1.the capital of Egypt and the largest city in Africa; a major port just to the south of the Nile delta; formerly the home of the Pharaohs
2.a town at the southern tip of Illinois at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
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Descripteurs EUROVOC (fr)[Thème]
|Downtown Cairo; top right: Ibn Tulun Mosque; Middle: Cairo Citadel; Bottom left: Nile Felucca; Bottom middle: Cairo Tower; Bottom right: Muizz Street|
|Nickname(s): Mother of the World (umm al-dunya), The City of a Thousand Minarets, Capital of the Arab World|
|• Governor/Mayor||Abdel Qawi Khalifa|
|• City||453 km2 (175 sq mi)|
|• Urban||6,640 km2 (2,560 sq mi)|
|• Metro||86,369 km2 (33,347 sq mi)|
|Elevation||23 m (75 ft)|
|• Density||17,190/km2 (44,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
Cairo ( // KYE-roh; Arabic: القاهرة al-Qāhira, literally "The Vanquisher" or "The Conqueror"), is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Located near the Nile Delta, it was founded in the year 969 A.D. making it 1,043 years old. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life. Cairo was founded by the Fatimid dynasty in the 10th century AD.; but the land composing the present-day city was the site of national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo is also associated with Ancient Egypt due to its proximity to the ancient cities of Memphis, Giza and Fustat which are nearby to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza.
Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Maṣr (Arabic: مصر), the Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city's continued role in Egyptian influence. Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab World, as well as the world's second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city, and the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of 6.76 million spread over 453 square kilometers (175 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. With an additional ten million inhabitants just outside the city, Cairo resides at the centre of the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the eleventh-largest urban area in the world. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic, but its metro – one of only two metros on the African continent (the other one being the Algiers Metro) also ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 700 million passenger rides annually. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East, and 43rd globally by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index.
The area around present-day Cairo, especially Memphis, had long been a focal point of Ancient Egypt due to its strategic location just upstream from the Nile Delta. However, the origins of the modern city is generally traced back to a series of settlements in the first millennium. Around the turn of the 4th century, as Memphis was continuing to decline in importance, the Romans established a fortress town along the east bank of the Nile. This fortress, known as Babylon, remains the oldest structure in the city. It is also situated at the nucleus of Egypt's Coptic Christian community, which separated from the Roman and Byzantine church in the late 4th century. Many of Cairo's oldest Coptic churches, including The Hanging Church, are located along the fortress walls in a section of the city known as Coptic Cairo.
In 969 the Fatimids led by General Gawhar al-Siqilli with his Kutamas's army, under the moral flagship of Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi, a Shiite Ismaili Imam, to establish the Fatimid dynasty. Egypt was conquered from their base in Ifriqiya and a new fortified city northeast of Fustat was established. It took four years for Gawhar to build the city, initially known as al-Manṣūriyyah, which was to serve as the new capital of the caliphate. During that time, Jawhar also commissioned the construction of al-Azhar Mosque, which developed into the third-oldest university in the world. Cairo would eventually become a centre of learning, with the library of Cairo containing hundreds of thousands of books. When Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah finally arrived from the old Fatimid capital of Mahdia in Tunisia in 973, he gave the city its present name, al-Qahira ("The Victorious").
For nearly 200 years after Cairo was established, the administrative centre of Egypt remained in Fustat. However, in 1168 the Fatimids under the leadership of Vizier Shawar set fire to Fustat to prevent Cairo's capture by the Crusaders. Egypt's capital was permanently moved to Cairo, which was eventually expanded to include the ruins of Fustat and the previous capitals of al-Askar and al-Qatta'i. While the Fustat fire successfully protected the city of Cairo, a continuing power struggle between Shawar, King Amalric I of Jerusalem, and Zengid general Shirkuh led to the downfall of the Fatimid establishment.
In 1169 Saladin was appointed as the new vizier of Egypt by the Fatimids and two years later he would seize power from the family of the last Fatimid caliph, al-'Āḍid. As the first Sultan of Egypt, Saladin established the Ayyubid dynasty, based in Cairo, and aligned Egypt with the Abbasids, who were based in Baghdad. During his reign, Saladin also constructed the Cairo Citadel, which served as the seat of the Egyptian government until the mid-19th century.
