The elephant in the room

There’s an elephant in the room and I feel quite uncomfortable talking about it. I’m not sure why, I think possibly because it’s about me and not the children, and also, any which way I write it it feels as if I’m trying to garner sympathy, which is absolutely not the case, but I feel it needs addressing. The elephant’s name is Chronic Pain.

When I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in my neck 15 years ago, I naively assumed that after my surgery and treatment life would go back to normal. Looking back it’s obvious that my body would be vastly different, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that 27-year old me thought about. It had taken a year to get diagnosed, and I was so happy that they found what was wrong with me, that it didn’t even occur to me to think about what life would be like afterwards.

This is where I get a little bit stuck trying to explain in words what life is like to have chronic pain, because no matter what words I try, nothing seems to do it justice. My first thought every single morning is “I can’t do this”. I wake feeling like I’ve had a machete taken to my neck and sometimes I can’t even get my head off the pillow. My second thought is how bloody lucky I am to have such a perfect life and perfect children (life doesn’t have to be flawless to be perfect). I went through treatment with two girls the same age as me and we became very close friends. I am the only one who survived. So whilst life is certainly not easy, it’s absolutely perfect to me, because I’m here.

Chronic pain is a toughie to live with, because it pretty much determines every single thing that you do (or don’t do). For me I am very reliant on Steve. He does nearly all of the cooking, cleaning and washing, he often helps me get dressed, and he cares for me with such constant reliability that I often wonder what I would ever do without him. I think that’s one of the things I find the hardest, that I want to be looking after him and I can’t.

The children cope very well with me being in pain, because they’ve never known any different. It gets very hard at times though, especially if Milo’s having a meltdown, JJ is scarily unregulated, Lets wants to be picked up and I’ve just thrown up because my pain is so bad.

As a family we deal with my pain. I keep popping the pills, wearing the fentanyl patches, and when the pain is bearable we do lots of fun things, and when it’s not, we survive. Every single day I remind myself, that whilst I have pain, I am the lucky one, I got a second chance and I need to live life to the fullest.

I shall now drag my sorry ass, my shaky arms and my sore neck to bed and get ready for all that tomorrow brings.




From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about the domestic dog. For related species known as “dogs”, see Canidae. For other uses, see Dog (disambiguation).”Pooch” redirects here. For other uses, see Pooch (disambiguation).

Domestic dogs
Temporal range: At least 14,200 years ago – present[1]
Collage of Nine Dogs.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Species:C. lupus
Subspecies:C. l. familiaris
Trinomial name
Canis lupus familiaris
Linnaeus, 1758[2][3]
aegyptius Linnaeus, 1758, alco C. E. H. Smith, 1839, americanus Gmelin, 1792, anglicus Gmelin, 1792, antarcticus Gmelin, 1792, aprinus Gmelin, 1792, aquaticus Linnaeus, 1758, aquatilis Gmelin, 1792, avicularis Gmelin, 1792, borealis C. E. H. Smith, 1839, brevipilis Gmelin, 1792, cursorius Gmelin, 1792, domesticus Linnaeus, 1758, extrarius Gmelin, 1792, ferus C. E. H. Smith, 1839, fricator Gmelin, 1792, fricatrix Linnaeus, 1758, fuillus Gmelin, 1792, gallicus Gmelin, 1792, glaucus C. E. H. Smith, 1839, graius Linnaeus, 1758, grajus Gmelin, 1792, hagenbecki Krumbiegel, 1950, haitensis C. E. H. Smith, 1839, hibernicus Gmelin, 1792, hirsutus Gmelin, 1792, hybridus Gmelin, 1792, islandicus Gmelin, 1792, italicus Gmelin, 1792, laniarius Gmelin, 1792, leoninus Gmelin, 1792, leporarius C. E. H. Smith, 1839, major Gmelin, 1792, mastinus Linnaeus, 1758, melitacus Gmelin, 1792, melitaeus Linnaeus, 1758, minor Gmelin, 1792, molossus Gmelin, 1792, mustelinus Linnaeus, 1758, obesus Gmelin, 1792, orientalis Gmelin, 1792, pacificus C. E. H. Smith, 1839, plancus Gmelin, 1792, pomeranus Gmelin, 1792, sagaces C. E. H. Smith, 1839, sanguinarius C. E. H. Smith, 1839, sagax Linnaeus, 1758, scoticus Gmelin, 1792, sibiricus Gmelin, 1792, suillus C. E. H. Smith, 1839, terraenovae C. E. H. Smith, 1839, terrarius C. E. H. Smith, 1839, turcicus Gmelin, 1792, urcani C. E. H. Smith, 1839, variegatus Gmelin, 1792, venaticus Gmelin, 1792, vertegus Gmelin, 1792[4]

The dog (Canis familiaris when considered a distinct species or Canis lupus familiaris when considered a subspecies of the wolf)[5] is a domesticated carnivore of the family Canidae. It is part of the wolf-like canids,[6] and is the most widely abundant terrestrial carnivore.[7][8][9][10][11] The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister taxa as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated,[12][13][14] which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct.[15] The dog was the first species to be domesticated,[14][16] and has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.[17]

Their long association with humans has led dogs to be uniquely attuned to human behavior,[18] and they can thrive on a starch-rich diet that would be inadequate for other canids.[19] Dogs vary widely in shape, size, and colors.[20] They perform many roles for humans, such as huntingherdingpulling loadsprotectionassisting police and militarycompanionship, and, more recently, aiding disabled people, and therapeutic roles. This influence on human society has given them the sobriquet of “man’s best friend.”



Further information: Canis lupus dingo § Taxonomic debate – dog, dingo, and New Guinea singing dog

In 1758, the Swedish botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus published in his Systema Naturae the binomial nomenclature – or the two-word naming – of species. Canis is the Latin word meaning “dog”,[21] and under this genus, he listed the dog-like carnivores, including domestic dogs, wolves, and jackals. He classified the domestic dog as Canis familiaris, and on the next page, he classified the wolf as Canis lupus.[2] Linnaeus considered the dog to be a separate species from the wolf because of its cauda recurvata – its upturning tail, which is not found in any other canid.[22]

In 1999, a study of mitochondrial DNA indicated that the domestic dog might have originated from multiple grey wolf populations, with the dingo and New Guinea singing dog “breeds” having developed at a time when human communities were more isolated from each other.[23] In the third edition of Mammal Species of the World published in 2005, the mammalogist W. Christopher Wozencraft listed under the wolf Canis lupus its wild subspecies, and proposed two additional subspecies: “familiaris Linneaus, 1758 [domestic dog]” and “dingo Meyer, 1793 [domestic dog]”. Wozencraft included hallstromi – the New Guinea singing dog – as a taxonomic synonym for the dingo. Wozencraft referred to the mDNA study as one of the guides informing his decision.[4] Other mammalogists have noted the inclusion of familiaris and dingo under a “domestic dog” clade.[24] This classification by Wozencraft is debated among zoologists.[25]

In 2019, a workshop hosted by the IUCN/Species Survival Commission’s Canid Specialist Group considered the New Guinea singing dog and the dingo to be feral dogs Canis familiaris, and therefore should not be assessed for the IUCN Red List.[26]


Main article: Origin of the domestic dog

The domestic dog’s origin includes the dog’s genetic divergence from the wolf, its domestication, and its development into dog types and dog breeds. The dog is a member of the genus Canis, which forms part of the wolf-like canids, and was the first species and the only large carnivore to have been domesticated.[14][27] Genetic studies comparing dogs with modern wolves show reciprocal monophyly (separate groups), which implies that dogs are not genetically close to any living wolf and that their wild ancestor is extinct.[28][14] An extinct Late Pleistocene wolf may have been the dog’s ancestor,[27][1] with the dog’s similarity to the extant grey wolf being the result of genetic admixture between the two.[1] In 2020, a literature review of canid domestication stated that modern dogs were not descended from the same Canis lineage as modern wolves, and proposes that dogs may be descended from a Pleistocene wolf closer in size to a village dog.[29]

The genetic divergence between dogs and wolves occurred between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, just before or during the Last Glacial Maximum[30][1] (20,000–27,000 years ago). This period represents the upper time-limit for domestication commencement because it is the time of divergence and not the time of domestication, which occurred later.[30][31] One of the most critical transitions in human history was the domestication of animals, which began with the long-term association between wolves and hunter–gatherers more than 15,000 years ago.[28] The archaeological record and genetic analysis show the remains of the Bonn–Oberkassel dog buried beside humans 14,200 years ago to be the first undisputed dog, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago.[1] By 11,000 years ago, there were five distinct dog lineages all sharing a common ancestry distinct from present-day wolves.[32]


Lateral view of skeleton


Main article: Dog anatomySkull of a dog

Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.[17] Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance, and behavior than any other domestic animal.[17] Dogs are predators and scavengers; like many other predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, large and sharp claws and teeth, fused wrist bones, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching and tearing.

Size and weight

Dogs are highly variable in height and weight. The smallest known adult dog was a Yorkshire Terrier, that stood only 6.3 centimetres (2 12 inches) at the shoulder, 9.5 cm (3 34 in) in length along the head-and-body, and weighed only 113 grams (4 ounces). The most massive known dog was a Saint Bernard, which weighed 167.6 kg (369 12 lb) and was 250 cm (8 ft 2 in) from the snout to the tail.[33] The tallest dog is a Great Dane that stands 106.7 cm (3 ft 6 in) at the shoulder.[34]


Further information: Dog anatomy § Senses

The dog’s senses include vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch and sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field. Another study suggested that dogs can see the earth’s magnetic field.[35][36][37]


Main article: Coat (dog)Dogs display a wide variation on coat type, density, length, color, and composition

The coats of domestic dogs are of two varieties: “double” being familiar with dogs (as well as wolves) originating from colder climates, made up of a coarse guard hair and a soft down hair, or “single,” with the topcoat only. Breeds may have an occasional “blaze,” stripe, or “star” of white fur on their chest or underside.[38]

The coat can be maintained or affected by multiple nutrients present in the diet; see Coat (dog) for more information.

Premature graying can occur in dogs from as early as one year of age; this is shown to be associated with impulsive behaviorsanxiety behaviors, fear of noise, and fear of unfamiliar people or animals.[39]


Finnish Spitz with curled tail

There are many different shapes for dog tails: straight, straight up, sickle, curled, or cork-screw. As with many canids, one of the primary functions of a dog’s tail is to communicate their emotional state, which can be crucial in getting along with others. In some hunting dogs, however, the tail is traditionally docked to avoid injuries.[40] In some breeds, such as the Braque du Bourbonnais, puppies can be born with a short tail or no tail at all.[41]

Differences from wolves

Despite their close genetic relationship and interbreedability, there are several diagnostic features to distinguish the gray wolves from domestic dogs. Domesticated dogs are distinguishable from wolves by starch gel electrophoresis of red blood cell acid phosphatase.[42] The tympanic bullae are large, convex, and almost spherical in gray wolves, while the bullae of dogs are smaller, compressed, and slightly crumpled.[43] Compared with equally sized wolves, dogs tend to have 20% smaller skulls and 30% smaller brains.[44]:35 The teeth of gray wolves are also proportionately larger than those of dogs.[45] Dogs have a more domed forehead and a distinctive “stop” between the forehead and nose.[46] The temporalis muscle that closes the jaws is more robust in wolves.[5]:158 Wolves do not have dewclaws on their back legs unless there has been admixture with dogs that had them.[47] Most dogs lack a functioning pre-caudal gland and enter estrus twice yearly, unlike gray wolves, which only do so once a year.[48] So-called primitive dogs such as dingoes and Basenjis retain the yearly estrus cycle.[49]

Dogs generally have brown eyes, and wolves almost always have amber or light-colored eyes.[50] Domestic dogs’ skin tends to be thicker than that of wolves, with some Inuit tribes favoring the former for use as clothing due to its greater resistance to wear and tear in harsh weather.[51] The paws of a dog are half the size of a wolf, and their tails tend to curl upwards, another trait not found in wolves.[52] The dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds and shows more behavioral and morphological variation than any other land mammal.[53]


Main article: Dog health

Many household plants are poisonous to dogs (and other mammals), including BegoniaPoinsettia, and Aloe vera.[54]

Some breeds of dogs are prone to specific genetic ailments such as elbow and hip dysplasiablindnessdeafnesspulmonic stenosiscleft palate, and trick knees. Two severe medical conditions significantly affecting dogs are pyometra, affecting unspayed females of all types and ages, and gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), which affects the larger breeds or deep-chested dogs. Both of these are acute conditions and can kill rapidly. Dogs are also susceptible to parasites such as fleasticksmiteshookwormstapewormsroundworms, and heartworms (roundworm species that lives in the heart of dogs).

Several human foods and household ingestibles are toxic to dogs, including chocolate solids (theobromine poisoning), onion and garlic (thiosulphatesulfoxide or disulfide poisoning),[55] grapes and raisinsmacadamia nutsxylitol,[56] as well as various plants and other potentially ingested materials.[57][58] The nicotine in tobacco can also be dangerous. Dogs can be exposed to the substance by scavenging through garbage bins or ashtrays and eating cigars and cigarettes. Signs can be vomiting of large amounts (e.g., from eating cigar butts) or diarrhea. Some other symptoms are abdominal pain, loss of coordination, collapse, or death.[59] Dogs are susceptible to theobromine poisoning, typically from the ingestion of chocolate. Theobromine is toxic to dogs because, although the dog’s metabolism is capable of breaking down the chemical, the process is so slow that for some dogs, even small amounts of chocolate can be fatal, mostly dark chocolate.

Dogs are also vulnerable to some of the same health conditions as humans, including diabetesdental and heart diseaseepilepsycancerhypothyroidism, and arthritis.[60]


Further information: Aging in dogsMixed-breed dogs such as this terrier have been found to run faster and live longer than their pure-bred parents (see Heterosis).

In 2013, a study found that mixed breed dogs live on average 1.2 years longer than purebred dogs. Increasing body-weight was negatively correlated with longevity (i.e., the heavier the dog, the shorter its lifespan).[61]

The typical lifespan of dogs varies widely among breeds, but for most, the median longevity, the age at which half the dogs in a population have died, and half are still alive, ranges from 10 to 13 years.[62][63][64][65] Individual dogs may live well beyond the median of their breed.

The breed with the shortest lifespan (among breeds for which there is a questionnaire survey with reasonable sample size) is the Dogue de Bordeaux, with a median longevity of about 5.2 years. Still, several breeds, including miniature bull terriersbloodhounds, and Irish wolfhounds are nearly as short-lived, with median longevities of 6 to 7 years.[65]

The longest-lived breeds, including toy poodlesJapanese spitzBorder terriers, and Tibetan spaniels, have median longevities of 14 to 15 years.[65] The median longevity of mixed-breed dogs, taken as an average of all sizes, is one or more years longer than that of purebred dogs when all breeds are averaged.[63][64][65][66] The longest-lived dog was “Bluey,” an Australian Cattle Dog who died in 1939 at 29.5 years of age.[67][68]


Main article: Canine reproductionFemale dog nursing newborn puppies

In domestic dogs, sexual maturity happens around six to twelve months of age for both males and females,[17][69] although this can be delayed until up to two years old for some large breeds, and is the time at which female dogs will have their first estrous cycle. They will experience subsequent estrous cycles semiannually, during which the body prepares for pregnancy. At the peak of the cycle, females will become estrus, mentally, and physically receptive to copulation.[17] Because the ova survive and can be fertilized for a week after ovulation, more than one male can sire the same litter.[17]

Fertilization typically occurs 2–5 days after ovulation; 14–16 days after ovulation, the embryo attaches to the uterus, and after 7-8 more days, the heartbeat is detectable.[70][71]

Dogs bear their litters roughly 58 to 68 days after fertilization,[17][72] with an average of 63 days, although the length of gestation can vary. An average litter consists of about six puppies,[73] though this number may vary widely based on dog breed. In general, toy dogs produce from one to four puppies in each litter, while much larger breeds may average as many as twelve.

Some dog breeds have acquired traits through selective breeding that interfere with reproduction. Male French Bulldogs, for instance, are incapable of mounting the female. For many dogs of this breed, the female must be artificially inseminated to reproduce.[74]


A feral dog from Sri Lanka nursing very well-developed puppies

Neutering refers to the sterilization of animals, usually by removing the male’s testicles or the female’s ovaries and uterus, to eliminate the ability to procreate and reduce sex drive. Because of dogs’ overpopulation in some countries, many animal control agencies, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), advise that dogs not intended for further breeding should be neutered. That way, they do not have undesired puppies that may later be euthanized.[75]

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3–4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. Many more are confined to cages in shelters because there are many more animals than there are homes. Spaying or castrating dogs helps keep overpopulation down.[76] Local humane societies, SPCAs, and other animal protection organizations urge people to neuter their pets and adopt animals from shelters instead of purchasing them.

Neutering reduces problems caused by hypersexuality, especially in male dogs.[77] Spayed female dogs are less likely to develop cancer, affecting mammary glands, ovaries, and other reproductive organs.[78] However, neutering increases the risk of urinary incontinence in female dogs,[79] and prostate cancer in males,[80] and osteosarcomahemangiosarcomacruciate ligament rupture, obesity, and diabetes mellitus in either sex.[81]

Inbreeding depression

A common breeding practice for pet dogs is mating between close relatives (e.g., between half- and full siblings).[82] Inbreeding depression is considered to be due mainly to the expression of homozygous deleterious recessive mutations.[83] Outcrossing between unrelated individuals, including dogs of different breeds, results in the beneficial masking of deleterious recessive mutations in progeny.[84]

In a study of seven breeds of dogs (Bernese mountain dogbasset houndCairn terrierEpagneul BretonGerman Shepherd dog, Leonberger, and West Highland white terrier), it was found that inbreeding decreases litter size and survival.[85] Another analysis of data on 42,855 dachshund litters found that as the inbreeding coefficient increased, litter size decreased, and the percentage of stillborn puppies increased, thus indicating inbreeding depression.[86] In a study of boxer litters, 22% of puppies died before reaching seven weeks of age.[87] Stillbirth was the most frequent cause of death, followed by infection. Mortality due to infection increased significantly with increases in inbreeding.[87]

Intelligence, behavior, and communication


Main article: Dog intelligence

Dog intelligence is the dog’s ability to perceive information and retain it as knowledge for applying to solve problems. Studies of two dogs suggest that dogs can learn by inference and have advanced memory skills. A study with Rico, a border collie, showed that he knew the labels of over 200 different items. He inferred the names of novel things by exclusion learning and correctly retrieved those new items immediately and four weeks after the initial exposure. A study of another border collie, “Chaser,” documented his learning and memory capabilities. He had learned the names and could associate by verbal command over 1,000 words.[88] Dogs can read and react appropriately to human body language such as gesturing and pointing and human voice commands.

