Key Facts: Egypt

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Cairo

Population: 83,082,869 (July 2009 est.).

Religions: Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%. Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula.

Government: Republic. Chief of state: President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak (since Oct. 14, 1981); head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed Nazif (since July 9, 2004).

Economy: Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile Valley, where most economic activity takes place. Egypt’s economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser but has opened up considerably under former President Anwar El-Sadat and current President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. Cairo has aggressively pursued economic reforms to encourage inflows of foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth. In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s government reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed and GDP grew about 7% each year since 2006. Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a sizeable budget deficit — roughly 7% of GDP in 2007-08 — and represent a significant drain on the economy. Foreign direct investment has increased significantly in the past two years, but the Nazif government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reforms in order to sustain the spike in investment and growth and begin to improve economic conditions for the broader population. Egypt’s export sectors — particularly natural gas — have bright prospects.

GDP per capita: $5,400 (2008 est.); inflation: 18% (2008 est.); unemployment 8.7% (2008 est.).

Currency: Egyptian pound (EGP): 1 U.S. dollar equals 5.6 Egyptian pounds (Aug. 18, 2009).

Exports: $33.36 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.): crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, textiles, metal products and chemicals.

Imports: $56.43 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.): machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, wood products, and fuels.

Major crops/agricultural products: Cotton, rice, maize, wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats.

Agriculture: 13.4% of GDP and 32% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .eg; 175,342 (2008) hosts and 8.62 million (2007) users.