In 1250 slave soldiers, known as the Mamluks, seized control of Egypt and like many of their predecessors established Cairo as the capital of their new dynasty. Continuing a practice started by the Ayyubids, much of the land occupied by former Fatimid palaces was sold and replaced by newer buildings. Construction projects initiated by the Mamluks pushed the city outward while also bringing new infrastructure to the centre of the city. Meanwhile, Cairo flourished as a centre of Islamic scholarship and a crossroads on the spice trade route between Europe and Asia. By 1340, Cairo had a population of close to half a million, making it the largest city west of China.
Although it avoided Europe's stagnation during the Late Middle Ages, Cairo could not escape the Black Death, which struck the city more than fifty times between 1348 and 1517. During its initial, and most deadly waves, approximately 200,000 people were killed by the plague, and, by the 15th century, Cairo's population had been reduced to between 150,000 and 300,000. The city's status was further diminished after Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route around the Cape of Good Hope, thereby allowing spice traders to avoid Cairo.
Cairo's political influence diminished significantly after the Ottomans supplanted Mamluk power over Egypt in 1517. Ruling from Constantinople, Sultan Selim I relegated Egypt to a mere province, with Cairo as its capital. For this reason, the history of Cairo during Ottoman times is often described as inconsequential, especially in comparison to other time periods. However, during the 16th and 17th centuries, Cairo remained an important economic and cultural centre. Although no longer on the spice route, the city facilitated the transportation of Yemeni coffee and Indian textiles, primarily to Anatolia, North Africa, and the Balkans. Cairene merchants were instrumental in bringing goods to the barren Hejaz, especially during the annual hajj to Mecca. It was during this same period that al-Azhar University reached the predominance among Islamic schools that it continues to hold today; pilgrims on their way to hajj often attested to the superiority of the institution, which had become associated with Egypt's body of Islamic scholars. By the 16th century, Cairo also had high-rise apartment buildings where the two lower floors were for commercial and storage purposes and the multiple stories above them were rented out to tenants.
Under the Ottomans, Cairo expanded south and west from its nucleus around the Citadel. The city was the second-largest in the empire, behind only Constantinople, and, although migration was not the primary source of Cairo's growth, twenty percent of its population at the end of the 18th century consisted of religious minorities and foreigners from around the Mediterranean. Still, when Napoleon arrived in Cairo in 1798, the city's population was less than 300,000, forty percent lower than it was at the height of Mamluk—and Cairene—influence in the mid-14th century.
The French occupation was short-lived as British and Ottoman forces, including a sizable Albanian contingent, recaptured the country in 1801. The British vacated Egypt two years later, leaving the Ottomans, the Albanians, and the long-weakened Mamluks jostling for control of the country. Continued civil war allowed an Albanian named Muhammad Ali Pasha to ascend to the role of commander and eventually, with the approval of the religious establishment, viceroy of Egypt in 1805.
Until his death in 1848, Muhammad Ali Pasha instituted a number of social and economic reforms that earned him the title of founder of modern Egypt. However, while Muhammad Ali initiated the construction of public buildings in the city, those reforms had minimal effect on Cairo's landscape. Bigger changes came to Cairo under Isma'il Pasha (r. 1863–1879), who continued the modernization processes started by his grandfather. Drawing inspiration from Paris, Isma'il environs a city of maidans and wide avenues; due to financial constraints, only some of them, in the area now composing Downtown Cairo, came to fruition. Isma'il also sought to modernize the city, which was merging with neighboring settlements, by establishing a public works ministry, bringing gas and lighting to the city, and opening a theater and opera house.
The immense debt resulting from Isma'il's projects provided a pretext for increasing European control, which culminated with the British invasion in 1882. The city's economic centre quickly moved west toward the Nile, away from the historic Islamic Cairo section and toward the contemporary, European-style areas built by Isma'il. Europeans accounted for five percent of Cairo's population at the end of the 19th century, by which point they held most top governmental positions.
