Geography and population
Egypt lies in the north-eastern corner
of the African continent, with a total area of about 1 million km². It is
bordered in the north by the Mediterranean Sea, in the east by Israel and
the Red Sea, on the south by Sudan and in the west by Libya.
In 1993, the total cultivated land was
estimated to be 3.24 million ha, or 3.2% of the total area. About 2.86 million
ha, or 88 % of the total cultivated area, consisted of annual crops and 0.38
million ha consisted of permanent crops.
Total population is about 62.9 million
(1995), of which 55% is rural, with annual demographic growth estimated at
2.1 %. Average population density is 63 inhabitants/km², but ranges from 2
inhabitants/km² over 96% of the total area, to 1 492 inhabitants/km² in the
Nile Valley and Delta. This area, where population density is among the highest
in the world, represents only 4% of the total area. In 1992, agriculture accounted
for 17% of Egypt's GDP and provided employment to 38% of the labour force.
Climate and water resources
The mean annual rainfall is estimated
at 18 mm. It ranges from 0 mm in the desert to 200 mm in the northern coastal
region. In many districts rain may fall in large quantity only once in two
or three years. During summer, temperatures are extremely high, reaching 38°C
to 43°C with extremes of 49°C in the southern and western deserts. The Mediterranean
coast has cooler conditions with 32°C as a maximum.
Surface water resources
The Nile river is the main source of
water for Egypt. Under the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan,
Egypt's share is 55.5 km³/year. The 1959 Agreement was based on the average
flow of the Nile during the 1900-1959 period, which was 84 km³/year at Aswan.
Average annual evaporation and other losses from the High Dam lake were estimated
to be 10 km /year, leaving a net usable annual flow of 74 km³/year, of which
18.5 km³/year was allocated to Sudan and 55.5 km³/year to Egypt. Internal
surface water resources are estimated at 0.5 km³/year. This brings the total
(actual) surface water resources to 56.0 km³/year.
The volume of groundwater entering the
country from Libya is estimated at I km³/year. Internal renewable groundwater
resources are estimated at 1.3 km /year. This brings the total renewable groundwater
resources to 2.3 km³/year. The main source of internal recharge is percolation
from irrigation water, and its quality depends mainly on the quality of the
irrigation water. In the northern part of the Delta, groundwater becomes brackish
to saline due to sea water intrusion. About half of the Delta contains brackish
to saline groundwater. The Nubian Sandstone aquifer, located under the Western
Desert and extending to Libya, Sudan and Chad, contains important non-renewable
fresh groundwater resources, already developed in the oasis of the new valley.
Large irrigation schemes pumping water from the Nubian aquifer are under development
in the southwestern part of the country (Al Aweinat).
The map below shows the ecological zones, as shown on the
FAO global map of ecological zones produced as part of the FRA 2000. Please refer
to FRA Working Paper 20 for
further information on the Global Ecological Zone map.