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Home> Destinations> Africa> Cairo> Overview

The Capital of Egypt

Updated: 2014-08-21 / (egypt.travel)





City Introduction

Cairo is the Capital of Egypt, one of Four Great Ancient Civilizations, and is also one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated on the top of Nile Delta, Egypt has 95% of the territory in the desert zone, and the fertile Nile runs through Egypt, bringing vitality to this largest desert in the world. The green zone formed by the Nile looks much like a ginkyo leaf, and Cairo is situated at the crossing of the petiole and the leaf surface. As the largest city in Africa, Cairo presents the crowded and low houses in yellow as the first impression of Cairo to the tourists. In this city with the population of 16 million, you can hardly find the city center, and the high buildings are sparsely distributed so that you can almost infer the prosperous zone of this city only from the people flow. In Cairo, wealth and poverty, grandness and dilapidation, modernity and classics coexist in harmony. Islamic buildings are densely studded in Cairo, and there are also ancient Egypt relics here and there in this city. There are well-proportioned minarets of mosques, as well as the crosses of the Christian churches arranged in rows. You can hardly find a word to describe this city.





History and Culture

The history in Cairo region can track back to the Early Dynasty Period in about 3100 B.C., when Iunu (Heliopolis called in Greek) where Cairo now takes became the capital of Lower Egypt and the Thirteenth Nome Heq-At. In the Old Kingdom Period, thirty kilometers to the southwest of Cairo region today, and on the west bank of the Nile, Memphis as the capital of the First Nome Aneb Hetch of Lower Egypt, became the capital of the unified Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt. Before the capital being moved to Thebes, this place was always the political and religious center of the Kingdom. After full development as the Capital of the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk dynasties (and also making the heretic buildings around Cairo further destroyed), Cairo was developed into a central city in Egypt and even in the Middle East region. In 1517, the Mamluk Dynasty was defeated by the Ottoman Empire Sudan Selim I, and Cairo was reduced to the capital of Egypt Province in the Ottoman Empire and started declining, and till the modern times, it has been recovered. Egyptian civilization is long, in which the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians and Romans left their traces. Muslims from Arabian Peninsula brought Islam to Egypt, Hidiv Ali led Egypt onto a modern way. Cairo may be said as an open-air museum housing multiple cultures in the history. Important cultural fields in Cairo include Cairo Opera House and Royal Opera House. In addition, the Cairo International Film Festival is regularly held in Cairo. Most of the residents in Cairo are Sunni Muslims, and the number of mosques in the city is growing.





Natural Environment

The territory of Egypt looks like a slightly irregular quadrangle. It has flat terrain, and the desert area accounts for 96% of the national territory area. According to the difference of natural conditions, Egypt is generally divided into four regions- the Nile basin, and the Nile Delta, west desert region, east desert region, and Sinai Peninsula region. Between Alexandria and Port Said lies the alluvial plain of the Nile Delta, covering about 20,000-40,000km2. In the past, the Nile had regular inundation every year, bringing fertile alluvial deposits to the Delta. This was the birthplace of ancient Egypt culture, and also is the most important economic activity zone nationwide. Most persons in Egypt live here, and this is also one of the most densely populated places in the world.






Except being cold in winter, and in the northern region in December, January and February, it is quite hot in other time. Average temperature along the Mediterranean Coast is 20°C (68°F), and average temperature in Aswan is 26°C (80°F). The highest temperature in the same region may be up to 31°C (88°F) and 50°C (122°F) respectively. In the desert, the temperature change is more obvious; It is very hot in the daytime and it is extremely cold in the nighttime. Alexandria region has the most precipitation, about 29cm per year. Every March and April, the African hot wind blows from west desert, so that the sky turns to orange with the mixture of sandy soil, and the sand storm is frequent.





Useful Information


In Egypt, there are three telecommunication operators, that is, Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil. The phone cards may be purchased from the business offices of the major operators, 10 Egyptian Pounds per card, but it is better to purchase the card in front of the Ramses Station. The mobile phone network system in Egypt is 3G system. 3G system is WCDMA, same as the system of China Unicom, with quick internet access, and the charge is similar to that of 2G in China. It is recommended to buy the phone card and then handle the mobile-phone internet access business in the operator business office.


There are few cyber bars in Cairo, and it is very hard to find a cyber bar. Fortunately, many hotels are equipped with public computer or WIFI for the customers. Most computers can display Chinese directly, without additional installation of word bank, but you have to install the Chinese input method by yourself. The maximum broadband speed in Egypt is 2M, very slow, and even slower than the mobile phone network. It is recommended to open the mobile phone internet access package.

Post Office

Post cards may be purchased in the tourist souvenir stores, but the stamps can only be used on the post office. So the post cards can only be posted in the post office. No matter in whatever city, the post office is always near the railway station, for example, beside Ramses Station, there is the general post office building. It is easy to find it. It costs 4.5 Egyptian Pounds for posting the post card to China Mainland, which can be received after about 10 days. Opening Time: 9:00-16:00; Friday as the resting day.

