) and al-Sahawi (author of a biographical dictionary of 16th-century figures). The encyclopedias of the 14th through the 15th century, which were compiled by al-Nuwayri, al-Qalqashandi and al-Omari, are of inestimable importance for the study of sources. The first works on the theory of historical science, written by such prominent historians as al-Sahawi, also appeared during the Mameluke period.

Under Ottoman rule, historical chronicles were written by scholars (al-Ishaki and al-Bakri), as well as by bureaucrats or military men who were intimately acquainted with the life of Turkish ruling circles. For example, the chronicles by Ahmad ibn Zunbul, Ahmad Damardash, and Ibrahim Mustafa provide extensive material on conditions in the army and the bureaucracy. Al-Jabarti, the last major representative of Egyptian chroniclers, was an outstanding historian of the late 18th and early 19th century.

In the second quarter of the 19th century chronicles gave way to works whose authors attempted to cover fully a chosen era, accentuating its most important events. The first example of the new trend in Egyptian historiography was the History of Muhammad AH Pasha, by Khalil Ahmad al-Ragab. The work of Rifaa at-Tahtawi, an educator, was important to the development of Egyptian historiography. At-Tahtawi introduced the teaching of history into the Translating Office, of which he was the director, and wrote the first history textbook. He was the first to attempt to present Egypt’s history as a continuous historical process from antiquity to his own time. (Unfortunately, he completed only the section on ancient history.)

A new approach to the traditional khitat genre was taken by the outstanding historian and teacher Ali Mubarak, who wrote a history of all Egyptian cities and settlements from the 15th to the second half of the 19th century. His work is an encyclopedia of the cultural and economic life of Egypt. Mubarak relied on written sources and on the findings of archaeology and the history of material culture. In addition to the works of European scholars, he used the works of Egyptian scholars (Ahmad Kamaliyya on ancient Egyptian culture and on Greco-Roman influence in Egypt and Ali-Bahgata on the material culture of the Arabic Middle Ages).

Events in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th century—the ideological movement for reform, the national liberation movement, and the uprising under Arabi Pasha—attracted the attention of such scholars as Muhammad Abdtuh and Selim Naqqash to the recent history of Egypt. Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid—members of the Watan Party who were involved in the national movement—contributed to Egyptian historiography.

Important to the development of historical science in Egypt was the emergence of scientific historical societies and institutes: the Institute of Egypt, founded in 1859, and al-Maarif (Knowledge), a scientific society that was active in the 1870’s, chiefly as a publisher of great works of Arab literature. The growth of the national movement between 1906 and 1908 and 1919 and 1921 greatly influenced the further development of historical science, which was essentially descriptive during the first third of the 20th century. (Typical of the descriptive style of the period are the works of J. Zaydan, Ismail Sarhank, and Ahmad Shafiq, which were very valuable for the study of sources.) The establishment of the University of Cairo (1908), with its subdepartments of history, and the introduction of the teaching of history in the schools had a positive effect on historical scholarship. Egyptian historiography first approached modern methods of historical research in the works of Professor Muhammad Shafiq Ghorbal, a member of the Cairo university school of historical writing, and the works of Abdarrahman al-Rafi (a series of monographs published between the 1930’s and 1950’s that covers the history of Egypt from the late 18th century to 1959). Since ar-Rafi’s monographs were written, works have been published by a number of major university historians, including Muhammad Sabra and Muhammad Rifaat.

After World War II (1939–45) the scope of problems open to historical investigation expanded significantly, particularly as a result of the opening of the University of Alexandria and Ayn Shams University in Cairo and the increased publication of numerous manuscripts and archival materials. Medieval and 19th and early 20th-century archives were opened to scholars after the revolution of 1952. New scholarly centers for the study of the national liberation movement were established. Problems of the political history, economics, culture, and state system of medieval Egypt are being studied by a number of scholars, including Egyptian university professors Ali Ibrahim Hasan, Hasan Ibrahim Hasan, Muhammad Gamal al-din Surur, Muhammad Mustafa Ziyada, Gamal al-din Shayal, Abd al-Munaym Magjd, Yahya Kashab, Said Ashur, and Ismail Kashef. The works of Muhammad Zakari Goneim and Zeki Muhammad Hasan are among the well-known studies of Egyptian archaeology and material culture. Problems of the modern history of Egypt are treated in the works of Muhammad Shafiq Gorbal, Ahmad Abd al-Rahim Mustafa, Muhammad Fuad Shukri, Abd al-Azim, and Muhammad Ibrahim. Muhammad Anis writes on medieval, modern, and recent history.

The Marxist orientation in Egyptian historical scholarship originated in the 1940’s. It is exemplified in the works of Shuhda Atiya al-Shafia (the history of the national liberation movement), Ibrahim Amir (the history of the agrarian question and the Egyptian peasantry), Fawzi Girgis (socioeconomic problems), Anwar Abd al-Malik (political history and the history of social thought), and Amin Izz-aldin and Abd al-Munaym al-Gazala (the history of the working class and the workers’ movement). Marxist historians pay a great deal of attention to contemporary sociopolitical processes in Egypt and other Arab countries.

The most important centers for the study of history are the departments of humanities of Cairo, Alexandria, and Ayn Shams universities and the Society of Coptic Archaeology (1934). The Institute of Egypt has published the Bulletin de I’lnstitut Egyptien since 1857 and Memoires since 1862. Also important for historical work are the Egyptian Geographical Society (1875), the Center for the Sources and History of Contemporary Egypt of the Ministry of Culture (1967), the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts of the League of Arab States (1946), the Society for Historical Research (1925), and the French Institute of Eastern Archaeology (1881).


