Egypt

General Information

Land Area : Approximately 1,001,450 km², but only 5% is cultivated and populated. The rest is all desert.
Population : 82.5 million (est. 2011). 99 % are descendants of ancient Egyptians, Berbers and Bedouins. Most of the population is concentrated in the big cities (Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Aswan), in the Nile Valley and in the Delta with the Berbers and Bedouins living in the oases west of the Nile and in the Sinai peninsula.

Flight Length

4 h 30 from Paris to Cairo

4 h from London to Cairo

8 h from New York to Cairo

Language

Arabic. English is widely spoken in touristic areas and sometimes French or other European languages.

Visas and Documents

Passports requires minimum validity of 6 months at the date of entry in Egypt. Be sure to have enough empty pages for the entry visa and stamps.

Excepting few Europeans and non-Europeans Countries that require pre-issued visa from the Egyptian Consulates - to be double-checked before traveling - all foreign visitors can purchase a visa stamp at Cairo airport for 25 USD valid for 3 months. If you are visiting the southern part of Sinai, arriving at the Taba border or at the Sharm El Sheikh airport, visas are for free.

Religion

Islam is the predominant religion of Egypt. 90 % of Egypt's population is Sunni. About 9 % are Coptic Christians.

Money

Egypt's currency is the Egyptian pound (LE). Money can be changed officially at American Express and Thomas Cook offices, foreign exchange bureaus and some hotels. Major credit cards can be widely used to take money from ATM machines, for incidentals at hotels and on cruises, and for purchases in large cities and touristic areas. To facilitate currency exchange, carry Euro and US Dollars with you. As a general rule, banks are open from 9 am - 2 pm everyday except Friday, which is equivalent to our Sunday. Government offices are closed on Friday.

Climate

Alexandria and the Northern Coast have a Mediterranean climate, while Cairo has a semi-arid climate and the south of Egypt has an arid climate (Luxor, Aswan, the Red Sea).

The best months for visiting the country are November through February. The weather is agreeable throughout the country and ideal for taking a Lake Nasser or Nile cruise in order to visit the Pharaonic ruins. The days are sunny but not too hot, 15 - 25 C and the nights are cool.

Summer is stifling in Cairo and scorching in Upper Egypt where the air is especially dry. This makes the heat almost bearable. However, it is definitely not advised for people who are sensitive to the heat.  It can sometimes reach more than 50 C in the Valley of the Kings.

For a stay on the Red Sea Coast, choose sometime from June to September. The water temperature fluctuates between 24 and 28 C and the air temperature between 30 and 40 C.

Useful Addresses

Egyptian Embassies Abroad

Health

There are no vaccines required to travel to Egypt. Most travellers from Western countries have been immunised against various diseases during chilhood but booster shots may be recommended. Plan ahead and seek medical advice at least 6 weeks prior to your departure.

General Information

Travellers suffering from asthma should be aware that Cairo is very polluted and dusty. Bring antidiarrhea medicine, sun block, sunglasses, a hat and a scarf for air conditioning in hotels and boats. Tap water in Cairo is generally safe to drink and heavily chlorinated. But bottled water is usually recommended all over. Avoid eating raw vegetables and peel fruits before eating them.

Telephone

To call Egypt from abroad dial 00 + 20 (country code) + city code (Cairo : 2, Alexandria : 3, Luxor : 95, Aswan : 97) + telephone number.
From Egypt to another country 00 + your country code + area code + telephone number.