A 2018 study on canine cognitive abilities found that dogs’ capabilities are no more exceptional than those of other animals, such as horseschimpanzees, or cats.[89] Various animals, including pigspigeons, and chimpanzees, can remember the “what, where, and when” of an event, which dogs cannot do.[90]

Dogs demonstrate a theory of mind by engaging in deception.[91] An experimental study showed compelling evidence that Australian dingos can outperform domestic dogs in non-social problem-solving, indicating that domestic dogs may have lost much of their original problem-solving abilities once they joined humans.[92] Another study revealed that after undergoing training to solve a simple manipulation task, dogs faced with an insoluble version of the same problem look at the human, while socialized wolves do not.[93]


Main article: Dog behaviorSee also: Dog behavior § Behavior compared with other canidsA 3-year-old Border Collie at showing companion for human

Dog behavior is the internally coordinated responses (actions or inactions) of the domestic dog (individuals or groups) to internal and external stimuli.[94] As the oldest domesticated species, with estimates ranging from 9,000–30,000 years BCE, dogs’ minds inevitably have been shaped by millennia of contact with humans. As a result of this physical and social evolution, dogs have acquired the ability to understand and communicate with humans more than any other species, and they are uniquely attuned to human behaviors.[18] Behavioral scientists have uncovered a surprising set of social-cognitive abilities in the domestic dog. These abilities are not possessed by the dog’s closest canine relatives or other highly intelligent mammals such as great apes but rather parallel to children’s social-cognitive skills.[95]

Unlike other domestic species selected for production-related traits, dogs were initially selected for their behaviors.[96][97] In 2016, a study found that only 11 fixed genes showed variation between wolves and dogs. These gene variations were unlikely to have been the result of natural evolution and indicate selection on both morphology and behavior during dog domestication. These genes have been shown to affect the catecholamine synthesis pathway, with the majority of the genes affecting the fight-or-flight response[97][98] (i.e., selection for tameness), and emotional processing.[97] Dogs generally show reduced fear and aggression compared with wolves.[97][99] Some of these genes have been associated with aggression in some dog breeds, indicating their importance in both the initial domestication and later in breed formation.[97] Traits of high sociability and lack of fear in dogs may include genetic modifications related to Williams-Beuren syndrome in humans, which cause hyper sociability at the expense of problem-solving ability.[100][101][102]


Main article: Dog communication

Dog communication is how dogs convey information to other dogs, understand messages from humans, and translate the information that dogs are transmitting.[103]:xii Communication behaviors of dogs include eye gaze, facial expression, vocalization, body posture (including movements of bodies and limbs), and gustatory communication (scents, pheromones, and taste). Humans communicate to dogs by using vocalization, hand signals, and body posture.




The English name “Egypt” is derived from the Ancient Greek “Aígyptos” (“Αἴγυπτος”), via Middle French “Egypte” and Latin “Aegyptus“. It is reflected in early GreekLinear B tablets as “a-ku-pi-ti-yo”. The adjective “aigýpti-“/”aigýptios” was borrowed into Coptic as “gyptios“, and from there into Arabic as “qubṭī“, back formed into “قبط” (“qubṭ“), whence English “Copt“. The Greek forms were borrowed from Late Egyptian(Amarna) Hikuptah “Memphis”, a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name


(⟨ḥwt-kȝ-ptḥ⟩), meaning “home of the ka (soul) of Ptah”, the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis.[17]

Miṣr” (Arabic pronunciation: [mesˤɾ]; “مِصر”) is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while “Maṣr” (Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [mɑsˤɾ]; مَصر) is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic.[18] The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew “מִצְרַיִם‎” (“Mitzráyim“). The oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian “mi-iṣ-ru” (“miṣru”)[19][20] related to miṣru/miṣirru/miṣaru, meaning “border” or “frontier”.[21] The Neo-Assyrian Empire used the derived term Mu-ṣur.[22]The ancient Egyptian name of the country was


km.t, which means black land, likely referring to the fertile black soils of the Nile flood plains, distinct from the deshret (⟨dšṛt⟩), or “red land” of the desert.[23][24] This name is commonly vocalised as Kemet, but was probably pronounced [kuːmat] in ancient Egyptian.[25] The name is realised as kēme and kēmə in the Coptic stage of the Egyptian language, and appeared in early Greek as Χημία (Khēmía).[26] Another name was ⟨tꜣ-mry⟩ “land of the riverbank”.[27] The names of Upper and Lower Egypt were Ta-Sheme’aw (⟨tꜣ-šmꜥw⟩) “sedgeland” and Ta-Mehew (⟨tꜣ mḥw⟩) “northland”, respectively.


Main article: History of Egypt

Prehistory and Ancient Egypt

Main articles: Prehistoric Egypt and Ancient EgyptTemple of Derr ruins in 1960

There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BCE, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BCE 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 centralised society.[28]

By about 6000 BCE, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley.[29] 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 BCE.[30]The Giza Necropolis is the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.

A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BCE 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 religionartslanguage and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 2700–2200 BCE, 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.[31] Stronger Nile floods and stabilisation of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BCE, 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 BCE 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 Weighing of the Heart from the Book of the Dead of Ani

The New Kingdom c. 1550–1070 BCE 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 HatshepsutThutmose IIIAkhenaten and his wife NefertitiTutankhamun 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 LibyansNubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.[32]

Achaemenid Egypt

Egyptian soldier of the Achaemenid army, c. 480 BCE. Xerxes I tomb relief.

In 525 BCE, 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 525–402 BCE, save for Petubastis III, was an entirely Persian ruled period, with the Achaemenid Emperors all being granted the title of pharaoh. A few temporarily successful revolts against the Persians marked the fifth century BCE, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians.[33]

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians again in 343 BCE 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 Macedonian Greek general of Alexander, Ptolemy I Soter, founded the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

Main articles: Ptolemaic Kingdom and Egypt (Roman province)The Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII and her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion, at the Temple of Dendera.

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.[34][35]

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 1st century.[36] Diocletian‘s reign (284–305 CE) 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 CE 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.[37]

Middle Ages (7th century – 1517)

Main article: Egypt in the Middle AgesThe Amr ibn al-As mosque in Cairo, recognized as the oldest in Africa

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Sasanian Persian invasion early in the 7th 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.[36] These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.[38]

In 639 an army of some 4,000 men were sent against Egypt by the second caliph, Umar, under the command of Amr ibn al-As. This army was joined by another 5,000 men in 640 and defeated a Byzantine army at the battle of Heliopolis. Amr next proceeded in the direction of Alexandria, which was surrendered to him by a treaty signed on 8 November 641. Alexandria was regained for the Byzantine Empire in 645 but was retaken by Amr in 646. In 654 an invasion fleet sent by Constans II was repulsed. From that time no serious effort was made by the Byzantines to regain possession of the country.

The Arabs founded the capital of Egypt called Fustat, which was later burned down during the Crusades. Cairo was later built in the year 986 to grow to become the largest and richest city in the Arab Empire, and one of the biggest and richest in the world.

Abbasid period

The Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo, of Ahmad Ibn Tulun

The Abbasid period was marked by new taxations, and the Copts revolted again in the fourth year of Abbasid rule. At the beginning of the 9th century the practice of ruling Egypt through a governor was resumed under Abdallah ibn Tahir, who decided to reside at Baghdad, sending a deputy to Egypt to govern for him. In 828 another Egyptian revolt broke out, and in 831 the Copts joined with native Muslims against the government. Eventually the power loss of the Abbasids in Baghdad has led for general upon general to take over rule of Egypt, yet being under Abbasid allegiance, the Ikhshids and the Tulunids dynasties were among the most successful to defy the Abbasid Caliph.

The Fatimid Caliphate and the Mamluks

See also: Fatimid Caliphate and Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)The Al-Hakim Mosque in Cairo, of Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth caliph, as renovated by Dawoodi Bohra

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 TurcoCircassian military caste, took control about 1250. By the late 13th century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies.[39] The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 40% of the country’s population.[40]

Early modern: Ottoman Egypt (1517–1867)

Main article: Egypt Eyalet

Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarisation damaged its civil society and economic institutions.[39] The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade.[39] Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines.[41] The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.[42]

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.Napoleon defeated the Mamluk troops in the Battle of the Pyramids, 21 July 1798, painted by Lejeune.

Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 (see French campaign in Egypt and Syria). 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.

The Muhammad Ali dynasty

Main article: History of Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynastyEgypt under Muhammad Ali dynastyMuhammad Ali was the founder of the Muhammad Ali dynasty and the first Khedive of Egypt and Sudan.

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.[citation needed] Muhammad Ali massacred the Mamluks and 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.[43]

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 modernise the country: he built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.[43]

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 20th century.[44]

Muhammad Ali Pasha evolved the military from one that convened under the tradition of the corvée to a great modernised army. He introduced conscription of the male peasantry in 19th 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 became mandatory; 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.[45]

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.[46]

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.[44]

Khedivate of Egypt (1867–1914)

Main article: Khedivate of 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 legal status which was to remain in place until 1914 although the Ottomans had no power or presence.

The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. Its construction was financed by European banks. Large sums also went to patronage and corruption. New taxes caused popular discontent. In 1875 Isma’il avoided bankruptcy by selling all Egypt’s shares 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.”[47]

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.[48]

Local dissatisfaction with the Khedive and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmed ʻUrabi a prominent figure. After increasing tensions and nationalist revolts, the United Kingdom invaded Egypt in 1882, crushing the Egyptian army at the Battle of Tell El Kebir and militarily occupying the country.[49] Following this, the Khedivate became a de facto British protectorate under nominal Ottoman sovereignty.[50]

In 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement was signed: the Agreement stated that Sudan would be jointly governed by the Khedivate of Egypt and the United Kingdom. However, actual control of Sudan was in British hands only.

In 1906, the Denshawai incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement.

Sultanate of Egypt (1914–1922)

Main article: Sultanate of EgyptThe battle of Tel el-Kebir in 1882 during the Anglo-Egyptian War

In 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered World War I in alliance with the Central Empires; Khedive Abbas II (who had grown increasingly hostile to the British in preceding years) decided to support the motherland in war. Following such decision, the British forcibly removed him from power and replaced him with his brother Hussein Kamel.[51][52]

Hussein Kamel declared Egypt’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, assuming the title of Sultan of Egypt. Shortly following independence, Egypt was declared a protectorate of the United Kingdom.Female nationalists demonstrating in Cairo, 1919

After World War ISaad 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 8 March 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 22 February 1922.[53]

Kingdom of Egypt (1922–1953)

Main article: Kingdom of EgyptFuad I of Egypt with Edward, Prince of Wales, 1932

Following independence from the United Kingdom, Sultan Fuad I assumed the title of King of Egypt; despite being nominally independent, the Kingdom was still under British military occupation and the UK still had great influence over the state.British infantry near El Alamein, 17 July 1942

The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary system. The nationalist Wafd Party won a landslide victory in the 1923–1924 election and Saad Zaghloul was appointed as the new Prime Minister.

In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded and British troops withdrew from Egypt, except for the Suez Canal. The treaty did not resolve the question of Sudan, which, under the terms of the existing Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement of 1899, stated that Sudan should be jointly governed by Egypt and Britain, but with real power remaining in British hands.[54]

Britain used Egypt as a base for Allied operations throughout the region, especially the battles in North Africa against Italy and Germany. Its highest priorities were control of the Eastern Mediterranean, and especially keeping the Suez Canal open for merchant ships and for military connections with India and Australia. The government of Egypt, and the Egyptian population, played a minor role in the Second World War. When the war began in September 1939, Egypt declared martial law and broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. It did not declare war on Germany, but the Prime Minister associated Egypt with the British war effort. It broke diplomatic relations with Italy in 1940, but never declared war, even when the Italian army invaded Egypt. King Farouk took practically a neutral position, which accorded with elite opinion among the Egyptians. The Egyptian army did no fighting. It was apathetic about the war, with the leading officers looking on the British as occupiers and sometimes holding some private sympathy with the Axis. In June 1940 the King dismissed Prime Minister Aly Maher, who got on poorly with the British. A new coalition Government was formed with the Independent Hassan Pasha Sabri as Prime Minister.

Following a ministerial crisis in February 1942, the ambassador Sir Miles Lampson, pressed Farouk to have a Wafd or Wafd-coalition government replace Hussein Sirri Pasha‘s government. On the night of 4 February 1942, British troops and tanks surrounded Abdeen Palace in Cairo and Lampson presented Farouk with an ultimatum. Farouk capitulated, and Nahhas formed a government shortly thereafter. However, the humiliation meted out to Farouk, and the actions of the Wafd in cooperating with the British and taking power, lost support for both the British and the Wafd among both civilians and, more importantly, the Egyptian military.

Most British troops were withdrawn to the Suez Canal area in 1947 (although the British army maintained a military base in the area), but nationalist, anti-British feelings continued to grow after the War. Anti-monarchy sentiments further increased following the disastrous performance of the Kingdom in the First Arab-Israeli War. The 1950 election saw a landslide victory of the nationalist Wafd Party and the King was forced to appoint Mostafa El-Nahas as new Prime Minister. In 1951 Egypt unilaterally withdrew from the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 and ordered all remaining British troops to leave the Suez Canal.

As the British refused to leave their base around the Suez Canal, the Egyptian government cut off the water and refused to allow food into the Suez Canal base, announced a boycott of British goods, forbade Egyptian workers from entering the base and sponsored guerrilla attacks, turning the area around the Suez Canal into a low level war zone. On 24 January 1952, Egyptian guerrillas staged a fierce attack on the British forces around the Suez Canal, during which the Egyptian Auxiliary Police were observed helping the guerrillas. In response, on 25 January, General George Erskine sent out British tanks and infantry to surround the auxiliary police station in Ismailia and gave the policemen an hour to surrender their arms on the grounds the police were arming the guerrillas. The police commander called the Interior Minister, Fouad Serageddin, Nahas’s right-hand man, who was smoking cigars in his bath at the time, to ask if he should surrender or fight. Serageddin ordered the police to fight “to the last man and the last bullet”. The resulting battle saw the police station levelled and 43 Egyptian policemen killed together with 3 British soldiers. The Ismailia incident outraged Egypt. The next day, 26 January 1952 was “Black Saturday”, as the anti-British riot was known, that saw much of downtown Cairo which the Khedive Ismail the Magnificent had rebuilt in the style of Paris, burned down. Farouk blamed the Wafd for the Black Saturday riot, and dismissed Nahas as prime minister the next day. He was replaced by Aly Maher Pasha.[55]

On July 22–23, 1952, the Free Officers Movement, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, launched a coup d’état (Egyptian Revolution of 1952) against the king. Farouk I abdicated the throne to his son Fouad II, who was, at the time, a seven month old baby. The Royal Family left Egypt some days later and the Council of Regency, led by Prince Muhammad Abdel Moneim was formed, The Council, however, held only nominal authority and the real power was actually in the hands of the Revolutionary Command Council, led by Naguib and Nasser.

Popular expectations for immediate reforms led to the workers’ riots in Kafr Dawar on 12 August 1952, which resulted in two death sentences. Following a brief experiment with civilian rule, the Free Officers abrogated the monarchy and the 1923 constitution and declared Egypt a republic on 18 June 1953. Naguib was proclaimed as president, while Nasser was appointed as the new Prime Minister.

Arab Republic of Egypt (1953–present)

Main article: History of the Republic of Egypt

Following the 1952 Revolution by the Free Officers Movement, the rule of Egypt passed to military hands and all political parties were banned. On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic, serving in that capacity for a little under one and a half years.

President Nasser (1956–1970)

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Mansoura, 1960

Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser – a Pan-Arabist and the real architect of the 1952 movement – and was later put under house arrest. After Naguib’s resignation, the position of President was vacant until the election of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956.[56]

In October 1954 Egypt and the United Kingdom agreed to abolish the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement of 1899 and grant Sudan independence; the agreement came into force on 1 January 1956.

Nasser assumed power as President in June 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on 13 June 1956. He nationalised the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956; his hostile approach towards Israel and economic nationalism prompted the beginning of the Second Arab-Israeli War (Suez Crisis), in which Israel (with support from France and the United Kingdom) occupied the Sinai peninsula and the Canal. The war came to an end because of US and USSR diplomatic intervention and the status quo was restored.Smoke rises from oil tanks beside the Suez Canal hit during the initial Anglo-French assault on Egypt, 5 November 1956

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. The Arab Socialist Union, a new nasserist state-party was founded in 1962.

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”,[57][58] Nasser took three successive steps that made the war virtually inevitable: on 14 May he deployed his troops in Sinai near the border with Israel, on 19 May he expelled the UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel, and on 23 May he closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.[59] On 26 May Nasser declared, “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”.[60]

Israel re-iterated that the Straits of Tiran closure was a Casus belli. This prompted the beginning of the Third Arab Israeli War (Six-Day War) in which 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.[61] Under this law, police powers were extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship legalised.[citation needed]

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.[62] 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 academic year 1953–54 through 1965–66, overall public school enrolments 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.[62] 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.[63]

President Sadat (1970–1981)

Egyptian tanks advancing in the Sinai desert during the Yom Kippur War, 1973

In 1970, President Nasser died of a heart attack 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 Fourth Arab-Israeli War (Yom Kippur 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.[64]Celebrating the signing of the 1978 Camp David AccordsMenachem BeginJimmy CarterAnwar Sadat

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.[65] Even though Sadat’s policy was intended to modernise 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.

In 1977, Sadat dissolved the Arab Socialist Union and replaced it with the National Democratic Party.

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.[66] Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist in October 1981.

President Mubarak (1981–2011)

Hosni Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Sadat in a referendum in which he was the only candidate.[67]

Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed Egypt’s relationship with Israel yet eased the tensions with Egypt’s Arab neighbours. 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.

On 25 February 1986 Security Police started rioting, protesting against reports that their term of duty was to be extended from 3 to 4 years. Hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and casinos were attacked in Cairo and there were riots in other cities. A day time curfew was imposed. It took the army 3 days to restore order. 107 people were killed.[68]

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.[69] 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[70]—and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depended for support.[71]

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.[citation needed] As a result, by the late 1990s parliamentary politics had become virtually irrelevant and alternative avenues for political expression were curtailed as well.[72]Cairo grew into a metropolitan area with a population of over 20 million

On 17 November 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.[73] However, the new law placed restrictions on the candidates, and led to Mubarak’s easy re-election victory.[74] Voter turnout was less than 25%.[75] Election observers also alleged government interference in the election process.[76] After the election, Mubarak imprisoned Ayman Nour, the runner-up.[77]

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.[78] In 2007, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Egypt had become an international centre for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror.[79] Egypt’s foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report.[80]

Constitutional changes voted on 19 March 2007 prohibited parties from using religion as a basis for political activity, allowed the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law, authorised broad police powers of arrest and surveillance, and gave the president power to dissolve parliament and end judicial election monitoring.[81] 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”.[82]

Revolution (2011)

Main article: Egyptian revolution of 2011

Top: Celebrations in Tahrir Square after the announcement of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation; Bottom: Protests in Tahrir Square against President Morsi on 27 November 2012.

On 25 January 2011, widespread protests began against Mubarak’s government. On 11 February 2011, Mubarak resigned and fled Cairo. Jubilant celebrations broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the news.[83] The Egyptian military then assumed the power to govern.[84][85] Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, became the de facto interim head of state.[86][87] On 13 February 2011, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.[88]

constitutional referendum was held on 19 March 2011. On 28 November 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.[89]

President Morsi (2012–2013)

Mohamed Morsi was elected president on 24 June 2012.[90] On 2 August 2012, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35-member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers, including four from the Muslim Brotherhood.[91]

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.[92] On 22 November 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary declaration immunising his decrees from challenge and seeking to protect the work of the constituent assembly.[93]

The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt.[94] On 5 December 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.[95] Mohamed Morsi offered a “national dialogue” with opposition leaders but refused to cancel the December 2012 constitutional referendum.[96]

Political crisis (2013)

Main article: 2013 Egyptian coup d’état

On 3 July 2013, after a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government,[97] the military removed Morsi from office, dissolved the Shura Council and installed a temporary interim government.[98]

On 4 July 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 new Egyptian authorities cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, jailing thousands and forcefully dispersing pro-Morsi and/or pro-Brotherhood protests.[99][100] Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists have either been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a series of mass trials.[101][102][103]

On 18 January 2014, the interim government instituted a new constitution following a referendum approved by an overwhelming majority of voters (98.1%). 38.6% of registered voters participated in the referendum[104] a higher number than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure.[105]

President el-Sisi (2014–present)

Women in Cairo wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt in March 2020

On 26 March 2014, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egyptian Defence Minister and Commander-in-Chief Egyptian Armed Forces, retired from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[106] The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a landslide victory for el-Sisi.[107] Sisi was sworn into office as President of Egypt on 8 June 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood and some liberal and secular activist groups boycotted the vote.[108] Even though the interim authorities extended voting to a third day, the 46% turnout was lower than the 52% turnout in the 2012 election.[109]

A new parliamentary election was held in December 2015, resulting in a landslide victory for pro-Sisi parties, which secured a strong majority in the newly-formed House of Representatives.

