The Arab Republic of Egypt (جمهورية مصر العربية) is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt. It is the world’s only contiguous Afrasian nation, spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilization, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. One of the earliest centers of Christianity, Egypt was Islamized in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.
With over 92 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 15,000 square miles (40,000 square kilometers), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centers of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Modern Egypt is considered to be a regional and middle power, with significant cultural, political, and military influence in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world. Egypt’s economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the twenty-first century.
The English name Egypt is derived from the Ancient Greek Aígyptos (Αἴγυπτος), via Middle French Egypte and Latin Aegyptus. It is reflected in early Greek Linear B tablets as a-ku-pi-ti-yo. Strabo attributed the word to a folk etymology in which Aígyptos (Αἴγυπτος) evolved as a compound from Aigaiou huptiōs (Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως), meaning “below the Aegean”. Miṣr (مِصر) is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt.
There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the tenth millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.
By about 6000 BC, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.
A unified kingdom was founded circa 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, circa 2700–2200 BC., which constructed many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza pyramids.
The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years. Stronger Nile floods and stabilization of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom circa 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.
The New Kingdom circa 1550–1070 BC began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Tombos in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first historically attested expression of monotheism came during this period as Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded and conquered by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.
In 525 BC, the powerful Achaemenid Persians, led by Cambyses II, began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh Psamtik III at the battle of Pelusium. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from his home of Susa in Persia (modern Iran), leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. The entire Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt, from 525 BC to 402 BC, save for Petubastis III, was an entirely Persian ruled period, with the Achaemenid kings all being granted the title of pharaoh. A few temporarily successful revolts against the Persians marked the fifth century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians.
The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians again in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. This Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt, however, did not last long, for the Persians were toppled several decades later by Alexander the Great.
The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to Cyrene to the west, and south to the frontier with Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a centre of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.
The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide following the burial of her lover Mark Antony who had died in her arms (from a self-inflicted stab wound), after Octavian had captured Alexandria and her mercenary forces had fled. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless, Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest.
Christianity was brought to Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the first century. Diocletian’s reign (from 284 to 305 AD) marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.
The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Sasanian Persian invasion early in the seventh century amidst the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 during which they established a new short-lived province for ten years known as Sasanian Egypt, until 639–42, when Egypt was invaded and conquered by the Islamic Empire by the Muslim Arabs. When they defeated the Byzantine Armies in Egypt, the Arabs brought Sunni Islam to the country. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices, leading to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day. These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.
Muslim rulers nominated by the Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, with Cairo as the seat of the Fatimid Caliphate. With the end of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about 1250. By the late thirteenth century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies. The mid-fourteenth century Black Death killed about 40% of the country’s population.
Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarization damaged its civil society and economic institutions. The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade. Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines. The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.
Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control, due in part to the continuing power and influence of the Mamluks, the Egyptian military caste who had ruled the country for centuries. Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte 1798. After the French were defeated by the British, a power vacuum was created in Egypt, and a three-way power struggle ensued between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans.
After the French were expelled, power was seized in 1805 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian military commander of the Ottoman army in Egypt. While he carried the title of viceroy of Egypt, his subordination to the Ottoman porte was merely nominal. Muhammad Ali established a dynasty that was to rule Egypt until the revolution of 1952.
The introduction in 1820 of long-staple cotton transformed its agriculture into a cash-crop monoculture before the end of the century, concentrating land ownership and shifting production towards international markets.
Muhammad Ali annexed Northern Sudan (1820–1824), Syria (1833), and parts of Arabia and Anatolia; but in 1841 the European powers, fearful lest he topple the Ottoman Empire itself, forced him to return most of his conquests to the Ottomans. His military ambition required him to modernize the country: he built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.
He constructed a military state with around four percent of the populace serving the army to raise Egypt to a powerful positioning in the Ottoman Empire in a way showing various similarities to the Soviet strategies (without communism) conducted in the twentieth century.
Muhammad Ali Pasha evolved the military from one that convened under the tradition of the corvée to a great modernized army. He introduced conscription of the male peasantry in nineteenth century Egypt, and took a novel approach to create his great army, strengthening it with numbers and in skill. Education and training of the new soldiers was not an option; the new concepts were furthermore enforced by isolation. The men were held in barracks to avoid distraction of their growth as a military unit to be reckoned with. The resentment for the military way of life eventually faded from the men and a new ideology took hold, one of nationalism and pride. It was with the help of this newly reborn martial unit that Muhammad Ali imposed his rule over Egypt.
