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Egypt - Enviornment

Egypt Environment

Hacking a whopping square chunk out of Africa's northeast corner, Egypt stretches over more than a million square km. More than 94% of the land area is barren desert though, which has induced 90% of the population to squish into just 3% of the total land area, the fertile Nile Valley and Delta.

Egypt borders Libya in the west, Sudan in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the north, and the Red Sea and Israel in the east. The eastern region, across the Suez Canal, is Sinai. This region slopes up to the high mountains of Mt Katherine (Gebel Katarina at 2642m/8666ft is Egypt's highest point) and Mt Sinai. Along Egypt's Mediterranean coast there are countless white-sand beaches, some developed as tourist resorts but many still pristine and isolated. North of Cairo the Nile splits into a series of tributaries that flow into the Mediterranean.

Most of the animals worshipped by the ancient Egyptians are now extinct in the country. Gone are the leopards, cheetahs, oryx and hyenas, and only two of the three varieties of gazelle still survive. There are plenty of rodents and bats, but domesticated camels and donkeys are the most visible forms of Egyptian animal life. There are around 430 species of birds, some of which breed in Egypt, but most pass through on migration from Europe to southern Africa. Up to two million birds are thought to pass over Egypt on annual migrations. There are also 34 varieties of snakes, the best known of which is the cobra. Scorpions are common throughout the country, but being nocturnal, they are rarely seen. The Red Sea supports sharks, stingrays, turtles, dolphins, colourful corals, sponges, starfish and various molluscs.

Egypt's climate is hot and dry most of the year. During the winter months - December, January and February - average daily temperatures stay up around 20°C (68°F) on the Mediterranean coast and a pleasant 26°C (80°F) in Aswan. Maximum temperatures get to 31°C (88°F) and 50°C (122°F) respectively. Winter nights only get down to 8°C (45°F), a very Egyptian version of chilly. Alexandria receives the most rain with 19cm (7.5in) each year, while Aswan is almost bone-dry with just 2mm annually. Between March and April the khamsin blows in from the Western Desert at up to 150kph (93mph).

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