In 2016, Egypt entered in a diplomatic crisis with Italy following the murder of researcher Giulio Regeni: in April 2016, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi recalled the Italian ambassador from Cairo because of lack of co-operation from the Egyptian Government in the investigation. The ambassador was sent back to Egypt in 2017 by the new Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

El-Sisi was re-elected in 2018, facing no serious opposition. In 2019, a series of constitutional amendments were approved by the parliament, further increasing the President’s and the military’s power, increasing presidential terms from 4 years to 6 years and allowing El-Sisi to run for other two mandates. The proposals were approved in a referendum.

The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam escalated in 2020.[110][111] Egypt sees the dam as an existential threat,[112] fearing that the dam will reduce the amount of water it receives from the Nile.[113]


Main article: Geography of EgyptNile valley near Luxor.Rocky landscape in Marsa Alam.

Egypt lies primarily between latitudes 22° and 32°N, and longitudes 25° and 35°E. At 1,001,450 square kilometres (386,660 sq mi),[114] it is the world’s 30th-largest country. Due to the extreme aridity of Egypt’s climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses about 5.5% of the total land area.[115] 98% of Egyptians live on 3% of the territory.[116]

Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, the Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt’s important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean by way of the Red Sea.

Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt’s landscape is desert, with a few oases scattered about. Winds create prolific sand dunes that peak at more than 30 metres (100 ft) high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats and were referred to as the “red land” in ancient Egypt.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, the second largest city; AswanAsyutCairo, the modern Egyptian capital and largest city; El Mahalla El KubraGiza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu; HurghadaLuxorKom OmboPort SafagaPort SaidSharm El SheikhSuez, where the south end of the Suez Canal is located; Zagazig; and MinyaOases include BahariyaDakhlaFarafraKharga and SiwaProtectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa.

On 13 March 2015, plans for a proposed new capital of Egypt were announced.[117]


Main article: Climate of EgyptKöppen climate classification for EgyptSaint Catherine in southern Sinai, on a snowy winter morning.

Most of Egypt’s rain falls in the winter months.[118] South of Cairo, rainfall averages only around 2 to 5 mm (0.1 to 0.2 in) per year and at intervals of many years. On a very thin strip of the northern coast the rainfall can be as high as 410 mm (16.1 in),[119] mostly between October and March. Snow falls on Sinai’s mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as DamiettaBaltim and Sidi Barrani, and rarely in Alexandria. A very small amount of snow fell on Cairo on 13 December 2013, the first time in many decades.[120] Frost is also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt. Egypt is the driest and the sunniest country in the world, and most of its land surface is desert.The Qattara Depression in Egypt’s north west.

Egypt has an unusually hot, sunny and dry climate. Average high temperatures are high in the north but very to extremely high in the rest of the country during summer. The cooler Mediterranean winds consistently blow over the northern sea coast, which helps to get more moderated temperatures, especially at the height of the summertime. The Khamaseen is a hot, dry wind that originates from the vast deserts in the south and blows in the spring or in the early summer. It brings scorching sand and dust particles, and usually brings daytime temperatures over 40 °C (104 °F) and sometimes over 50 °C (122 °F) in the interior, while the relative humidity can drop to 5% or even less. The absolute highest temperatures in Egypt occur when the Khamaseen blows. The weather is always sunny and clear in Egypt, especially in cities such as AswanLuxor and Asyut. It is one of the least cloudy and least rainy regions on Earth.

Prior to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Nile flooded annually (colloquially The Gift of the Nile) replenishing Egypt’s soil. This gave Egypt a consistent harvest throughout the years.

The potential rise in sea levels due to global warming could threaten Egypt’s densely populated coastal strip and have grave consequences for the country’s economy, agriculture and industry. Combined with growing demographic pressures, a significant rise in sea levels could turn millions of Egyptians into environmental refugees by the end of the 21st century, according to some climate experts.[121][122]


Main article: Wildlife of Egypt

Egypt signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 2 June 1994.[123] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 31 July 1998.[124] Where many CBD National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans neglect biological kingdoms apart from animals and plants,[125] Egypt’s plan was unusual in providing balanced information about all forms of life.

The plan stated that the following numbers of species of different groups had been recorded from Egypt: algae (1483 species), animals (about 15,000 species of which more than 10,000 were insects), fungi (more than 627 species), monera (319 species), plants (2426 species), protozoans (371 species). For some major groups, for example lichen-forming fungi and nematode worms, the number was not known. Apart from small and well-studied groups like amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles, the many of those numbers are likely to increase as further species are recorded from Egypt. For the fungi, including lichen-forming species, for example, subsequent work has shown that over 2200 species have been recorded from Egypt, and the final figure of all fungi actually occurring in the country is expected to be much higher.[126] For the grasses, 284 native and naturalised species have been identified and recorded in Egypt.[127]


Main article: Politics of EgyptAbdel Fattah el-Sisi is the current President of Egypt.

The House of Representatives, whose members are elected to serve five-year terms, specialises in legislation. Elections were last held between November 2011 and January 2012 which was later dissolved. The next parliamentary election was announced to be held within 6 months of the constitution’s ratification on 18 January 2014, and were held in two phases, from 17 October to 2 December 2015.[128] Originally, the parliament was to be formed before the president was elected, but interim president Adly Mansour pushed the date.[129] The Egyptian presidential election, 2014, took place on 26–28 May 2014. Official figures showed a turnout of 25,578,233 or 47.5%, with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi winning with 23.78 million votes, or 96.9% compared to 757,511 (3.1%) for Hamdeen Sabahi.[130]

After a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi,[97] on 3 July 2013 then-General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi from office and the suspension of the constitution. A 50-member constitution committee was formed for modifying the constitution which was later published for public voting and was adopted on 18 January 2014.[131]

In 2013, Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt at 5 (with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least), and civil liberties at 5, which gave it the freedom rating of “Partly Free”.[132]

Egyptian nationalism predates its Arab counterpart by many decades, having roots in the 19th century and becoming the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists and intellectuals until the early 20th century.[133] The ideology espoused by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood is mostly supported by the lower-middle strata of Egyptian society.[134]

Egypt has the oldest continuous parliamentary tradition in the Arab world.[135] The first popular assembly was established in 1866. It was disbanded as a result of the British occupation of 1882, and the British allowed only a consultative body to sit. In 1923, however, after the country’s independence was declared, a new constitution provided for a parliamentary monarchy.[135]


Main article: Egyptian Civil CodeThe High Court of Justice in Downtown Cairo.

The legal system is based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes); and judicial review by a Supreme Court, which accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction only with reservations.[55]

Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation. Sharia courts and qadis are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice.[136] The personal status law that regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody is governed by Sharia. In a family court, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s testimony.[137]

On 26 December 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to institutionalise a controversial new constitution. It was approved by the public in a referendum held 15–22 December 2012 with 64% support, but with only 33% electorate participation.[138] It replaced the 2011 Provisional Constitution of Egypt, adopted following the revolution.

The Penal code was unique as it contains a “Blasphemy Law.”[139] The present court system allows a death penalty including against an absent individual tried in absentia. Several Americans and Canadians were sentenced to death in 2012.[140]

On 18 January 2014, the interim government successfully institutionalised a more secular constitution.[141] The president is elected to a four-year term and may serve 2 terms.[141] The parliament may impeach the president.[141] Under the constitution, there is a guarantee of gender equality and absolute freedom of thought.[141] The military retains the ability to appoint the national Minister of Defence for the next two full presidential terms since the constitution took effect.[141] Under the constitution, political parties may not be based on “religion, race, gender or geography”.[141]

Human rights

Main article: Human rights in EgyptSee also: Sudanese refugees in EgyptAugust 2013 Rabaa massacre, and Persecution of Copts

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt.[142] In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights.[143] Shortly after its foundation, the council came under heavy criticism by local activists, who contend it was a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its own violations[144] and to give legitimacy to repressive laws such as the Emergency Law.[145]Protesters from the Third Square movement, which supported neither the former Morsi government nor the Armed Forces, 31 July 2013

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranks Egypt as the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom.[146][147] The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent agency of the US government, has placed Egypt on its watch list of countries that require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.[148] According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 84% of Egyptians polled supported the death penalty for those who leave Islam; 77% supported whippings and cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 82% support stoning a person who commits adultery.[149]

In February 2016 Giulio Regeni, an Italian Ph.D student from the University of Cambridge studying trade unions and worker’s rights in the country, was found brutally murdered in Cairo after he went missing in January of the same year. Subsequently, Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt. Egyptian law enforcement produced conflicting information on the fate of the Italian citizen, which was unacceptable to Italian investigators. As a result, the Italian press and foreign ministry pointed at the systematic human rights violations in Egypt, and threatened with political sanctions unless police leadership and practices undergo significant revisions.[150]

Coptic Christians face discrimination at multiple levels of the government, ranging from underrepresentation in government ministries to laws that limit their ability to build or repair churches.[151] Intolerance of Bahá’ís and non-orthodox Muslim sects, such as SufisShi’a and Ahmadis, also remains a problem.[78] When the government moved to computerise identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bahá’ís, could not obtain identification documents.[152] An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths may obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognised.[153]

Clashes continued between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi. During violent clashes that ensued as part of the August 2013 sit-in dispersal, 595 protesters were killed[154] with 14 August 2013 becoming the single deadliest day in Egypt’s modern history.[155]

Egypt actively practices capital punishment. Egypt’s authorities do not release figures on death sentences and executions, despite repeated requests over the years by human rights organisations.[156] The United Nations human rights office[157] and various NGOs[156][158] expressed “deep alarm” after an Egyptian Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 people to death in a single hearing on 25 March 2014. Sentenced supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi were to be executed for their alleged role in violence following his removal in July 2013. The judgement was condemned as a violation of international law.[159] By May 2014, approximately 16,000 people (and as high as more than 40,000 by one independent count, according to The Economist),[160] mostly Brotherhood members or supporters, have been imprisoned after Morsi’s removal[161] after the Muslim Brotherhood was labelled as terrorist organisation by the post-Morsi interim Egyptian government.[162]

After Morsi was ousted by the military, the judiciary system aligned itself with the new government, actively supporting the repression of Muslim Brotherhood members. This resulted in a sharp increase in mass death sentences that arose criticism from then-U.S. President Barack Obama and the General Secretary of the UN, Ban Ki Moon.

Homosexuality is illegal in Egypt.[163] According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, 95% of Egyptians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.[164]

In 2017, Cairo was voted the most dangerous megacity for women with more than 10 million inhabitants in a poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation. Sexual harassment was described as occurring on a daily basis.[165]

Freedom of the press

Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt in their 2017 World Press Freedom Index at No. 160 out of 180 nations. At least 18 journalists were imprisoned in Egypt, as of August 2015. A new anti-terror law was enacted in August 2015 that threatens members of the media with fines ranging from about US$25,000 to $60,000 for the distribution of wrong information on acts of terror inside the country “that differ from official declarations of the Egyptian Department of Defense”.[166]

Some critics of the government have been arrested for allegedly spreading false information about the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt.[167][168]

Military and foreign relations

Main articles: Egyptian Armed Forces and Foreign relations of EgyptEgyptian honor guard soldiers during a visit of U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen

The military is influential in the political and economic life of Egypt and exempts itself from laws that apply to other sectors. It enjoys considerable power, prestige and independence within the state and has been widely considered part of the Egyptian “deep state“.[67][169][170]

According to the former chair of Israel’s Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, the Egyptian Air Force has roughly the same number of modern warplanes as the Israeli Air Force and far more Western tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and warships than the IDF.[171] Egypt is speculated by Israel to be the second country in the region with a spy satelliteEgyptSat 1[172] in addition to EgyptSat 2 launched on 16 April 2014.[173]

Top: Former President Hosni Mubarak with former US President George W. Bush at Camp David in 2002; Bottom: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, August 2014.

The United States provides Egypt with annual military assistance, which in 2015 amounted to US$1.3 billion.[174] In 1989, Egypt was designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.[175] Nevertheless, ties between the two countries have partially soured since the July 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi,[176] with the Obama administration denouncing Egypt over its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and cancelling future military exercises involving the two countries.[177] There have been recent attempts, however, to normalise relations between the two, with both governments frequently calling for mutual support in the fight against regional and international terrorism.[178][179][180] However, following the election of Republican Donald Trump as the President of the United States, the two countries were looking to improve the Egyptian-American relations. al-Sisi and Trump had met during the opening of the seventy-first session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016.[181] The absence of Egypt in President Trump’s travel ban towards seven Muslim countries was noted in Washington although the Congress has voiced human rights concerns over the handling of dissidents.[182] On 3 April 2017 al-Sisi met with Trump at the White House, marking the first visit of an Egyptian president to Washington in 8 years. Trump praised al-Sisi in what was reported as a public relations victory for the Egyptian president, and signaled it was time for a normalization of the relations between Egypt and the US.[183]

The Egyptian military has dozens of factories manufacturing weapons as well as consumer goods. The Armed Forces’ inventory includes equipment from different countries around the world. Equipment from the former Soviet Union is being progressively replaced by more modern US, French, and British equipment, a significant portion of which is built under license in Egypt, such as the M1 Abrams tank.[citation needed] Relations with Russia have improved significantly following Mohamed Morsi’s removal[184] and both countries have worked since then to strengthen military[185] and trade ties[186] among other aspects of bilateral co-operation. Relations with China have also improved considerably. In 2014, Egypt and China established a bilateral “comprehensive strategic partnership”.[187] In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including Egypt, have signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China’s treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.[188]

The permanent headquarters of the Arab League are located in Cairo and the body’s secretary general has traditionally been Egyptian. This position is currently held by former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The Arab League briefly moved from Egypt to Tunis in 1978 to protest the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, but it later returned to Cairo in 1989. Gulf monarchies, including the United Arab Emirates[189] and Saudi Arabia,[190] have pledged billions of dollars to help Egypt overcome its economic difficulties since the overthrow of Morsi.[191]President el-Sisi with US President Donald Trump, 21 May 2017

Following the 1973 war and the subsequent peace treaty, Egypt became the first Arab nation to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Despite that, Israel is still widely considered as a hostile state by the majority of Egyptians.[192] Egypt has played a historical role as a mediator in resolving various disputes in the Middle East, most notably its handling of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the peace process.[193] Egypt’s ceasefire and truce brokering efforts in Gaza have hardly been challenged following Israel‘s evacuation of its settlements from the strip in 2005, despite increasing animosity towards the Hamas government in Gaza following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi,[194] and despite recent attempts by countries like Turkey and Qatar to take over this role.[195]

Ties between Egypt and other non-Arab Middle Eastern nations, including Iran and Turkey, have often been strained. Tensions with Iran are mostly due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and Iran’s rivalry with traditional Egyptian allies in the Gulf.[196] Turkey’s recent support for the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its alleged involvement in Libya also made both countries bitter regional rivals.[197]

Egypt is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. It is also a member of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie, since 1983. Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

In 2008, Egypt was estimated to have two million African refugees, including over 20,000 Sudanese nationals registered with UNHCR as refugees fleeing armed conflict or asylum seekers. Egypt adopted “harsh, sometimes lethal” methods of border control.[198]

Administrative divisions

Main articles: Governorates of Egypt and Subdivisions of Egypt

Egypt is divided into 27 governorates. The governorates are further divided into regions. The regions contain towns and villages. Each governorate has a capital, sometimes carrying the same name as the governorate.[199]Governorates of Egypt1. Matrouh 2. Alexandria 3. Beheira 4. Kafr El Sheikh 5. Dakahlia 6. Damietta 7. Port Said 8. North Sinai 9. Gharbia 10. Monufia 11. Qalyubia 12. Sharqia 13. Ismailia 14. Giza 15. Faiyum 16. Cairo 17. Suez 18. South Sinai 19. Beni Suef 20. Minya 21. New Valley 22. Asyut 23. Red Sea 24. Sohag 25. Qena 26. Luxor 27. Aswan


Main article: Economy of Egypt

Share of world GDP (PPP)[200]

Egypt Exports by Product (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity

Egypt’s economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum imports, natural gas, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in LibyaSaudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Europe. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honoured place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress the economy.

The government has invested in communications and physical infrastructure. Egypt has received United States foreign aid since 1979 (an average of $2.2 billion per year) and is the third-largest recipient of such funds from the United States following the Iraq war. Egypt’s economy mainly relies on these sources of income: tourism, remittances from Egyptians working abroad and revenues from the Suez Canal.[201]

Egypt has a developed energy market based on coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro power. Substantial coal deposits in the northeast Sinai are mined at the rate of about 600,000 tonnes (590,000 long tons; 660,000 short tons) per year. Oil and gas are produced in the western desert regions, the Gulf of Suez, and the Nile Delta. Egypt has huge reserves of gas, estimated at 2,180 cubic kilometres (520 cu mi),[202] and LNG up to 2012 exported to many countries. In 2013, the Egyptian General Petroleum Co (EGPC) said the country will cut exports of natural gas and tell major industries to slow output this summer to avoid an energy crisis and stave off political unrest, Reuters has reported. Egypt is counting on top liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter Qatar to obtain additional gas volumes in summer, while encouraging factories to plan their annual maintenance for those months of peak demand, said EGPC chairman, Tarek El Barkatawy. Egypt produces its own energy, but has been a net oil importer since 2008 and is rapidly becoming a net importer of natural gas.[203]

Economic conditions have started to improve considerably, after a period of stagnation, due to the adoption of more liberal economic policies by the government as well as increased revenues from tourism and a booming stock market. In its annual report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms.[204] Some major economic reforms undertaken by the government since 2003 include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs. A new taxation law implemented in 2005 decreased corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulting in a stated 100% increase in tax revenue by the year 2006.Smart Village, a business district established in 2001 to facilitate the growth of high-tech businesses.

San Stefano Grand Plaza in Alexandria (left) and view from Cairo.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Egypt increased considerably before the removal of Hosni Mubarak, exceeding $6 billion in 2006, due to economic liberalisation and privatisation measures taken by minister of investment Mahmoud Mohieddin.[citation needed] Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has experienced a drastic fall in both foreign investment and tourism revenues, followed by a 60% drop in foreign exchange reserves, a 3% drop in growth, and a rapid devaluation of the Egyptian pound.[205]

Although one of the main obstacles still facing the Egyptian economy is the limited trickle down of wealth to the average population, many Egyptians criticise their government for higher prices of basic goods while their standards of living or purchasing power remains relatively stagnant. Corruption is often cited by Egyptians as the main impediment to further economic growth.[206][207] The government promised major reconstruction of the country’s infrastructure, using money paid for the newly acquired third mobile license ($3 billion) by Etisalat in 2006.[208] In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Egypt was ranked 114 out of 177.[209]The Suez Canal.

