Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in Africa with a name that means "the victorious city". It is located on both banks of the River Nile near the head of the river\'s delta in northern Egypt and has been settled for more than 6000 years serving as the capital of numerous Egyptian civilizations. Cairo is known locally as "Misr" the Arabic name for Egypt because of its centrality in Egyptian life.
Greater Cairo is spread across three of Egypt\'s administrative governorates. The northeastern part is known as Kaliobia Governorate while the west bank is part of the governorate of Giza and the eastern parts and southeastern parts are another governorates known as Cairo the three parts are known together as greater Cairo. The city is marked by the traditions and influences of the East and the West the ancient and the modern. However the city also reflects Egypt\'s growing poverty and it struggles to cope with problems caused by massive population growth urban sprawl and a deteriorating infrastructure.
The city of Cairo covers an area of more than 453 sq km (more than 175 sqm) though it is difficult to separate the city from some of its immediate suburbs. Bracketed by the desert to the east south and west and bounded by the fertile Nile delta to the north Cairo sits astride the river though it spreads farther on the east bank than the west. Cairo also includes several river islands which play an important role in the life of the city. As the region\'s principal commercial administrative and tourist center Cairo contains many cultural institutions business establishments governmental offices universities and hotels which together create a dense pattern of constant activity.
The center of downtown Cairo in Tahrir Square located along the east bank. A hub of tourist activity the vast and open square contains numerous attractions including the Egyptian Museum the Arab League headquarters and the modern Umar Makram Mosque. Cairo\'s main thoroughfare Corniche extends from north to south along the east bank of the Nile. Located nearby is the narrow strip of land known as Garden City one of the city\'s newer residential areas. In the center of the city is the river island of Zamalek (also called Jezerah meaning "the Island") which contains the upscale residential and commercial neighborhood also known as Zamalek the Cairo Opera House (founded in 1869) and the Cairo Tower (1961). Three bridges link the island with both banks of the river. The island of Al-Rodah located to the south is linked to the mainland by two additional bridges while another bridge to the north carries road and rail traffic across the Nile.
Outside the city\'s central area on the east bank spanning from the northeast to the southeast are the neighborhoods of Islamic Cairo. These neighborhoods are known for their narrow streets crowded markets (bazaars) and hundreds of Mosques many dating back to the medieval period. South of the Islamic district is Old Cairo where some of the city\'s oldest architectural monuments can be found. Old Cairo is the home of Cairo\'s Coptic Christian community and the site of the Coptic Museum plus a number of Coptic churches.
The irrigation of Cairo\'s desert periphery has allowed for the development of suburbs such as Heliopolis located to the northeast. Other modern suburbs are interspersed with recently created migrant neighborhoods that accommodate the city\'s growing population. Industrial areas further crowd the city restricting its growth. An international airport serves Cairo situated approximately 24 km (about 15 m) northeast of the city; the Ramses railway station and the bus terminal are located near downtown Cairo.
Cairo is the chief commercial and industrial center of Egypt. Local industries manufacture cotton textiles food products construction supplies motor vehicles aircraft and chemical fertilizers. Iron and steel are produced in the south just outside the city. Cairo is also a center for government activities and service industries. Because of the city\'s warm climate and numerous historical and cultural attractions tourism plays an important role in its economy. Cairo receives goods shipped on the Nile at the river port located at the northern end of the city. From Cairo products are sent by road railroad and waterway to the Mediterranean ports of Alexandria and Port Said. The city is connected by train service to other major cities. Traffic congestion is a growing problem in Cairo but it is the only city in the Middle East and Africa that has a subway. This system opened in the city in 1987 for the first time carrying about 2 million passengers every day. Lately a second line has been opened this linked the old line with the western superb in the west bank (Giza) The third line is still under construction which will connect Cairo airport to the city center and finish in the busy suburb of Imbaba.
In 1998 Cairo was estimated to have a population of 16 million. The people of Cairo are known as Cairenes; nearly all of them are Egyptians with a small number of foreigners. The city is an important center of the Islamic faith and Cairenes are predominantly Sunni Muslims; however the city is also home to a sizable Coptic community which traces its origins to the Christians who populated Cairo before the arrival of Islam. Cairo\'s population swells daily as workers flow into the city from the surrounding area clogging roads and rail lines every morning and evening. Many Cairenes are recent arrivals from villages along the Nile. These rural migrants arrive with few skills or resources and compound the existing problems of unemployment and scarce housing.
Education And Culture
The most famous educational institution in Cairo is the Al-Azhar University the oldest in the Islamic world. The institution has developed around the Al-Azhar Mosque the oldest Mosque in Cairo. The Fatimid founded both the university and Mosque in 970. Al-Azhar University is an authoritative voice throughout the Islamic world and its positions on important issues are influential in Egypt and the Arab world. Other institutions of higher education include Cairo University (founded in 1908) and Ain Shams University (1950) which together enrolls more than 100 000 students; and the American University in Cairo founded in 1919 where the children of Egypt\'s elite mingle with students and faculty from abroad. Egyptian history is displayed and preserved in the city\'s numerous Museum collections. The Egyptian Museum (Founded in 1902) contains hundreds of thousands of artifacts including more than 1700 pieces from the collection of Tutankhamen. The Museum of Islamic Arts (1881) contains a vast collection relating to early Islamic civilization and the Coptic Museum (1910) traces the history of the Coptic community in Egypt. Other Cairo Museums maintain collections relating to more modern themes; these range from the El-Gawhara Palace Museum built in 1811 in the Ottoman style to the Mahmoud Khalil Museum founded in 1963 which contains works by Vincent Van Gogh Paul Gauguin Peter Paul Rubens and other European and Egyptian painters of renown.