The policy that Mohammad Ali Pasha followed during his reign explains partly why the numeracy in Egypt compared to other North-African and Middle-Eastern countries increased only at a remarkably small rate, as investment in further education only took place in the military and industrial sector. Muhammad Ali was succeeded briefly by his son Ibrahim (in September 1848), then by a grandson Abbas I (in November 1848), then by Said (in 1854), and Isma’il (in 1863) who encouraged science and agriculture and banned slavery in Egypt.
Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty remained nominally an Ottoman province. It was granted the status of an autonomous vassal state or Khedivate in 1867, a status which was to remain in place until 1914.
The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. Its construction led to enormous debt to European banks, and caused popular discontent because of the onerous taxation it required. In 1875 Ismail was forced to sell Egypt’s share in the canal to the British government. Within three years this led to the imposition of British and French controllers who sat in the Egyptian cabinet, and, “with the financial power of the bondholders behind them, were the real power in the Government.”
Other circumstances like epidemic diseases (cattle disease in the 1880s), floods and wars drove the economic downturn and increased Egypt’s dependency on foreign debt even further.
In later years, the dynasty became a British puppet. Isma’il and Tewfik Pasha governed Egypt as a quasi-independent state under Ottoman suzerainty until the British occupation of 1882.
Local dissatisfaction with Ismail and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmad Urabi a prominent figure. Fearing a reduction of their control, the UK and France intervened militarily, bombarding Alexandria and crushing the Egyptian army at the battle of Tel El Kebir. They reinstalled Ismail’s son Tewfik as figurehead of a de facto British protectorate.
The Khedivate of Egypt remained a de jure Ottoman province until November 5, 1914, when it was declared a British protectorate in reaction to the decision of the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire to join World War I on the side of the Central Powers.
In 1914, the Protectorate was made official, and the title of the head of state was changed to sultan, to repudiate the vestigial suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, who was backing the Central powers in World War I. Abbas II was deposed as khedive and replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as sultan.
After World War I, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on March 8, 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. The revolt led the UK government to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt’s independence on February 22, 1922.
The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability due to remaining British influence and increasing political involvement by the king led to the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d’état known as the 1952 Revolution. The Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad. British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.
Following the 1952 Revolution by the Free Officers Movement, the rule of Egypt passed to military hands. On June 18, 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic.
Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser — the real architect of the 1952 movement — and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President in June 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on June 13, 1956. He nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956, prompting the 1956 Suez Crisis.
In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed a sovereign union known as the United Arab Republic. The union was short-lived, ending in 1961 when Syria seceded, thus ending the union. During most of its existence, the United Arab Republic was also in a loose confederation with North Yemen (or the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen), known as the United Arab States. In 1959, the All-Palestine Government of the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian client state, was absorbed into the United Arab Republic under the pretext of Arab union, and was never restored.
In the early 1960s, Egypt became fully involved in the North Yemen Civil War. The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, supported the Yemeni republicans with as many as 70,000 Egyptian troops and chemical weapons. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egyptian commitment in Yemen was greatly undermined later.
In mid-May 1967, the Soviet Union issued warnings to Nasser of an impending Israeli attack on Syria. Although the chief of staff Mohamed Fawzi verified them as “baseless”, Nasser took three successive steps that made the war virtually inevitable: On May 14, he deployed his troops in Sinai near the border with Israel, on May 19 he expelled the UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel, and on May 23, he closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. On May 26, Nasser declared, “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”.
Israel re-iterated that the Straits of Tiran closure was a Casus belli. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel attacked Egypt, and occupied Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which Egypt had occupied since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. During the 1967 war, an Emergency Law was enacted, and remained in effect until 2012, with the exception of an 18-month break in 1980-81. Under this law, police powers were extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship legalized.
At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor. Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, most of them being boys. Nasser’s policies changed this. Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From the academic year of 1953–54 through 1965–66, overall public school enrollments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class. Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser. During the 1960s, the Egyptian economy went from sluggish to the verge of collapse, the society became less free, and Nasser’s appeal waned considerably.
In 1970, President Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt’s Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while clamping down on religious and secular opposition. In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack to regain part of the Sinai territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. It presented Sadat with a victory that allowed him to regain the Sinai later in return for peace with Israel.
In 1975, Sadat shifted Nasser’s economic policies and sought to use his popularity to reduce government regulations and encourage foreign investment through his program of Infitah. Through this policy, incentives such as reduced taxes and import tariffs attracted some investors, but investments were mainly directed at low risk and profitable ventures like tourism and construction, abandoning Egypt’s infant industries. Even though Sadat’s policy was intended to modernize Egypt and assist the middle class, it mainly benefited the higher class, and, because of the elimination of subsidies on basic foodstuffs, led to the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots.
Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat’s initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt’s expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by most Egyptians. Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist in October 1981.
Hosni Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Sadat in a referendum in which he was the only candidate.
Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed Egypt’s relationship with Israel yet eased the tensions with Egypt’s Arab neighbors. Domestically, Mubarak faced serious problems. Even though farm and industry output expanded, the economy could not keep pace with the population boom. Mass poverty and unemployment led rural families to stream into cities like Cairo where they ended up in crowded slums, barely managing to survive.
In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, terrorist attacks in Egypt became numerous and severe, and began to target Christian Copts, foreign tourists and government officials. In the 1990s, an Islamist group, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, engaged in an extended campaign of violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners. Serious damage was done to the largest sector of Egypt’s economy — tourism — and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depended for support.
During Mubarak’s reign, the political scene was dominated by the National Democratic Party, which was created by Sadat in 1978. It passed the 1993 Syndicates Law, 1995 Press Law, and 1999 Nongovernmental Associations Law which hampered freedoms of association and expression by imposing new regulations and draconian penalties on violations. As a result, by the late 1990s, parliamentary politics had become virtually irrelevant and alternative avenues for political expression were curtailed as well.
On November 17, 1997, 62 people, mostly tourists, were massacred near Luxor.
In late February 2005, Mubarak announced a reform of the presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls for the first time since the 1952 movement. However, the new law placed restrictions on the candidates, and led to Mubarak’s easy re-election victory.[ Voter turnout was less than 25%. Election observers also alleged government interference in the election process. After the election, Mubarak imprisoned Ayman Nour, the runner-up.
Human Rights Watch’s 2006 report on Egypt detailed serious human rights violations, including routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts. In 2007, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Egypt had become an international center for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror. Egypt’s foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report.
Constitutional changes voted on March 19, 2007, prohibited parties from using religion as a basis for political activity, allowed the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law, authorized broad police powers of arrest and surveillance, and gave the president power to dissolve parliament and end judicial election monitoring. In 2009, Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal Dessouki, Media Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), described Egypt as a “pharaonic” political system, and democracy as a “long-term goal”. Dessouki also stated that “the real center of power in Egypt is the military”.
On January 25, 2011, widespread protests began against Mubarak’s government. On February 11, 2011, Mubarak resigned and fled Cairo. Jubilant celebrations broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the news. The Egyptian military then assumed the power to govern. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, became the de facto interim head of state. On February 13, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.
A constitutional referendum was held on March 19, 2011. On November 28, 2011, Egypt held its first parliamentary election since the previous regime had been in power. Turnout was high and there were no reports of major irregularities or violence. Mohamed Morsi was elected president on June 24, 2012. On August 2, 2012, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35-member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers including four from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Liberal and secular groups walked out of the constituent assembly because they believed that it would impose strict Islamic practices, while Muslim Brotherhood backers threw their support behind Morsi. On November 22, 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary declaration immunising his decrees from challenge and seeking to protect the work of the constituent assembly.
The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt. On December 5, 2012, tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of president Morsi clashed, in what was described as the largest violent battle between Islamists and their foes since the country’s revolution. Mohamed Morsi offered a “national dialogue” with opposition leaders but refused to cancel the December 2012 constitutional referendum.
On July 3, 2013, the military removed President Morsi from power in a coup d’état and installed an interim government. The move came three days after mass protests were organized across Egypt for and against Morsi’s rule.
On July 4, 2013, 68-year-old Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt Adly Mansour was sworn in as acting president over the new government following the removal of Morsi. The military-backed Egyptian authorities cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, jailing thousands and killing hundreds of street protesters. Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists have either been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a series of mass trials.
On January 18, 2014, the interim government instituted a new constitution following a referendum in which 98.1% of voters were supportive. Participation was low with only 38.6% of registered voters participating although this was higher than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure. On March 26, 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces — resigned from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election. The poll, held between May 26 and 28, 2014, resulted in a landslide victory for el-Sisi. Sisi was sworn into office as President of Egypt on June 8, 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood and some liberal and secular activist groups boycotted the vote. Even though the military-backed authorities extended voting to a third day, the 46% turnout was lower than the 52% turnout in the 2012 election.
The postal history of Egypt is long and complex, like its general history, and it impinges on the postal history of a large number of other countries owing to geographical location at a nexus of world trade routes. A need for a courier service was created with the invention of transportable writing materials. In Egypt, where writing had become an institution, Pharaoh’s missives had to reach the outer provinces faster and more efficiently. With the subsequent discovery of papyrus, the development of a postal system was a matter of time.
