Egypt, where the army on Wednesday ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, has been rocked by massive political protests, an economic crisis and security problems.
GEOGRAPHY: The Arab Republic of Egypt is located on Africa’s northeast corner, with the Sinai peninsula bridging over into Asia. Washed to the north by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Red Sea, with the Nile running down the centre, Egypt borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and Israel and the Gaza Strip to the east.
AREA: 997,738 square kilometres (385,228 square miles).
POPULATION: The Arab world’s most populous country with 80.7 million inhabitants (World Bank, 2012)
RELIGION: Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslim. Islam is the state religion. Coptic Christians make up six to 10 percent of the population.
HISTORY: After a period of British rule, Egypt gained independence in 1922 under the reign of King Fuad I.
In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the king and a republic was declared on June 18, 1953, headed by Mohamed Naguib. Nasser became president in 1956, the same year the Suez Canal was nationalised.
After Nasser’s death in 1970, his vice president Anwar Sadat took over as president. Sadat became the first Arab head of state to sign a peace treaty with Israel (1979). He was assassinated two years later by Islamists.
Hosni Mubarak became president in 1981 and was driven from office in a popular revolt on February 11, 2011 and handed power to the military, led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Morsi, who won 51.73 percent of the presidential vote, was sworn in on June 30, 2012.
On Wednesday the army toppled him after a week of bloodshed that killed nearly 50 people as millions took to the streets to demand an end to his turbulent single year of rule.
Armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also announced a freezing of the Islamist-drafted constitution and early presidential elections.
POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: A presidential system, with the president serving four-year terms. Egypt has a bicameral legislature, with The People’s Assembly being responsible for passing laws and supervising the government.
In March, 2011, a limited revision of the constitution was adopted by referendum, opening the way to a return to civilian rule after legislative and presidential elections.
Islamists emerged as winners of the legislative elections, carrying off more than two thirds of the parliamentary seats. Almost half went to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamist-dominated Shura Council, Egypt’s traditionally toothless upper house took over legislative duties after parliament dissolved in June 2012.
Since early 2011, Egypt’s economy has taken a hit due to a decrease in tourism and a collapse of foreign exchange reserves and investment.
For several months the International Monetary Fund and Egypt have been in negotiations for a $4.8 billion aid plan, but talks have slowed down due to political uncertainty.
Gross domestic product: $257.3 billion (World Bank, 2012).
Income per capita: $3,000 (World Bank, 2012).
Growth: two percent (World Bank, 2012).
Oil: Egypt currently produces more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day. Proven oil reserves stood at 4.07 billion barrels in 2011, putting Egypt in sixth place in Africa.
Gas: About 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year.
Tourism: Revenues of the key sector have plunged over the past two years. Unemployment: 12.7 percent in 2012.
Currency: Egyptian pound.
MILITARY: 438,500 active soldiers, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. 397,000 paramilitaries.