ECONOMICS. Before the revolution of 1952, Egyptian economics was dominated by concepts borrowed from the bourgeois political economy of Western countries. (The ideas ofC. F. Bastiat,J. Bentham, A. Marshall, and J. M. Keynes were among the best known.) At the same time, original works on economics, the history of economic development, and statistics were published by such scholars as Muhammad Fahmi Lahita, Muhammad Hamza Ulayshi, Rashid alBarrawa, and Ali al-Ghritla. Important to the development of socioeconomic thought in Egypt was the Association for Political Economy, Statistics, and Jurisprudence, which was established in 1909 and which included prominent economists and representatives of business circles. In the 1940’s, Marxist works on a number of economic problems were published by Ibrahim Amir and Fawzi Girgis.

The socioeconomic reforms implemented in Egypt from the 1950’s and the spread of Marxist-Leninist ideas contributed to the strengthening of progressive tendencies in economic thought. The experience of the socialist countries began to be applied in the solution of concrete economic problems. Egyptian economics is no longer dominated by petit bourgeois tendencies and bourgeois concepts based on the theory of Western European and American bourgeois economists and arguing for the capitalist development of Egypt. Economists such as Muhammad Dawaydar and Zaki Shafii have developed revolutionary democratic economic thought that approaches Marxist views on a number of problems. The Charter of National Action, in particular, reflected the positions of revolutionary democrats concerning the prospects for Egypt’s economic development along noncapitalist lines. The works of exponents of Marxist economic thought, including Ismail Sabri Abdallah, Fuad Mursi, and Ibrahim Saad al-Din, have begun to be considered important. The basic problems studied by Egypt’s economists are related to alternatives for the future development of the economy and the strengthening of the state sector.

Economists are trained at the University of Cairo (the departments of commerce, economics, and political science), the departments of commerce of Ayn Shams University and the universities of Alexandria and Asyut, and the Institute of Finance and Commerce (founded in 1942). The most important economic publications are al-Ahrgm al-lqtisadiyya (since 1909; economic supplements to the newspaper al-Ahram, published twice a month) and L’Egypte contemporaine, the quarterly journal of the Egyptian Association of Political Economy, Statistics, and Jurisprudence (since 1910).


JURISPRUDENCE. Egyptian jurisprudence is associated with traditional Islamic law, which developed around the tenth century. After a long period of stagnation in traditional law, in the 19th and the early 20th century a movement of Islamic reformers emerged. The reformers, one of whom was Muhammad Abduh, advocated the adaptation of the sharia to the needs of Egypt’s bourgeois development. During the second half of the 19th century the distinctiveness of Egypt’s legal system was reflected in its jurisprudence. That is, after the adoption of the first national codes in the 1870’s and 1880’s, including civil, commercial, criminal, and civil procedural codes, most of the institutions associated with these branches of law were regulated by norms borrowed from the French legal system. In addition to the prescriptions of the French system, the Egyptians adopted certain doctrines of French bourgeois jurisprudence. In the late 19th century, the propositions of French jurists were developed by the so-called khedive school of jurisprudence, one of whose representatives—Husayn Fahri-pasha—directed the task of compiling codes of law based on the French model. While jurists of the traditional school (Muhammad Kadri-pasha) worked primarily on problems of family law and the law of inheritance, followers of the European school of jurisprudence devoted themselves to commentaries on codes (for example, Kahil Abd al-Aziz and Sami Mahmud).

In the contemporary period, two currents have developed in the traditional school of Islamic law: on the one hand, the followers of the reformers (for example, Rashid Rida, Muhammad Yusuf Musa, Muhammad Mustafa al-Maragi, and Abd al-Wahhab Khalaf), and on the other hand, the partisans of the legislative regulation of all civil legal relationships on the basis of the sharia (Muhammad Sulayman, Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, and Muhibb al-din al-Katib). The Civil Code of Egypt, which was adopted in 1948, reflected efforts to modernize legislation, although it instructed judges to guide themselves by the norms of Islamic law in filling legal gaps.

Since the revolution of 1952, many Egyptian jurists have participated actively in working out new legislation, including the first Code of Labor Law in Egyptian history (1959) and the Social Insurance Code (1964).

Problems in general legal theory are being studied by Qira Hasan and Madkur Muhammad Sami. A great deal of work is being done in the branches of legal study, including civil law (Mursi Muhammad Kamil and Abd al-Razzak al-Sanhuri), commercial law (Salih Muhammad, Shafiq Mohsen, and Yunis Ali Hasan), criminal law (Shafiq Shikhata), legal procedure (Izza Abd-al Khaliq), and state and administrative law (Halil Osman and Sulayman Muhammad Tamawi).

The centers of jurisprudence are the department of Islamic law at al-Azhar University in Cairo, the law departments of the other universities, and the Egyptian Association of International Law. Legal questions are treated in the journals Magallat al-kanun wa al-iqtisad, published since 1931, and Al-Magalla al-misriyya li al-kanun al-dawli, published since 1945.


LINGUISTICS. The medieval Arabic system of grammar and lexicography developed under the influence of Indian grammar and Greek logic. The exponents of the Basrian grammatical school—Halil and his disciple Sibawiyyah, who wrote the celebrated treatise Al-Kitab (The Book, eighth century)—are considered the founders of Arabic grammatical teaching. The most prominent medieval grammarians were ibn al-Hajib and ibn Hisham. The problems of the development of the Arabic language for use in all spheres of life were first raised in the second half of the 19th century by Rifaa at-Tahtawi.