Egypt’s most prominent multinational companies are the Orascom Group and Raya Contact Center. The information technology (IT) sector has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with many start-ups selling outsourcing services to North America and Europe, operating with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and other major corporations, as well as many small and medium size enterprises. Some of these companies are the Xceed Contact Center, Raya, E Group Connections and C3. The IT sector has been stimulated by new Egyptian entrepreneurs with government encouragement.[citation needed]

An estimated 2.7 million Egyptians abroad contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances (US$7.8 billion in 2009), as well as circulation of human and social capital and investment.[210] Remittances, money earned by Egyptians living abroad and sent home, reached a record US$21 billion in 2012, according to the World Bank.[211]

Egyptian society is moderately unequal in terms of income distribution, with an estimated 35–40% of Egypt’s population earning less than the equivalent of $2 a day, while only around 2–3% may be considered wealthy.[212]


Main article: Tourism in EgyptMuizz StreetOld Cairo has the greatest concentration of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Egypt’s economy. More than 12.8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion. The tourism sector employs about 12% of Egypt’s workforce.[213] Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou told industry professionals and reporters that tourism generated some $9.4 billion in 2012, a slight increase over the $9 billion seen in 2011.[214]Sahl Hasheesh, a resort town near Hurghada.

The Giza Necropolis is one of Egypt’s best-known tourist attractions; it is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence.

Egypt’s beaches on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, which extend to over 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles), are also popular tourist destinations; the Gulf of Aqaba beaches, SafagaSharm el-SheikhHurghadaLuxorDahabRas Sidr and Marsa Alam are popular sites.


Main article: Energy in EgyptAn offshore platform in the Darfeel Gas Field.

Egypt produced 691,000 bbl/d of oil and 2,141.05 Tcf of natural gas in 2013, making the country the largest non-OPEC producer of oil and the second-largest dry natural gas producer in Africa. In 2013, Egypt was the largest consumer of oil and natural gas in Africa, as more than 20% of total oil consumption and more than 40% of total dry natural gas consumption in Africa. Also, Egypt possesses the largest oil refinery capacity in Africa 726,000 bbl/d (in 2012).[202]

Egypt is currently planning to build its first nuclear power plant in El Dabaa, in the northern part of the country, with $25 billion in Russian financing.[215]


Main article: Transport in Egypt

Transport in Egypt is centred around Cairo and largely follows the pattern of settlement along the Nile. The main line of the nation’s 40,800-kilometre (25,400 mi) railway network runs from Alexandria to Aswan and is operated by Egyptian National Railways. The vehicle road network has expanded rapidly to over 34,000 km (21,000 mi), consisting of 28 line, 796 stations, 1800 train covering the Nile Valley and Nile Delta, the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, the Sinai, and the Western oases.The Cairo Metro (line 2)

The Cairo Metro in Egypt is the first of only two full-fledged metro systems in Africa and the Arab World. It is considered one of the most important recent projects in Egypt which cost around 12 billion Egyptian pounds. The system consists of three operational lines with a fourth line expected in the future.

EgyptAir, which is now the country’s flag carrier and largest airline, was founded in 1932 by Egyptian industrialist Talaat Harb, today owned by the Egyptian government. The airline is based at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, operating scheduled passenger and freight services to more than 75 destinations in the Middle EastEuropeAfricaAsia, and the Americas. The Current EgyptAir fleet includes 80 aeroplanes.

Suez Canal

Main article: Suez CanalThe Suez Canal Bridge.

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt considered the most important centre of the maritime transport in the Middle East, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows ship transport between Europe and Asia without navigation around Africa. The northern terminus is Port Said and the southern terminus is Port Tawfiq at the city of Suez. Ismailia lies on its west bank, 3 kilometres (1 78 miles) from the half-way point.

The canal is 193.30 km (120 18 mi) long, 24 metres (79 feet) deep and 205 m (673 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km (14 mi), the canal itself of 162.25 km (100 78 mi) and the southern access channel of 9 km (5 12 mi). The canal is a single lane with passing places in the Ballah By-Pass and the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through the canal. In general, the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.

On 26 August 2014 a proposal was made for opening a New Suez Canal. Work on the New Suez Canal was completed in July 2015.[216][217] The channel was officially inaugurated with a ceremony attended by foreign leaders and featuring military flyovers on 6 August 2015, in accordance with the budgets laid out for the project.[218][219]

Water supply and sanitation

Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Egypt

The piped water supply in Egypt increased between 1990 and 2010 from 89% to 100% in urban areas and from 39% to 93% in rural areas despite rapid population growth. Over that period, Egypt achieved the elimination of open defecation in rural areas and invested in infrastructure. Access to an improved water source in Egypt is now practically universal with a rate of 99%. About one half of the population is connected to sanitary sewers.[220]

Partly because of low sanitation coverage about 17,000 children die each year because of diarrhoea.[221] Another challenge is low cost recovery due to water tariffs that are among the lowest in the world. This in turn requires government subsidies even for operating costs, a situation that has been aggravated by salary increases without tariff increases after the Arab Spring. Poor operation of facilities, such as water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as limited government accountability and transparency, are also issues.Green irrigated land along the Nile amidst the desert and in the delta

Irrigated land and crops

Due to the absence of appreciable rainfall, Egypt’s agriculture depends entirely on irrigation. The main source of irrigation water is the river Nile of which the flow is controlled by the high dam at Aswan. It releases, on average, 55 cubic kilometres (45,000,000 acre·ft) water per year, of which some 46 cubic kilometres (37,000,000 acre·ft) are diverted into the irrigation canals.[222]

In the Nile valley and delta, almost 33,600 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi) of land benefit from these irrigation waters producing on average 1.8 crops per year.[222]


Main articles: Demographics of Egypt and EgyptiansEgypt’s population density (people per km2).

YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Population in Egypt[223][7]

Egypt is the most populated country in the Arab world and the third most populous on the African continent, with about 95 million inhabitants as of 2017.[224] Its population grew rapidly from 1970 to 2010 due to medical advances and increases in agricultural productivity[225] enabled by the Green Revolution.[226] Egypt’s population was estimated at 3 million when Napoleon invaded the country in 1798.[227]

Egypt’s people are highly urbanised, being concentrated along the Nile (notably Cairo and Alexandria), in the Delta and near the Suez Canal. Egyptians are divided demographically into those who live in the major urban centres and the fellahin, or farmers, that reside in rural villages. The total inhabited area constitutes only 77,041 km², putting the physiological density at over 1,200 people per km2, similar to Bangladesh.

While emigration was restricted under Nasser, thousands of Egyptian professionals were dispatched abroad in the context of the Arab Cold War.[228] Egyptian emigration was liberalised in 1971, under President Sadat, reaching record numbers after the 1973 oil crisis.[229] An estimated 2.7 million Egyptians live abroad. Approximately 70% of Egyptian migrants live in Arab countries (923,600 in Saudi Arabia, 332,600 in Libya, 226,850 in Jordan, 190,550 in Kuwait with the rest elsewhere in the region) and the remaining 30% reside mostly in Europe and North America (318,000 in the United States, 110,000 in Canada and 90,000 in Italy).[210] The process of emigrating to non-Arab states has been ongoing since the 1950s.[230]

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Egyptians are by far the largest ethnic group in the country, constituting 99.7% of the total population.[55] Ethnic minorities include the AbazasTurksGreeksBedouin Arab tribes living in the eastern deserts and the Sinai Peninsula, the Berber-speaking Siwis (Amazigh) of the Siwa Oasis, and the Nubian communities clustered along the Nile. There are also tribal Beja communities concentrated in the southeasternmost corner of the country, and a number of Dom clans mostly in the Nile Delta and Faiyum who are progressively becoming assimilated as urbanisation increases.

Some 5 million immigrants live in Egypt, mostly Sudanese, “some of whom have lived in Egypt for generations.”[231] Smaller numbers of immigrants come from IraqEthiopiaSomaliaSouth Sudan, and Eritrea.[231]

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that the total number of “people of concern” (refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people) was about 250,000. In 2015, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Egypt was 117,000, a decrease from the previous year.[231] Egyptian government claims that a half-million Syrian refugees live in Egypt are thought to be exaggerated.[231] There are 28,000 registered Sudanese refugees in Egypt.[231]

The once-vibrant and ancient Greek and Jewish communities in Egypt have almost disappeared, with only a small number remaining in the country, but many Egyptian Jews visit on religious or other occasions and tourism. Several important Jewish archaeological and historical sites are found in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities.


Main article: Languages of Egypt

The official language of the Republic is Arabic.[232] The spoken languages are: Egyptian Arabic (68%), Sa’idi Arabic (29%), Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic (1.6%), Sudanese Arabic (0.6%), Domari (0.3%), Nobiin (0.3%), Beja (0.1%), Siwi and others. Additionally, GreekArmenian and Italian, and more recently, African languages like Amharic and Tigrigna are the main languages of immigrants.

The main foreign languages taught in schools, by order of popularity, are EnglishFrenchGerman and Italian.

Historically Egyptian was spoken, of which the latest stage is Coptic Egyptian. Spoken Coptic was mostly extinct by the 17th century but may have survived in isolated pockets in Upper Egypt as late as the 19th century. It remains in use as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.[233][234] It forms a separate branch among the family of Afroasiatic languages.


Main article: Religion in Egypt

Egypt is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country with Islam as its state religion. The percentage of adherents of various religions is a controversial topic in Egypt. An estimated 85–90% are identified as Muslim, 10–15% as Coptic Christians, and 1% as other Christian denominations, although without a census the numbers cannot be known. Other estimates put the Christian population as high as 15–20%.[note 1] Non-denominational Muslims form roughly 12% of the population.[241][242]

Egypt was a Christian country before the 7th century, and after Islam arrived, the country was gradually Islamised into a majority-Muslim country.[243][244] It is not known when Muslims reached a majority variously estimated from c. 1000 CE to as late as the 14th century. Egypt emerged as a centre of politics and culture in the Muslim world. Under Anwar Sadat, Islam became the official state religion and Sharia the main source of law.[245] It is estimated that 15 million Egyptians follow Native Sufi orders,[246][247][248] with the Sufi leadership asserting that the numbers are much greater as many Egyptian Sufis are not officially registered with a Sufi order.[247] At least 305 people were killed during a November 2017 attack on a Sufi mosque in Sinai.[249]

There is also a Shi’a minority. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs estimates the Shia population at 1 to 2.2 million[250] and could measure as much as 3 million.[251] The Ahmadiyya population is estimated at less than 50,000,[252] whereas the Salafi (ultra-conservative) population is estimated at five to six million.[253] Cairo is famous for its numerous mosque minarets and has been dubbed “The City of 1,000 Minarets”.[254]St. Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria

Of the Christian population in Egypt over 90% belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Christian Church.[255] Other native Egyptian Christians are adherents of the Coptic Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church of Egypt and various other Protestant denominations. Non-native Christian communities are largely found in the urban regions of Cairo and Alexandria, such as the Syro-Lebanese, who belong to Greek CatholicGreek Orthodox, and Maronite Catholic denominations.[256]

Ethnic Greeks also made up a large Greek Orthodox population in the past. Likewise, Armenians made up the then larger Armenian Orthodox and Catholic communities. Egypt also used to have a large Roman Catholic community, largely made up of Italians and Maltese. These non-native communities were much larger in Egypt before the Nasser regime and the nationalisation that took place.

Egypt hosts the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It was founded back in the first century, considered to be the largest church in the country.

Egypt is also the home of Al-Azhar University (founded in 969 CE, began teaching in 975 CE), which is today the world’s “most influential voice of establishment Sunni Islam” and is, by some measures, the second-oldest continuously operating university in world.[257]

Egypt recognises only three religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Other faiths and minority Muslim sects practised by Egyptians, such as the small Bahá’í and Ahmadi community, are not recognised by the state and face persecution by the government, which labels these groups a threat to Egypt’s national security.[258][259] Individuals, particularly Baha’is and atheists, wishing to include their religion (or lack thereof) on their mandatory state issued identification cards are denied this ability (see Egyptian identification card controversy), and are put in the position of either not obtaining required identification or lying about their faith. A 2008 court ruling allowed members of unrecognised faiths to obtain identification and leave the religion field blank.[152][153]

Largest cities

See also: List of cities and towns in Egypt

 vteLargest cities or towns in Egypt
2017 census



Shubra El Kheima
2AlexandriaAlexandria5,039,97512El KhususQalyubia459,586
4Shubra El KheimaQalyubia1,165,91414ZagazigSharqia383,703
5Port SaidPort Said751,073156th of OctoberGiza350,018
7MansouraDakahlia548,25917New CairoCairo298,343
8El Mahalla El KubraGharbia522,79918DamiettaDamietta282,879


Main article: Culture of EgyptBibliotheca Alexandrina is a commemoration of the ancient Library of Alexandria

Egypt is a recognised cultural trend-setter of the Arabic-speaking world. Contemporary Arabic and Middle-Eastern culture is heavily influenced by Egyptian literature, music, film and television. Egypt gained a regional leadership role during the 1950s and 1960s, giving a further enduring boost to the standing of Egyptian culture in the Arabic-speaking world.[260]Al-Azhar Park is listed as one of the world’s sixty great public spaces by the Project for Public Spaces

Egyptian identity evolved in the span of a long period of occupation to accommodate IslamChristianity and Judaism; and a new language, Arabic, and its spoken descendant, Egyptian Arabic which is also based on many Ancient Egyptian words.[261]

The work of early 19th century scholar Rifa’a al-Tahtawi renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the historylanguage and antiquities of Egypt.[262]

Egypt’s renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad AbduhAhmed Lutfi el-SayedMuhammad Loutfi GoumahTawfiq el-HakimLouis AwadQasim AminSalama MoussaTaha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to personal freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring progress.[263]


The weighing of the heart scene from the Book of the Dead.

The Egyptians were one of the first major civilisations to codify design elements in art and architectureEgyptian blue, also known as calcium copper silicate is a pigment used by Egyptians for thousands of years. It is considered to be the first synthetic pigment. The wall paintings done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Egyptian civilisation is renowned for its colossal pyramidstemples and monumental tombs.

Well-known examples are the Pyramid of Djoser designed by ancient architect and engineer Imhotep, the Sphinx, and the temple of Abu Simbel. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene, from the vernacular architecture of Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef, to Mahmoud Mokhtar‘s sculptures, to the distinctive Coptic iconography of Isaac Fanous. The Cairo Opera House serves as the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital.


Main article: Egyptian literatureNaguib Mahfouz, the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Egyptian literature traces its beginnings to ancient Egypt and is some of the earliest known literature. Indeed, the Egyptians were the first culture to develop literature as we know it today, that is, the book.[264] It is an important cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Arab world.[265] The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular.[266] Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition.

Vernacular poetry is perhaps the most popular literary genre among Egyptians, represented by the works of Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.[citation needed]


Main article: Media of Egypt

Egyptian media are highly influential throughout the Arab World, attributed to large audiences and increasing freedom from government control.[267][268] Freedom of the media is guaranteed in the constitution; however, many laws still restrict this right.[267][269]


Main article: Cinema of EgyptSuad Husni, film star.

Egyptian cinema became a regional force with the coming of sound. In 1936, Studio Misr, financed by industrialist Talaat Harb, emerged as the leading Egyptian studio, a role the company retained for three decades.[270] For over 100 years, more than 4000 films have been produced in Egypt, three quarters of the total Arab production.[citation needed] Egypt is considered the leading country in the field of cinema in the Arab world. Actors from all over the Arab world seek to appear in the Egyptian cinema for the sake of fame. The Cairo International Film Festival has been rated as one of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations.[271]


Main article: Music of Egypt

Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. It has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians credited one of their gods Hathor with the invention of music, which Osiris in turn used as part of his effort to civilise the world. Egyptians used music instruments since then.[272]

Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu al-Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmoud Osman, who influenced the later work of Sayed DarwishUmm KulthumMohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez whose age is considered the golden age of music in Egypt and the whole Arab world. Prominent contemporary Egyptian pop singers include Amr Diab and Mohamed Mounir.


Tanoura dancers performing in Wekalet El Ghoury, Cairo.

Today, Egypt is often considered the home of belly dance. Egyptian belly dance has two main styles – raqs baladi and raqs sharqi. There are also numerous folkloric and character dances that may be part of an Egyptian-style belly dancer’s repertoire, as well as the modern shaabi street dance which shares some elements with raqs baladi.


Main article: List of museums in EgyptThe Egyptian Museum of Cairo

Egypt has one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It has been in contact with many other civilisations and nations and has been through so many eras, starting from prehistoric age to the modern age, passing through so many ages such as; Pharonic, Roman, Greek, Islamic and many other ages. Because of this wide variation of ages, the continuous contact with other nations and the big number of conflicts Egypt had been through, at least 60 museums may be found in Egypt, mainly covering a wide area of these ages and conflicts.Tutankhamun’s burial mask is one of the major attractions of the Egyptian Museum of Cairo

The three main museums in Egypt are The Egyptian Museum which has more than 120,000 items, the Egyptian National Military Museum and the 6th of October Panorama.

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), also known as the Giza Museum, is an under construction museum that will house the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world, it has been described as the world’s largest archaeological museum.[273] The museum was scheduled to open in 2015 and will be sited on 50 hectares (120 acres) of land approximately two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the Giza Necropolis and is part of a new master plan for the plateau. The Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty announced in May 2015 that the museum will be partially opened in May 2018.[274]


Egypt celebrates many festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulid. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavour in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt to witness during Ramadan.

The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Coptic: Ϭⲱⲙ‘ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ shom en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May), following Easter Sunday.


Main article: Egyptian cuisineKushari, one of Egypt’s national dishes.

Egyptian cuisine is notably conducive to vegetarian diets, as it relies heavily on legume and vegetable dishes. Although food in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, so a great number of vegetarian dishes have been developed.

Some consider kushari (a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni) to be the national dish. Fried onions can be also added to kushari. In addition, ful medames (mashed fava beans) is one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (also known as “ta‘miya”), which may have originated in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Middle East. Garlic fried with coriander is added to molokhiya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit.


A crowd at Cairo Stadium to watch the Egypt national football team.

Football is the most popular national sport of Egypt. The Cairo Derby is one of the fiercest derbies in Africa, and the BBC picked it as one of the 7 toughest derbies in the world.[275] Al Ahly is the most successful club of the 20th century in the African continent according to CAF, closely followed by their rivals Zamalek SC. They’re known as the “African Club of the Century“. With twenty titles, Al Ahly is currently the world’s most successful club in terms of international trophies, surpassing Italy’s A.C. Milan and Argentina’s Boca Juniors, both having eighteen.[276]

The Egyptian national football team, known as the Pharaohs, won the African Cup of Nations seven times, including three times in a row in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Considered the most successful African national team and one which has reached the top 10 of the FIFA world rankings, Egypt has qualified for the FIFA World Cup three times. Two goals from star player Mohamed Salah in their last qualifying game took Egypt through to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[277] The Egyptian Youth National team Young Pharaohs won the Bronze Medal of the 2001 FIFA youth world cup in Argentina. Egypt was 4th place in the football tournament in the 1928 and the 1964 Olympics.

Squash and tennis are other popular sports in Egypt. The Egyptian squash team has been competitive in international championships since the 1930s. Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour are Egypt’s best players and both were ranked the world’s number one squash player. Egypt has won the Squash World Championships four times, with the last title being in 2017.

