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Egyptian Desert  
 
Egypt's geological history
has produced four major physical regions: The first is the Nile Valley and Delta, which is the most important region because it supports 99% of the population on the country's only cultivable land and it is representing around 4%of the total Egyptian land area .

The other 96% of land is represented by the Egyptian desert which includes the 3 other physical regions:

1- The Western Desert (also known as the Libyan Desert)
2- The Eastern Desert (also known as the Arabian Desert)
3- The Sinai Peninsula


1-The Western Desert:
The Western Desert is referred to as the
"red land" in ancient Egypt, and they
protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs
from western threats, it is a sandy plain
desert with some sedimentary formations spread all over its area, it covers about 700,000 square kilometers (equivalent in
size to Texas) and accounts for about
two-thirds of Egypt's land area.
This immense desert to the west of the
Nile expands till the Libyan border spans
the area from the Mediterranean Sea south
to the Sudanese border, so it is considered
as a frontier region that is why the visiting
of some of its areas requires Government permissions.
The Western Desert
 
It includes 3 regions with a unique geographic nature:
 
1- In the North the Qattara Depression: is approximately 15,000 square kilometers (about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island) and is largely below sea level (its lowest point is 133 meters below sea level). Badlands, Salt marshes and salt lakes cover its area.

2- In the West the Great Sand Sea: is the third largest sand-accumulation in the world, about the size of Oregon. Spanning the 600km between Siwa in the north and the Gilf Kebir Plateau in the south, the Sand Sea forms a natural barrier between Egypt and Libya. From west to east, this barren but extremely beautiful land is about 250km wide, though it reaches 400km in the south. It contains sand dunes up to 110m in height and cover about 25% of the Libyan Desert, Nothing lives there but the wind, and nothing moves there but the sand.

3- In the south Gilf Kebir Plateau: has an altitude of about 1,000 meters, an exception to the uninterrupted territory of basement rocks covered by layers of horizontally bedded sediments forming a massive plain or low plateau, It roughly equals Switzerland in size, and is similar in structure to the other sandstone plateaus of the central Sahara. Its south-eastern part is well defined on all sides, with sheer cliffs and deep, narrows wadis. The northeast part, separated from the other half by a broad valley called the "Gap" is more broken, and supports three large wadis with vegetation: Wadi Hamra, Wadi Abd Al Malik and Wadi Talh.

In the western desert there are six depressions with in its boundaries other than the Qattara Depression. These depressions are the Oases which are the only inhabited areas in this expanding desert. They are Siwa oasis that belongs to Matruh Governorate, Bahariya oasis that belongs to Giza governorate, Fayoum oasis that is just few kilometers south of Cairo belongs to Fayoum governorate, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga oasis, Kharga is the Capital of the New Valley governorate.
   
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2-The Eastern Desert:
 

It is known since ancient times, pharaohs
and Romans have used the porphyry,
granite, limestone, and sandstone found
in its mountains as building materials.
It extends over an area of approximately 220,000 square kilometers bordered by the Nile valley in the west and the Red Sea and
the Gulf of Suez in the east. It extends along most of Egypt's eastern border and merges into the Nubian Desert in the south. The Eastern Desert is very different from the Western Desert as it is relatively full of mountains and hills; it has a complex of irregular, sharply cut wadis that extend westward toward the Nile. Today most of
the desert can be accessed by roads.
Since Oil is produced in the north.
The Western Desert
 

It is sparsely populated; most of its inhabitants are based around wells and springs. It lays with in the boundaries of the Red Sea governorate and there are some cities along the coast of the Red Sea that attracts a great number of tourists. These cities are Hurghada, Safaga, Qusir and Marsa Alam. Most of the inhabitants of theses cities are emigrants from all over Egypt looking for work in the field of tourism.There are a lot of historical and archeological sites hidden with hit its wadis such as:


Mons Porphyrites (Mountain of Porphyry): was an important Roman quarry complex near Gebel Abu Dukhan (Father of Smoke Mountain) in the heart of the Eastern Desert. For over three centuries, from 29 AD to 335 AD, an exquisite purple rock found nowhere else in the world called Imperial Porphyry was extracted for the glory of Roman emperors.

Mons Claudianus: In the parched desert between the Red Sea and the Nile lies the fascinating ruin of a Roman settlement. For over two centuries, from 68 AD to 282 AD, Mons Claudianus used the surrounding mountains to produce high quality columns and building blocks of grey granite known as granodiorite for the sole purpose of beautifying imperial Rome. Today, you can witness these magnificent objects in the Pantheon, in Hadrian's Villa and in the unfinished Temple of Venus.


Myos Hormos: Two thousand years ago Myos Hormos was the Roman Empire's principal gateway to India and East Africa. Only recently have archaeologists
been able to identify the exact location of this ancient port, just eight kilometers north of Quseir.
During its peak period around 20 AD, reportedly 120 ships laden with wines, fine pottery, glass, precious metals and textiles set out each year from Myos Hromos
to India. They brought back all kinds of luxury goods, including spices, medicines, silk and pearls.

Wadi Hammamat: About midway between Quseir and Qena is the legendary Wadi Hammamat. Through this valley runs an ancient road, the shortest from the Red Sea to the Nile. Hundreds of rock inscriptions adorn the wadi's walls. Some drawings, like the ancient Egyptian reed boats, date back to 4000 BC.

Bir Umm Fawakhir: A little to the north of Wadi Hammamat in the central part of the Eastern Desert lies a Byzantine gold mining settlement from the fifth and sixth century known today as Bir Umm Fawakhir.

   
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3-Sinai Peninsula:
 
This triangular area covers about 61,100 square kilometers It is 370 km long and
150 240 km wide and extends north into
a broad isthmus linking Africa and Asia.
Sinai is bounded on the East by the Gulf of Aqaba and on the West by the Gulf of Suez, which is linked to the Mediterranean Sea by the Suez Canal; the Negev desert is to the northeast.

The southern side of the peninsula is formed
of Granite and has a sharp escarpment that subsides after a narrow coastal shelf that slopes into the Red Sea and the Gulf of
Aqaba.
The Western Desert
 

Moving northward, the elevation decreases in to a limestone plateau.
The northern third of Sinai is a flat, sandy coastal plain, which extends from the Suez Canal into the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Mount Catherine 2640 m is the highest point in Egypt, which exists in the
centre of the southern part of Sinai. There is also the famous Mount of Moses
2285 m and Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine.

Sinai have a very old history since the time of the pharaohs as it was the east
gate of Egypt and they extracted turquoise and copper. In the modern times
the strategic importance of Sinai increased and it became where the
Arab-Israeli Wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973 took place.

Sinai was considered by the Egyptian government a single governorate till the
Israeli occupation of Sinai in 1967. In the 1973 war, the Egyptian army crossed
the Suez Canal and recaptured territory in the Sinai. Under the Camp David
accords (1978) and Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty (1979), by 1982 after all of
Sinai was returned to Egypt, the central government divided the peninsula into
two governorates. North Sinai has its capital at Al Arish and the South Sinai has
its capital in At Tur.

The population in Sinai is composed manly of Bedouins whom they are stationed near the water resources or in the known tourist's cities in Sinai as , Saint Catherine, Dahab, Taba, Nuweiba and Sharm el Sheikh.
   
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