In the early 20th century, two trends surfaced in the discussion of alternative paths for the development of a new Arabic literary language. Believing that dialects should underlie the new literary language, scholars such as Lutfi al-Said and Qasim Amin opposed using the classical language as an absolute standard. The advocates of the opposing and ultimately triumphant viewpoint (for example, Hiffii Nasif and Ali Yusuf), fought for the preservation of the classical language, with some modifications. The two viewpoints were expressed in textbooks and in a number of works published in the 1930’s (for example, those of Ali al-Jarim) and succeeding decades Ibrahim Mustafa’s book The Renaissance of Grammar, 1959, and Abd al-Alim Ibrahim’s bookA Practical Grammar, 1970.

Scientific trends in linguistics include the traditional approach, which is based on medieval linguistic theory (Abd al-Hamid Hasan, The Rules of Arabic, 1946; 2nd ed., 1952; and Abbas Hasan’s four-volume Complete Grammar, 1960–63; 4th ed., 1971). Comparative historical and theoretical research is also done (Ibrahim Anis, Secrets of the Language, 2nd ed., 1963; Abdarrahman Ayub, Critical Studies on Arabic Grammar, 1957; and Tammam Hassan, Methods of Linguistic Research, 1964). Comparative Semitological studies have been pursued by scholars such as Murad Kamil. A number of works draw on the purely formal methods of describing language (Abd al-Gani Halafalla, A Descriptive Grammar of Egyptian Saidian Speech, 1969). The monographs of Ibrahim Anis (Phonetics, 3rd ed., 1963) and Abdarrahman Ayub (The Sounds of Speech, 1963) are devoted to phonetics and phonology.

There have been significant achievements in lexicology and lexicography. The two-volume Intermediate Dictionary was published in 1960. The first volume of the Great Dictionary (1956), an important fundamental compilation of classical and modern vocabulary, and the Dictionary of the Vocabulary of the Koran (parts 1–6, 1949–53) have been published. A series of terminological dictionaries has been issued, including eight volumes of a set that the Academy of the Arabic Language has been compiling since 1942. The bilingual English-Arabic dictionaries by E. A. Elias (1913; 13th ed., 1961) and Ismail Muzhir’s polytechnical dictionary Al-Nahda (Rebirth, 1962) are well known. In addition to Ibrahim Anis’s Arabic Dialects (1946; 3rd ed., 1965), there are studies of the spoken language of the people of the Nile Delta and Aswan and of the Bedouin of the Maryut region, and a linguistic atlas of the muhafazah of Sharqiyah was compiled in 1961. A facsimile edition of the dictionary of dialects by the Egyptian philologist Yusuf al-Maghribi (died 1611), the manuscript of which is preserved in the library of Leningrad University, was published in 1968 by the Egyptian scholar Abd al-Salam Awwad.

The Academy of the Arabic Language, the Higher Council for Literature and Art, the National Library, the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts, and the French Institute in Cairo are among the organizations engaged in the study and publication of important works by medieval grammarians and the publication of valuable manuscripts and dictionaries. An increasing number of scholars are interested in problems of sociolinguistics (for example, Mansur Fahmi, Ibrahim Anis, and Ahmad Mukhtar Umar). The history of Arabic studies in Europe is treated in The Orientalists, by Nagib al-Aqiqa (1937).

The chief centers for scientific research in Arabic linguistics are the Academy of Arabic Language (1932) and the subdepartments of Arabic philology in the universities of Cairo and Alexandria. Periodical materials on linguistics are published in the journal of the Academy of Arabic Language (since 1934; published twice a year), the journal of the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts, the monthly scientific journal Al-Magalla (since 1957), and university journals.



Korneev, S. G. Nauchnye sviazi Akademii nauk SSSR so stranami AziiiAfriki. Moscow, 1969.
Guide to World Science, vol. 14:North and Central Africa. London, 1969.
Muhammad Abd al-Gani Hasan. Ilm al-tarikh ind al-arab [Science and History Among the Arabs]. Cairo, 1961.
Hasan Ibrahim Hasan. Istahdam al-Masadir wa turuq al-Bahth fi-al-tarikh al islami al-am wafi-al-tarikh al-wasit al-Misri [Use of the Sources and Method of Study of the General History of Islam and of Medieval Egypt]. Cairo, 1963.
Muhammad Ams.Madrasa misriyya tarikhiyya fi-al-ahd al-uthmani [The Egyptian Historical School in the Ottoman Era]. Cairo, 1962.
Gamal al-din ash-Shayyal. Al-Tarikh wa al-muarrikhun fi Misr fi-al-Qarn XIX [History and Historians in Egypt in the 19th Century]. Cairo, 1958.
Krachkovskii, I. lu.Izbr. soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1955. Pages 301–86.
Ibrahim Madkour. Majmaa al-lughat al-arabiyyafi thalathuna aman [The Academy of the Arabic Language Since Its Founding]. Cairo, 1964.
Abd al-Salam Kharun. “Ikhia at-turas” [Renaissance of the Legacy], Al’-Magallia, 1966, no. 114.

In 1974 about 400 periodicals were published, primarily in Arabic. The entire press is controlled by the government and the Arab Socialist Union. The most influential dailies are al-Ahram (founded in 1875; circulation, 250,000–300,000 [all circulation figures are for \972]),al-Akhbar (founded in 1952; circulation, 230,000–250,000), and al-Jumhuria (founded in 1953, circulation, about 80,000 copies). Important weekly journals include Roz al-Yusuf (founded in 1925; circulation, about 40,000), al-Musawwar (founded in 1924; circulation, about 60,000), and Akhir Saa (founded in 1934; circulation, 60,000–70,000). Also influential are the monthly journals alTalia (founded in 1965; circulation, about 10,000) and al-Katib (circulation, 5,000 copies). The official news agency of Egypt is Middle East News (MEH). Founded in 1956, it supplies news bulletins to the press, radio, and television.

