In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Egypt

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Economy
  • Language
  • Arts
  • Music and Performance
  • The January 25th Revolution

African Studies Egypt
Farha Ghannam
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 September 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0076


The Arab Republic of Egypt, with around 85 million inhabitants, is the second most populous African country. Located mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula stretching into Asia, and bordering the Mediterranean (north), the Red Sea (east), Sudan (south), Libya (west), and the Gaza Strip and Israel (northeast), Egypt covers an area of approximately 387,000 square miles. Most of this area is desert, so the population tends to be concentered in the fertile land in the Delta and around the banks of the Nile. Roughly 43 percent of the population is urban, with Cairo being the largest city in the country. Most of Egypt’s population is Sunni Muslim, with 10 to 12 percent Coptic Christian. Egypt was occupied by the British from 1882 until 1922. Modern Egypt became a republic after the 1952 revolution, led by a group of young Egyptian military officers (the Free Officers), ended the rule of monarchy and the de facto British control of the country. Since then and until 2012, Egypt has been ruled by three presidents, all of whom were strongly affiliated with the army and who exercised tremendous power. After the 25 January 2011 Revolution, Egypt has moved to the direct election of the president, currently Muhammad Morsi, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

General Overviews

Egypt has been the center of numerous studies that explored its very long history and dynamic political, social, and cultural systems. The many studies that focus on ancient Egypt will be covered in a separate bibliography. This section includes references that offer general overviews of the country’s recent history and explore its broader economic and political systems and transformations. Goldschmidt and Johnston 2013 offers a synopsis of the modern history of Egypt, while Goldschmidt 2004 provides biographical information about key players in Egyptian recent history. Sayyid-Marsot 2007 offers a short and accessible history of Egypt from the 7th century CE until the early 2000s. Vatikiotis 2012 is a survey of the major changes Egypt witnessed since the 1952 revolution. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports offer regular updates on the economic and political situation in Egypt. El-Mahdi 2009 presents a collection of articles about recent transformation in Egyptian life. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) offers updated statistics about the country’s population, economy, education, and transportation.

  • Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

    Offers statistical data (in English and Arabic) about Egypt’s population, housing, economy, transportation, trade, education, and culture.

  • Economist Intelligence Unit.

    EIU’s reports and profiles offer regular analysis of the economic and political aspects of life in Egypt, including useful information about the population and its distribution, main economic activities, income distribution, and changes to the political system.

  • Goldschmidt, Arthur, Jr. Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2004.

    Offers biographical information for more than four hundred influential men and women, including politicians, artists, writers, and religious leaders, who played an important role in Egypt’s recent history.

  • Goldschmidt, Arthur, Jr., and Robert Johnston. Historical Dictionary of Egypt. 4th ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2013.

    A clearly written reference book that offers an overview of Egyptian modern history. It covers major political transformations, figures, and institutions, with a focus on the post-independence period. It includes a chronology of important events, useful maps, and a bibliography.

  • el-Mahdi, Rabab, and Philip Marfleet, eds. Egypt: The Moment of Change. London: Zed Books, 2009.

    Written by academics and activists, this collection offers insights into the major economic, political, and social challenges that faced the regime of Hosni Mubarak (b. 1928). Topics covered include state and society, economic policies, the land and the people, and protest movements.

  • Sayyid-Marsot, Afaf Lutfi. A History of Egypt: From the Arab Conquest to the Present. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511607578

    An informative and concise introduction to the modern history of Egypt. It covers the period from 639 CE until the early 2000s. It includes a select helpful bibliography with short annotations.

  • Vatikiotis, P. J., ed. Egypt since the Revolution. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis, 2012.

    A collection of articles that map the political, economic, cultural, literary, and intellectual developments in Egypt since the 1952 revolution. It has a section about Western views of this revolution and a bibliographical survey.

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