Ptolemaic Egypt initiated the equivalent of the “express” and “regular” postal service; the former being the exclusive use of the ruler’s court. The courier from Fayoum took all of four days to reach Alexandria. And during Egypt’s Roman and Byzantine era, horse relay stations replaced Nile waterways. The postal system was christened “cursus publicus”. Under the Arab caliphate of Muawia (d. 679), Egypt organized its first formal postal system and called it “al-Baryd” with designated routes starting (or ending) at the Cairo Citadel, then the formal seat of Islamic Egypt.
In the twelfth century, a regular airmail service was introduced for the first time. The “pigeon express” traveled north as far as the Euphrates valley. Its southern route reached the Red Sea port of Aidab in Nubia. The governor’s pigeons were marked with a special seal either on their beaks or on their claws. This revolutionary service came to an end when the Tartar invaders purposefully destroyed the pigeon relay systems in their attempt to disrupt a communication system so important to the survival of the endangered empire.
Egypt had the first handstamped postal markings of Africa which were first introduced during the Napoleonic period, 1798-1800. Single line handstamps are known from ALEXANDRIE, LE CAIRE, BENESOUEF and SIOUTH.
Carlo Meratti, an Italian, set up the first postal system in Egypt in 1821. This was a private enterprise which in 1842 was named POSTA EUROPEA. The Egyptian Government, in 1857, sanctioned it to carry on all inland postal services. This concession was purchased by the Egyptian Government and on January 1, 1865 it took control of this service. This service was renamed to POSTE VICE-REALI EGIZIAN.
It was not until 1831 when the first branches of various European postal services surfaced in the ports of Alexandria, Port Said and Suez. The first foreign power to exercise its privilege under the Ottoman regime of Capitulation’s (a form of extraterritoriality for foreign residents conducting business within the Ottoman Empire) was Great Britain which opened post office branches in Alexandria and Suez. These were closed in 1878.
France opened its own postal service in Alexandria at 4 Blvd. Ramleh, and years later, another one was installed in Port Said. Both remained in operation up to 1931, long after the other foreign post offices (Austria 1838-89; Greece 1859-82; Italy 1866-84; Russia 1867-75) had ceased to exist.
For the transport of their mail, foreign post offices operating in Egypt used their own national stamps and their own carriers. For instance, Austria, then at the center of a large empire reaching Trieste on the Mediterranean, owned one of the most important merchant fleets of the day. This included the famous LLoyd Trieste Line.
Egypt became the first non-colonial African country to issue stamps on January 1, 1866, as well as the first to print its own stamps. It joined the Universal Postal Union in 1875.
Post offices in Sudan, the Turkish Empire and in East Africa were opened by the Egyptian postal administration. No special stamps were used just normal Egyptian stamps; so they can only be identified by the cancellation.
The military postal history of Egypt is especially involved starting with the Napoleonic occupation and followed by the British campaigns on Egyptian soil in 1882 and 1884-1885. The last is notable for including Canadian, Indian, and New South Wales contingents, with interesting but very rare philatelic consequences.
Egypt was a pioneer in the issue of stamp booklets, the use of air mail, and the use of photogravure for stamp production.
The two World Wars involved Egypt intensively and the presence of troops of many different countries, many of which had their own army postal services, produced exceptionally complex military postal history. In more recent times, wars with Israel over Palestine, the defense of the Suez Canal, military involvement in Yemen, and participation in the United Nations peace-keeping forces have produced many facets to the subject.
Scott #C5 was the lowest value in a series of airmail stamps released by Egypt between 1933 and 1938. Printed by lithography, the 1 mill orange and black stamp features an airplane flying over the pyramids at Giza. It is perforated 13×13½.
The Giza pyramid complex (أهرامات الجيزة) is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. This complex of ancient monuments includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex. It is located in the Libyan Desert, approximately 5 miles 9 kilometer) west of the Nile river at the old town of Giza, and about miles (13 kilometers) southwest of Cairo city center.
The pyramids, which have historically loomed large as emblems of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination, were popularized in Hellenistic times, when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu, was constructed circa 2560–2540 BC. The Great Sphinx lies on the east side of the complex. The Sphinx dates to the reign of king Khafre. Current consensus among Egyptologists is that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of Khafre. A chapel was located between its forepaws that had unfortunate history of being repeatedly destroyed by unusual circumstances. During the New Kingdom, Amenhotep II dedicated a new temple to Hauron-Haremakhet and this structure was added onto by later rulers.