Africa / Egypt

Cairo

Visiting Cairo, Egypt's capital and Africa's largest city, can be an overwhelming experience. More than 16 million people call it home; it's chaotic, exotic, smelly, dusty, and also beautiful.

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world.It is located near the Nile delta It was founded in the year 969 A.D. making it 1,042 years old. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life. Cairo was founded by the Fatimid dynasty in the 10th century AD.; but the land composing the present-day city was the site of national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo is also associated with Ancient Egypt due to its proximity to the ancient cities of Memphis, Giza and Fustat which are nearby to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza.

Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Ma?r (Arabic: ????), the Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city's continued role in Egyptian influence. Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab World, as well as the world's second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city, and the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.

With a population of 6.76 million spread over 453 square kilometers (175 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. With an additional ten million inhabitants just outside the city, Cairo resides at the centre of the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the eleventh-largest urban area in the world. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic, but its metro – the only one on the African continent until the Algiers Metro began service on November 1, 2011 – also ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 700 million passenger rides annually. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East, and 43rd globally by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index.

In Cairo, and along the Nile River Valley, the climate is a desert climate (BWh according to the Köppen climate classification system), but often with high humidity due to the river valley's effects. Wind storms can be frequent, bringing Saharan dust into the city during the months of March and April. High temperatures in winter range from 19 °C (66 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F), while night-time lows drop to below 11 °C (52 °F), often to 5 °C (41 °F). In summer, the highs rarely surpass 40 °C (104 °F), and lows drop to about 20 °C (68 °F). Rainfall is sparse, but sudden showers do cause harsh flooding. In New Cairo, a place of higher elevation than down town Cairo, the temperatures often drop below zero during winter causing morning frost.

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