Our guide did tell us that American tourists, few in number as they are compared to other nationalities, get the most protection since our government demanded it or tourist warnings on travel to Egypt would be instituted by the State Department. Most Americans take those warnings very seriously and do not travel in places considered dangerous. While we were a little discomfited by the number of armed men we saw, none of us confessed to feeling uneasy after a couple of days in Egypt. It appeared we were being protected as much as possible, but I am glad that I did not read about the attack in 1997 before we went on our visit since the details of that attack revealed that the murderers were dressed in the uniforms of the Tourist Police! Besides occasional outbreaks of violence by the country's fundamentalists who want Egypt to be an Islamist state, the nation does face other constant problems. Most of these are due to the strange and basically hostile terrain it occupies. The most threatening of these natural events are droughts, frequent earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, hot driving windstorms, dust storms and sandstorms. All these help to increase soil loss and desertification. Human-caused problems include pollution of the Nile, their only source of water, and loss of fertile land due to the burgeoning population which creates a demand for housing and the consequent loss of former farmlands. H ISTORICAL T IMELINE Egypt has been a recognized and unified country for 5,110 years! It is generally recognized as the oldest continuous civilization and country in existence. Because of that longevity, a short history is really an impossibility. But for convenience, a timeline will be provided for the sites we saw. Of course there were people living in Egypt before Narmer, the first Pharaoh, united the kingdoms of Lower and Upper Egypt into a single nation, but this timeline will begin with Narmer. Upper and Lower Egypt had different crowns for their kings before Narmer united them and combined the crowns into one. The designations for the two parts are confusing since they seem paradoxical. Upper Egypt is the part of the country closest to the source of the Nile, Lake Victoria. Lower Egypt is the part closest to the Mediterranean, the delta of the Nile. Upper Egypt's crown was shaped rather like a bowling pin and was white in color while the crown of Lower Egypt was red and shaped like a wide-mouthed vase.
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