EGYPT, a country in the N. E. of Africa, extending from the Mediterran ean to the first cataract of the Nile at Assuan, from 24° 6' to 31° 36' N. lat. Area, exclusive of the Sudan, 350,000 square miles. Population (1917) 12, 750,918, exclusive of nomad Bedouins. Capital, Cairo; pop. (1917) 790,939. Geologically and ethnologically, it is confined to the bed of the flooded Nile and occupies little more than 11,000 square miles. The Nile, after breaking through the rocky barrier at Assuan, pursues a N. course, varied only by one considerable bend near Thebes, till, a few miles N. of Cairo, it divides into two main streams, terminating in the Rosetta and Damietta mouths, through which, after a course of 3,300 miles, it pours during "high Nile," about 700, 000,000,000 cubic meters daily into the Mediterranean Sea. The other five mouths which existed in antiquity, have silted up; the triangular district in closed by them, supposed by the ancients to have been recovered from the sea, formed the delta, now called Lower Egypt.
Climate.—The climate is remarkably mild, especially S. of the desert. The temperature in winter in the shade averages 50° to 60° F., and in the heat of summer 90° to 100° in Lower Egypt, 10° higher in the upper valley. From June till February cool N. winds prevail, then till June comes a period of E. or hot S. sandwinds, called the Khamasin or "Fifties" (blowing 50 days). The most remarkable phenomena is the reg ular increase of the Nile, fed by the fall of the tropical rains. The state of the Nile marks the season more accurately than the variation of temperature. Ex cept in the dry air of the valley and desert, Egypt is not remarkably healthy; because of the occasional visi tations of plague and cholera, ophthal mia, diarrhoea, dysentery, and boils.
Geology..—Egypt is separated from Nubia by a low hilly region about 50 miles broad from N. to S. and composed of granitic rocks. The same crystalline rocks extend up the shore of the Red Sea to near the opening of the Gulf of Suez, stretching inland for fully 30 miles. The scenery in this district is wild and rude. The granitic region ter minates at Assuan, the ancient Syene, whence most of the materials for the colossal monuments of Egypt were pro cured. The Arabian and Libyan ranges, on the right and left of the river, are alike composed of cretaceous strata, the predominant rock being sand stone, which is durable and easily worked.
Natural History.—The signal peculi arity of the vegetation of the Nile Val ley is the absence of woods and forests. The Pharaohs got their timber chiefly from Lebanon, and modern Egypt is supplied from the forests of Asia Minor. Of flowers, the celebrated lotos, or water-lily, has supplied many ideas to Egyptian architects. The lack of jungle or cover of any sort accounts for the poverty of the Egyptian fauna; the crocodile, like the hippopotamus, is bat ing a retreat to the tropics. The ordi nary beasts of burden are the ass and camel. Serpents are numerous, and among them the dreaded cobra and the cerastes. The Nile is full of fish, of rather poor flavor. Egypt is an agri cultural country; in some parts, by the aid of regulated artificial irrigation, the rich alluvial deposit will bear three crops in the year. Wheat is the chief cereal; barley, maize, durra, beans, lentils, and clover are also largely grown with very little trouble. The extensive culture of papyrus, which anciently supplied ma terial for paper, has in modern times been superseded by that of sugar cane, cotton, indigo, and tobacco.
Religion.—The two main principles on which the religion of Egypt was based appear to have been the existence of an Omnipotent Being, whose various attri butes being deified, formed a series of divinities; and the deification of the sun and moon. Each group of divinities formed a triad composed of a chief male deity, with a wife or sister and a son, as Osiris, Isis, and Horus, or Amun, Maut, and Khonso. Among the other gods of the Egyptian Pantheon are Ra, the sun, usually represented as a hawk-headed man; Mentu and Atmu are merely two phases of Ra, the rising and setting sun. The worship of the bull Apis is connect ed with Osiris. Serapis is the defunct Apis, who has become Osiris. Seth or Set represents the power of evil. Am mon (Egyptian Amen), originally a lo cal god, owed his importance to the greatness of his city, Thebes. Thoth was the chief moon-god, and is generally represented as ibis-headed. Anubis, the jackal-headed, belonged to the family of Osiris, and presided over mummifica tion. Besides these deities, the Egypti ans worshiped beasts, reptiles, and even vegetables, probably as symbols.