The British occupation was intended to be temporary, but it lasted well into the 20th century. Nationalists staged large-scale demonstrations in Cairo in 1919, five years after Egypt had been declared a British protectorate. Nevertheless, while this led to Egypt's independence in 1922, British troops remained in the country until 1956. During this time, urban Cairo, spurred by new bridges and transport links, continued to in expand to include the upscale neighborhoods of Garden City, Zamalek, and Heliopolis. Between 1882 and 1937, the population of Cairo more than tripled – from 347,000 to 1.3 million – and its area increased from 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi) to 163 square kilometres (63 sq mi).
The city was devastated during the 1952 Cairo Fire, also known as Black Saturday, which saw the destruction of nearly 700 shops, movie theatres, casinos and hotels in Downtown Cairo. The British departed Cairo following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, but the city's rapid growth showed no signs of abating. Seeking to accommodate the increasing population, President Gamal Abdel Nasser redeveloped Midan Tahrir and the Nile Corniche, and improved the city's network of bridges and highways. Meanwhile, additional controls of the Nile fostered development within the island of Gezira and along the city's waterfront. The metropolis began to encroach on the fertile Nile Delta, prompting the government to build desert satellite towns and devise incentives for city-dwellers to move to them.
Despite these efforts, Cairo's population has doubled since the 1960s, reaching close to seven million (with an additional ten million in its urban area). Concurrently, Cairo has established itself as a political and economic hub for North Africa and the Arab World, with many multinational businesses and organizations, including the Arab League, operating out of the city.
Cairo's Tahrir Square was the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against former president Hosni Mubarak. Over 2 million protesters at Cairo's Tahrir square.more than 50,000 protesters first occupied the square on 25 January, during which the area's wireless services were reported to be impaired. In the following days Tahrir Square continued to be the primary destination for protests in Cairo. as it took place following a popular uprising that began on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 and is still continuing as of February 2012. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance, which featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil disobedience, and labour strikes. Millions of protesters from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Despite being predominantly peaceful in nature, the revolution was not without violent clashes between security forces and protesters, with at least 846 people killed and 6,000 injured. The uprising took place in Cairo, Alexandria, and in other cities in Egypt, following the Tunisian revolution that resulted in the overthrow of the long-time Tunisian president. On 11 February, following weeks of determined popular protest and pressure, Mubarak resigned from office.
6th of October City, west of Cairo, and New Cairo, east of Cairo, are major urban developments which have been built to accommodate additional growth and development of the Cairo area. New development includes several high-end residential developments.
Cairo is located in northern Egypt, known as Lower Egypt, 165 kilometres (100 mi) south of the Mediterranean Sea and 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of the Gulf of Suez and Suez Canal. The city is along the Nile River, immediately south of the point where the river leaves its desert-bound valley and branches into the low-lying Nile Delta region. Although the Cairo metropolis extends away from the Nile in all directions, the city of Cairo resides only on the east bank of the river and two islands within it on a total area of 453 square kilometres (175 sq mi).
Until the mid-19th century, when the river was tamed by dams, levees, and other controls, the Nile in the vicinity of Cairo was highly susceptible to changes in course and surface level. Over the years, the Nile gradually shifted westward, providing the site between the eastern edge of the river and the Mokattam highlands on which the city now stands. The land on which Cairo was established in 969 (present-day Islamic Cairo) was located underwater just over three hundred years earlier, when Fustat was first built.
Low periods of the Nile during the 11th century continued to add to the landscape of Cairo; a new island, known as Geziret al-Fil, first appeared in 1174, but eventually became connected to the mainland. Today, the site of Geziret al-Fil is occupied by the Shubra district. The low periods created another island at the turn of the 14th century that now composes Zamalek and Gezira. Land reclamation efforts by the Mamluks and Ottomans further contributed to expansion on the east bank of the river.
