Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa and the Middle East. The Egyptian capital houses an enormous collection of archeological treasures in the Egyptian Museum and the pyramids west of the city are also a tourist attraction. Cairo is also the operating base for trips south to visit other pyramids and temples of the days of the pharaohs.
The city itself has almost 7 million inhabitants, but the urban area stretches out over a huge area. Over 16 million people live in the entire metropolitan area.
Cairo is located on the Nile River in the northern part of the country, known as Lower Egypt. The Mediterranean lies 165 kilometers north; the Suez Canal runs 120 kilometers east of Cairo. Just north of the Egyptian capital the Nile River splits up into several rivers: the extensive Nile Delta.
Cairo is the economic, commercial, cultural, social and political heart of Egypt. Two-thirds of the national income is earned here. Tourism is an important pillar of the economy. The country also earns money with arms traffic, oil sales, production of apparel and food processing. There was and is a lot of construction in Cairo. This explosion of construction has fallen out of step with utilities such as water and electricity. There are entire neighborhoods where these basic facilities are not or barely present.
The Egyptian capital's airport, Cairo International Airport, is situated 22 kilometers northeast of the city center. The construction of a new toll road has made the airport easily reachable by rental car from the beltway around Cairo. The way to the airport is clearly signposted.
Cairo has an extensive network of buses, but they are often packed and the destination is also not always clear. Taxis are a better option. There are two types of taxis: black/white taxis without a meter for which you need to negotiate a price with the driver (serious bargaining), and the yellow taxis which do have a meter. There are also subways (two lines), but except for Old Cairo (also Coptic Cairo) few tourist places of interest lie along the subway route.
Driving in Cairo is not for those who aren't used to chaos as this is the best way to describe the traffic in the Egyptian capital: a crisscross of cars, buses, motorbikes and other means of transportation with drivers who don't care about signs or rules. Strangely enough parking isn't a big problem: Egyptians simply double- or triple-park their car, leaving their doors unlocked. There are always unofficial parking attendants around who not only guard the cars, but also move them when necessary.
Cairo has an enormous choice of accommodations. In the city center you'll mainly find budget hotels, some of dubious quality. Luxury hotels can be found on the Nile, on Zamalek Island and in the district Garden City, south of the city center. In the last years, many midrange hotels have sprung up in Midan Ramses (around the station of the same name).
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