Country in the northeast corner of Africa (although the Sinai Peninsula is considered part of Asia), bordering Libya, Sudan and Israel as well as the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. After its greatest days as an ancient civilization, was ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, and the British in succession, and only became independent in 1922. Briefly part of the United Arab Rebublic with Syria from 1958 to 1961. Also occupied the Gaza Strip before Israel did.

Egypt - Alexander Pappas

We started off in Jordan
And to Egypt took a train
Behold! A giant desert!
Large and blank and plain

We hik├ęd up Mount Sinai
And stood gazing from the top
Across the Red Sea, Egypt!
A land that was quite hot.

A short hike down the mountain
Some traders we did see,
To travel around Egypt
Some camels did buy, did we.

We went across to Cairo
And boated down to Giza.
We saw the pyramids and the Sphinx,
Before we started to Snore-za.

Then by boat we went to Thebes
And heard about the Sphinx.
We then went the western way,
To the Valley of the Kings-x

We went to Tutankhamen's tomb,
Of the Valley of the Kings.
We now can see what Carter meant
When he said "Wonderful things!"

Boating back to Cairo,
Some farmland we did see
It was... very Egyptian.
As Egyptian as can be.

We went to the Museum,
Not knowing what to see
But Tutankhamen's pectoral
Filled our hearts with glee

And as we at last finish,
Our trip around this land,
We talk a lot together as,
We fly from Egyptian sand.

Here's some interesting facts about Egypt:

Dead Egyptian noblewomen were given the special treatment of being allowed a few days to ripen, so
that the embalmers wouldn't find her too attractive

The Pyramid in Egypt contain enough stone and mortar to construct a wall 10 feet high and 5 feet wide
running from New York to Los Angeles.

In ancient Egyptian Priests plucked every hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.

The pyramids in Egypt were actually built 4 miles away from where they are currently today due to the shifting plate boundaries.


The 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe was a disaster for the Native Americans of the Midwest, but it opened the floodgates for European settlers of the Illinois country.  Old Man River would have certainly made an impression to the people who came West pursuing their manifest destiny.

Only two rivers in the world are longer than the Mississippi River: The Amazon and the Nile.  European settlers of the Mississippi Valley would probably have never heard of the Amazon, but comparisons to the Valley of the Nile would have been manifest to them, having had the stories of Joseph and Moses drummed into their heads every week at Sunday School or at tent revival meetings.  Even in 1799, a wandering Baptist minister had described the bottomlands around what is now East St. Louis as the "Land of Goshen".

Descriptions of ancient monuments "discovered" by Napoleon's ill-fated expedition to Egypt would have certainly filtered across the Atlantic Ocean by this time.  What did the settlers find, but earthen mounds resembling ancient pyramids, and stone fortresses resembling ancient temples?

So it was in 1817 that several Alexandria businessmen decided to make their fortune selling land in Illinois.  The Illinois Territorial legislature incorporated the "Bank of Cairo" and the "City of Cairo", to be built on land at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  Two years later, the town of Memphis was founded by Andrew Jackson and others a little further downriver in Tennessee.

The Winter of 1830-1831 was an incredibly cold one; three feet of snow covered Illinois on a single day, sleet and ice storms kept it from thawing.  Farmers weren't able to plant their crops until June.  What was worse, an early September frost killed off most of the crops long before any chance of a harvest.

Central Illinois was on the verge of famine: The only hope was the southern part of the state, whose farmers hadn't lost their crops to the frost.  Wagon trains sent south to buy grain from the southerners.  This parallel with another Biblical story, that of Joseph's brothers coming south to Egypt to buy grain during a famine, cemented the name of "Egypt" to southern Illinois permanently.

During the 1830's Cairo1 began to grow into a real town. Soon, other towns with Egyptian names would spring up: Thebes, Alexandria, Dongola, Karnak.   Stephen Douglas would taunt Abraham Lincoln during one of their famous debates for the 1858 Senate race, daring him to declare his abolitionist views in Egypt, an area with heavy Southern pro-slavery influence2. Despite the area's reputation as hotbed of secessionism, they would send a volunteer regiment to the Union army during the Civil War, the Illinois 48th Infantry, or "Pharaoh's Army".

The extent of the name "Egypt" within Illinois has varied through the succeeding century and a half.  Certainly, the extreme southern counties3 of the swampy Ohio-Mississippi floodplain, separated from the rest of the state by the Shawnee National Forest, are part of the region.   But Egypt must also include the next two tiers of counties4, part of Illinois' breadbasket in 1831 and 1832.  Important "Egyptian" towns include Cairo, Mound City, Jonesboro, Murphysboro, Carbondale, Marion, and Harrisburg.

At one point, places like Vandalia, Centralia, and Effingham (now along Interstate 70) claimed to be part of Egypt, but they were certianly sending their wagons south in 1831.  A case can be made for the "Land of Goshen" (now Edwardsville) and the nearby Cahokia Mound site, and thus East St. Louis, but "Egypt", better known as "Little Egypt"5 today, really consists of the 16 southern Illinois counties listed below.