Because of the Nile's movement, the newer parts of the city – Garden City, Downtown Cairo, and Zamalek – are located closest to the riverbank. The areas, which are home to most of Cairo's embassies, are surrounded on the north, east, and south by the older parts of the city. Old Cairo, located south of the centre, holds the remnants of Fustat and the heart of Egypt's Coptic Christian community, Coptic Cairo. The Boulaq district, which lies in the northern part of the city, was born out of a major 16th-century port and is now a major industrial centrer. The Citadel is located east of the city centre around Islamic Cairo, which dates back to the Fatimid era and the foundation of Cairo. While western Cairo is dominated by wide boulevards, open spaces, and modern architecture of European influence, the eastern half, having grown haphazardly over the centuries, is dominated by small lanes, crowded tenements, and Islamic architecture.
Northern and extreme eastern parts of Cairo, which include satellite towns, are among the most recent additions to the city, as they developed in the late-20th and early-21st centuries to accommodate the city's rapid growth. The western bank of the Nile is commonly included within the urban area of Cairo, but it composes the city of Giza and the Giza Governorate. Giza has also undergone significant expansion over recent years, and today the city, although still a suburb of Cairo, has a population of 2.7 million. The Cairo Governorate is just north of the Helwan Governorate, which was created in 2008 when some of Cairo's southern districts, including Maadi and New Cairo, were split off and annexed into the new governorate.
In Cairo, and along the Nile River Valley, the climate is a desert climate (BWh according to the Köppen climate classification system), but often with high humidity due to the river valley's effects. Wind storms can be frequent, bringing Saharan dust into the city during the months of March and April. High temperatures in winter range from 19 °C (66 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F), while night-time lows drop to below 11 °C (52 °F), often to 5 °C (41 °F). In summer, the highs rarely surpass 40 °C (104 °F), and lows drop to about 20 °C (68 °F). Rainfall is sparse, but sudden showers do cause harsh flooding. In New Cairo, a place of higher elevation than down town Cairo, the temperatures often drop below zero during winter causing morning frost.
|Climate data for Cairo, Egypt|
|Average high °C (°F)||18.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||14.0
|Average low °C (°F)||9.0
|Precipitation mm (inches)||5.0
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 mm)||3.5||2.7||1.9||0.9||0.5||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.5||1.3||2.8||14.2|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||217||232||279||300||310||360||372||341||300||279||240||186||3,416|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN), BBC Weather for data of sunshine hours|
Cairo, as well as neighbouring, has been established as Egypt's main centre for medical treatment, and despite some exceptions, has the most advanced level of medical care in the country. Cairo's hospitals include the JCI-accredited As-Salam International Hospital - Corniche El Nile; Maadi (Egypt's largest private hospital with 350 beds), Ain Shams University Hospital, Dar El Fouad Hospital, as well as Qasr El Ainy General Hospital.
Cairo has long been the hub of education and educational services for Egypt and the region. Today, Cairo is the centre for many government offices governing the Egyptian educational system, has the largest number of educational schools, and higher learning institutes among other cities and governorates of Egypt.
Some of the International Schools found in Cairo include:
Universities in Cairo:
|University||Date of Foundation|
|Al Azhar University||975|
|American University in Cairo||1919|
|Ain Shams University||1950|
|Arab Academy for Science & Technology and Maritime Transport||1972|
|Sadat Academy for Management Sciences||1981|
|Higher Technological Institute||1989|
|Modern Academy In Maadi||1993|
|Misr International University||1996|
|Misr University for Science and Technology||1996|
|Modern Sciences and Arts University||1996|
|Université Française d'Égypte||2002|
|German University in Cairo||2003|
|Canadian International College||2004|
|British University in Egypt||2005|
|Ahram Canadian University||2005|
|Future University in Egypt||2006|
comprises an extensive road network, rail system, subway system, and maritime services. Road transport is facilitated by personal vehicles, taxi cabs, privately owned public buses, and Cairo microbuses. Cairo, specifically Ramses Square, is the centre of almost the entire Egyptian transportation network.
The subway system, officially called "Metro (مترو)", is a fast and efficient way of getting around Cairo. It can get very crowded during rush hour. Two train cars (the fourth and fifth ones) are reserved for women only, although women may ride in any car they want.
