Egypt's economic spectrum has great diversity, including involvement with agriculture, textiles and some industry.
GDP per capita
World average: -45%.
MENA rank: 14 of 23.
MENA rank: 4 of 23.
All other figures
2.8 points of 10 max.
World rank: 111 of 180.
MENA rank: 12 of 21.
World rank: 114 of 181.
MENA rank: 13 of 21.
58.0 points of 100 max.
World rank: 97 of 179.
MENA rank: 11 of 19.
|Value of Currency
Egypt has had a very strong economic growth in recent years, a situation that continues even as of 2005, with a growth in GDP of 4.5% divided on a population growth of 1.8%.
In recent years, Egyptian bureaucracy has been slimmed to facilitate national activities and foreign investments. While exporters earlier had to deal with several state authorities, they now only need to face one.
But despite the positive growth, Egypt still exhibits extreme differences between rich and poor, and is by any standard still to be considered a poor country. However, a growing number of the inhabitants can be considered as middle class or rich.
Egypt is grossly overpopulated, and there is neither sufficient agricultural land, nor water resources to sustain the ever increasing population currently estimated at about 70 million. Even if there is considerable growth in many parts of the Egyptian economy at the present, most observers regard overpopulation as the country's largest problem, and it is little addressed by the authorities. Egypt is largely dependent upon foreign aid, and remittances from citizens working abroad in oil-rich countries.
Egypt at the time of the fall of king Faruk, was heavily dependent upon agriculture. From 1952 to 1970, the governments initiated aggressive programs to change this, but little importance was given to private capitalistic enterprise. Egypt had earlier received much aid from the Soviet Union, and other Arab nations. The Soviet Union lost its influence in 1972, resulting from Egypt's own initiative. Rich Arab countries cut off aid to Egypt in 1979, after the peace treaty with Israel. Today, the USA is the most important aid donor.
Egyptian efforts to industrialize the country started in the 19th century, under the rule of Muhammed Ali. Machines and technology were imported, often at a high cost, but gradually local industries developed. By World War 1, textile industries had gained a strong foothold. Today, Egypt's industry includes, in addition to the dominant textile industry, production of cement, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizers, rubber products, refined sugar, tobacco, canned foods, cottonseed oil, small metal products, shoes and furniture.
Mining has become more important in the last 20 years. Products like crude petroleum, salt, phosphate, iron and manganese are extracted.
Energy is no big problem in Egypt. The country is self-sufficient with petroleum, and has smaller deposits of coal and natural gas. The Aswan Dam provides most of the electric power used.
Income from the Suez Canal brings in about 2 billion US$, contributing to 5% of GNP. This source of income is slightly threatened, and could be reduced in the years to come.
Agriculture and Fishing
The Nile Valley and the delta region covers only 4% of the total land area, equalling 40,000 km², or about as much as Denmark, with 5 million inhabitants. The northern coast receives very little rain, about 200 mm yearly, but this is still far more than further south. The oases, principally to the west of the Nile, draw their water from large underground water aquifers which are remnants of an ancient course of the Nile which ran further to the west. These resources were once overestimated in government reports, and large development schemes were started. The resources will apparently not last more than 100 years, and old ambitions have been abandoned, leaving many unfinished projects behind.
Agriculture brings in about 18% of the GNP, and employs less and less people. Even if working methods are traditional, and labour intensive, the yields are among the highest compared to the land size. This has been slightly reduced with the construction of the Aswan Dam, which has as a negative effect the fact that it does not allow the silt from the upper Nile to be transported down the river. The growth of cities has resulted in a reduction of arable land, and reclamation efforts have merely managed to keep pace with land being lost.
Egypt imports about half of its food, mostly because so much of the arable land is used for cotton production, of which Egypt is the world's largest exporter. Egypt's agriculture produces corn, sugarcane, wheat, rice, barley, millet, onions, potatoes, vegetables, mangoes, citrus fruits, figs, dates and grapes.
Fishing in Egypt plays a minor role, but its importance has increased in recent years. The level is about 5 kg fish/capita.
Militant Islamists have had a strong and negative effect on tourism to Egypt, as their violent actions have killed hundreds of innocent people and injured even more. This has had a dramatic effect on tourism in Egypt since the mid-1990's.
Tourists, however, have started to return to Egypt in the early 2000's, and the country now has about 2,5 million tourists, each spending an average of about US$1,100. This amounts to 6% of GNP.