Africa > North Africa > Egypt > Egypt Geography Profile

Egypt: Egypt Geography Profile



The surface area of Egypt is 1,001,450 km², divided into 26 governorates. Egypt is a country stretching over two continents, as Sinai is counted as part of Asia. Except for the Nile Valley, Egypt is almost all desert. Even the coastal areas are very dry.
Egypt is a country where the boundaries between regions is more distinct than many other places. Main Egypt has four zones: river Nile; the Nile delta, the desert to the west; and the desert to the east. Sinai is often considered one region, although this too has at least two distinct zones, the mountains; and the northern desert.
Egypt has no forests, but vegetation includes large trees. Before human habitation took claim of all fertile land, forests and jungles were common, in particular along the Nile.
The Nile Valley which extends at the maximum some kilometres on either side of the river, gives just about enough ground for the agriculture needed by the fast growing population in Egypt. The delta area is little described, but home to half of Egypt's population and the most important region in the country's agriculture.

Water surface
6,000 km², which is 0.6% of the total surface area. This includes both rivers and lakes.
Among rivers, one dominates all in Egypt, The Nile, which has about 1550 km running through Egypt. It begins in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi, passes through Rwanda and Sudan, with its longest defined stretch at 6,671 km.
Reaching the Nile Delta, the Nile splits a few into major rivers and some more canals. The two main outlets are Rosetta and Damietta.
Paralell to the river Nile for about 350 km is the Ibrahimiyya Canal, first built in the late 19th century.
Most of Egypt's lakes are artificial, being dams of the Nile and result of new river stretches: The largest is Lake Nasser which Egypt shares with Sudan, and which is dammed up by the Aswan High Dam.
Often ommitted from maps, but very much realized today are the Toshka Lakes which exploits surplus water from Lake Nasser.
In Fayoum oasis has a few lakes that are semi-artificial. The Lake Qarun now receives most of its water from the Ibrahimiyya Canal, and in recent years, surplus water from this lake is led into Wadi Rayyan.
In addition to the Nile, the other famous waterway of Egypt is the Suez Canal, in which runs sea water only.

Borders and Coastlines
Border: 2,665 km
Egypt has borders to 4 countries:  Israel 266 km; Sudan 1,273 km; and Libya 1,115 km.
In addition, Egypt has sea borders to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Coastline: 2,450 km
The coastline of Egypt face the Mediterranean Sea in the north; and the Red Sea. The Red Sea coast has two gulfs: the Suez Gulf; and the Aqaba Gulf).

Highest and lowest points
+2,642 metres
-133 metres

The Mount Catherine on Sinai is the highest mountain in Egypt. Close to it are four more summits higher than 2,500 metres.
The highest mountain in Egypt's African part is the Shaiyb al-Banat at 2,187 metres, close to the holiday resort of Hurghada.
The large Qattara Depression in the Western desert reaches its extreme at -133 metres.

Arable land
2.9%. This counts region along the river Nile; the Nile delta; and a handful of abundant oases.


  • Sahara
  • Libyan Desert (also often called the Western Desert).
  • Eastern desert
  • Regions

  • Sinai
    The large peninusla which some consider part of Asia, some as part of Africa.
  • Qattara
    Depression in the Libyan desert.
  • Nile Delta
  • 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

    Geographic coordinates: 

    27 00 N, 30 00 E

    Map references: 


    Area comparative: 

    slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico

    Land boundaries Total: 

    2,665 km

    Land boundaries Note: 


    desert; hot, dry summers with moderate winters


    vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta

    Natural resources: 

    petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, zinc

    Natural hazards: 

    periodic droughts; frequent earthquakes; flash floods; landslides; hot, driving windstorm called khamsin occurs in spring; dust storms; sandstorms

    Environment - current issues: 

    agricultural land being lost to urbanization and windblown sands; increasing soil salination below Aswan High Dam; desertification; oil pollution threatening coral reefs, beaches, and marine habitats; other water pollution from agricultural pesticides, raw sewage, and industrial effluents; limited natural fresh water resources away from the Nile, which is the only perennial water source; rapid growth in population overstraining the Nile and natural resources

    Geography note: 

    controls Sinai Peninsula, only land bridge between Africa and remainder of Eastern Hemisphere; controls Suez Canal, a sea link between Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea; size, and juxtaposition to Israel, establish its major role in Middle Eastern geopolitics; dependence on upstream neighbors; dominance of Nile basin issues; prone to influxes of refugees

    Related Articles
    • Middle East

      2011/04/20 Over 350 million people live in the Middle East. The Middle East (see political map), for the purposes of this module, includes the states of