Information of Embassy and Consulate

Embassy of China in Egypt

Address: 14 Bahgat Aly Street, Zarmalek, Cairo

Tel: (00202)7361219

Office hours: 9:00-17:00





Visa Information

Step 1. Prepare the application materials

The materials necessary for applying for the visa slightly vary because of the conditions, generally requiring the following,

1. Passport with the validity period of at least six months;

2. Two passport photos;

3. Visa application form, written in English in capital letters, with the signature;

4. The original of the letter of invitation, with the contents, such as the name of the invited person, passport number, birthday, visit goal, stay time, and the commitment for the expenses during the stay in Egypt;

5. The original of the letter of appointment (letter of guarantee) from the China organization in English, with the contents, such as the name of the invited person, passport number, birthday, visit goal, stay time, and the commitment for the expenses during the stay in Egypt; requiring the use of the official letter paper of the company (address, telephone number, fax number, email, website), signature of the personnel in charge, and the official seal of the company;

6. Certification documents for funding capacity.

Step 2. Submit the application materials

Submit the visa application and pay the visa fee to the competent embassy and consulate within the Jurisdiction.

Single-entry visa: RMB 220

Multi-entry visa: RMB 340

Single transit visa: RMB 150

Multi-transit visa: RMB 200





Currency Exchange

USD 100 can be converted into about 605 Egyptian Pounds, and its exchange rate with USD is similar to that of RMB with USD. There are many money shops in the streets, with the exchange rate better than that in the banks, needing no certificate. While the foreign currency exchange in the banks needs certificate and filling the table, consuming time and efforts. It is recommended to exchange the foreign currency in the money shops.


In some ATM, the foreign currency may be directly converted into Egyptian Pound. There is UnionPay mark on many ATMs, where the foreign currency can be converted into Egyptian Pound, with the handling fee is about 5 Egyptian Pounds per 1000 Egyptian Pounds. It is recommended to exchange the currency in cash, and ATM may only serve as the emergency use.

Credit Card

Visa and Master credit cards may be used in the high-level hotels, restaurants and large shopping malls.


The tip may be eliminated in the common restaurants. In the high-level restaurant, 10% of the total price is added as the gratuities at the time of settlement. If there is no this part, the gratuity may be paid properly as you like.

ReligionIn Egypt, the official religion is Islam, and 90% of Egyptians believe in Islam. So the Islam is very influential in Egyptian culture, including the influence on the non-Islamic believers (10% Christians).

Tourism Service Number

Alarm Tel.: 122

First aid telephone number: 123






1. Muslim countries are mostly conservative. The women coming to Egypt, particularly the inland cities such as Cairo, cannot expose their bodies much. Short skirts and short trousers cannot be worn, it is better not to wear sleeveless shirt, the tight and decolletage. It is allowed to wear T-shirt, long skirt, long trousers or capri pants, etc.

2. The articles in Cairo are not cheap, and almost like those in China, and the accommodation under the same conditions might be more expensive than that in China. The restaurants usually present the clear prices. So there will be no “price for foreigners” (scenic spot tickets and some train tickets might be discriminated) in catering and shopping, but all are considered on an equal basis.

3. If you will take taxi, it is better to take white taxi or yellow taxi, because such taxi is installed with the fare meter, but sometimes there will be the occasion of detour. It is required to meter the taxi and prepare the change.

4. The tourists not familiar with the Egyptian currency will be easily confused by 25 Piastres, 50 Piastres, 20 Egyptian Pounds and 50 Egyptian Pounds. The size of 25 Piastres and 50 Piastres is small. When receiving such paper cash, it is required to pay attention to the nominal amount.

5. In some places, theft is severe. The locals do not carry the wallet, but place the necessary money and articles in their bags. This is a good method.





Festivals(Important/Historical/Folks Ones)

Date of Orthodox Christmas: January 7

The Copts in Egypt generally believe Orthodox. So Orthodox Christmas has become the public holiday in Egypt.

Dates of Independence Day: February 28

The date that Egypt threw off the colonial domination and declared independence. Today, the people have one day off.

Prophet Muhammad's Birthday: March 12 (Islamic Calendar)

One of the three Islamic festivals, it is also called Birthday of Muhammad, when the people are dressed tidily and go to mosques, listening to the chanting of imam, and remembering the achievements of Muhammad.


In this month, the Muslims cannot eat anything in the daytime. Many stores are closed in the daytime, and operate from 7:00 p.m. to the midnight. It is recommended to understand the detailed time of the Ramadan in the year, and avoid the Ramadan, thus eliminating the inconvenience.

Attention: The time of Ramadan for every year differs. The time of Ramadan for different countries might differ too.

Date of Lesser Bairam: October 1 (Islamic Calendar)

One of the three major Islamic Festivals, betoking the end of Ramadan. In this day, the people will go to mosques to participate in the Salat and listen to the doctrine preaching of the imams. The people celebrate the festivals in different means, some making and sending delicious foods to the friends, some listening to imam reciting the doctrine, and some inviting the relatives and friends to gather together. February

Date of Eid al-Adha: December 10 (Islamic Calendar)

One of the three major Islamic Festivals, also the largest religious festival, when the people will kill the animals to finish the obligations of Muslims, with thick festival ambience.


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