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10 surprising facts about Egypt

Fernanda lustosa 30 August
  • Cairo is the largest city in Africa and the Middle East

Yes, Cairo has been the capital of Egypt for more than one thousand years and it is 500 square kilometers. The city has a population of 22 million people, which makes of it the largest in the Middle East and Africa, and one of the most populated in the world. 

But Cairo’s overpopulation might have its days counted because the government is building a new capital 45km away from it, aiming to help easing the bad traffic of the current capital, among other issues. 

  • The famous Queen Cleopatra VII was not Egyptian but Greek

Cleopatra VII was one of the most famous rulers of Egypt, even though she was not Egyptian. She indeed was born in Egypt but she descended of Macedonian Greeks and was educated in Greece. She was part of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which started with Ptolemy I Soter, one of Alexander the Great’s general, who took Egypt after his death.  Even though she was not ethnically Egyptian, Cleopatra embraced the country’s customs and spoke fluently the local language, which helped for her acceptance. 

  •  Egypt has 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites

Egypt is home to seven sites considered world heritage sites by UNESCO. They are the necropolis of Memphis; the temples between Luxor and Aswan from Abu Simbel to Philae; the necropolis of Ancient Thebes, Whale Valley (a valley of fossil remains of the first and now extinct whales), Historic Cairo; and Saint Catherine Monastery. 

  • Ancient Egyptians produced the world's first prosthetic limb

Ancient Egyptians invented a lot of things that are still used nowadays, and we have no doubts that their knowledge was impressive. Yet, some are truly surprising for the complexity involved. A good example is the production of the world’s first prosthetic limb between 950 and 710 B.C., a toe composed of wood, leather, and thread. They also built some of the oldest hospitals of the world: the Temple of Kom Ombo, which served the gods Sobek and Horus, was also a cure center. It is known that surgeries were performed there and many hieroglyphs display surgery instruments on the walls.   

  • The 365-day calendar was invented by the Ancient Egyptians

The Egyptian calendar was one of the first to be invented. It took into consideration the sun cycle using calculations that were based on its rotation. This was very important because Ancient Egyptians were farmers and the agriculture depended on knowing the weather conditions and the different seasons, so they could organize the plantation and the harvest. 

  • Egypt has 3451 hours of sun per year

Egypt is the land of the sun, which makes of it a perfect destination for those who are looking for escaping from cold winters and aiming for great vacations. And to be more precise, Egypt ensures an average of over 3400 hours of sun per year. But if you still want more, then Aswan shall have the answer. The southern city is the 3rd sunniest place in the world, offering 3863 hours of sun per year. This means 10 hours per day!

  • Egypt is home to one of the world’s largest dam

And still talking about Aswan, there you will find one of the world’s largest dam. It was built in the 60’s to contain the constant Nile flooding and to bring more electric potential to the country. The High Dam caused the transfer of some temples to new locations, otherwise they would be inundated, such as the Temples of Abu Simbel and Temple of Philae. The operation counted with the help of UNESCO and took over 5 years to be completed. 

  • The Great Pyramids were not built by slaves

Even though a lot has already been discussed about it, there are people who still believe that the Great Pyramids of Giza were built by slaves. In fact, over 30 thousand salaried workers built the monuments. The number of fatalities was high and replacement was frequent, yet it was a great honour for these labours to work for the pharaoh. 

  • Ancient Egyptian Women had a lot of freedom

Throughout the history women have been seen as inferior and have to fight for their rights. In Ancient Egypt, even though things were not perfect for them, they enjoyed a lot of independence, such as legal and financial. They had the right to divorce and couples signed prenuptial contracts, guaranteeing that women would be compensated in case of divorce. 

  • Most pharaohs were fat

The statues of pharaohs may had depicted them in slim bodies but the reality most probably were far beyond from what these images show us. In that time the Egyptian diet was composed by wine, beer, honey and bread, and differently from farmers, who would spend their day working under the sun, royals did not spend enough time doing physical activities. Many mummies were found to be obese and overweight, as the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut, who suffered from diabetes. 

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