Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic center. With a population of 5,200,000, Alexandria is the largest city on the Mediterranean, the sixth-largest city in the Arab world and the ninth-largest in Africa. The city extends about 40 km at the northern coast of Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea. Alexandria is a popular tourist destination, and also an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. One of Egypt’s largest cities, Alexandria is also its principal seaport and a major industrial centre. Alexandria was founded in c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great, king of Macedon and leader of the Greek League of Corinth, during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. An Egyptian village named Rhacotis existed at the location and grew into the Egyptian quarter of Alexandria. Alexandria grew rapidly to become an important center of Hellenistic civilization and remained the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt and Roman and Byzantine Egypt for almost 1,000 years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat . Hellenistic Alexandria was best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria , one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its Great Library ; and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The city was a major center of early Christianity and was the center of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which was one of the major centers of Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire. In the modern world, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria both lay claim to this ancient heritage. Following the Arab conquest of Egypt in AD 641, the city was plundered and lost its significance before re-emerging in the modern era. From the late 18th century, Alexandria became a major center of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centers in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.
Data and Facts
- Although it was discovered by chance in 1997, the Gabbari necropolis is one of the largest in the world and dates back to 3 B.C.
- Although the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed, a new library called the Biblioteca Alexandrina was completed in 2002 with a reading room that can accommodate 2,500 readers and eight million books
- Alexandria has the oldest tram system in Africa dating back to 1860, making it one of the oldest in the world as well
- Eratosthenes first calculated the circumference of the earth in Alexandria by measuring how far camels traveled through the desert. Alexandria was also home to other famous mathematicians such as Euclid
- Alexandria is the largest port in the country and has a total of four harbors. The Western Harbor alone handles 60-70% of the entire country’s imports and exports
The Alexandria City Council is composed of a Mayor and six Council members who are elected at-large for three-year terms. The Mayor, who is chosen on a separate ballot, presides over meetings of the Council and serves as the ceremonial head of government.The City of Alexandria has a strong commitment to citizen participation as evidenced by the number of citizen boards and commissions established by City Council. These bodies compose a formal system through which citizens can advise City Council on all major issues affecting the City. Alexandria voters elect a Mayor and City Council and three local officers, as well as state and federal representatives.
The liquidation of municipal autonomy was the prelude to an increasingly centralized control of urban administration through the governorate. Since the revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952, the president of the republic has appointed the governor, who is assisted by an elected local council; the governorate is responsible to the Ministry of Local Affairs.
In terms of city services, Alexandria is generally on a par with other urban governorates of Egypt, providing electricity and pure drinking water to all but a small percentage of homes. However, pollution of the beaches is a continuing health hazard. The city has been blamed for pumping vast quantities of sewage into the Mediterranean, although efforts have been made to control the release of untreated effluent.
Alexandrians receive medical services at a number of private and public clinics and hospitals; among these are the Alexandria Fever Hospital and a medical complex in Al-Shāṭibī providing pediatric and gynecological care.
Alexandria’s industrial and commercial activities—manufacturing, shipping, warehousing, banking, food processing, and the production of petrochemicals and cement—indicate the importance of the city’s output for the national economy. Alexandria and its environs account for roughly two-fifths of Egypt’s industrial production. Most industrial development has taken place in the western approaches to the city, around the more modern Western Harbour and along its southern flank; industry is the city’s chief employment sector.
The area around the port known as Mīnāʾ al-Baṣal contains warehouses and was once home to the Cotton Exchange. Farther to the west is Al-Maks, with its salt and tanning industries, an oil refinery, a cement works, and, farther on, the limestone quarries. Other industrial development has taken place still farther west in Al-Dukhaylah. To the south lies the area of Al-ʿAmiriyyah, the site of two more refineries, including the Middle East Oil Refinery , which was designed to meet stringent environmental standards. Lighter industry is concentrated on the banks of the Al-Maḥmūdiyyah Canal.
In one such project implemented near Alexandria, the Egyptian government has aimed to encourage food production and divert job seekers from overcrowded urban areas by offering graduates of universities and other institutes of higher education parcels of reclaimed land, which they are able to purchase using long-term loans.
Europe’s increasing demand for cotton—introduced into Egypt in the 1820s—was by the 1840s contributing substantially to the city’s wealth. As a result, Alexandria became an increasingly important centre for banking and commerce. The Alexandria Stock Exchange, founded in 1883, was followed by the Cairo Stock Exchange in 1903; they eventually linked their operations and continued as the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges .
Egypt’s economy is the most varied of the Middle East economies, where sectors of tourism, agriculture, industry and service contribute at almost equal rates in the national production. Consequently, Egypt’s economy is picking up development at increasing rates, based on a climate luring investments represented in proper legislation, convenient policy, internal stability, and trade and market liberalisation. This is besides what Egypt possesses a solid infrastructure of transportation, communication, energy sources, skillful manpower, modern industrial communities, banking system and stock market.
