World History

How does the Nile River impact today's Egyptians?
Answered by HowStuffWorks
  • HowStuffWorks

    HowStuffWorks

  1. Although most of Egypt consists of sandy terrain, it remains the second-most-populated African country, thanks to the Nile. The Nile River Valley has an average of 3,820 people in each square mile, ranking it as one of the world's most densely populated areas, and some 95 percent of the population of Egypt lives near the Nile's banks. Agriculture is still very dependent on the river, with top crops of citrus fruits, cotton, legumes, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat. Riverboat tours of the Nile are a popular tourist attraction, and dams are being built in order to harness the Nile's potential for generating hydroelectric power.

    The scenario may not be entirely a rosy one for Egypt and its life along the Nile. The Nile River is under increasing agricultural pressure from Egypt's neighboring countries to the south, Ethiopia and Sudan. The latter countries are upstream of Egypt, and have the lion's share of the Nile on their land. Their increasing food requirements for growing populations have put a strain on the water supplied by the river. It's unclear how this competition for the Nile's resources will resolve itself [source: New York Times].

    The Nile, of course, has long been a source of sustenance, all the way back to ancient Egyptian civilization. Just look again at where Egypt is situated - - amid lots and lots of sand. Usually, such a location is hardly conducive to a thriving ancient civilization. How could a people, no matter how advanced, grow crops and raise livestock among sand dunes? Nevertheless, ancient Egyptian civilization was able to thrive due to the Nile River. Every year, the water in the Nile rose and filled carefully engineered canals. This yearly inundation in July was enough to nourish crops all year. And when the water receded every October, it left behind rich sediment, which was used for fertilizing the crops. In addition, the Nile was used as a source of drinking water and as the chief waterway of the entire region, allowing communication and trade to flourish.

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