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Egypt, officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a medium-size country by global standards, with a total land area of just over 387,000 square miles.  The country is located primarily in North Africa, save for the famous Sinai Peninsula that forms a land bridge into Southwest Asia.  Considered a major power in Africa and the Middle East, Egypt is bordered to the north by the Mediterranean Sea, to the northeast by the Gaza Strip and Israel, to the south by Sudan and to the west by Libya.  The capital and largest city in Egypt is Cairo.
 
The majority Of Egypt’s large population lives along the banks of the Nile River, in an area of approximately 15,000 square miles.  This is the only arable land in the entire country, as much of the remainder of Egypt’s total land space is comprised of the expansive Sahara Desert, which is very sparsely populated.
 
With just over 81 million people in the country, Egypt is the third largest country in Africa by population, and the largest country in the Middle East.  Native Egyptians, who account for 91 percent of the population, are easily the largest ethnic group in the country, with minority groups that include small numbers of Abazas, Greeks, Turks and Bedouin Arab nomad tribes, living mostly in the eastern deserts.  Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Egypt and is used in all official capacities, but the languages spoken most commonly by the Egyptian people include Egyptian Arabic (68%), Sa’idi Arabic (29%) and Egyptian Bedouin Arabic (1.6%)—the primary language of the Bedouin tribes.  English, French, German and some Italian are the most commonly taught languages in Egyptian schools.  The state religion of Egypt is Islam, and the majority of the Egyptian people are Sunni Muslims.  There is also a significant minority who practice Christianity, most of whom belong to the Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
 
Education in Egypt
 
The education system in Egypt is the largest in the Middle East, a system that has grown rapidly since the mid 1990s.  Education is overseen by the national government and consists of three distinct stages:  the basic education level, for students between the ages of 4 and 14; the secondary school stage, a three-year program for students 15-17 years of age; and the tertiary or higher education stage.  The eleven-year elementary or basic education level is broken down further into three stages:  kindergarten (2 years), primary school (6 years) and preparatory school (3 years).  Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14, and free at all levels in the state-run schools.
 
Schools at each level of the Egyptian school system offer a broad academic curriculum, beginning with basic reading, writing and mathematics in kindergarten and the early primary grades.  These subjects are later accompanied by courses in science, Egyptian and World History, geography, social studies, art, music and physical education.
 
Higher education in Egypt consists of both public and private universities, where academic and professional programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  According to the World Bank, there is a wide divide in educational attainment between the rich and poor families in the country, but according to recent reports, the newly formed government—a government that has replaced the old regime since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011—is striving to improve access to higher education for all eligible students—just one of the many goals of the new Egyptian administration.

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