To validate the authenticity of a US Arab Chamber of Commerce™ stamp
The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations.
A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia.
The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines.
It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries.
A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517.
Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt.
Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914.
Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952.
The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt.
A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society.
The government has struggled to meet the demands of Egypt's growing population through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.
Occupying the northeast corner of the African continent, Egypt is bisected by the highly fertile Nile valley, where most economic activity takes place.
Egypt's economy was highly centralized during the rule of former President Gamal Abdel NASSER but has opened up considerably under former President Anwar EL-SADAT and current President Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK.
Cairo has aggressively pursued economic reforms to encourage inflows of foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth.
In 2005, Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF's government reduced personal and corporate tax rates, reduced energy subsidies, and privatized several enterprises. The stock market boomed, and GDP grew about 7% each year since 2006.
Despite these achievements, the government has failed to raise living standards for the average Egyptian, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities. The subsidies have contributed to a sizeable budget deficit - roughly 7% of GDP in 2007-08 - and represent a significant drain on the economy.Trade in Goods Chart
Foreign direct investment has increased significantly in the past two years, but the NAZIF government will need to continue its aggressive pursuit of reforms in order to sustain the spike in investment and growth and begin to improve economic conditions for the broader population. Egypt's export sectors - particularly natural gas - have bright prospects.