In 1999, Egypt hosted the IHF World Men’s Handball Championship, and will host it again in 2021. In 2001, the national handball team achieved its best result in the tournament by reaching fourth place. Egypt has won in the African Men’s Handball Championship five times, being the best team in Africa. In addition to that, it also championed the Mediterranean Games in 2013, the Beach Handball World Championships in 2004 and the Summer Youth Olympics in 2010. Among all African nations, the Egypt national basketball team holds the record for best performance at the Basketball World Cup and at the Summer Olympics.[278][279] Further, the team has won a record number of 16 medals at the African Championship.

Egypt has taken part in the Summer Olympic Games since 1912 and hosted and Alexandria h the first Mediterranean Games in 1951. Egypt has hosted several international competitions. The last one being the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup which took place between 24 September – 16 October 2009.

On Friday 19 September 2014, Guinness World Records announced that Egyptian scuba diver Ahmed Gabr is the new title holder for deepest salt water scuba dive, at 332.35 metres (1,090.4 feet).[280] Ahmed set a new world record Friday when he reached a depth of more than 1,000 feet (300 metres). The 14-hour feat took Gabr 1,066 feet (325 metres) down into the abyss near the Egyptian town of Dahab in the Red Sea, where he works as a diving instructor.[281]

On 1 September 2015 Raneem El Weleily was ranked as the world number one woman squash player.[282] Other female Egyptian squash players include Nour El TayebOmneya Abdel KawyNouran Gohar and Nour El Sherbini.


Main article: Telecommunications in Egypt

The wired and wireless telecommunication industry in Egypt started in 1854 with the launch of the country’s first telegram line connecting Cairo and Alexandria. The first telephone line between the two cities was installed in 1881.[283] In September 1999 a national project for a technological renaissance was announced reflecting the commitment of the Egyptian government to developing the country’s IT-sector.


Main article: Egypt Post

Egypt Post is the company responsible for postal service in Egypt. Established in 1865, it is one of the oldest governmental institutions in the country. Egypt is one of 21 countries that contributed to the establishment of the Universal Postal Union, initially named the General Postal Union, as signatory of the Treaty of Bern.

Social Media

In September 2018, Egypt ratified the law granting authorities the right to monitor social media users in the country as part of tightening internet controls.[284][285]


Main article: Education in EgyptCairo University.Egyptian literacy rate among the population aged 15 years and older by UNESCO Institute of Statistics

The illiteracy rate has decreased since 1996 from 39.4 to 25.9 percent in 2013. The adult literacy rate as of July 2014 was estimated at 73.9%.[286] The illiteracy rate is highest among those over 60 years of age being estimated at around 64.9%, while illiteracy among youth between 15 and 24 years of age was listed at 8.6 percent.[287]

A European-style education system was first introduced in Egypt by the Ottomans in the early 19th century to nurture a class of loyal bureaucrats and army officers.[288] Under British occupation investment in education was curbed drastically, and secular public schools, which had previously been free, began to charge fees.[288]

In the 1950s, President Nasser phased in free education for all Egyptians.[288] The Egyptian curriculum influenced other Arab education systems, which often employed Egyptian-trained teachers.[288] Demand soon outstripped the level of available state resources, causing the quality of public education to deteriorate.[288] Today this trend has culminated in poor teacher–student ratios (often around one to fifty) and persistent gender inequality.[288]

Basic education, which includes six years of primary and three years of preparatory school, is a right for Egyptian children from the age of six.[289] After grade 9, students are tracked into one of two strands of secondary education: general or technical schools. General secondary education prepares students for further education, and graduates of this track normally join higher education institutes based on the results of the Thanaweya Amma, the leaving exam.[289]

Technical secondary education has two strands, one lasting three years and a more advanced education lasting five. Graduates of these schools may have access to higher education based on their results on the final exam, but this is generally uncommon.[289]

Cairo University is ranked as 401–500 according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking)[290] and 551–600 according to QS World University RankingsAmerican University in Cairo is ranked as 360 according to QS World University Rankings and Al-Azhar UniversityAlexandria University and Ain Shams University fall in the 701+ range.[291] Egypt is currently opening new research institutes for the aim of modernising research in the nation, the most recent example of which is Zewail City of Science and Technology.


Main article: Health in Egypt57357 Hospital

Egyptian life expectancy at birth was 73.20 years in 2011, or 71.30 years for males and 75.20 years for females. Egypt spends 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product on health including treatment costs 22 percent incurred by citizens and the rest by the state.[292] In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 4.66% of the country’s GDP. In 2009, there were 16.04 physicians and 33.80 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants.[293]

As a result of modernisation efforts over the years, Egypt’s healthcare system has made great strides forward. Access to healthcare in both urban and rural areas greatly improved and immunisation programs are now able to cover 98% of the population. Life expectancy increased from 44.8 years during the 1960s to 72.12 years in 2009. There was a noticeable decline of the infant mortality rate (during the 1970s to the 1980s the infant mortality rate was 101-132/1000 live births, in 2000 the rate was 50-60/1000, and in 2008 it was 28-30/1000).[294]

According to the World Health Organization in 2008, an estimated 91.1% of Egypt’s girls and women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to genital mutilation,[295] despite being illegal in the country. In 2016 the law was amended to impose tougher penalties on those convicted of performing the procedure, pegging the highest jail term at 15 years. Those who escort victims to the procedure can also face jail terms up to 3 years.[296]

The total number of Egyptians with health insurance reached 37 million in 2009, of which 11 million are minors, providing an insurance coverage of approximately 52 percent of Egypt’s population.[297]

See also


  1. ^ The population of Egypt is estimated as being 90% Muslim, 9% Coptic Christian and 1% other Christian, though estimates vary.[235][236][237] Microsoft Encarta Online similarly estimates the Sunni population at 90% of the total.[238] The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life gave a higher estimate of the Muslim population, at 94.6%.[239] In 2017, the government-owned newspaper Al Ahram estimated the percentage of Christians at 10 to 15%.[240]


  1. ^ Goldschmidt, Arthur (1988). Modern Egypt: The Formation of a Nation-State. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-86531-182-4Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. Among the peoples of the ancient Near East, only the Egyptians have stayed where they were and remained what they were, although they have changed their language once and their religion twice. In a sense, they constitute the world’s oldest nation. For most of their history, Egypt has been a state, but only in recent years has it been truly a nation-state, with a government claiming the allegiance of its subjects on the basis of a common identity.
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  7. Jump up to:a b “الجهاز المركزي للتعبئة العامة والإحصاء” (PDF). http://www.capmas.gov.egArchived(PDF) from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
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Extant species

3 species are extant:[10][11]

Image Common name Scientific name Distribution

Domestic Dromedary Merzouga.jpg Dromedary / Arabian camel Camelus dromedarius Middle East, the Horn of Africa and South Asia 

2011 Trampeltier 1528.JPG Bactrian camel Camelus bactrianus Central Asia, including the historical region of Bactria.

Wild Bactrian camel on road east of Yarkand.jpg Wild Bactrian camel Camelus ferus Remote areas of northwest China and Mongolia

Recently extinct species

An extinct species of camel[12] in the separate genus Camelops, known as C. hesternus,[13] lived in western North America until the end of the Pleistocene, roughly 11,000 years ago.


The average life expectancy of a camel is 40 to 50 years.[14] A full-grown adult dromedary camel stands 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) at the shoulder and 2.15 m (7 ft 1 in) at the hump.[15] Bactrian camels can be a foot taller. Camels can run at up to 65 km/h (40 mph) in short bursts and sustain speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph).[16] Bactrian camels weigh 300 to 1,000 kg (660 to 2,200 lb) and dromedaries 300 to 600 kg (660 to 1,320 lb). The widening toes on a camel’s hoof provide supplemental grip for varying soil sediments.[17]

The male dromedary camel has an organ called a dulla in its throat, a large, inflatable sac he extrudes from his mouth when in rut to assert dominance and attract females. It resembles a long, swollen, pink tongue hanging out of the side of its mouth.[18] Camels mate by having both male and female sitting on the ground, with the male mounting from behind.[19] The male usually ejaculates three or four times within a single mating session.[20] Camelids are the only ungulates to mate in a sitting position.[21]

Ecological and behavioral adaptations

Camels do not directly store water in their humps; they are reservoirs of fatty tissue. Concentrating body fat in their humps minimizes the insulating effect fat would have if distributed over the rest of their bodies, helping camels survive in hot climates.[22][23] When this tissue is metabolized, it yields more than one gram of water for every gram of fat processed. This fat metabolization, while releasing energy, causes water to evaporate from the lungs during respiration (as oxygen is required for the metabolic process): overall, there is a net decrease in water.[24][25]

A portrait of a camel with a visibly thick mane

A camel’s thick coat is one of its many adaptations that aid it in desert-like conditions.

A leashed pack camel

Somalia has the world’s largest population of camels.[26]

Camels have a series of physiological adaptations that allow them to withstand long periods of time without any external source of water.[23] The dromedary camel can drink as seldom as once every 10 days even under very hot conditions, and can lose up to 30% of its body mass due to dehydration.[27] Unlike other mammals, camels’ red blood cells are oval rather than circular in shape. This facilitates the flow of red blood cells during dehydration[28] and makes them better at withstanding high osmotic variation without rupturing when drinking large amounts of water: a 600 kg (1,300 lb) camel can drink 200 L (53 US gal) of water in three minutes.[29][30]

Camels are able to withstand changes in body temperature and water consumption that would kill most other mammals. Their temperature ranges from 34 °C (93 °F) at dawn and steadily increases to 40 °C (104 °F) by sunset, before they cool off at night again.[23] In general, to compare between camels and the other livestock, camels lose only 1.3 liters of fluid intake every day while the other livestock lose 20 to 40 liters per day (Breulmann, et al., 2007).[31] Maintaining the brain temperature within certain limits is critical for animals; to assist this, camels have a rete mirabile, a complex of arteries and veins lying very close to each other which utilizes countercurrent blood flow to cool blood flowing to the brain.[32] Camels rarely sweat, even when ambient temperatures reach 49 °C (120 °F).[33] Any sweat that does occur evaporates at the skin level rather than at the surface of their coat; the heat of vaporization therefore comes from body heat rather than ambient heat. Camels can withstand losing 25% of their body weight to sweating, whereas most other mammals can withstand only about 12–14% dehydration before cardiac failure results from circulatory disturbance.[30]

When the camel exhales, water vapor becomes trapped in their nostrils and is reabsorbed into the body as a means to conserve water.[34] Camels eating green herbage can ingest sufficient moisture in milder conditions to maintain their bodies’ hydrated state without the need for drinking.[35]

Domesticated camel calves lying in sternal recumbency, a position that aids heat loss

The camel’s thick coat insulates it from the intense heat radiated from desert sand; a shorn camel must sweat 50% more to avoid overheating.[36] During the summer the coat becomes lighter in color, reflecting light as well as helping avoid sunburn.[30] The camel’s long legs help by keeping its body farther from the ground, which can heat up to 70 °C (158 °F).[37][38] Dromedaries have a pad of thick tissue over the sternum called the pedestal. When the animal lies down in a sternal recumbent position, the pedestal raises the body from the hot surface and allows cooling air to pass under the body.[32]

Camels’ mouths have a thick leathery lining, allowing them to chew thorny desert plants. Long eyelashes and ear hairs, together with nostrils that can close, form a barrier against sand. If sand gets lodged in their eyes, they can dislodge it using their transparent third eyelid. The camels’ gait and widened feet help them move without sinking into the sand.[37][39][40]

The kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at reabsorbing water. Camels’ kidneys have a 1:4 cortex to medulla ratio.[41] Thus, the medullary part of a camel’s kidney occupies twice as much area as a cow’s kidney. Secondly, renal corpuscles have a smaller diameter, which reduces surface area for filtration. These two major anatomical characteristics enable camels to conserve water and limit the volume of urine in extreme desert conditions.[42] Camel urine comes out as a thick syrup, and camel faeces are so dry that they do not require drying when the Bedouins use them to fuel fires.[43][44][45][46]

The camel immune system differs from those of other mammals. Normally, the Y-shaped antibody molecules consist of two heavy (or long) chains along the length of the Y, and two light (or short) chains at each tip of the Y. Camels, in addition to these, also have antibodies made of only two heavy chains, a trait that makes them smaller and more durable. These “heavy-chain-only” antibodies, discovered in 1993, are thought to have developed 50 million years ago, after camelids split from ruminants and pigs.[47]


The karyotypes of different camelid species have been studied earlier by many groups,[48][49][50][51][52][53] but no agreement on chromosome nomenclature of camelids has been reached. A 2007 study flow sorted camel chromosomes, building on the fact that camels have 37 pairs of chromosomes (2n=74), and found that the karyotype consisted of one metacentric, three submetacentric, and 32 acrocentric autosomes. The Y is a small metacentric chromosome, while the X is a large metacentric chromosome.[54]

Skull of an F1 hybrid camel, Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma

The hybrid camel, a hybrid between Bactrian and dromedary camels, has one hump, though it has an indentation 4–12 cm (1.6–4.7 in) deep that divides the front from the back. The hybrid is 2.15 m (7 ft 1 in) at the shoulder and 2.32 m (7 ft 7 in) tall at the hump. It weighs an average of 650 kg (1,430 lb) and can carry around 400 to 450 kg (880 to 990 lb), which is more than either the dromedary or Bactrian can.[55]

According to molecular data, the wild Bactrian camel (C. ferus) separated from the domestic Bactrian camel (C. bactrianus) about 1 million years ago.[56][57] New World and Old World camelids diverged about 11 million years ago.[58] In spite of this, these species can hybridize and produce viable offspring.[59] The cama is a camel-llama hybrid bred by scientists to see how closely related the parent species are.[60] Scientists collected semen from a camel via an artificial vagina and inseminated a llama after stimulating ovulation with gonadotrophin injections.[61] The cama is halfway in size between a camel and a llama and lacks a hump. It has ears intermediate between those of camels and llamas, longer legs than the llama, and partially cloven hooves.[62][63] Like the mule, camas are sterile, despite both parents having the same number of chromosomes.[61]


The earliest known camel, called Protylopus, lived in North America 40 to 50 million years ago (during the Eocene).[20] It was about the size of a rabbit and lived in the open woodlands of what is now South Dakota.[64][65] By 35 million years ago, the Poebrotherium was the size of a goat and had many more traits similar to camels and llamas.[66][67] The hoofed Stenomylus, which walked on the tips of its toes, also existed around this time, and the long-necked Aepycamelus evolved in the Miocene.[68]

An early relative of extant Old World camels, Paracamelus, existed in the upper Miocene to Middle Pleistocene.[69][70] Around 3–5 million years ago, the North American Camelidae spread to South America as part of the Great American Interchange via the newly formed Isthmus of Panama, where they gave rise to guanacos and related animals, and to Asia via the Bering land bridge.[20][64][65] Surprising finds of fossil Paracamelus on Ellesmere Island beginning in 2006 in the high Canadian Arctic suggest that the extant Old World camels may descend from a larger, boreal browser whose hump may have evolved as an adaptation in a cold climate.[71][72] This creature is estimated to have stood around nine feet (2.7 metres) tall.[73] The Bactrican camel diverged from the dromedary about 1 million years ago, according to the fossil record.[74]

The last camel native to North America was Camelops hesternus, which vanished along with horses, short-faced bears, mammoths and mastodons, ground sloths, sabertooth cats, and many other megafauna, coinciding with the migration of humans from Asia.[75][76]

A drawing of two early camels

Stenomylus illustration

Stenomylus skeleton

Poebrotherium skeleton

Procamelus skull


Like horses before their extinction in their continent of origin, camels spread across Beringia, moving in the opposite direction from the Asian immigration to America. They survived in the Old World, and eventually humans domesticated them and spread them globally. Along with many other megafauna in North America, the original wild camels were wiped out during the spread of the first indigenous peoples of the Americas from Asia into North America, 12-10,000 years ago; although fossils have never been associated with definitive evidence of hunting.[75][76]

Most camels surviving today are domesticated.[46][77] Although feral populations exist in Australia, India and Kazakhstan, wild camels survive only in the wild Bactrian camel population of the Gobi Desert.[14]

Humans may have first domesticated dromedaries in Somalia and southern Arabia around 3000 BCE, and Bactrian camels in central Asia around 2500 BCE,[20][78][79][80] as at Shahr-e Sukhteh (also known as the Burnt City), Iran.[81]

Martin Heide’s 2010 work on the domestication of the camel tentatively concludes that humans had domesticated the Bactrian camel by at least the middle of the third millennium somewhere east of the Zagros Mountains, with the practice then moving into Mesopotamia. Heide suggests that mentions of camels “in the patriarchal narratives may refer, at least in some places, to the Bactrian camel”, while noting that the camel is not mentioned in relationship to Canaan.[82]

Recent excavations in the Timna Valley by Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef discovered what may be the earliest domestic camel bones yet found in Israel or even outside the Arabian Peninsula, dating to around 930 BC. This garnered considerable media coverage, as it is strong evidence that the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Esau, and Joseph were written after this time.[83][84]

The existence of camels in Mesopotamia—but not in the eastern Mediterranean lands—is not a new idea. The historian Richard Bulliet did not think that the occasional mention of camels in the Bible meant that the domestic camels were common in the Holy Land at that time.[85] The archaeologist William F. Albright, writing even earlier, saw camels in the Bible as an anachronism.[86]

The official report by Sapir-Hen and Ben-Joseph notes:

The introduction of the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) as a pack animal to the southern Levant … substantially facilitated trade across the vast deserts of Arabia, promoting both economic and social change (e.g., Kohler 1984; Borowski 1998: 112–116; Jasmin 2005). This … has generated extensive discussion regarding the date of the earliest domestic camel in the southern Levant (and beyond) (e.g., Albright 1949: 207; Epstein 1971: 558–584; Bulliet 1975; Zarins 1989; Köhler-Rollefson 1993; Uerpmann and Uerpmann 2002; Jasmin 2005; 2006; Heide 2010; Rosen and Saidel 2010; Grigson 2012). Most scholars today agree that the dromedary was exploited as a pack animal sometime in the early Iron Age (not before the 12th century [BC])

and concludes:

Current data from copper smelting sites of the Aravah Valley enable us to pinpoint the introduction of domestic camels to the southern Levant more precisely based on stratigraphic contexts associated with an extensive suite of radiocarbon dates. The data indicate that this event occurred not earlier than the last third of the 10th century [BC] and most probably during this time. The coincidence of this event with a major reorganization of the copper industry of the region—attributed to the results of the campaign of Pharaoh Shoshenq I—raises the possibility that the two were connected, and that camels were introduced as part of the efforts to improve efficiency by facilitating trade.[84]

A camel harnessed to a cart loaded with branches and twigs

A camel serving as a draft animal in Pakistan (2009)

A painting of a man sitting on a camel and playing the drums

A camel in a ceremonial procession, its rider playing kettledrums, Mughal Empire (c. 1840)

Petroglyph of a camel, Negev, southern Israel (prior to c. 5300 BC)

Joseph Sells Grain by Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1655), showing camel with rider at left


Main article: Camel hair

Desert tribes and Mongolian nomads use camel hair for tents, yurts, clothing, bedding and accessories. Camels have outer guard hairs and soft inner down, and the fibers are sorted[by whom?] by color and age of the animal. The guard hairs can be felted for use as waterproof coats for the herdsmen, while the softer hair is used for premium goods.[87] The fiber can be spun for use in weaving or made into yarns for hand knitting or crochet. Pure camel hair is recorded as being used for western garments from the 17th century onwards, and from the 19th century a mixture of wool and camel hair was used.[88]

