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Friday, August 21, 2009

Egypt the host country

The country
Egypt, officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, is located in north-east Africa and home to around 78 million people from a wide variety of ethnic origins, including Arab, Berber, Bedouin, southern European and African. It is bound by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Israel and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west. The country has a maximum length from north to south of around 1,086 km (675 miles) and a maximum width, near the southern border, of around 1,255 km (780 miles). It has a total area of approximately 1,001,450 sq.km (about 386,662 sq.m). Less than one-tenth of the area of Egypt is inhabited or under cultivation; the settled areas are the Nile valley and delta, a number of desert oases, and land along the Suez Canal.Ancient Egyptian civilisation is regarded as one of the fountainheads of Western culture. The society of the Pharaohs dates back more than 7,000 years. Egypt has also been ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Arabs, French and British, making it one of the most colourful and diverse of all countries. In 1952, a group of army officers carried out a successful coup d'état that ousted the last Egyptian king, and in 1953 Egypt was declared a republic.
Cairo, the capital and largest city, is one of the most modern cities in the Arabic-speaking world. It is also the most populous city in the continent, with more than 25 million inhabitants. Yet it is not the main destination for the ten million tourists who visit Egypt every year. Aswan and Luxor are the usual targets for history enthusiasts, while exotic cities like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurgada also attract plenty of visitors. Even remote Red Sea areas like Marsa Allam and Sokhna have gained attention recently.As in many densely populated cities, traffic is one of the biggest problems in Cairo, so renting a car and braving the Cairo traffic is problematic for any foreign visitor. However, organizing a trip from Europe to Egypt can cost as little as 500 euros, which makes it one of the cheapest destinations for European tourists, with a huge variety of adventures and attractions.
The football
Egyptians are generally not big sports fans, but football is by far the most popular sport in the North African state. The Egyptian Football Association (EFA), which was founded in 1921 and joined the FIFA family two years later, has 70,000 members, belonging to about 112 clubs. The Etisalat League, the elite football competition, attracts an average of 5,000 spectators per match. The Egyptian Cup was launched in 1921, while the domestic championship began in 1948. Cairo's Al Ahly is the most popular and successful club in the country. Along with their arch-rivals Zamalek, Ahly are giants of African football.The Egyptian national team, affectionately known as the Pharaohs, have a distinguished record including two fourth-place finishes at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament (1928 and 1964). However, although in 1934 they became the first African country to participate in the FIFA World Cup™ finals, Egypt have made only one subsequent appearance on football's greatest stage, at Italy 1990.The Pharaohs have won a record six CAF Africa Cup of Nations titles, seized in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006 and 2008, and can count the likes of Ali Abugreisma, Mahmoud El Khatib, Ibrahim Youssef, Magdi Abdelghani, Tahar Abouzeid, Hossam Hassan, Hany Ramzy and Mohamed Aboutrika among their greatest all-time players.
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