Radio broadcasting began in Egypt in 1932, television broadcasting in 1960. Radio and television are under the jurisdiction of a government service—the Radio and Television Corporation. Radio broadcasting is carried on ten frequencies, television broadcasting on two channels. There are 19 transmitting and relaying stations located in such major cities as Cairo, Alexandria, al-Ismailiyah, and Port Said.


The literature of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and other Arab countries developed in close association with each other on the basis of their common cultural heritage. Arabic literature took shape in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century in the context of the birth of capitalist relations, which was accompanied by the intensification of the struggle of the Egyptian people against Turkish rule and the colonial expansion of the European powers. The revival of Egyptian literature and cultural life was prepared for by the reforms of Muhammad Ali and by the activity of the early bourgeois proponents of enlightenment—the poet and publicist Shihab-ad-Din (1786–1857), who was the editor of the first newspaper, al-Waqaa al-misriyya; Rifaa at-Tahtawi (1801–73), the founder of the Translating Office (1836); Ali Mubarak (1824–93), the founder of the National Library of Egypt; and Abdallah Fakri (1834–90).

Between 1870 and 1917 Egypt’s social thought and the development of its modern literature were somewhat influenced by the ideologists of Islamic reformation Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838 or 1839–97) and Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), the champion of women’s emancipation Qasim Amin (1865–1908), and the founder of the national Watan Party, Mustafa Kamil (1874–1908). Although poetry remained traditional in form, it was linked to journalistic writing in its ideas. Among the modern Egyptian poets were Sami al-Barudi (1839–1904), Yaqub Sannu (1839–1912), Adib Ishaq (1856–85), Ahmad Shawqi (187O-1932), and Wali-al-din Yakun (1873–1921).

Egyptian advocates of enlightenment turned to the theater in their quest for an effective means of propagating their views. At first the repertoire of the Egyptian theater consisted of translations and adaptations of plays by Shakespeare, Corneille, Molière, and Hugo, with the scene of action transferred to Egypt. Soon, however, original historical patriotic dramas were written, including Homeland and The Arabs (1880) by Abdallah Nadim (1845–96)andThe Conquest of Andalusia (1893) by Mustafa Kamil.

The genre of the historical novel was first used in Egypt by the Lebanese émigrés Jirji Zaidan (1861–1914;The Fugitive Mameluke, 1891,and Qasanidka, 1896–97) and Farah Antun (1874–1922;The New Jerusalem, or the Capture of Jerusalem by the Arabs, 1904). In the early 20th century there appeared didactic short stories on contemporary themes, whose style was close to the traditional maqama (“lecture; a style of story dating from the tenth century). Among them were “The Story of Isa ibn Hishama” (1898–1900) by Muhammad al-Muwaylihi (1858–1930), “The Night of Satih” (1906) by Muhammad Hafiza Ibrahim (1872–1932), and “The Girl from Dinshaway” (1906) by Mahmud Tahir Hakki. Landmarks in the creation of contemporary realistic prose in Egypt were the novella Zayab (1914) by Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888–1956) and particularly the collection of stories What the Eyes See (1918), by Muhammad Taymur (1892–1921), the founder of the school of Egyptian short-story writers. The theme of the emancipation of women was expressed in the sentimental novellas of Mustafa Lutfia alManfaluti (1876–1924).

A number of publicists and writers began to propagate the ideas of socialism in their work in the early 20th century. Among them were Shibli Shmail (1860–1917), Salama Musa (1888–1958), and Mustafa Hasanayn al-Mansuri (born 1890).

The most recent period in Egyptian literature began with the upsurge in the national liberation movement between 1919 and 1921. It has been characterized by a revival of poetic forms, which was foreshadowed by the work of Halil Mutran (1871–1949). Romanticism in poetry has been reaffirmed by the literary groups the Poets of the Divan (Abbas Mahmud al-Aqqad, 1889–1970, and Abdarrahman 1886–1958), Apollo (Ahmad Zaki ri, Abu Shadi, 1892–1955, Ibrahim Nagui, 1898–1953, and Ali Mahmud Taha, 1902–49), and especially the Poets of the Cataract (for example, Osman Hilmi, 1894–1962).

In prose, critical realism became a stronger trend, as is revealed in the collections of stories Sheik Juma and Uncle Mitwalli (both 1925) by Mahmud Taymur (born in 1894) and the novella Days (part 1, 1926–27; part 2, 1939) and the social novel Call of the Turtle-dove (1934) by Taha Husayn (born in 1889). Other works in the style of critical realism include the social slice-of-life novel Return of the Spirit (1927; published 1933) and the novella Notes of a Provincial Inspector (1937) by Tawfiq al-Hakim (1898) and the novel Ibrahim the Journalist (1931) by Ibrahim Abd al-Kadir al-Mazini (1890–1947). Important in the development of realistic prose were the literary group of Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid (1872–1963) and the Contemporary School of Ahmad Hayri Sayyid (1894–1962), whose members acquainted Arab readers with the works of

L. N. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gorky. Contemporary as well as historical themes emerged in such plays as Tawfiq al-Hakim’s The Uninvited Guest (1918), Muhammad Taymur’s The Abyss (1921), and Antun Yazbik’s Storm in the House (1924) and Victims (1925).

With the decline of the national liberation movement and the onset of a reactionary period in the 1930’s, the works of a number of writers revealed pessimism and a retreat from the principles of realism. Typical of the mood of this period are al-Hakim’s symbolic dramas Schehereiade (1934) and Pygmalion (1942), Mahmud Taymur’s collection of short stories Call of the Unknown (1939), Abbas Mahmud al-Aqqad’s novella Sara (1938), and Yahya Haqqi’s stories.

