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szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Egypt: Where it all begins
    2018-January-4  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

Egypt, “Where It All Begins,” is a suitable subject with which to begin our columns in the New Year.

Formally called the “Arab Republic of Egypt,” it is one of those countries that seems to have disappeared from the world stage in ancient times, only to reappear in the 19th and 20th centuries. But this is not the case.

True, the age of the pharaohs — with its pyramids, Sphinx, fabulous tombs and intriguing hieroglyphics — captures the imagination and makes many a child dream of being an archaeologist. Those familiar with the Bible know the importance of that time to the Jewish nation, being the birthplace of the great prophet Moses.

In the waning years of that Middle Eastern powerhouse, Alexander the Great’s empire led ultimately to the romantic tale of Antony (a Roman) and Cleopatra (a Greek-Egyptian), and their fling presages Egypt’s (and much of the region’s) transition from Greek power to Roman.

In the Middle Ages, between Roman times and modern, Egypt was a center of Christianity. The Coptic Church had its roots in the first century, and emerged as a separate body after the Church’s Council of Chalcedon in 451. It survives to this day.

The greatest challenge to that church was the rise of Islam, which took firm root in Egypt a couple of centuries later. Egypt became then, and remains, a Muslim-majority country.

Egypt straddles the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez; the Sinai Peninsula is located in Asia, as the main part of the country is in North Africa, making it a transcontinental country. Israel and the Gaza Strip lie to the northeast, the Red Sea and its Gulf of Aqaba to the east and south (with Saudi Arabia across the water). Sudan is to the south, and Libya to the west. There is also a tiny maritime border with Jordan across the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Mediterranean establishes the country’s northern border.

Its population, crowded mostly along the banks of the Nile, is the largest in the Arab world, the third-largest in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the 15th-largest in the world.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. foretells, predicts

2. appropriate, fitting

3. decreasing, going away

4. Egyptian system of writing

5. occupying more than one continent

6. sits across

7. colossal figure of a man’s head on a lion’s body near the pyramids of Giza

8. brief romantic affair

9. something with great strength

10. Egyptian kings

 

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