An extensive road network connects Cairo with other Egyptian cities and villages. There is a new Ring Road that surrounds the outskirts of the city, with exits that reach outer Cairo districts. There are flyovers and bridges, such as the Sixth of October bridge that, when the traffic is not heavy, allow fast means of transportation from one side of the city to the other.
Cairo traffic is known to be overwhelming and overcrowded. Traffic moves at a relatively fluid pace. Drivers tend to be aggressive, but are more courteous at intersections, taking turns going, with police aiding in traffic control of some congested areas.
On 25 October 2009 a passenger train ran into another one near Giza, just outside Cairo. Local news agencies reported at least 25 people dead. A local resident, Samhi Saleh Abdel Al, told reporters that "the first train stopped after hitting a cow and 10 minutes later the second train arrived at full speed." One of the two trains was travelling from Cairo to Assiut, while the other was said to have been en-route to Fayoum from Giza. Around 55 people were injured.
Soccer is the most popular Sport in Egypt, and Cairo has a number of sporting teams that compete in national and regional leagues. The best known teams are Al-Ahly and El Zamalek, whose annual football tournament is perhaps the most watched sports event in Egypt as well as the African and Arab World. Both teams are known as the "rivals" of Egyptian football, and are the first and the second champions in the African continent and the Arab World. Both teams play their home games at Cairo International Stadium or Naser Stadium, which is Egypt's 2nd largest stadium, Cairo's largest one and one of the largest stadiums in the world.
The Cairo International Stadium was built in 1960 and its multi-purpose sports complex that houses the main football stadium, an indoor stadium, several satellite fields that held several regional, continental and global games, including the African Games, U17 Football World Championship and was one of the stadiums scheduled that hosted the 2006 African Nations Cup which was played in January, 2006 Egypt later won the competition and went on to win the next edition In Ghana (2008) making the Egyptian and Ghanaian national teams the only teams to win the African cup of nations Back to back which resulted in Egypt winning the title for a record number of six times in African Continental Competition's history. This was followed by a third consecutive win in Angola 2010, making Egypt the only country with a record 3-consecutive and 7-total Continental Football Competition winner. This achievement had also placed the Egyptian football team as the #12 best team in the world's FIFA rankings.
There are several other sports teams in the city that participate in several sports including el Gezira Sporting Club, el Shams Club, el Seid Club, Heliopolis Club and several smaller clubs, but the biggest clubs in Egypt (not in area but in sports) are Al Ahly & Al Zamalek. They have the two biggest football teams in Egypt.
Most of the sports federations of the country are also located in the city suburbs, including the Egyptian Football Association. The headquarters of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was previously located in Cairo, before relocating to its new headquarters in 6 October City, a small city away from Cairo's crowded districts.
On October 2008, the Egyptian Rugby Federation was officially formed and granted membership into the International Rugby Board.
Egypt is internationally known for the excellence of its squash players who excel in both professional and junior divisions. Gizira Club in Zamalek is where former world #1 Amr Shabana and former world #1 Karim Darwish practice. The Heliopolis Club in Heliopolis is the home of current world #1 Ramy Ashour and his brother, world #24, Hisham Ashour. Other major squash-playing venues are The Shooting Club (Nadi el Seid) in Dokki, The Maadi Club in Maadi and Wadi Degla in Degla.
Over the ages, and as far back as four thousand years, Egypt stood as the land where civilizations have always met. The Pharaohs together with the Greeks, Babylonians and the Romans have left their imprints here. Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula, led by Amr ibn al-A'as, introduced Islam into Egypt. Khedive Mohammad Ali, with his Albanian family roots, put Egypt on the road to modernity. The cultural mixture in this city is only natural, considering its heritage. Egypt can be likened to an open museum with monuments of the different historical periods on display everywhere.
President Mubarak inaugurated the new Cairo Opera House of the Egyptian National Cultural Centres on October 10, 1988, 17 years after the Royal Opera House had been destroyed by fire. The National Cultural Centre was built with the help of JICA, the Japan International Co-operation Agency and stands as a prominent feature for the Japanese-Egyptian co-operation and the friendship between these two nations. Arigiculture is an important encinomic activity in Egypt's Nile Valley and Dela region.