Military uses

Main article: Camel cavalry

A special BSF camel contingent, Republic Day Parade, New Delhi (2004)

A painting of soldiers on camels

Camel Corps at Magdhaba, Egypt, 23 December 1916, by Harold Septimus Power (1925)

By at least 1200 BC the first camel saddles had appeared, and Bactrian camels could be ridden. The first saddle was positioned to the back of the camel, and control of the Bactrian camel was exercised by means of a stick. However, between 500 and 100 BC, Bactrian camels came into military use. New saddles, which were inflexible and bent, were put over the humps and divided the rider’s weight over the animal. In the seventh century BC the military Arabian saddle evolved, which again improved the saddle design slightly.[89][90]

Military forces have used camel cavalries in wars throughout Africa, the Middle East, and into the modern-day Border Security Force (BSF) of India (though as of July 2012, the BSF planned the replacement of camels with ATVs). The first documented use of camel cavalries occurred in the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC.[91][92][93] Armies have also used camels as freight animals instead of horses and mules.[94][95]

The East Roman Empire used auxiliary forces known as dromedarii, whom the Romans recruited in desert provinces.[96][97] The camels were used mostly in combat because of their ability to scare off horses at close range (horses are afraid of the camels’ scent),[21] a quality famously employed by the Achaemenid Persians when fighting Lydia in the Battle of Thymbra (547 BC).[55][98][99]

19th and 20th centuries

A photo of Bulgarian military-transport camels in 1912

A camel caravan of the Bulgarian military during the First Balkan War, 1912

The United States Army established the U.S. Camel Corps, stationed in California, in the late 19th century.[21] One may still see stables at the Benicia Arsenal in Benicia, California, where they nowadays serve as the Benicia Historical Museum.[100] Though the experimental use of camels was seen as a success (John B. Floyd, Secretary of War in 1858, recommended that funds be allocated towards obtaining a thousand more camels), the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 saw the end of the Camel Corps: Texas became part of the Confederacy, and most of the camels were left to wander away into the desert.[95]

France created a méhariste camel corps in 1912 as part of the Armée d’Afrique in the Sahara[101] in order to exercise greater control over the camel-riding Tuareg and Arab insurgents, as previous efforts to defeat them on foot had failed.[102] The Free French Camel Corps fought during World War II, and camel-mounted units remained in service until the end of French rule over Algeria in 1962.[103]

In 1916, the British created the Imperial Camel Corps. It was originally used to fight the Senussi, but was later used in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I. The Imperial Camel Corps comprised infantrymen mounted on camels for movement across desert, though they dismounted at battle sites and fought on foot. After July 1918, the Corps began to become run down, receiving no new reinforcements, and was formally disbanded in 1919.[104]

In World War I, the British Army also created the Egyptian Camel Transport Corps, which consisted of a group of Egyptian camel drivers and their camels. The Corps supported British war operations in Sinai, Palestine, and Syria by transporting supplies to the troops.[105][106][107]

The Somaliland Camel Corps was created by colonial authorities in British Somaliland in 1912; it was disbanded in 1944.[108]

Bactrian camels were used by Romanian forces during World War II in the Caucasian region.[109] At the same period the Soviet units operating around Astrakhan in 1942 adopted local camels as draft animals due to shortage of trucks and horses, and kept them even after moving out of the area. Despite severe losses, some of these camels came as far West as to Berlin itself.[110]

The Bikaner Camel Corps of British India fought alongside the British Indian Army in World Wars I and II.[111]

The Tropas Nómadas (Nomad Troops) were an auxiliary regiment of Sahrawi tribesmen serving in the colonial army in Spanish Sahara (today Western Sahara). Operational from the 1930s until the end of the Spanish presence in the territory in 1975, the Tropas Nómadas were equipped with small arms and led by Spanish officers. The unit guarded outposts and sometimes conducted patrols on camelback.[112][113]

Food uses


Main article: Camel milk

Camels at the Khan and old bridge, Lajjun, Palestine (now in Israel) – 1870s drawing

A camel calf nursing on camel milk

Camel milk is a staple food of desert nomad tribes and is sometimes considered a meal itself; a nomad can live on only camel milk for almost a month.[21][43][114][115]

Camel milk can readily be made into yogurt, but can only be made into butter if it is soured first, churned, and a clarifying agent is then added.[21] Until recently, camel milk could not be made into camel cheese because rennet was unable to coagulate the milk proteins to allow the collection of curds.[116] Developing less wasteful uses of the milk, the FAO commissioned Professor J.P. Ramet of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie et des Industries Alimentaires, who was able to produce curdling by the addition of calcium phosphate and vegetable rennet in the 1990s.[117] The cheese produced from this process has low levels of cholesterol and is easy to digest, even for the lactose intolerant.[118][119]

Camel milk can also be made into ice cream.[120][121]


A Somali camel meat and rice dish

Camel meat pulao, from Pakistan

They provide food in the form of meat and milk (Tariq et al.,2010).[122] Approximately 3.3 million camels and camelids are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide.[123] A camel carcass can provide a substantial amount of meat. The male dromedary carcass can weigh 300–400 kg (661–882 lb), while the carcass of a male Bactrian can weigh up to 650 kg (1,433 lb). The carcass of a female dromedary weighs less than the male, ranging between 250 and 350 kg (550 and 770 lb).[20] The brisket, ribs and loin are among the preferred parts, and the hump is considered a delicacy.[124] The hump contains “white and sickly fat”, which can be used to make the khli (preserved meat) of mutton, beef, or camel.[125] On the other hand, camel milk and meat are rich in protein, vitamins, glycogen, and other nutrients making them essential in the diet of many people. From chemical composition to meat quality, the dromedary camel is the preferred breed for meat production. It does well even in arid areas due to its unusual physiological behaviors and characteristics, which include tolerance to extreme temperatures, radiation from the sun, water paucity, rugged landscape and low vegetation.[126] Camel meat is reported to taste like coarse beef, but older camels can prove to be very tough,[15][20] although camel meat becomes tenderer the more it is cooked.[127] The Abu Dhabi Officers’ Club serves a camel burger mixed with beef or lamb fat in order to improve the texture and taste.[128] In Karachi, Pakistan, some restaurants prepare nihari from camel meat.[129] Specialist camel butchers provide expert cuts, with the hump considered the most popular.[130]

Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. It has been recorded by ancient Greek writers as an available dish at banquets in ancient Persia, usually roasted whole.[131] The Roman emperor Heliogabalus enjoyed camel’s heel.[43] Camel meat is mainly eaten in certain regions, including Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and other arid regions where alternative forms of protein may be limited or where camel meat has had a long cultural history.[20][43][124] Camel blood is also consumable, as is the case among pastoralists in northern Kenya, where camel blood is drunk with milk and acts as a key source of iron, vitamin D, salts and minerals.[20][124][132]

A 2005 report issued jointly by the Saudi Ministry of Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details four cases of human bubonic plague resulting from the ingestion of raw camel liver.[133]


Camel meat is also occasionally found in Australian cuisine: for example, a camel lasagna is available in Alice Springs.[131][132] Australia has exported camel meat, primarily to the Middle East but also to Europe and the US, for many years.[134] The meat is very popular among North African Australians, such as Somalis, and other Australians have also been buying it. The feral nature of the animals means they produce a different type of meat to farmed camels in other parts of the world,[135] and it is sought after because it is disease-free, and a unique genetic group. Demand is outstripping supply, and governments are being urged not to cull the camels, but redirect the cost of the cull into developing the market. Australia has seven camel dairies, which produce milk, cheese and skincare products in addition to meat.[136]



Camel meat is halal (Arabic: حلال‎, ‘allowed’) for Muslims. However, according to some Islamic schools of thought, a state of impurity is brought on by the consumption of it. Consequently, these schools hold that Muslims must perform wudhu (ablution) before the next time they pray after eating camel meat.[137] Also, some Islamic schools of thought consider it haram (Arabic: حرام‎, ‘forbidden’) for a Muslim to perform Salat in places where camels lie, as it is said to be a dwelling place of the Shaytan (Arabic: شيطان‎, ‘Devil’).[137] According to Abu Yusuf, the urine of camel may be used for medical treatment if necessary, but according to Abū Ḥanīfah, the drinking of camel urine is discouraged.[138]

The Islamic texts contain several stories featuring camels. In the story of the people of Thamud, the Prophet Salih miraculously brings forth a naqat (Arabic: ناقة‎, ‘she-camel’) out of a rock. After the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, he allowed his she-camel to roam there; the location where the camel stopped to rest determined the location where he would build his house in Medina.[139]


See also: Food and drink prohibitions

According to Jewish tradition, camel meat and milk are not kosher.[140] Camels possess only one of the two kosher criteria; although they chew their cud, they do not possess cloven hooves: “But these you shall not eat among those that bring up the cud and those that have a cloven hoof: the camel, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you.”[141]

Depictions in culture

Shadda (cover,detail), Karabagh region, southwest Caucasus, early 19th century

Vessel in the form of a recumbent camel with jugs, 250 BC – 224 AD, Brooklyn Museum

Maru Ragini (Dhola and Maru Riding on a Camel), c. 1750, Brooklyn Museum

The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage)—James Tissot, c. 1886, Brooklyn Museum

Distribution and numbers

A view into a canyon: many camels gathering around a watering hole

Camels in the Guelta d’Archei, in northeastern Chad

There are around 14 million camels alive as of 2010, with 90% being dromedaries.[142] Dromedaries alive today are domesticated animals (mostly living in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Maghreb, Middle East and South Asia). The Horn region alone has the largest concentration of camels in the world,[26] where the dromedaries constitute an important part of local nomadic life. They provide nomadic people in Somalia[20] and Ethiopia with milk, food, and transportation.[115][143][144][145]

A world map with large camel populations marked

Commercial camel market headcount in 2003

Around 700,000 dromedary camels are now feral in Australia, descended from those introduced as a method of transport in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[132][142][146] This population is growing about 8% per year.[147] Representatives of the Australian government have culled more than 100,000 of the animals in part because the camels use too much of the limited resources needed by sheep farmers.[148]

A small population of introduced camels, dromedaries and Bactrians, wandered through Southwestern United States after having been imported in the 19th century as part of the U.S. Camel Corps experiment. When the project ended, they were used as draft animals in mines and escaped or were released. Twenty-five U.S. camels were bought and exported to Canada during the Cariboo Gold Rush.[95]

The Bactrian camel is, as of 2010, reduced to an estimated 1.4 million animals, most of which are domesticated.[46][142][149] The Wild Bactrian camel is a separate species and is the only truly wild (as opposed to feral) camel in the world. The wild camels are critically endangered and number approximately 1400, inhabiting the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in China and Mongolia.[14][150]

See also

icon Animals portal

Afghan cameleers in Australia

Australian feral camel

Camel howdah

Camel milk

Camel racing

Camel train (caravan)

Camel urine

Camel wrestling

Camelops (Walmart camel)

Camel farming in Sudan

Camelus moreli




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 Dias, Elizabeth (Feb 11, 2014). “The Mystery of the Bible’s Phantom Camels”. Time. Archived from the original on 15 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.

 Heide, Martin (2011). “The Domestication of the Camel: Biological, Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel and Arabia, and Literary Evidence from the Hebrew Bible”. Ugarit-Forschungen. 42: 368.

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 Cumming, Cunnington, Cunnington, Valerie, CW and PE (2010). The Dictionary of Fashion History. Oxford: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781847887382.

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 Bhatia, Vimal (23 July 2012). “BSF to ditch camels to ride sand scooters”. The Times of India. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.

 Gann, Lewis Henry; Duignan, Peter (1972). Africa and the World: An Introduction to the History of Sub-Saharan Africa from Antiquity to 1840. University Press of America. p. 156. ISBN 9780761815204. The camel was acclimatized in Egypt long before the time of Christ and was subsequently adopted by the Berbers of the desert, who used camel cavalry to fight the Romans. The Berbers spread the use of the camel across the Sahara.

 Fleming, Walter L. (February 1909). “Jefferson Davis’s Camel Experiment”. The Popular Science Monthly. 74 (8). Bonnier Corporation. p. 150. ISSN 0161-7370. Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Other trials of the camel were made in 1859 by Major D. H. Vinton, who used twenty-four of them in carrying burdens for a surveying party…All in all, he concluded, the camel was much superior to the mule.

 Mantz, John (20 April 2006). “Camels in the Cariboo”. In Basque, Garnet (ed.). Frontier Days in British Columbia. Heritage House Publishing Co. pp. 51–54. ISBN 9781894384018. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016.

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 Nicolle, David (26 March 1991). The Desert Frontier. Rome’s Enemies. 5 (illustrated, reprint ed.). Osprey Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 9781855321663. Nevertheless the military prowess of desert peoples impressed the Romans, who recruited large numbers as auxiliary cavalry and archers. In addition to providing the Roman Army with its best archers, the Easterners (largely Arabs but generally known as ‘Syrians’) served as Rome’s most effective dromedarii or camel-mounted troops.

 Herodotus (440 BC). The History of Herodotus. Rawlinson, George (trans.). Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012. He collected together all the camels that had come in the train of his army to carry the provisions and the baggage, and taking off their loads, he mounted riders upon them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded to advance in front of his other troops against the Lydian horse; behind them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all the cavalry. When his arrangements were complete, he gave his troops orders to slay all the other Lydians who came in their way without mercy, but to spare Croesus and not kill him, even if he should be seized and offer resistance. The reason why Cyrus opposed his camels to the enemy’s horse was because the horse has a natural dread of the camel, and cannot abide either the sight or the smell of that animal. By this stratagem he hoped to make Croesus’s horse useless to him, the horse being what he chiefly depended on for victory. The two armies then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses, seeing and smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it came to pass that all Croesus’s hopes withered away.

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 Woodward, David R. (2006). Hell in the Holy Land: World War I in the Middle East. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 36, 39, 43, 56, 133. ISBN 9780813123837.

 Murray, Archibald James (1920). Sir Archibald Murray’s despatches (June 1916 – June 1917). J.M. Dent. p. 123. A great deal of the work of supplying the troops on both fronts has been done by the Camel Transport Corps

 McGregor, Andrew James (30 May 2006). A Military History of Modern Egypt: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 215. ISBN 9780275986018.

 Federal Research Division (30 June 2004). Somalia a Country Study. Area handbook series (3rd ed.). Kessinger Publishing. pp. 230–231. ISBN 9781419147999.

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 “Our Soviet camel…”

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 Bulliet, Richard W. (1975). The Camel and the Wheel. Columbia University Press. pp. 23, 25, 28, 35–36, 38–40. ISBN 9780231072359.

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 Young, Philippa. “In Mongolian the Word ‘Gobi’ Means ‘Desert'”. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2012. As evening approaches we are offered camel meat boats, dumplings stuffed with a finely chopped mixture of meat and vegetables, followed by camel milk tea and finally, warm fresh camel’s milk to aid digestion and help us sleep.

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 Rubenstein, Dustin (23 July 2010). “How to Cook Camel”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. He cut the pieces very small and cooked them for a long time. I decided to try something a bit different the following night and cut the pieces a bit bigger and cooked them for less time, as I like my meat rarer than he does. This was a bad idea. It seems that the more you cook camel, the more tender it becomes. So we had what amounted to two pounds or more of rubber for dinner that night.

 Arthur, Rick (4 January 2012). “The Instant Expert: camels, the ships of the desert”. The National. UAE: Abu Dhabi Media. As the meat can be dry, however, the Abu Dhabi Officer’s Club, for one, serves camel burger with beef or lamb fat mixed in, improving texture and taste.

 Jasra, Abdel Wahid; Isani, G. B.; Camel Applied Research and Development Network (2000). Socio-economics of camel herders in Pakistan. The Camel Applied Research and Development Network. p. 164. Archived from the original on 2016-06-10.

 Anyone for camel meat? One hump or two? Archived 2017-01-26 at the Wayback MachineThe Guardian, Word of Mouth

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 Webster, George (9 February 2010). “Dubai diners flock to eat new ‘camel burger'”. CNN World. CNN. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2012.

 Bin Saeed, Abdulaziz A.; Al-Hamdan, Nasser A.; Fontaine, Robert E. (2005). “Plague from eating raw camel liver”. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 11 (9): 1456–7. doi:10.3201/eid1109.050081. PMC 3310619. PMID 16229781.

 McBride, Louise (14 June 2010). “SA hits world camel meat supply hump”. Stock Journal. Retrieved 27 April 2020.

 Burin, Margaret (7 August 2015). “Australians urged to develop taste for camel meat”. ABC News. Retrieved 27 April 2020.

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 “Book 1, Number 0184”. Purification (Kitab Al-Taharah). Partial Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 1. Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Narrated Al-Bara’ ibn Azib: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was asked about performing ablution after eating the flesh of the camel. He replied: Perform ablution, after eating it. He was asked about performing ablution after eating meat. He replied: Do not perform ablution after eating it. He was asked about saying prayer in places where the camels lie down. He replied: Do not offer prayer in places where the camels lie down. These are the places of Satan. He was asked about saying prayer in the sheepfolds. He replied: You may offer prayer in such places; these are the places of blessing.

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 http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9912#v=41 Archived 2015-02-07 at the Wayback Machine

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 “Drought threatening Somali nomads, UN humanitarian office says”. UN News Centre. 14 November 2003. Archived from the original on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2012. A four-year drought is threatening the lives of Somali nomads, and those of the camel herds on which they depend for transportation and milk

 Farah, K. O.; Nyariki, D. M.; Ngugi, R. K.; Noor, I. M.; Guliye, A. Y. (2004). “The Somali and the Camel: Ecology, Management and Economics”. Anthropologist. 6 (1): 45–55. doi:10.1080/09720073.2004.11890828. Somali pastoralists are a camel community…There is no other community in the world where the camel plays such a pivotal role in the local economy and culture as in the Somali community. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 1979) estimates, there are approximately 15 million dromedary camels in the world Plain text version. Archived 2013-01-02 at the Wayback Machine

 Saalfeld, W.K.; Edwards, GP (2008). “Ecology of feral camels in Australia” (PDF). Managing the impacts of feral camels in Australia: a new way of doing business. Alice Springs: Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre. ISBN 978-1-74158-094-5. ISSN 1832-6684. Archived from the original (DKCRC Report 47) on 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2011-12-25.

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 “Bactrian Camel” (PDF). Denver Zoo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2012.

 Hare, J. “Camelus ferus”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 7 December 2012.


Ramet, J. P. (2011). The technology of making cheese from camel milk (Camelus dromedarius). FAO Animal Production and Health Paper. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 978-92-5-103154-4. ISSN 0254-6019. OCLC 476039542. Retrieved 6 December 2012.

Vannithone, S.; Davidson, A. (1999). “Camel”. The Oxford companion to food. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-19-211579-9.

Camels and Camel Milk. Report Issued by FAO, United Nations. (1982)

Wilson, R.T. (1984). The camel. New York: Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-77512-1.

Yagil, R. (1982). Camels and Camel Milk. FAO Animal Production and Health Paper. 26. Rome: Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations. ISBN 978-92-5-101169-0. ISSN 0254-6019.

