What can we say about Egypt? It’s a land of myths and legends, ancient civilizations, and The Pyramids of Giza. Egypt is an exciting country to visit with some of the most fascinating historical places on the planet. There is so much more to Egypt than just the pyramids and you’ll see why as we go through these most interesting facts about Egypt!
As one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt is a captivating destination. If you’re planning to visit the Middle East, these Egypt facts will help you understand the history of the ancient Egyptians and the background of some of the country’s most popular attractions
Interesting Facts About Egypt
Speaking of being one of the oldest civilizations, a lot of the best facts about Egypt have to do with ancient Egypt. Many of its top tourist attractions were built by the ancient Egyptians and many of the customs and follow the ancient Egyptian traditions that were followed by the Pharaohs and their religion of Islam.
1. Egypt is home to the Only Remaining Ancient Wonder in the World
The only remaining monument of the 7 ancient wonders of the world is still standing in Egypt. Only the Great Pyramid of Giza, in El Giza, Egypt has stood the test of time. The Pyramids of Giza are located in the capital city of Cairo and are as awe-inspiring as they always have been. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the largest of all the pyramids and it was built to house the Pharoah Khufu in the fourth century. Today is known as the pyramid of Cheops.
You cannot miss visiting the pyramids when you travel to Cairo, they can be seen from all over the city. The Pyramid of Khufu is massive standing at a height of 146.7 meters (481 feet) Read more: 7 Wonders of the World – the New, The Natural, and the Ancient
2. No, the Pyramids Were Not Built By Slaves
Speaking of the pyramids, I always thought that they were built by slaves. It wasn’t until visiting Cairo that I learned that the pyramids were in fact built by proper laborers. Archaeological discoveries proved that there were purpose-built villages to house the workers and they were fed and treated well. The things you learn when you travel, it fills our little heads with tons of fun facts!
Read about a cool Egyptian Pyramid we visited – The Red Pyramid of Egypt – Experience it Inside and Out
3. Ancient Egyptians and the Afterlife
Some fun facts about the Pyramids are that they were built to house the rulers of ancient Egypt and ferry them and their families into the afterlife. The pyramids were made as tombs for the Pharaohs and their families.
Ancient Egyptians believed that they had to follow strict rules to have a good afterlife. They also believed that it was up to the living to help them get to the afterlife. Great care was taken in the mummification process because the ancient Egyptians believed that the body needed to be preserved to be reborn and be ferried to the afterlife. They even mummified animals.
4. Many Gods of Ancient Egypt
It was tough navigating life as an ancient Egyptian, they had many Gods to please. They worshipped hundreds of Gods and Goddesses and had to constantly work to make them all happy to keep their life in balance and to ensure their place in the afterlife. Over the years Gods fell in and out of fashion just as our celebrities do today. Some of the most enduring Gods were Isis, Osiris, and Ra – The Sun God.
5. Egypt is home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Do you know that Egypt is also home to seven of the UNESCO World Heritage sites? That’s right, Egypt has a lot to offer! The 7 sites are Abu Mena, Historic Cairo, Abu Simbel, Saint Catherine, Wadi Al-Hitan, (aka Whale Valley in the western desert of Egypt) and Memphis and its Necropolis, and Ancient Thebes. Have you been to any of them?
We have been to all but two. We have yet to visit Abu Mena or Whale Valley.
Memphis and its Necropolis are in fact the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur so chances are if you’ve been to Egypt, you have seen this UNESCO SIte. Ancient Thebes is where you’ll find Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel is on Lake Nasser, Historic Cairo is an obvious destination and Saint Catherine is located at the foot of mountains where Moses received the 10 Commandments.
6. Mount Sinai and the 10 Commandments
Mount Sinai is the mountain that Moses climbed to receive the 10 commandments. Located in the Sinai Peninsula, this mountain is sacred in both Christian and Islamic religions. It is an important pilgrimage site and stands at 2,285 meters ( 7,497 feet) high. It is here you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Saint Catherine Monastery that we mentioned above. Read more: Amazing Historical Sites In the World – That We’ve Seen
7. Ancient Egyptians Loved Board Games
We actually have a lot in common with the ancient Egyptians and one of the more fun facts about ancient Egyptians is that they too loved board games. It wasn’t just the wealthy that played board games either, even the commoners enjoyed a good board game.
The most popular board games were Senet and Mehen. Senet was a game that involved throwing sticks and was so popular that even Pharaohs were buried with the game to keep them occupied in the afterlife. These board games date back 5000 years. What is your favorite board game?