The Khedivial Opera House or Royal Opera House was the original opera house in Cairo, Egypt. It was dedicated on November 1, 1869 and burned down on October 28, 1971. After the original opera house was destroyed, Cairo was without an opera house for nearly two decades until the opening of the new Cairo Opera House in 1988.
Egypt's love of the arts in general can be traced back to the rich heritage bequeathed by the Pharaohs. In modern times, Egypt has enjoyed a strong cinematic tradition since the art of filmmaking was first developed, early in the 20th century. A natural progression from the active theatre scene of the time, cinema rapidly evolved into a vast motion picture industry. This together with the much older music tradition, raised Egypt to become Hollywood Middle East and the cultural capital of the Arab world.
For more than 500 years of recorded history, Egypt has fascinated the West and inspired its creative talents from play writer William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist John Dryden, and novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell to film producer Cecil B. DeMille. Since the silent movies Hollywood has been capitalising on the box-office returns that come from combining Egyptian stories with visual effects.
Egypt has also been a fount of Arabic literature, producing some of the 20th century's greatest Arab writers such as Taha Hussein and Tawfiq al-Hakim to Nobel Laureate, novelist Naguib Mahfouz. Each of them has written for the cinema.
With these credentials, it was clear that Cairo should aim to hold an international film festival. This dream came true on Monday August 16, 1976, when the first Cairo International Film Festival was launched by the Egyptian Association of Film Writers and Critics, headed by Kamal El-Mallakh. The Association ran the festival for seven years until 1983.
This achievement lead to the President of the Festival again contacting the FIAPF with the request that a competition should be included at the 1991 Festival. The request was granted.
In 1998, the Festival took place under the presidency of one of Egypt's leading actors, Hussein Fahmy, who was appointed by the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, after the death of Saad El-Din Wahba.
Four years later, the journalist and writer Cherif El-Shoubashy became president.
For 33 years The International Festival has awarded dozens of international superstars, including John Malkovich, Nicolas Cage, Morgan Freeman, Bud Spencer, Gina Lollobrigida, Ornella Muti, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Victoria Abril, Elizabeth Taylor, Shashi Kapoor, Alain Delon, Goldy Hawn, Kurt Russell, Susan Sarandon, Greta Scacchi, Catherine Deneuve, Peter O'Toole, Charlize Theron, Julia Ormond, Mira Sorvino, Stuart Townsend, Alicia Silverstone, Priscilla Presley, Christopher Lee, Irene Papas, Marcello Mastroianni, Salma Hayek, Lucy liu, Samuel Jackson, Tom Berenger and Omar Sharif, as well as directors like Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Carlos Saura, Ismail Merchant and Michelangelo Antonioni, in an annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today. The presidents of the Festival since it was founded in 1976 are Saad El-Din Wahba, Hussein Fahmy and Sherif El Shoubashy. This year the festival a milestone of 30 years in an annual celebration and examination of the state of cinema in the world today.
The Cairo Geniza is an accumulation of almost 200,000 Jewish manuscripts that were found in the genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue (built 882) of Fostat, Egypt (now Old Cairo), the Basatin cemetery east of Old Cairo, and a number of old documents that were bought in Cairo in the later 19th century. These documents were written from about 870 to as late as 1880 AD and have now been archived in various American and European libraries. The Taylor-Schechter collection in the University of Cambridge runs to 140,000 manuscripts; there are a further 40,000 manuscripts at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Most residents are Sunni Muslim. Al-Azhar University is the leading authority of Sunni Islam. The number of mosques in the city is growing. Most Christians are Copts. Until his death in March 2012, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria was the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who has his residence in Cairo. Cairo has several synagogues, but few Jews. Tension between members of different religions has increased recently.
Cairo is also in every respect the centre of Egypt, as it has been almost since its founding in 969 AD. The majority of the nation's commerce is generated there, or passes through the city. The great majority of publishing houses and media outlets and nearly all film studios are there, as are half of the nation's hospital beds and universities. This has fueled rapid construction in the city—one building in five is less than 15 years old.