Egypt possesses industrial wealth, which is constantly enhanced by the government's efforts. Three new factories are set up daily and 75 industrial zones spread throughout the country with 20,000 factories according to recent statistics, and scores of thousands of workshops that produce manufactured products using highly sophisticated technologies. Alexandria is the first Egyptian trading city. It is the hub, where imports and exports are transported through Egypt's # 1 seaport corresponding to over 40% of the trading traffic of goods as well as vessels. Availability of infrastructure across all areas, e.g. roads transportation, communications, electricity, water and sewage networks. Availability of a large number of operational companies and plants offered for sale . Availability of human resources and experienced calibers of young graduates of all specialties. Access to the International Northern Coastal Road.
King Marriout area, which is characterized by its healthy dry climate that is suitable for starting businesses such as spas and specialized hospitals. Tourist villages and their investment throughout the year. Access to two international airports in Alexandria to provide services to the city, which increases investment opportunities and facilitates the traffic of imports and exports. Availability of agricultural projects on lands allocated to young graduates. The private sector, which, based on experience, has proven that it is the driver that is most capable of achieving economic growth rates and leadership in investment.
Industrial activities are centered in areas including Muharram Bey, Kabbari, Al Seyouf, Al Ras Al Souda, Abu Sulaiman, Hagar-Al Nowateya, Al Tabiya, Abu Qir, Borg Al Arab and the western area of Alexandria.The most fundamental industrial investments include chemicals, metallurgy, leather, electricals, engineering, textiles, cement and oil industries.Alexandria is renowned as a distinctive tourist appealing destination given its outstanding location, moderate climate, and architectural style and elegance. Alexandria features ancient archaeological genuineness, contemporary architectural aesthetics, beauty of nature, unique peculiar beaches. It brings together the majestic fragrance of the past with the hippy pleasures of the city. Tourists are offered an opportunity to experience this exquisite blend, where there are about 41 tourist attractions to meet the needs of tourists of diverse interests. The tourism sector includes a variety of Quick Links including leisure, religious, medical, sports, yachts, festivals, exhibitions, and conferences tourism areas.The most popular religious tourist attractions include Abul Abbas Mosque, Al Busayri Mosque, Mar Mina Monastery, Church of St. Mark, Pompey's Pillar, and Kum Al Shukafa Cemetery. Popular archaeological sites include the Roman Amphitheater and Qait Bey Citadel. Recently, the revived Library of Alexandria, or Bibliotheca Alexandrina, has become a phenomenal cultural landmark in Alexandria.The total area of farmed land in Alexandria is about 162.1k acres, in addition to 133k acres of arable land.
Alexandria is linked to other Egyptian cities by railway, road, and air service. It also is connected by canal with the Nile. Transport within the city is provided by tram service, as well as a system of taxis and buses. The main rail link to Cairo has been upgraded several times, and Alexandria is also the terminus for the rail line that runs to Al-Sallūm on the Libyan border. The Alexandria-Cairo desert highway is one of Egypt’s best roads; it has relieved pressure on the agricultural route through the delta region as well as encouraging desert development. Air transport services generally operate to Cairo, though a number of international carriers have begun service out of Alexandria as well. Severe limitations constricted the capacity for expansion of the old airport at Nuzhah, which was built on land reclaimed from Lake Maryūṭ; as a result, an airport located some 30 miles southwest of the city at Burj al-ʿArab was opened to receive international flights in 2000. Another international airport, funded by private investment and designed to attract European tourists to Egypt’s Mediterranean beaches, opened at Al-ʿAlamayn in 2005.More than half of Egypt’s foreign trade passes through the city’s two main commercial harbours, Alexandria and nearby Al-Dukhaylah. Much of the country’s oil, gas, and cotton are exported through these ports, as are traditional items such as fruits, vegetables, perfumes, and a variety of finished goods. By far the largest import is grain. Improvements have been implemented to relieve congestion, which can be severe. Egypt’s dependence on Alexandria’s ports has diminished somewhat with the opening of new container-handling facilities at Damietta and the development of ports along the coast of the Red Sea.
The city's principal airport is currently Borg El Arab Airport, which is located about 25 km away from the city center. Alexandria port consists of two harbours separated by a T-shaped peninsula. The East harbour is shallow and is not navigable by large vessels. The West harbour is used for commercial shipping. The harbour is formed by two converging breakwaters. Muhammad Ali of Egypt issued the order to restore and partly retrace the freshwater canal from the Nile upon his ascension to power. On its completion in 1820 it was named the Mahmoudiyah Canal. Under Muhammad Ali's rule, Alexandria shipyard was founded.