After World War II (1939–45) a group of young writers emerged—representatives of democratic strata of the population. Turning to themes from the life, labor, and struggle of the common people, they endeavored to serve the people’s interests through art. Among these writers were Ibrahim Abdul Halim (the collection of stories The Odor of Our Life, 1946), Abdarrahman al-Sharkawi (born 1921; the novels The Land, 1954, and Away From the Main Streets, 1958), Abdarrahman al-Hamisi (born 1920; the collections of stories The Blood-stained Shirt, 1953, and This Blood Does not Dry, 1956), and Numan Ashur (born 1922; the collection Tales of Uncle Farag, 1947). In the collections of stories The Cheapest Nights (1954), Is It not so? (1957), Yusuf Idris (born 1927) masterfully shows the fate of the little man. The short stories of Muhammad Sidqi’s (born 1927) are devoted to the lives of the Egyptian workers. Unfortunately, the works of Ihsan Abdul Qudus (born 1918), Saad Makawi, and Amin Yusuf Guraba (born 1911) are often confined to the narrow world of personal experiences.

In the development of the social novel a prominent place is held by Naguib Mahfuz (born 1911). A broad panorama of Egyptian society during the 1940’s and 1950’s is given in his postwar works, including the novels New Cairo (1945), The Beginning and the End (1949), and the trilogy Bayna alQasrayn (1956–57). Romantic features characterize the novels of Yusuf al-Sibay (born 1917)—The Land of Hypocrisy (1949), The Water-carrier Died (1954), and Give Back My Heart (1955), which is about the revolution of 1952 and the awakening of patriotic feeling in the royal army.

The proclamation of the republic in 1953 influenced the work of a number of writers of the older generation, including Taha Husayn, Mahmud Taymur, and Tawfiq al-Hakim. Postwar poets include Aziz Abaza (1899–1969), Abduh Badawi, Salah Gawdat, and Mahmud Hasan Ismail (1910), as well as writers whose sympathies are with the revolutionary democratic movement (Abdarrahman al-Sharqawi, Abdarrahman al-Hamisi, Fuad Haddad, and Salah Janin). Social and political dramas have been written by Tewfik al-Hakim (Tender Hands, 1953, and The Deal, 1956; Russian translation, 1960), Yusuf Idris (for example, Sin, 1959; Russian translation, 1962), and Ali Ahmad Baksir (1910–69;An Empire at Auction, 1949, and Goh as N ail, 1953). Other authors of sociopolitical dramas include Numan Ashur (The People at the Bottom, 1954, and The People on Top, 1956), Alfred Farag (born 1929;The Fall of Pharaoh, 1964, and The Algerian Girl Jamil Buhirad, 1968), and Mahmud al-Saadani (born 1924;The Estate of Banayuta, 1962).

Prominent themes in the work of young writers of the 1960’s are the struggle against the tripartite aggression of 1956 and the Israeli aggression of 1967, the struggle for the liberation of occupied land, and the problems of national construction. Representative of the writers who emphasize these themes are Ahmad Hashim al-Sharif, Gamal al-Gitani, Muhammad Hafiz Ragib, Su lay man Fayyad, and Faruk Munib. Their work is characterized by a search for new forms and by features of French existentialist literature, which are particularly evident in the prose of Edward al-Kharat (born 1926) and the recent novels of Naguib Mahfuz (The Miramar Pension, 1966, and Under the Awning, 1967). A great number of the works of Soviet and progressive European writers have been translated into Arabic.

Among the literary and sociopolitical journals published in the Arab Republic of Egypt are al-Hilal (since 1892) and al-Shiar (since 1964). In addition to the League of Egyptian Writers, which is primarily occupied with solving technical problems of publication and financing, since 1955 there has been a Union of Writers, which emphasizes creative questions. The writers of the Arab Republic of Egypt participate actively in the work of the Association of Writers of Asia and Africa.


Krachkovskii, I. lu. Izbr. soch., vols. 1–3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955–56.
Sovremennaia arabskaia literatura: Sb. statei. Moscow, 1960. (translated from Arabic.)
Borisov, V. M. Sovremennaia egipetskaia proza. Moscow, 1961.
al-Fahuri, H. Istoriia arabskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Arabic.)
Solov’ev, V., Fil’shtinskii, and D. lusupov. Arabskaia literatura. Moscow, 1964.
Dolinina, A. A. Ocherki istorii arabskoi literatury novogo vremeni. Moscow, 1968. [Egypt and Syria.]
Krymskii, A. E. Istoriia sovremennoi arabskoi literatury, XlX-nach. XX v. Moscow, 1971.
Shawqi Daif. ad-Adab al-arabi al-muasir fi Misr [Contemporary Arabic Literature in Egypt]. Cairo, 1960.
Ali al-Rai. Dirasat fi al-riwayya al-misriyya [Lectures on the Egyptian Novel]. Cairo, 1964.


Architecture. The earliest cultural monuments in Egypt date to the Neolithic and Aeneolithic ages. The high level of late Neolithic culture in the Nile Valley laid the foundation for the brilliant development of art in ancient Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander of Macedon and the subsequent close contact of the ancient Egyptian and classical Greek cultures in Egypt, Hellenistic culture flourished—a complex conglomerate of classical and native Egyptian features. Coptic art developed in Egypt between the fourth and seventh centuries A.D. Its traditions—particularly in weaving—survived until the 13th century.