8. Cleopatra was not Egyptian
Another interesting fact about Egypt is that Cleopatra, one of the most famous figures from ancient Egypt, is actually Greek, not Egyptian. While she was born in Alexandria she had no Egyptian blood and was instead a descendant of the Ptolemaic Dynasty which were a line of Greek Macedonians. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled ancient Egypt from 323 to 30 BC. The name Cleopatra is actually Greek for “Famous in Her Father” or “Her Father’s Fame”
9. 95 Percent of Egyptians Live Along the River Nile
Did you know that the longest river in the world is located in Egypt. The Nile River cuts through Egypt and about 95 percent of the population of Egypt resides along the Nile River. With much of the country being occupied by desert, this fact about Egypt isn’t all that surprising. 90 percent of Egypt is made up of desert and the River Nile divides that desert.
The ancient Egyptians divided Egypt into two lands, the desert, and the Nile Valley. Contrary to what you would think, upper Egypt is located in the South and Lower Egypt is north. That is because the Nile flows north towards the Mediterranean Sea.
10. Deserts of Egypt
There are three deserts in Egypt, the Western Desert,(aka the Libyan Desert) the Eastern Desert, (aka the Arabian Desert), and the Great Sand Sea which is a portion of the Sahara Desert.
The deserts of Egypt have their own ecosystems consisting of several Oasis, mountains, sand dunes and oil reservoirs. Our favourite desert in Egypt was the White Desert in central Egypt. Read all about the White Desert here.
11. King Tut and the Curse of the Mummy
King Tut is probably the most famous of all the ancient Egyptians, but very little was known about the boy king who died at the young age of 19 until British archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb in 1922. King Tuts Tomb is the smallest of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings but it was filled with great wealth.
It was believed that Hieroglyphs on the wall of King Tut’s tomb had the curse of death. I’m glad I didn’t know about this curse before entering King Tut’s tomb during our visit or I may not have entered this unassuming tomb. Read more: Amazing Places to Visit in Egypt
12. Alexandria was named after Alexander the Great
Not surprisingly, the city of Alexandria was named after the conqueror of Egypt in 331 BC. One of the ancient wonders of the World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was here. Read more about the wonders of the world at: 7 Wonders of the World – the New, The Natural, and the Ancient
13. Egypt Borders two Seas
Egypt is located in a strategic location between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The Suez Canal connects the two seas allowing for ships to easily sail between Asia and Europe. Egypt has been a very strategic location for centuries.
14. One of the World’s Largest Dams is Located in Egypt
Egypt is home to one of the world’s largest dams. The Aswan High Dam is the world’s largest embankment dam, spanning across The Nile separating Egypt from Sudan and creating Lake Nassar. Lake Nassar is one of the world’s largest reservoirs.
While this seems like a great feat, when we cycled from Egypt to Sudan, we saw the devastation that this dam caused. At one time, Sudan was lush and green along the Nile and even tourists from the UK would vacation in Wadi Halfa in Sudan. Today, it is a dried-up mess thanks to the damming of Lake Nassar. Check out: We Cycled the Continent of Africa
15. Cats are Sacred
It’s true, cats were considered sacred animals in ancient Egypt. And from what I could see from our visits to Egypt they are still cared for and revered. Our guesthouse in Cairo had plenty of cats hanging out on its rooftop terrace that we enjoyed cuddling with. Cats were thought to bring good luck and they were so revered that when a cat died, the pharaohs had them mummified. As a cat lover, I can relate.
16. The Twelve Month Calendar was Invented in Egypt
You probably don’t know this, but the calendar that we use today was invented by ancient Egyptians. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the first calendar known to humankind was invented in Egypt. In fact, it is the year 6264 in the Egyptian calendar.
The ancient Egyptians used the 12-month calendar like we do today. However, each month was always 30 days which meant that their years were only 360 days in total causing the years to fall out of sync with the seasons. So to make up for the lost time, they held a 5 day festival at the end of each year.
17. Make up and Ancient Egyptians
Ancient Egyptians believed that make up had healing powers that protected them from the sun and therefore both men and women wore makeup. The black eye paint that we’ve come to know so well from ancient Egyptian depictions was made from red and they also wore green make up that was made from copper.
18. Fast Fun Egypt Facts
The capital city of Egypt is Cairo and it is the largest city in Egypt. Cairo is also the largest city in the Middle East and the Arab World.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic but don’t worry, many people also speak English and if you know French, it will go a long way in Egypt as well.
The official name of Egypt is The Arab Republic of Egypt
The population of Egypt is 102.3 million as of 2020.
The first humans in Egypt date back to 8000 years but the ancient civilization that we have come to know was established around 3000 BC.
Throughout the centuries, Egypt has been under the control of the Roman Empire, Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, Muslim Forces, and even the English.
Do you know that the hieroglyphs, an ancient language once used by the Egyptians, has about 700 symbols? Can you imagine learning this language? Why not give it a try when you go? Maybe you’ll be able to read some ancient symbols on some tombs.
And these are some fun facts about Egypt. Did we miss any? Have you been to Egypt, what is your favourite place to visit in Egypt?