This astonishing growth until recently surged well ahead of city services. Homes, roads, electricity, telephone and sewer services were all suddenly in short supply. Analysts trying to grasp the magnitude of the change coined terms like "hyper-urbanization".
Tahrir Square was founded during the mid 19th century with the establishment of modern down-town Cairo. It was first named Ismailia Square, after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district's 'Paris on the Nile' design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (Liberation) Square. Several notable buildings surround the square including, The American University in Cairo's down-town campus, the Mogamma governmental administrative Building, the headquarters of the Arab League, the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, and the Egyptian Museum. Being at the heart of Cairo, the square witnessed several major protests over the years. However, the most notable event in the square was being the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution against former president Hosni Mubarak.
Tahrir Square was not renamed after the 1919 Egyptian Revolution but was renamed after the 1952 Revolution by Nasser.
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It has 136,000 items on display, with many more hundreds of thousands in its basement storerooms.
Khan el-Khalili is an ancient bazaar, or marketplace. It dates back to 1382, when Emir Djaharks el-Khalili built a large caravanserai, or khan. A caravanserai is a hotel for traders, and usually the focal point for any surrounding area. The caravanserai remains today.
The part of Cairo that contains Coptic Cairo and Fostat, which contains the Coptic Museum, Babylon Fortress, Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George, many other Coptic churches, the Ben Ezra Synagogue and Amr ibn al-'As Mosque.
The Cairo Tower is a free-standing concrete TV tower in Cairo. It stands in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the Nile River, in the city centre. At 187 meters, it is 43 metres higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands some 15 km to the southwest.
Al-Azhar Mosque. Marble paved interior courtyard added during the Fatimid period
Mosque-Mausoleum Zaynab, Cairo
Masjid-Mausoleum Nafisa, Cairo
Cairo is an expanding city, which has led to many environmental problems. The air pollution in Cairo is a matter of serious concern. Greater Cairo's volatile aromatic hydrocarbon levels are higher than many other similar cities. Air quality measurements in Cairo have also been recording dangerous levels of lead, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and suspended particulate matter concentrations due to decades of unregulated vehicle emissions, urban industrial operations, and chaff and trash burning. There are over 4,500,000 cars on the streets of Cairo, 60% of which are over 10 years old, and therefore lack modern emission cutting features like catalytic converters. Cairo has a very poor dispersion factor because of lack of rain and its layout of tall buildings and narrow streets, which create a bowl effect. In recent years, a mysterious black cloud (as Egyptians refer to it) appeared over Cairo every fall and causes serious respiratory diseases and eye irritations for the city's citizens. Tourists who are not familiar with such high levels of pollution must take extra care.
Cairo also has many unregistered lead and copper smelters which heavily pollute the city. The results of this has been a permanent haze over the city with particulate matter in the air reaching over three times normal levels. It is estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 people a year in Cairo die due to air pollution-related diseases. Lead has been shown to cause harm to the central nervous system and neurotoxicity particularly in children. In 1995, the first environmental acts were introduced and the situation has seen some improvement with 36 air monitoring stations and emissions tests on cars. 20,000 buses have also been commissioned to the city to improve congestion levels, which are very high.
The city also suffers from a high level of land pollution. Cairo produces 10,000 tons of waste material each day, 4,000 tons of which is not collected or managed. This once again is a huge health hazard and the Egyptian Government is looking for ways to combat this. The Cairo Cleaning and Beautification Agency was founded to collect and recycle the waste; however, they also work with the Zabbaleen (or Zabaleen), a community that has been collecting and recycling Cairo's waste since the turn of the 20th century and live in an area known locally as Manshiyat naser. Both are working together to pick up as much waste as possible within the city limits, though it remains a pressing problem.
The city also suffers from water pollution as the sewer system tends to fail and overflow. On occasion, sewage has escaped onto the streets to create a health hazard. This problem is hoped to be solved by a new sewer system funded by the European Union, which could cope with the demand of the city. The dangerously high levels of mercury in the city's water system has global health officials concerned over related health risks. There is also more concern about environmental issues among Egyptians than before. There is now general awareness and some projects are laid down to help make the public aware of the importance of a clean environment.
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