Pictures and Text By: Mohamed El-Dakhakhny
Egypt covers 1,019,600 km2 of the northeastern corner of Africa and the Sinai Peninsula, the land bridge connecting the continents of Africa and Asia. It forms part of the Sahara, which stretches 5,000 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and is about 2,000-km inland from the Mediterranean coast. The Nile runs though the desert landmass, covering only 4% of the country on its 1,800-km course. Downstream the river is divided into two main tributaries forming the triangular shape of the Nile Delta, whereas the river has been restricted in the South, forming Lake Nasser, 496 km in length.
The passage of the Nile has given the names to the desert areas west and east of the river. Egypt’s third desert is the Sinai Peninsula, which is bordered on the west by the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Suez.
The vast Western Desert encompasses 681,000 km2 with its principal features Gabal El-Uweinat (1,892m), El-Gilf El-Kebir, the Great Sand Sea and seven major depressions: Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariya, Siwa, Fayoum and Quattara. Quattara depression’s lowest point lies at 134 m below sea level, while Fayoum depression is the only one connected to the Nile.
The total area of the Eastern Desert is 223,000 km2; its igneous mountains along the Red Sea coast characterize it. Gebel Shayeb El-Banat (2,187m) is the highest peak, whilst Gabal Elba (1,437m) in the extreme southeast, is recorded for its distinct and unique biodiversity. Several sandstone and limestone plateaus as well as wadis can be found in this region.
The Sinai Peninsula shaped like a triangle covers 61,000 km2. Precambrian mountains including the highest peak of Egypt, Gabal Katrina (2,614 m), lies here. Sand dunes and a series of sedimentary hills of which Gabal El-Maghara (735 m) is the nearest one to the Mediterranean coast cover the north.
A land of high rugged mountains, dry valleys, bold plateaus, green oases, sand dunes, extensive coastlines and the river valley, Egypt is indeed a land of striking contrasts and outstanding flora and fauna.
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