With the coming of the Arabs in 639 and the spread of Islam, Egypt participated actively in the development of Arabic culture. The first Arab cities in Egypt, such as al-Fustat (founded in 640), had many of the features of military camps. The main architectural components of the city became the mosque, the ruler’s palace, the public baths, and the barracks. A thick wall surrounded the city, which had a rectangular layout. Characteristic of the religious architecture of the seventh through the ninth century was the columned mosque, with a spacious, multipillared hall, flat beamed ceiling, and interior courtyard (the Amra ibn al-Asa Mosque in al-Fustat, 641–42; rebuilt in the ninth century). The civil architecture of the period is represented by the Nile Measure on the island of Rodah—a stone well with a marble column in the center to measure the water level of the Nile.

Bold spatial resolutions, severely majestic monuments, clear composition, and accentuation of architectural forms with sculptures and carved ornamentation characterized the architecture of the late ninth century (Tulunid dynasty) and the tenth through 12th century (Fatimid dynasty). The ibn Tulun mosque in Cairo has a prayer hall with five naves that opens into a square interior courtyard with arched galleries on three sides. During the Fatimid period T-shaped transepts were characteristic of the prayer halls of columned mosques (the al-Azhar Mosque, 970–72, and the al-Hakim Mosque, 990–1013, both in Cairo). Early Fatimid mausoleums were square, with an arch in the center of each facade and a cupola on an eight-sided drum (the Sabaa Banat mausoleums—the Seven Daughters, located in al-Fustat). Some late Fatimid mausoleums, such as the Umm Kulthum Mausoleum in Cairo (1122), have three mihrabs (niches marking the direction in which prayers should be addressed), vaults and capitals with stalactite work, and a domed chamber surrounded on three sides by galleries. Fatimid minarets have a tall pedestal, square layout, and a round stem with an octagonal pavilion at the top (the minaret in Esna, 1081–82). Among the examples of secular architecture that have been preserved are the city gates of Cairo: Bab al-Futuh, Bab al-Nasir, and Bab al-Zuwayla (11th century). Residential houses of the tenth and 11th centuries (archaeological finds in al-Fustat) were divided into public reception and living sections, each of which had an interior courtyard into which deep aywans opened.

Under the Ayyubids (12th-13th centuries) and Mamelukes (13th-15th centuries) religious buildings such as mosques, madrasahs, and mausoleums were parts of architectural ensembles (for example, Sultan Kalaun’s palace in Cairo, 1284–85). The severity of these monumental architectural forms was relieved by magnificent furnishings and abundant ornamentation (stucco and wood carving, stalactite work, and patterned masonry in colored stone). The basic architectural ensembles of the period were the mosque-madrasah with four aywans (Sultan Hasan’s in Cairo, 1356–63), the square mausoleum with a dome covered with carved designs (the Mameluke mausoleums in Cairo, 15th-early 16th century), and tall minarets with small balconies and a small dome. Examples of Mameluke secular architecture that have been partly preserved include maristans (hospitals) such as the one in Sultan Kalaun’s ensemble and the Nasir Muhammad aqueduct. Residential houses of the 17th and 18th centuries in Cairo retain the traditional Mameluke layout (three- and four-story buildings grouped around a small courtyard with a fountain) and decor (windows and hanging balconies covered with carved wooden grates—musharabiyya).

In the Ottoman period Egyptian mosques were modeled after Turkish mosques. Immense, centered buildings with large hemispherical domes and peaked minarets, their style is exemplified by the mosques of Sinan Pasha (Cairo, 1571) and Muhammed AH (Cairo, 1830–48; architect Yusuf Buhna). French, Italian, English, and Belgian architects participated in planning a number of Egyptian buildings in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, including the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (1902; French architect M. Dourgnon). Banks, hotels, customs houses, villas, government buildings, and palaces were built, most of them in an eclectic style.

Since the revolution of 1952 a great deal of work has been done to reconstruct urban areas and provide them with modern services (general plans for Cairo, 1955, and Alexandria, 1958). Workers’ settlements are being built (for example, Om Sabar and Omar Makram). Architectural projects of the past decade included public buildings (the airport in Cairo, 1962; architects S. Zaytun and M. Shafqi, and A. Usman), multistory hotels (the Palestine in Alexandria, architects Abd al-Magid and Sh. Husnaa) and architecturally extravagant resort hotels (the an-Naser in Alexandria, early 1960’s; architect A. Labib Gabr). North of Cairo the satellite city of Nasser has been under construction since the 1960’s, with a tourist center and a stadium that seats 100,000 (chief architect, S. Karim). The architecture of contemporary public buildings is characterized by a combination of towers and vertical and layered horizontal units (for example, the television center building in Cairo, 1967; architect J. Mumin). Contemporary designs and materials (sun-shielding and ventilating arrangements, metal frames, glass, and reinforced concrete) are sometimes combined with elements of medieval Arabic architecture (figured lattices on balconies and windows and ornamentation).

Art. The earliest works of Egyptian Muslim art that have been preserved date from the Fatimid period. Among them are fragments of a fresco from the baths in al-Fustat (tenth through llt h century, the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo), stone, wood, and ivory carvings of musicians, dancers, and horsemen, and scenes of hunts and feasts (for example, friezes from the Fatimid Palace in Cairo, late tenth-early 11th century). A number of miniatures have also been preserved (the India ink drawing of two warriors, llt h century, Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo; illustrations in the manuscript of al-Hariri’s Maqamat, 1337, Bodleian Library, Oxford). Hellenistic and Coptic traditions are reflected in the style of the images, and the artist’s attention to nature can be sensed.