Further reading

Gilchrist, W. (1851). A Practical Treatise on the Treatment of the Diseases of the Elephant, Camel & Horned Cattle: with instructions for improving their efficiency; also, a description of the medicines used in the treatment of their diseases; and a general outline of their anatomy. Calcutta, India: Military Orphan Press.


my story

Ones a ponatime time ther wer 1 cat called cosmo he was so lovely one day i hirt my finger he mad it better wee had some lunch i hat to go to the shops to get moor food for us i brot some ham bred milck i went back i had to cleen cosmo pict up the stuf i needid some yarn balls for cosmo he was so happy we gon on holiday to new selond it was so lovely we tuck some pictures of awer holiday i hat to pay for food delivery in a hotel it was so nose it had a tv and efreething wee need we had to tack 2 plens to get home and wee nedid to tack a tacksy to awer hose we vido call nan she was so happy to se us i red a story to cosmo hi aweys sleep wich me it was so nose one morning we biyd some picter frames for awer photos to hang on to the wall to frame came 3 days later someon tart us wowe to dooid we had so muck fun doing it so we adopted lettie we gon to the ghugh hi sed yess and birth stificot we ar a famly fo ever i married a gile cald pippy it has lick a family a big one wee had jojo ho was a boy it was so much fun we brote a caravan to go camping in we slep in tit is was so nise and so relaxing to bee in we disidid to hav a dog she name was hatty she was so good with the cat i brot some etisise stuf for running in the park in leeck the end

ilove Cats

his article is about the species that is commonly kept as a pet. For the cat family, see Felidae.

“Cats” redirects here. For other uses, see Cat (disambiguation) and Cats (disambiguation).

Various types of cat
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Species:F. catus[1]
Binomial name
Felis catus[1]
F. catus domesticus Erxleben, 1777[3]F. angorensis Gmelin, 1788F. vulgaris Fischer, 1829

The cat (Felis catus) is a domestic species of small carnivorous mammal.[1][2] It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is often referred to as the domestic cat to distinguish it from the wild members of the family.[4] A cat can either be a house cat, a farm cat or a feral cat; the latter ranges freely and avoids human contact.[5] Domestic cats are valued by humans for companionship and their ability to kill rodents. About 60 cat breeds are recognized by various cat registries.[6]

The cat is similar in anatomy to the other felid species: it has a strong flexible body, quick reflexes, sharp teeth and retractable claws adapted to killing small prey. Its night vision and sense of smell are well developed. Cat communication includes vocalizations like meowingpurring, trilling, hissing, growling and grunting as well as cat-specific body language. A predator that is most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular), the cat is a solitary hunter but a social species. It can hear sounds too faint or too high in frequency for human ears, such as those made by mice and other small mammals.[7] Cats also secrete and perceive pheromones.[8]

Female domestic cats can have kittens from spring to late autumn, with litter sizes often ranging from two to five kittens.[9] Domestic cats are bred and shown at events as registered pedigreed cats, a hobby known as cat fancyPopulation control of cats may be affected by spaying and neutering, but their proliferation and the abandonment of pets has resulted in large numbers of feral cats worldwide, contributing to the extinction of entire bird, mammal, and reptile species.[10]

Cats were first domesticated in the Near East around 7500 BC.[11] It was long thought that cat domestication began in ancient Egypt, where cats were venerated from around 3100 BC.[12][13] As of 2021, there were an estimated 220 million owned and 480 million stray cats in the world.[14][15] As of 2017, the domestic cat was the second-most popular pet in the United States, with 95.6 million cats owned[16][17][18] and around 42 million households own at least one cat.[19] In the United Kingdom, 26% of adults have a cat with an estimated population of 10.9 million pet cats as of 2020.[20]


Etymology and naming

The origin of the English word catOld English catt, is thought to be the Late Latin word cattus, which was first used at the beginning of the 6th century.[21] It was suggested that the word ‘cattus’ is derived from an Egyptian precursor of Coptic ϣⲁⲩ šau, “tomcat”, or its feminine form suffixed with -t.[22] The Late Latin word may be derived from another Afro-Asiatic[23] or Nilo-Saharan language. The Nubian word kaddîska “wildcat” and Nobiin kadīs are possible sources or cognates.[24] The Nubian word may be a loan from Arabic قَطّ‎ qaṭṭ ~ قِطّ qiṭṭ. It is “equally likely that the forms might derive from an ancient Germanic word, imported into Latin and thence to Greek and to Syriac and Arabic”.[25] The word may be derived from Germanic and Northern European languages, and ultimately be borrowed from Uralic, cf. Northern Sami gáđfi, “female stoat“, and Hungarian hölgy, “lady, female stoat”; from Proto-Uralic *käďwä, “female (of a furred animal)”.[26]

The English puss, extended as pussy and pussycat, is attested from the 16th century and may have been introduced from Dutch poes or from Low German puuskatte, related to Swedish kattepus, or Norwegian puspusekatt. Similar forms exist in Lithuanian puižė and Irish puisín or puiscín. The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may have simply arisen from a sound used to attract a cat.[27][28]

A male cat is called a tom or tomcat[29] (or a gib,[30] if neutered). An unspayed female is called a queen,[31] especially in a cat-breeding context. A juvenile cat is referred to as a kitten. In Early Modern English, the word kitten was interchangeable with the now-obsolete word catling.[32] A group of cats can be referred to as a clowder or a glaring.[33]


The scientific name Felis catus was proposed by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 for a domestic cat.[1][2] Felis catus domesticus was proposed by Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777.[3] Felis daemon proposed by Konstantin Alekseevich Satunin in 1904 was a black cat from the Transcaucasus, later identified as a domestic cat.[34][35]

In 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature ruled that the domestic cat is a distinct species, namely Felis catus.[36][37] In 2007, it was considered a subspeciesF. silvestris catus, of the European wildcat (F. silvestris) following results of phylogenetic research.[38][39] In 2017, the IUCN Cat Classification Taskforce followed the recommendation of the ICZN in regarding the domestic cat as a distinct species, Felis catus.[40]


Main article: Cat evolution

Skulls of a wildcat (top left), a housecat (top right), and a hybrid between the two. (bottom center)

The domestic cat is a member of the Felidae, a family that had a common ancestor about 10–15 million years ago.[41] The genus Felis diverged from other Felidae around 6–7 million years ago.[42] Results of phylogenetic research confirm that the wild Felis species evolved through sympatric or parapatric speciation, whereas the domestic cat evolved through artificial selection.[43] The domesticated cat and its closest wild ancestor are diploid and both possess 38 chromosomes[44] and roughly 20,000 genes.[45] The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) was tamed independently in China around 5500 BC. This line of partially domesticated cats leaves no trace in the domestic cat populations of today.[46]


See also: Evolution of the domesticated cat

A cat eating a fish under a chair, a mural in an Egyptian tomb dating to the 15th century BC

The earliest known indication for the taming of an African wildcat (F. lybica) was excavated close by a human Neolithic grave in Shillourokambos, southern Cyprus, dating to about 7500–7200 BC. Since there is no evidence of native mammalian fauna on Cyprus, the inhabitants of this Neolithic village most likely brought the cat and other wild mammals to the island from the Middle Eastern mainland.[47] Scientists therefore assume that African wildcats were attracted to early human settlements in the Fertile Crescent by rodents, in particular the house mouse (Mus musculus) and were tamed by Neolithic farmers. This mutual relationship between early farmers and tamed cats lasted thousands of years. As agricultural practices spread, so did tame and domesticated cats.[11][6] Wildcats of Egypt contributed to the maternal gene pool of the domestic cat at a later time.[48]

The earliest known evidence for the occurrence of the domestic cat in Greece dates to around 1200 BC. Greek, PhoenicianCarthaginian and Etruscan traders introduced domestic cats to southern Europe.[49] During the Roman Empire they were introduced to Corsica and Sardinia before the beginning of the 1st millennium.[50] By the 5th century BC, they were familiar animals around settlements in Magna Graecia and Etruria.[51] By the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Egyptian domestic cat lineage had arrived in a Baltic Sea port in northern Germany.[48]

During domestication, cats have undergone only minor changes in anatomy and behavior, and they are still capable of surviving in the wild. Several natural behaviors and characteristics of wildcats may have pre-adapted them for domestication as pets. These traits include their small size, social nature, obvious body language, love of play and relatively high intelligence. Captive Leopardus cats may also display affectionate behavior toward humans but were not domesticated.[52] House cats often mate with feral cats,[53] producing hybrids such as the Kellas cat in Scotland.[54] Hybridisation between domestic and other Felinae species is also possible.[55]

Development of cat breeds started in the mid 19th century.[56] An analysis of the domestic cat genome revealed that the ancestral wildcat genome was significantly altered in the process of domestication, as specific mutations were selected to develop cat breeds.[57] Most breeds are founded on random-bred domestic cats. Genetic diversity of these breeds varies between regions, and is lowest in purebred populations, which show more than 20 deleterious genetic disorders.[58]


Main article: Cat anatomy


Diagram of the general anatomy of a male domestic cat

The domestic cat has a smaller skull and shorter bones than the European wildcat.[59] It averages about 46 cm (18 in) in head-to-body length and 23–25 cm (9–10 in) in height, with about 30 cm (12 in) long tails. Males are larger than females.[60] Adult domestic cats typically weigh between 4 and 5 kg (9 and 11 lb).[43]


Cats have seven cervical vertebrae (as do most mammals); 13 thoracic vertebrae (humans have 12); seven lumbar vertebrae (humans have five); three sacral vertebrae (as do most mammals, but humans have five); and a variable number of caudal vertebrae in the tail (humans have only vestigial caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx).[61]: 11  The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat’s spinal mobility and flexibility. Attached to the spine are 13 ribs, the shoulder, and the pelvis.[61]: 16  Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones which allow them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their head.[62]


Cat skull

The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful specialized jaw.[63]: 35  Within the jaw, cats have teeth adapted for killing prey and tearing meat. When it overpowers its prey, a cat delivers a lethal neck bite with its two long canine teeth, inserting them between two of the prey’s vertebrae and severing its spinal cord, causing irreversible paralysis and death.[64] Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth relative to the size of their jaw, which is an adaptation to their preferred prey of small rodents, which have small vertebrae.[64] The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently shears meat into small pieces, like a pair of scissors. These are vital in feeding, since cats’ small molars cannot chew food effectively, and cats are largely incapable of mastication.[63]: 37  Although cats tend to have better teeth than most humans, with decay generally less likely because of a thicker protective layer of enamel, a less damaging saliva, less retention of food particles between teeth, and a diet mostly devoid of sugar, they are nonetheless subject to occasional tooth loss and infection.[65]


Shed claw sheaths

Cats have protractible and retractable claws.[66] In their normal, relaxed position, the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the paw’s toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the fore feet are typically sharper than those on the hind feet.[67] Cats can voluntarily extend their claws on one or more paws. They may extend their claws in hunting or self-defense, climbing, kneading, or for extra traction on soft surfaces. Cats shed the outside layer of their claw sheaths when scratching rough surfaces.[68]

Most cats have five claws on their front paws, and four on their rear paws. The dewclaw is proximal to the other claws. More proximally is a protrusion which appears to be a sixth “finger”. This special feature of the front paws, on the inside of the wrists has no function in normal walking, but is thought to be an antiskidding device used while jumping. Some cat breeds are prone to having extra digits (“polydactyly”).[69] Polydactylous cats occur along North America’s northeast coast and in Great Britain.[70]


The cat is digitigrade. It walks on the toes, with the bones of the feet making up the lower part of the visible leg.[71] Unlike most mammals, it uses a “pacing” gait and moves both legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. It registers directly by placing each hind paw close to the track of the corresponding fore paw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for hind paws when navigating rough terrain. As it speeds up walking to trotting, its gait changes to a “diagonal” gait: The diagonally opposite hind and fore legs move simultaneously.[72]


File:BIOASTRONAUTICS RESEARCH Gov.archives.arc.68700.ogv

Comparison of cat righting reflexes in gravity and zero gravity

Most breeds of cat have a noted fondness for sitting in high places, or perching. A higher place may serve as a concealed site from which to hunt; domestic cats strike prey by pouncing from a perch such as a tree branch. Another possible explanation is that height gives the cat a better observation point, allowing it to survey its territory. A cat falling from heights of up to 3 meters (9.8 ft) can right itself and land on its paws.[73]

During a fall from a high place, a cat reflexively twists its body and rights itself to land on its feet using its acute sense of balance and flexibility. This reflex is known as the cat righting reflex.[74] A cat always rights itself in the same way during a fall, if it has enough time to do so, which is the case in falls of 90 cm (2 ft 11 in) or more.[75] How cats are able to right themselves when falling has been investigated as the “falling cat problem“.


Main article: Cat senses


Reflection of camera flash from the tapetum lucidum

Cats have excellent night vision and can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision.[63]: 43  This is partly the result of cat eyes having a tapetum lucidum, which reflects any light that passes through the retina back into the eye, thereby increasing the eye’s sensitivity to dim light.[76] Large pupils are an adaptation to dim light. The domestic cat has slit pupils, which allow it to focus bright light without chromatic aberration.[77] At low light, a cat’s pupils expand to cover most of the exposed surface of its eyes.[78] The domestic cat has rather poor color vision and only two types of cone cells, optimized for sensitivity to blue and yellowish green; its ability to distinguish between red and green is limited.[79] A response to middle wavelengths from a system other than the rod cells might be due to a third type of cone. This appears to be an adaptation to low light levels rather than representing true trichromatic vision.[80]


The domestic cat’s hearing is most acute in the range of 500 Hz to 32 kHz.[81] It can detect an extremely broad range of frequencies ranging from 55 Hz to 79,000 Hz. It can hear a range of 10.5 octaves, while humans and dogs can hear ranges of about 9 octaves.[82][83] Its hearing sensitivity is enhanced by its large movable outer ears, the pinnae, which amplify sounds and help detect the location of a noise. It can detect ultrasound, which enables it to detect ultrasonic calls made by rodent prey.[84][85] Recent research has shown that cats have socio-spatial cognitive abilities to create mental maps of owners’ locations based on hearing owners’ voices.[86] The ability to track something out of sight is called object permanence and it is found in humans, primates, and some non-primates.[87]


Cats have an acute sense of smell, due in part to their well-developed olfactory bulb and a large surface of olfactory mucosa, about 5.8 square centimetres (2932 square inch) in area, which is about twice that of humans.[88] Cats and many other animals have a Jacobson’s organ in their mouths that is used in the behavioral process of flehmening. It allows them to sense certain aromas in a way that humans cannot. Cats are sensitive to pheromones such as 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol,[89] which they use to communicate through urine spraying and marking with scent glands.[90] Many cats also respond strongly to plants that contain nepetalactone, especially catnip, as they can detect that substance at less than one part per billion.[91] About 70–80% of cats are affected by nepetalactone.[92] This response is also produced by other plants, such as silver vine (Actinidia polygama) and the herb valerian; it may be caused by the smell of these plants mimicking a pheromone and stimulating cats’ social or sexual behaviors.[93]


Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans (470 or so versus more than 9,000 on the human tongue).[94] Domestic and wild cats share a taste receptor gene mutation that keeps their sweet taste buds from binding to sugary molecules, leaving them with no ability to taste sweetness.[95] Their taste buds instead respond to acidsamino acids like protein, and bitter tastes.[96] Cats also have a distinct temperature preference for their food, preferring food with a temperature around 38 °C (100 °F) which is similar to that of a fresh kill and routinely rejecting food presented cold or refrigerated (which would signal to the cat that the “prey” item is long dead and therefore possibly toxic or decomposing).[94]


The whiskers of a cat are highly sensitive to touch

To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable whiskers (vibrissae) over their body, especially their faces. These provide information on the width of gaps and on the location of objects in the dark, both by touching objects directly and by sensing air currents; they also trigger protective blink reflexes to protect the eyes from damage.[63]: 47 


See also: Cat behavior

Cat lying on rice straw

Outdoor cats are active both day and night, although they tend to be slightly more active at night.[97] Domestic cats spend the majority of their time in the vicinity of their homes but can range many hundreds of meters from this central point. They establish territories that vary considerably in size, in one study ranging from 7 to 28 hectares (17–69 acres).[98] The timing of cats’ activity is quite flexible and varied, which means house cats may be more active in the morning and evening, as a response to greater human activity at these times.[99]

Cats conserve energy by sleeping more than most animals, especially as they grow older. The daily duration of sleep varies, usually between 12 and 16 hours, with 13 and 14 being the average. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours. The term “cat nap” for a short rest refers to the cat’s tendency to fall asleep (lightly) for a brief period. While asleep, cats experience short periods of rapid eye movement sleep often accompanied by muscle twitches, which suggests they are dreaming.[100]


The social behavior of the domestic cat ranges from widely dispersed individuals to feral cat colonies that gather around a food source, based on groups of co-operating females.[101][102] Within such groups, one cat is usually dominant over the others.[103] Each cat in a colony holds a distinct territory, with sexually active males having the largest territories, which are about 10 times larger than those of female cats and may overlap with several females’ territories. These territories are marked by urine spraying, by rubbing objects at head height with secretions from facial glands, and by defecation.[90] Between these territories are neutral areas where cats watch and greet one another without territorial conflicts. Outside these neutral areas, territory holders usually chase away stranger cats, at first by staring, hissing, and growling and, if that does not work, by short but noisy and violent attacks. Despite this colonial organization, cats do not have a social survival strategy or a pack mentality, and always hunt alone.[104]

Life in proximity to humans and other domestic animals has led to a symbiotic social adaptation in cats, and cats may express great affection toward humans or other animals. Ethologically, the human keeper of a cat functions as a sort of surrogate for the cat’s mother.[105] Adult cats live their lives in a kind of extended kittenhood, a form of behavioral neoteny. Their high-pitched sounds may mimic the cries of a hungry human infant, making them particularly difficult for humans to ignore.[106] Some pet cats are poorly socialized. In particular, older cats show aggressiveness toward newly arrived kittens, which include biting and scratching; this type of behavior is known as feline asocial aggression.[107]

Domestic cats’ scent rubbing behavior toward humans or other cats is thought to be a feline means for social bonding.[108]


Main article: Cat communication

Vocalizing domestic cat

Domestic cats use many vocalizations for communication, including purringtrilling, hissing, growling/snarling, grunting, and several different forms of meowing.[7] Their body language, including position of ears and tail, relaxation of the whole body, and kneading of the paws, are all indicators of mood. The tail and ears are particularly important social signal mechanisms in cats. A raised tail indicates a friendly greeting, and flattened ears indicates hostility. Tail-raising also indicates the cat’s position in the group’s social hierarchy, with dominant individuals raising their tails less often than subordinate ones.[109] Feral cats are generally silent.[110]: 208  Nose-to-nose touching is also a common greeting and may be followed by social grooming, which is solicited by one of the cats raising and tilting its head.[102]

Purring may have developed as an evolutionary advantage as a signaling mechanism of reassurance between mother cats and nursing kittens. Post-nursing cats often purr as a sign of contentment: when being petted, becoming relaxed,[111][112] or eating. The mechanism by which cats purr is elusive; the cat has no unique anatomical feature that is clearly responsible for the sound.[113]


The hooked papillae on a cat’s tongue act like a hairbrush to help clean and detangle fur

Cats are known for spending considerable amounts of time licking their coats to keep them clean.[114] The cat’s tongue has backward-facing spines about 500 μm long, which are called papillae. These contain keratin which makes them rigid[115] so the papillae act like a hairbrush. Some cats, particularly longhaired cats, occasionally regurgitate hairballs of fur that have collected in their stomachs from grooming. These clumps of fur are usually sausage-shaped and about 2–3 cm (34–1+14 in) long. Hairballs can be prevented with remedies that ease elimination of the hair through the gut, as well as regular grooming of the coat with a comb or stiff brush.[114]