1Pronounced kay-row
2Lincoln lost the race.
3Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Pulaski (containing Cairo), and Massac counties
4Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Jackson, Williamson, Saline, and Gallatin counties
5"Little Egypt" as an appellation met fierce resistance from residents; One reporter likened the term to "The name of a belly dancer at the World's Columbian Exposition".

"Welcome to Egypt!", John Musgrave, New Heartland

Little Egypt: Features and Information related to Southern Illinois and its History

John Y. Simon, "Judge Andrew D. Duff of Egypt.", Springhouse Magazine

Whatever happened to Egypt?

Everybody knows Egypt, the majesty of the pyramids along the Nile, the mystery of mummies and hieroglyphics. The problem is, where did it all go? Today's Egyptians mostly write and talk Arabic, their pantheon has been reduced to mostly one sole god, their ancient buildings crumble and the population is discontent. There are no more divine pharaohs, only disappointing politicans - no more slaves, only free poor people.

Modern and ancient Egypt are two different worlds. If you go to a well-equipped museum, you will see what I mean. Here you have elaborate writings, drawings and carvings from the time the rest of the world was hitting rocks together. Then there is a sudden change. The handcraft becomes crude and simple, while beautiful Greek statues and urns taking form in the same period can be seen in the other room. The Nile has flooded and ebbed many years and things have not stayed the same.

A lump of mud and a lot of sand

Egypt is a land of crossroads and contrasts. It is a meeting point of continents, situated between Africa, Europe and Arabia (or Asia, if you wish). The country borders both the Atlantic, through the quiet waters of the Mediterranean, and the Pacific, via the arm of the Red Sea. It is a land of the dry desert, but also possesses the enormously fertile Nile Valley.

Cairo, located at the beginning of the Nile delta, is the capital city, large and chaotic. Alexandria and Port Said are important coastal towns where the river runs into the sea. Most other major towns lie along the same river, while smaller settlements exist around various oases in the desert. There are 3 Egyptians deserts: the Libyan in the west, the Arabian desert between the Nile and the Red Sea, and the eastern Sinai desert, of the mount and the peninsula, which borders brother Israel.

Old before we were born

The first kingdom of the Nile land began to take form more than 5000 years ago. Long periods of prosperous stability were interpersed with times where the central power declined, and along with it the country, but all in all it was a period of greatness until about 1000 B.C.

What happened was, instead of being allowed to sort out its internal conflicts on its own, Egypt was overrun by just about all its neighbours and then some. The country was not ahead anymore. Like Britain in the industrial revolution, like China before it fell to the colonising westerners, it had set itself apart in arrogant superiority. It had performed sporadic conquests to gain slaves and riches, but was mostly content as it was.

First out to attack were the Nubians, followed by plundering Assyrians and Persians. Then came Alexander the Greek, who gave it a dynasty again and dragged it into the Hellenistic world. Then came the conquering Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, the French, the British. As a result of this everything changed: culture, language, population, knowledge. The large worshipping gallery of gods and pharaohs changed to Coptic Christianity and Islam. A bit of the old Egypt escaped the grinding wheel of time. Farmers in the south have kept many of their ancient ways: the simple plow, the irrigation system, the perfected pottery.

On its own again

The country became nominally independent in 1922. The majority of the British Army pulled out in 1946, except for some soldiers left in a base by Suez. Because of the time with European rulers, Egypt was become one of the most westernised Arabic countries.

Gamel Abdel Nasser dethroned the king in 1952 and became president. He staged great reforms and industrial projects, and was dearly loved by the Egyptian people at his death in 1970. His successor, Anwar Sadat, met with more conflict. Under him the country experienced a lot of political violence, both for and against his power. Still, he was the one that made peace with Israel in 1977. Sadat, too, ruled until his death, and was replaced by the current prime minister, Hosni Mubarak.

Like Algeria, Egypt has had a long-standing conflict between disgruntled Muslim fundamentalists on one side and modernising politicians supported by the army on the other. The conflict is so far gone now that Islamic terrorists attack tourists to hurt the country's economy, while on the other side the government refuses to negotiate. It will be interesting to see which side is victorious.

Great works of mankind

It will be hard to drive out the visiting foreigners completely. Since Antiquity, Egypt has been known as a brilliant tourist destination for one reason: Its magnificent structures. The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza are natural starting points. As guardian and monument to the dead, they have struck the living with awe since their completion. Although the sphinx is noseless and the pyramid stripped of its glazing, they are still great in every sense of the word.

The Suez canal was finished in 1869 by a European-owned company, allowing ships to take a shortcut around Africa. Presiden Nasser nationalised it in 1956, which led to an attack on Egypt by Great Britain, France, and Israel. A war lasting for six days was fought and lost in 1967, a war of reconquest in 1973.

The dam of Assuan, Saad el-Ali, was built from 1960 to 1970. It was Nasser's great project, supposed to give protection against droughts and floods, but also had many unfortunate effects, such as loss of water and fertile land, and a rise in disease from the now still waters.

And then, who could turn down a visit to the library of Alexandria. Didn't that burn down? It did, but now there is a new one. No wonder. With a past like Egypt's, who could blame them for trying to bring it back?

Acronym used during World War II by soldiers with an upcoming leave in letters to their wives/girlfriends to get past censorship.
Eager to Grab Your Pretty Tits

Also see: Burma, Norwich, Polo

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