Among the decorative applied arts that developed in medieval Egypt were woven embroidery and printed fabrics, which were made at the tirazas—state workshops in Alexandria, Tinnis, and Dumyat. Painted ceramics (ninth through 12th century, al-Fustat) and colored glazes were highly developed, as were cut and etched rock crystal vessels (tenth through 12th century). Representative of glass articles with colored enamel paintings are lamps for mosques executed in the 13th through 15th century. Metal articles were made, including bronze figures (the griffin, 11th-12th centuries, Campo Santo, Pisa) and utensils with elegant engraving, inlays, and carving (13th–15th centuries). Examples of medieval Egyptian wood carving include portable mihrabas, minbars, and pedestals for the Koran. In all forms of Egyptian Arabic art the most important role belonged to design and calligraphy. Articles made in the tenth through the 12th century were often decorated with drawings of people and animals. In subsequent periods, arabesques prevailed.

With the development of the national liberation movement in Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th century, a new style of art emerged, whose formation was connected with the assimilation of the modern European style and with efforts to revive the traditions of the ancient Egyptian masters. The great sculptor Mahmud Mukhtar studied with French sculptors, but at the same time he became acquainted with ancient Egyptian sculpture. His works, which are imbued with patriotic ideas, demonstrated the possibility of creatively rethinking ancient traditions within the framework of contemporary forms (the monument Egypt Awakening, Cairo, 1919–28).

Impressionism, fauvism, and Italian and French academism influenced Egyptian painting. The founders of the contemporary Egyptian school were Muhammad Nagi (realistic, richly colored genre and landscape painting and wall panels), Mahmud Said (colorful canvases on themes from the life of ordinary Egyptians), and Ahmad Sabri (realistic portraits). The revolution of 1952 and the social reforms of the 1950’s and 1960’s gave new impetus to the development of the art of political posters and caricature. Drawings and book illustrations became more important. In Alexandria an independent school of painting emerged, including Sayf Wuanli and Adham Wuanli. The highly original work of the Egyptian sculptor Gamal al-Sagini flowered (the allegorical reliefs Peace and War Between Heaven and Earth, 1954, and Freedom, 1956). Of all artistic subjects, the theme of the struggle for freedom and independence became the most widely expressed (Abd al-Wafi’s poster Warrior Defending Freedom). Muhammad Oways devoted his painting to episodes from the life of the workers, and Inji Aflatun’s life-affirming canvasses celebrated the beauty of the native land and the labor of the fellahin.

The painter and potter Said Abdul Rassul treats genre subjects as decorative composition. Striving to make a direct connection between contemporary and ancient Egyptian art, Ismail Taha uses the compositional methods of ancient Egyptian frescoes to create modernistic pictures. The sculptors Ahmad Osman and Dia al-Sakaf are among those who have turned to the realistic method of embodying national themes. Some young artists seek a style in abstractionism and other modernistic currents. Traditional forms of applied art continue to develop—carving in metal, wood, and ivory, jewelry-making, weaving, and ceramics.


Veimarn, B. “Iskusstvo arabskikh stran.” InVseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vol. 6, book 1. Moscow, 1965.
Veimarn, B. “Progress! vnoe isskusstvo stran Arabskogo Vostoka.” Khudoztmik, 1971, no. 1.
Voronina, V. L. “Arkhitektura arabskikh stran.” In Vseobshchaiu istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 8. Moscow, 1969.

Contemporary Egyptian music is the product of the interaction of the musical cultures of a number of peoples of the Near East. It is heterogeneous, in many cases preserving features inherited from ancient Egypt. From the time of the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs in the seventh century, melodies based on the four-tone scale prevailed, and maqamat—vocal and instrumental suites reflecting the traditions of professional folk music—became particularly important. In the Middle Ages, Egypt produced outstanding theoreticians and performers, including ibn al-Haitan (11th century), al-Musabbihi (11th century), A. Umaya (12th century), ibn Sana al-Mulk, Alam-al-din Kwaysar, al-Nuwayri (14th century), and al-Magrazi (15th century). From the 16th century music developed more slowly as a result of protracted foreign rule.

The influence of European music began to penetrate Egypt in the late 18th and early 19th century. Music revived, and private music schools and military orchestras were established on the European model. At the same time, efforts were made to revive national art. Well-known 19th-century Egyptian musicians included the composer Muhammad alKabbani, the lutenist Ahmed al-Laiti, the flutist Amin Buzari, the singers Mustafa al-Aggadi, Abd al-Hamuli, Khatib al-Kanuni, and Muhammad Osman, and the music historian Muhammad Shihab al-Mulk. The Opera House—the first opera theater in Africa—opened in Cairo in 1869; however, only guest artists appeared in the performances. The British occupation and the establishment of a colonial regime retarded the development of national art. Nonetheless, the work of the founder of modern Egyptian music, Sayyid Darwish, became well known in the 1920’s. On the initiative of the composer Abu Bakr Hayrat, the Musical Society was founded in 1927. The Institute of Arabic Music opened in 1929, and the Women’s Music Institute in 1935. Efforts were made to establish a symphony orchestra. A congress of Arabic music was held in 1932. The government, however, did not support the development of a national musical culture.

The revolution of 1952 created the preconditions for the development of a national culture. With the active assistance of masters of art from the USSR and other socialist countries, Egyptian performing musicians, operatic singers, and ballet dancers began to be trained. The country’s most prominent composers include Abd al-Wahhab, Farid al-Atrash, Ahmed Saad-al-din, Abd al-Hakim Hafiz, Abd al-Halim Nwayr, Muhammad al-Mugi, Ibrahim Haggag, Hasan Rashid, and Aziz Shawan. The Music Committee of the Higher Council for Arts, Letters, and Sciences, the Union of Professional Musicians (founded in 1955), the Folk Art Ensemble (founded in 1962), the State Dance Ensemble, and the Ensemble of Folk Dance, the Music Academy (a conservatory founded in 1959), the Advanced Ballet Institute (founded in 1966), schools of music and choreography, and the Higher Music School (a center for the study of national music) are located in Cairo.