A domestic cat’s arched back, raised fur and an open-mouthed hiss are signs of aggression

Among domestic cats, males are more likely to fight than females.[116] Among feral cats, the most common reason for cat fighting is competition between two males to mate with a female. In such cases, most fights are won by the heavier male.[117] Another common reason for fighting in domestic cats is the difficulty of establishing territories within a small home.[116] Female cats also fight over territory or to defend their kittens. Neutering will decrease or eliminate this behavior in many cases, suggesting that the behavior is linked to sex hormones.[118]

When cats become aggressive, they try to make themselves appear larger and more threatening by raising their fur, arching their backs, turning sideways and hissing or spitting.[119] Often, the ears are pointed down and back to avoid damage to the inner ear and potentially listen for any changes behind them while focused forward. They may also vocalize loudly and bare their teeth in an effort to further intimidate their opponent. Fights usually consist of grappling and delivering powerful slaps to the face and body with the forepaws as well as bites. Cats also throw themselves to the ground in a defensive posture to rake their opponent’s belly with their powerful hind legs.[120]

Serious damage is rare, as the fights are usually short in duration, with the loser running away with little more than a few scratches to the face and ears. Fights for mating rights are typically more severe and injuries may include deep puncture wounds and lacerations. Normally, serious injuries from fighting are limited to infections of scratches and bites, though these can occasionally kill cats if untreated. In addition, bites are probably the main route of transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus.[121] Sexually active males are usually involved in many fights during their lives, and often have decidedly battered faces with obvious scars and cuts to their ears and nose.[122]

Hunting and feeding

See also: Cat nutrition

A domestic cat with its prey, a deermouse

The shape and structure of cats’ cheeks is insufficient to allow them to take in liquids using suction. Therefore, when drinking they lap with the tongue to draw liquid upward into their mouths. Lapping at a rate of four times a second, the cat touches the smooth tip of its tongue to the surface of the water, and quickly retracts it like a corkscrew, drawing water upward.[123][124]

Feral cats and free-fed house cats consume several small meals in a day. The frequency and size of meals varies between individuals. They select food based on its temperature, smell and texture; they dislike chilled foods and respond most strongly to moist foods rich in amino acids, which are similar to meat. Cats reject novel flavors (a response termed neophobia) and learn quickly to avoid foods that have tasted unpleasant in the past.[104][125] It is also a common misconception that cats like milk/cream, as they tend to avoid sweet food and milk. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant; the sugar in milk is not easily digested and may cause soft stools or diarrhea.[126] Some also develop odd eating habits and like to eat or chew on things like wool, plastic, cables, paper, string, aluminum foil, or even coal. This condition, pica, can threaten their health, depending on the amount and toxicity of the items eaten.[127]

Cats hunt small prey, primarily birds and rodents,[128] and are often used as a form of pest control.[129][130] Cats use two hunting strategies, either stalking prey actively, or waiting in ambush until an animal comes close enough to be captured.[131] The strategy used depends on the prey species in the area, with cats waiting in ambush outside burrows, but tending to actively stalk birds.[132]: 153  Domestic cats are a major predator of wildlife in the United States, killing an estimated 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals annually.[133]

Certain species appear more susceptible than others; for example, 30% of house sparrow mortality is linked to the domestic cat.[134] In the recovery of ringed robins (Erithacus rubecula) and dunnocks (Prunella modularis), 31% of deaths were a result of cat predation.[135] In parts of North America, the presence of larger carnivores such as coyotes which prey on cats and other small predators reduces the effect of predation by cats and other small predators such as opossums and raccoons on bird numbers and variety.[136]

Perhaps the best-known element of cats’ hunting behavior, which is commonly misunderstood and often appalls cat owners because it looks like torture, is that cats often appear to “play” with prey by releasing it after capture. This cat and mouse behavior is due to an instinctive imperative to ensure that the prey is weak enough to be killed without endangering the cat.[137]

Another poorly understood element of cat hunting behavior is the presentation of prey to human guardians. One explanation is that cats adopt humans into their social group and share excess kill with others in the group according to the dominance hierarchy, in which humans are reacted to as if they are at, or near, the top.[138] Another explanation is that they attempt to teach their guardians to hunt or to help their human as if feeding “an elderly cat, or an inept kitten”.[139] This hypothesis is inconsistent with the fact that male cats also bring home prey, despite males having negligible involvement in raising kittens.[132]: 153 


Main article: Cat play and toys

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Play fight between kittens aged 14 weeks

Domestic cats, especially young kittens, are known for their love of play. This behavior mimics hunting and is important in helping kittens learn to stalk, capture, and kill prey.[140] Cats also engage in play fighting, with each other and with humans. This behavior may be a way for cats to practice the skills needed for real combat, and might also reduce any fear they associate with launching attacks on other animals.[141]

Cats also tend to play with toys more when they are hungry.[142] Owing to the close similarity between play and hunting, cats prefer to play with objects that resemble prey, such as small furry toys that move rapidly, but rapidly lose interest. They become habituated to a toy they have played with before.[143] String is often used as a toy, but if it is eaten, it can become caught at the base of the cat’s tongue and then move into the intestines, a medical emergency which can cause serious illness, even death.[144] Owing to the risks posed by cats eating string, it is sometimes replaced with a laser pointer‘s dot, which cats may chase.[145]


When cats mate, the tomcat (male) bites the scruff of the female’s neck as she assumes a position conducive to mating known as lordosis behavior.

See also: Kitten

Female cats, called queens, are polyestrous with several estrus cycles during a year, lasting usually 21 days. They are usually ready to mate between early February and August.[146]

Several males, called tomcats, are attracted to a female in heat. They fight over her, and the victor wins the right to mate. At first, the female rejects the male, but eventually, the female allows the male to mate. The female utters a loud yowl as the male pulls out of her because a male cat’s penis has a band of about 120–150 backward-pointing penile spines, which are about 1 mm (132 in) long; upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines may provide the female with increased sexual stimulation, which acts to induce ovulation.[147]

After mating, the female cleans her vulva thoroughly. If a male attempts to mate with her at this point, the female attacks him. After about 20 to 30 minutes, once the female is finished grooming, the cycle will repeat.[148] Because ovulation is not always triggered by a single mating, females may not be impregnated by the first male with which they mate.[149] Furthermore, cats are superfecund; that is, a female may mate with more than one male when she is in heat, with the result that different kittens in a litter may have different fathers.[148]

The morula forms 124 hours after conception. At 148 hours, early blastocysts form. At 10–12 days, implantation occurs.[150] The gestation of queens lasts between 64 and 67 days, with an average of 65 days.[146][151]

Radiography of a pregnant cat. The skeletons of two fetuses are visible on the left and right of the uterus.

A newborn kitten

Data on the reproductive capacity of more than 2,300 free-ranging queens were collected during a study between May 1998 and October 2000. They had one to six kittens per litter, with an average of three kittens. They produced a mean of 1.4 litters per year, but a maximum of three litters in a year. Of 169 kittens, 127 died before they were six months old due to a trauma caused in most cases by dog attacks and road accidents.[9] The first litter is usually smaller than subsequent litters. Kittens are weaned between six and seven weeks of age. Queens normally reach sexual maturity at 5–10 months, and males at 5–7 months. This varies depending on breed.[148] Kittens reach puberty at the age of 9–10 months.[146]

Cats are ready to go to new homes at about 12 weeks of age, when they are ready to leave their mother.[152] They can be surgically sterilized (spayed or castrated) as early as seven weeks to limit unwanted reproduction.[153] This surgery also prevents undesirable sex-related behavior, such as aggression, territory marking (spraying urine) in males and yowling (calling) in females. Traditionally, this surgery was performed at around six to nine months of age, but it is increasingly being performed before puberty, at about three to six months.[154] In the United States, about 80% of household cats are neutered.[155]

Lifespan and health

Main articles: Cat health and Aging in cats

The average lifespan of pet cats has risen in recent decades. In the early 1980s, it was about seven years,[156]: 33 [157] rising to 9.4 years in 1995[156]: 33  and about 15 years in 2021. Some cats have been reported as surviving into their 30s,[158] with the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, dying at a verified age of 38.[159]

Neutering increases life expectancy: one study found castrated male cats live twice as long as intact males, while spayed female cats live 62% longer than intact females.[156]: 35  Having a cat neutered confers health benefits, because castrated males cannot develop testicular cancer, spayed females cannot develop uterine or ovarian cancer, and both have a reduced risk of mammary cancer.[160]


Main article: Feline diseases

About 250 heritable genetic disorders have been identified in cats, many similar to human inborn errors of metabolism.[161] The high level of similarity among the metabolism of mammals allows many of these feline diseases to be diagnosed using genetic tests that were originally developed for use in humans, as well as the use of cats as animal models in the study of the human diseases.[162][163] Diseases affecting domestic cats include acute infections, parasitic infestations, injuries, and chronic diseases such as kidney diseasethyroid disease, and arthritisVaccinations are available for many infectious diseases, as are treatments to eliminate parasites such as worms, ticks, and fleas.[164]



tabby cat in snowy weather

The domestic cat is a cosmopolitan species and occurs across much of the world.[58] It is adaptable and now present on all continents except Antarctica, and on 118 of the 131 main groups of islands, even on the isolated Kerguelen Islands.[165][166] Due to its ability to thrive in almost any terrestrial habitat, it is among the world’s most invasive species.[167] It lives on small islands with no human inhabitants.[168] Feral cats can live in forests, grasslands, tundra, coastal areas, agricultural land, scrublands, urban areas, and wetlands.[169]

The unwantedness that leads to the domestic cat being treated as an invasive species is twofold. On one hand, as it is little altered from the wildcat, it can readily interbreed with the wildcat. This hybridization poses a danger to the genetic distinctiveness of some wildcat populations, particularly in Scotland and Hungary, possibly also the Iberian Peninsula, and where protected natural areas are in close proximity to human-dominated landscapes, such as Kruger National Park in South Africa.[170][55] On the other hand, and perhaps more obviously, its introduction to places where no native felines are present contributes to the decline of native species.[171]


Main article: Feral cat

Feral farm cat

Feral cats are domestic cats that were born in or have reverted to a wild state. They are unfamiliar with and wary of humans and roam freely in urban and rural areas.[10] The numbers of feral cats is not known, but estimates of the United States feral population range from twenty-five to sixty million.[10] Feral cats may live alone, but most are found in large colonies, which occupy a specific territory and are usually associated with a source of food.[172] Famous feral cat colonies are found in Rome around the Colosseum and Forum Romanum, with cats at some of these sites being fed and given medical attention by volunteers.[173]

Public attitudes toward feral cats vary widely, from seeing them as free-ranging pets to regarding them as vermin.[174] One common approach to reducing the feral cat population is termed “trap-neuter-return”, where the cats are trapped, neuteredimmunized against diseases such as rabies and the feline panleukopenia and leukemia viruses, and then released.[175] Before releasing them back into their feral colonies, the attending veterinarian often nips the tip off one ear to mark it as neutered and inoculated, since these cats may be trapped again. Volunteers continue to feed and give care to these cats throughout their lives. Given this support, their lifespans are increased, and behavior and nuisance problems caused by competition for food are reduced.[172]

Some feral cats can be successfully socialized and ‘re-tamed’ for adoption; young cats, especially kittens[176] and cats that have had prior experience and contact with humans are the most receptive to these efforts.

Impact on wildlife

Main article: Cat predation on wildlife

On islands, birds can contribute as much as 60% of a cat’s diet.[177] In nearly all cases, the cat cannot be identified as the sole cause for reducing the numbers of island birds, and in some instances, eradication of cats has caused a “mesopredator release” effect;[178] where the suppression of top carnivores creates an abundance of smaller predators that cause a severe decline in their shared prey. Domestic cats are a contributing factor to the decline of many species, a factor that has ultimately led, in some cases, to extinction. The South Island piopioChatham rail,[135] and the New Zealand merganser[179] are a few from a long list, with the most extreme case being the flightless Lyall’s wren, which was driven to extinction only a few years after its discovery.[180][181] One feral cat in New Zealand killed 102 New Zealand lesser short-tailed bats in seven days.[182] In the US, feral and free-ranging domestic cats kill an estimated 6.3 – 22.3 billion mammals annually.[133]

In Australia, the impact of cats on mammal populations is even greater than the impact of habitat loss.[183] More than one million reptiles are killed by feral cats each day, representing 258 species.[184] Cats have contributed to the extinction of the Navassa curly-tailed lizard and Chioninia coctei.[171]

Interaction with humans

Main article: Human interaction with cats

A cat sleeping on a man’s lap

Cats are common pets throughout the world, and their worldwide population as of 2007 exceeded 500 million.[185] Cats have been used for millennia to control rodents, notably around grain stores and aboard ships, and both uses extend to the present day.[186][187]

As well as being kept as pets, cats are also used in the international fur trade[188] and leather industries for making coats, hats, blankets, and stuffed toys;[189] and shoes, gloves, and musical instruments respectively[190] (about 24 cats are needed to make a cat-fur coat).[191] This use has been outlawed in the United States since 2000 and in the European Union (as well as the United Kingdom) since 2007.[192]

Cat pelts have been used for superstitious purposes as part of the practice of witchcraft,[193] and are still made into blankets in Switzerland as traditional medicine thought to cure rheumatism.[194]

A few attempts to build a cat census have been made over the years, both through associations or national and international organizations (such as that of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies[195]) and over the Internet,[196][197] but such a task does not seem simple to achieve. General estimates for the global population of domestic cats range widely from anywhere between 200 million to 600 million.[198][199][200][201][202] Walter Chandoha made his career photographing cats after his 1949 images of Loco, an especially charming stray taken in, were published around the world. He is reported to have photographed 90,000 cats during his career and maintained an archive of 225,000 images that he drew from for publications during his lifetime.[203]


Main article: Cat show

cat show is a judged event in which the owners of cats compete to win titles in various cat-registering organizations by entering their cats to be judged after a breed standard.[204] It is often required that a cat must be healthy and vaccinated in order to participate in a cat show.[204] Both pedigreed and non-purebred companion (“moggy”) cats are admissible, although the rules differ depending on the organization. Competing cats are compared to the applicable breed standard, and assessed for temperament.[204]


Main article: Feline zoonosis

Cats can be infected or infested with virusesbacteriafungusprotozoansarthropods or worms that can transmit diseases to humans.[205] In some cases, the cat exhibits no symptoms of the disease.[206] The same disease can then become evident in a human. The likelihood that a person will become diseased depends on the age and immune status of the person. Humans who have cats living in their home or in close association are more likely to become infected. Others might also acquire infections from cat feces and parasites exiting the cat’s body.[205][207] Some of the infections of most concern include salmonellacat-scratch disease and toxoplasmosis.[206]

History and mythology

Main articles: Cultural depictions of cats and Cats in ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped, and the goddess Bastet often depicted in cat form, sometimes taking on the war-like aspect of a lioness. The Greek historian Herodotus reported that killing a cat was forbidden, and when a household cat died, the entire family mourned and shaved their eyebrows. Families took their dead cats to the sacred city of Bubastis, where they were embalmed and buried in sacred repositories. Herodotus expressed astonishment at the domestic cats in Egypt, because he had only ever seen wildcats.[208]

Ancient Greeks and Romans kept weasels as pets, which were seen as the ideal rodent-killers. The earliest unmistakable evidence of the Greeks having domestic cats comes from two coins from Magna Graecia dating to the mid-fifth century BC showing Iokastos and Phalanthos, the legendary founders of Rhegion and Taras respectively, playing with their pet cats. The usual ancient Greek word for ‘cat’ was ailouros, meaning ‘thing with the waving tail’. Cats are rarely mentioned in ancient Greek literatureAristotle remarked in his History of Animals that “female cats are naturally lecherous.” The Greeks later syncretized their own goddess Artemis with the Egyptian goddess Bastet, adopting Bastet’s associations with cats and ascribing them to Artemis. In Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, when the deities flee to Egypt and take animal forms, the goddess Diana turns into a cat.[209][210]

Cats eventually displaced weasels as the pest control of choice because they were more pleasant to have around the house and were more enthusiastic hunters of mice. During the Middle Ages, many of Artemis’s associations with cats were grafted onto the Virgin Mary. Cats are often shown in icons of Annunciation and of the Holy Family and, according to Italian folklore, on the same night that Mary gave birth to Jesus, a cat in Bethlehem gave birth to a kitten.[211] Domestic cats were spread throughout much of the rest of the world during the Age of Discovery, as ships’ cats were carried on sailing ships to control shipboard rodents and as good-luck charms.[49]

Several ancient religions believed cats are exalted souls, companions or guides for humans, that are all-knowing but mute so they cannot influence decisions made by humans. In Japan, the maneki neko cat is a symbol of good fortune.[212] In Norse mythologyFreyja, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, is depicted as riding a chariot drawn by cats.[213] In Jewish legend, the first cat was living in the house of the first man Adam as a pet that got rid of mice. The cat was once partnering with the first dog before the latter broke an oath they had made which resulted in enmity between the descendants of these two animals. It is also written that neither cats nor foxes are represented in the water, while every other animal has an incarnation species in the water.[214] Although no species are sacred in Islam, cats are revered by Muslims. Some Western writers have stated Muhammad had a favorite cat, Muezza.[215] He is reported to have loved cats so much, “he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it”.[216] The story has no origin in early Muslim writers, and seems to confuse a story of a later Sufi saint, Ahmed ar-Rifa’i, centuries after Muhammad.[217] One of the companions of Muhammad was known as Abu Hurayrah (“father of the kitten”), in reference to his documented affection to cats.[218]

The ancient Egyptians mummified dead cats out of respect in the same way that they mummified people[4]

Ancient Roman mosaic of a cat killing a partridge from the House of the Faun in Pompeii

A 19th-century drawing of a tabby cat

Superstitions and rituals

Some cultures are superstitious about black cats, ascribing either good or bad luck to them

Many cultures have negative superstitions about cats. An example would be the belief that encountering a black cat (“crossing one’s path”) leads to bad luck, or that cats are witches’ familiars used to augment a witch’s powers and skills. The killing of cats in Medieval YpresBelgium, is commemorated in the innocuous present-day Kattenstoet (cat parade).[219] In mid-16th century France, cats would be burnt alive as a form of entertainment. According to Norman Davies, the assembled people “shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized“.[220]

James Frazer wrote that “It was the custom to burn a basket, barrel, or sack full of live cats, which was hung from a tall mast in the midst of the bonfire; sometimes a fox was burned. The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In 1648 Louis XIV, crowned with a wreath of roses and carrying a bunch of roses in his hand, kindled the fire, danced at it and partook of the banquet afterwards in the town hall. But this was the last occasion when a monarch presided at the midsummer bonfire in Paris. At Metz midsummer fires were lighted with great pomp on the esplanade, and a dozen cats, enclosed in wicker cages, were burned alive in them, to the amusement of the people. Similarly, at Gap, in the department of the Hautes-Alpes, cats used to be roasted over the midsummer bonfire.”[221]

According to a myth in many cultures, cats have multiple lives. In many countries, they are believed to have nine lives, but in Italy, Germany, Greece, Brazil and some Spanish-speaking regions, they are said to have seven lives,[222][223] while in Arabic traditions, the number of lives is six.[224] The myth is attributed to the natural suppleness and swiftness cats exhibit to escape life-threatening situations.[citation needed] Also lending credence to this myth is the fact that falling cats often land on their feet, using an instinctive righting reflex to twist their bodies around. Nonetheless, cats can still be injured or killed by a high fall.[225]

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