During World War I, the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that took part in the Gallipoli Campaign used the established port of Alexandria as its main base for troops and supplies bound for the landing at Cape Helles. By the late 20th century sea trade through the Port of Alexandria was exceeding its capacity. A new port was built at El-Dekheila during the 1980s with facilities for container shipping and infrastructure to serve the nearby steel factory. In addition to the Port of Dekheila and the Western Port of Alexandria, the city's ports include those at Abu Qir and Sidi Krer, as well as Alexandria's old Eastern Port which is no longer used for shipping freight.Egypt has a total of 15 commercial ports along the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. Alexandria Port, controlled by the Alexandria Port Authority, is the country's largest and it handles approximately 55% of Egypt's international trade. The network begins at the El Raml district in the west and ends in the Victoria district in the east. Most of the vehicles are blue in color. Some smaller yellow-colored vehicles have further routes beyond the two main endpoints. The tram routes have one of four numbers: 1, 2, 5, and 6. All four start at El Raml, but only two reach Victoria. There are two converging and diverging points. The first starts at Bolkly and ends at San Stefano. The other begins at Sporting and ends at Mostafa Kamel. Route 5 starts at San Stefano and takes the inner route to Bolkly. Route 6 starts at Sidi Gaber El Sheikh on the outer route between Sporting and Mustafa Kamel. Route 1 takes the inner route between San Stefano and Bolkly and the outer route between Sporting and Mustafa Kamel. Route 2 takes the route opposite to Route 1 in both these areas. The tram fares are 50 piastres , and 100 piastres for the middle car.
The Egyptian information and communications technology sector has been growing significantly since it was separated from the transportation sector. The telecommunications market was officially deregulated since the beginning of 2006 according to the WTO agreement.
The government established ITIDA through Law 15 of the year 2004 as governmental entity. This agency aims at paving the way for the diffusion of the e-business services in Egypt capitalizing on different mandates of the authority as activating the Egyptian e-signature law and supporting an export-oriented IT sector in Egypt. While the move could open the market for new entrants, add and improve the infrastructure for its network, and in general create a competitive market, the fixed line market is de facto monopolized by Telecom Egypt.
The cellular phone market was a duopoly with prices artificially high but witnessed in the past couple of years the traditional price war between the incumbents Mobinil and Vodafone. A 500 minutes outbound local and long distance calling plan currently costs approximately US$30 as compared to approximately US$90 in 2005. While the current price is not so expensive, it is still above the international price as plans never allow «unlimited night & weekend minutes.» A third GSM 3.5G license was awarded in April 2006 for US$3 billion to a consortium led by the UAE company Eitesalat , Egypt Post , the National Bank of Egypt , and the NBE's Commercial International Bank , thus moving the market from duopoly to oligopoly.
On 24 September 2006, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority announced a license award to Egyptian-Arab private sector consortium of companies to extend a maritime cable for international traffic. The US$120 million cable project will serve the Gulf region and south Europe. The construction of the cable should decrease the currently high international call costs and increase domestic demand on internet broadband services, in importantly increase exports of international telecommunication services of Egyptian companies, mostly in the Smart Village. It is expected that NTRA will award two licenses for international gateways using open technology and deploy WiMax technology enabling the delivery of last-mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to ADSL.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Though Arabic-speaking Egyptians represent the vast majority of the city’s population, Alexandria was once home to a polyglot foreign community made up principally of immigrants from other Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Italy, Syria, and France; for this community—and for most educated Egyptians—French was the lingua franca. This community, which represented about one-tenth of the population in 1947, virtually disappeared following the widespread nationalization of industries and services of the Nasser era and the concentration of state investment and administration in Cairo, the capital city. Most Alexandrians, like most Egyptians, are Sunni Muslims; the city’s Christian minority consists mainly of members of the indigenous church of Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Alexandria's 2020 population is now estimated at 5,280,664. In 1950, the population of Alexandria was 1,037,462. Alexandria has grown by 491,302 since 2015, which represents a 1.97% annual change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Alexandria, which typically includes Alexandria's population in addition to adjacent suburban areas. At last count, the population was nearing 5.17 million by November of 2017; previously exceeding 4.9 million at the end of 2016. Alexandria comes in with a population density of 4,800 people per square mile. The area that Alexandria covers comes to approximately 2,679 square kilometers in total.
The primary religions practiced in the city of Alexandria are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Most residents are Sunni Muslims. The city has seen significant population growth throughout its history, primarily attributed to high birth rates and migration from rural areas. The majority of the residents speak Arabic. Most people that live in Alexandria are native Egyptians, although there are also residents originally from Germany, Italy and other European countries. The climate is considered temperate with average lows ranging close to 45 degrees F and summer temperatures reaching toward 90 degrees F thanks to the proximity of the sea and associated humidity.
The city of Alexandria has seen significant growth throughout the years, due to its essential role as an economic center of Egypt. The city has also become known as one that has a laid-back culture, making it appealing to immigrants. Because of the city’s culture, history and commerce, the population is expected to continue to grow, with the next milestone of 5 million residents just over the horizon. Today, Alexandria is the site of many ancient and historical landmarks. It is also home to many religious buildings, as well as higher education colleges and universities. The city has two airports, many highways, an intra city commuter rail, four ports, a variety of museums, and is also a popular tourist destination.