Ob’edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika. Moscow, 1968. Pages 365–77.


In the first half of the 19th century a prevalent theatrical form in Egypt was the presentation by muhabbiziks—buffoons who performed satirical sketches in squares and markets to amuse and entertain the people. There were also numerous semifarcical troupes that performed at popular festivals. Egypt became acquainted with European theater arts during Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition (1798–1801). In the early 1870’s dramatic performances were staged at the Cairo Opera, presenting chiefly guest actors. The professional theater was born in the 1870’s.

In the late 19th century many amateur theater groups were formed among the intelligentsia, particularly among students. Late 19th- and early 20th-century professional troupes were led by Yakub Sannu, Salim Naqqash, Sulayman al-Kardahi, Iskandir Faraj Adib Ishak, and Muhammad Osman Gallal, each of whom was simultaneously playwright, director, actor and, as a rule, owner of the troupe. Many Egyptian actors, including Salama al-Higazi, first practiced their art in the troupes. Translations of works of classic authors (Moliére, Shakespeare, and Corneille) were of great significance for the development of the Egyptian theater. (The events and action of classic plays were adapted to Muslim customs and life.)

Egyptian theater entered a more mature period in the second decade of the 20th century, when the country’s cultural life was undergoing significant development. George Abyad, who studied drama in France, founded a troupe that presented Othello in 1912 at the Opera Theater in Cairo. Troupes were also founded by AH Kassar, Aziz Id, and Naguib ar-Rihani. Historical dramas designed to arouse national self-consciousness were staged, including Antun Farah’s Sultan Salah-ad-din and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1914) and Ibrahim Ramsi’s The Heroes of al-Mansura (1915), which told of the Arabs’ struggle against the Crusaders. The upsurge of the national liberation movement between 1919 and 1921 promoted the further development of the theater in Egypt. Tawfiq al-Hakim’s The Uninvited Guest (1918), which was directed against the British colonialists, was popular. In 1919, al-Hakim founded a troupe that worked successfully for many years, becoming one of Cairo’s most popular performing groups by the late 1960’s. The number of theatrical troupes increased in the 1920’s with the establishment of such groups as the musical dramatic theater of Sayyid Darwish and Munira Mahdiyya (1920) and the Ramses Theater (1924). The Higher Committee for the Development of Arabic Theater Art was organized in the 1930’s, the first state national troupe was established in 1935, and The Arabic Theater Institute was opened in 1944.

The revolution of 1952 contributed to the development of theater art. The development of a national dramaturgy stimulated the organization of a network of state and private theater troupes and the establishment of permanent theaters. A puppet theater with two troupes was opened in Cairo in 1958 (one troupe performs in the city while the other tours the country). The al-Gumhuriyya Theater, where contemporary theater techniques are applied, was built in Cairo in 1961. Other Cairo theaters include the al-Uzbekiyya, which opened in 1920. The major theatrical companies had taken shape by 1965 (the National Theater, the World Theater, and the Masrah al-Gayb, Tawfiq al-Hakim, and Comedy theaters). Well-known theater figures include Ahmad Alam, Husayn Riad, Abbas Paris, Fuad Shafiq, Amina Rizk, and Alwia Gamil. The repertoire of the theaters includes plays by Tawfiq alHakim, Ahmad Shawqi, and Aziz Abaza, as well as classic dramatic works in translation. Alexandria is the country’s second theater center. There are also theaters in Damanhur, Tanta, and Port Said.

The Institute of Theater Art, which was founded in 1952 in Cairo on the basis of the Arabic Theater Institute, has faculties of acting, playwrighting, stage design, and stage techniques. The best known theater scholars include Muhammad Taymur, Muhammad Mandur, and Luis Abbad. The journal al-Masrah (Theater) was published in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The National Circus began to perform in Egypt in 1970.


Muhammad Mandur. al-Masrah Qahira [The Egyptian Theater]. Cairo, 1958.
Landau, J. M. Studies in the Arab Theater and Cinema. Philadelphia [1958].


Foreign directors and cameramen began making various short-length newsreels in 1897 and feature films in 1917. The first film studio, Misr, was built in Cairo in 1925. Film-making has been well organized since 1927. In the 1930’s most of the films produced were musicals featuring famous singers and composers (for example, Abd-al-Wahhab and Umm Kulthum). The first screen versions of literary works and national legends and films on historical and contemporary subjects were made in the 1940’s by such directors as Ahmad Badrhan, Salah Abu Sayf, and Husayn Sidqi. These films aroused patriotic feelings and summoned the people to the struggle against the imperialists.

Themes new to Egyptian cinematography began to develop in the 1950’s. Films devoted to social and cultural reforms and to changes in the consciousness of people were made, including Jamila (1959) and Earth (1968, both directed by Yusuf Shahin), Return Life to Me (1966, directed by Nuraddin Zulfikar; Soviet title, Alive Again), People on the Nile (1970, directed by Shahin and produced with Soviet assistance), and Mumiyya (1971, directed by Aziz Fahmi). Films on the consequences of Israeli aggression in the Arabic east were accusatory documents. However, films in the traditional genres of melodrama, comedy, and musical entertainment have also been released. Among the actors appearing in films are Fatin Hamama, Ahmad Hamdi, Shadiyya, Farid Shawqi, Madikha Yusri, Samiha Ayub, Fuad Muhandis, and Husayn Ismail. The Arab Republic of Egypt has the most highly developed cinematography of all Arabic countries. Each year 50–60 feature films are released, and there are more than 300 motion picture theaters.


“Kino.” In Ob’edinennaia Arabskaia Respublika. Moscow, 1968. Pages 348–57.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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