Cairo city, capital of Egypt, and one of the largest cities in Africa. Cairo has stood for more than 1,000 years on the same site on the banks of the Nile, primarily on the eastern shore, some 500 miles (800 km) downstream from the Aswān High Dam. Located in the northeast of the country, Cairo is the gateway to the Nile delta, where the lower Nile separates into the Rosetta and Damietta branches. Metropolitan Cairo is made up of the Cairo muḥāfazah (governorate), as well as other districts, some of which belong to neighbouring governorates such as Al-Jīzah and Qalūbiyyah. Area governorate, 83 square miles (214 square km). Pop. (2006) governorate, 7,786,640; (2005 est.) urban agglom., 11,128,000.
Cairo is a place of physical contrast. Along the well-irrigated shoreline, lush vegetation shares the landscape with tall skyscrapers. In the older inland quarters to the east, however, beneath the foothills of the Eastern Desert and the rocky promontories of the Muqaam Hills and the Al-Jabal al-Amar (Arabic: Red Mountain), browns and ochres are the dominant hues of land and buildings.
The city juxtaposes ancient and new, East and West. The Pyramids of Giza, near Memphis, stand at the southwestern edge of the metropolis, and an obelisk in the northeast marks the site of Heliopolis, where Plato once studied; modern landmarks of Western-style high-rise hotels and apartment buildings overlook the Nile River.
Between these extremes are other architectural monuments, dating from Roman, Arab, and Turkish times. In addition to department stores, cinemas, hotels, and town houses, Cairo contains a large functioning bazaar and an extensive, semi-walled medieval city endowed with more than 400 registered historic monuments—including mosques, mausoleums, and massive stone gates—dating to 130 ce.
Cairo is fan-shaped, narrowest in the south, where the river valley is wedged between desert escarpments, and widest in the north, where the valley blends into the delta. Over the centuries the city expanded westward, as a receding river channel left land flood-free. In response to heightened demand, however, the city also has been elongated to the north and south and has developed an expanding annex on the Nile’s western shore.
Cairo has only two seasons: approximately eight months of summer and four months of winter. In the hottest of the summer months—June, July, and August—the average daily maximum temperature is 95 °F (35 °C), and the average daily minimum is 70 °F (21 °C). The summer temperature has reached as high as 117 °F (47 °C). During winter the strong Tropic of Cancer sun makes for warm, dry days, but nights are cool and humid, often freshened by breezes from the Nile. The average daily maximum temperature in January–February is 67 °F (19 °C), and the average daily minimum is 47 °F (8.5 °C). "Egypt" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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