Demography and economic geography. – State of Northeast Africa. According to the 2006 census, the country had reached 72,798,031 residents, continuing an uninterrupted growth that began since the end of the monarchy (22 million residents in 1952). A sustained growth that continued in the years following the census: in 2014 83,386,739 residents were estimated, according to an estimate by UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), with an average annual growth of 1.8% in the 2006-14 period. It is the most populous country in the Mediterranean basin and is the 15th on a planetary scale, destined, according to UN projections, to reach one hundred million by 2020. The growth is attributable to the birth rate which, although it has gradually decreased to at 23.5 ‰ (2012; in 1994 it was 27.9 ‰), it generates, in the face of a very low mortality (4.8 ‰), a positive natural balance, supported also by the average number of children per woman (2.8), slowly decreasing, but still higher than the values of OECD countries.
Throughout the Mediterranean the Egypt it is, after the Palestinian territories, the youngest country with an average age of 25.1 years. The age structure of the population records 40% of the population under 24 years old. In particular, the population under the age of 14 has a predominant impact on the structural dependency index, which is estimated as one of the highest in the Mediterranean countries (58% in 2014). The active population, despite being a minority, is made up of 28.5 million people, only one quarter of which are women. This youth composition of the demographic load has favored an emigration process with 3.4 million Egyptian workers regularly present in other countries, with a large prevalence of the Arabian Peninsula (1.2 million in Saudi Arabia, 700,000 in the United Arab Emirates) and a concentration more contained in Europe, where the largest community is located in Italy (about 100,000). At the same time, it is no coincidence that the revolutionary wave that started from Taḥrīr square, which overthrew the ‘regime’ of Muḥammad Ḥusnī Mubārak in 2011, was promoted and animated by Egyptian youth.
Life expectancy has increased over the course of the new millennium (71.2 years in 2013), with a value above the average for MENA countries (Middle East North Africa). The rank in the human development index is stably average (110 °), with 72% literacy. Other indicators indicate a relatively better condition compared to the rest of the Arab world. For example, Internet use has reached 49.6% (2013), while the level of extreme poverty (referring to people living on less than a dollar a day) reaches 22% of the population. While reflecting a wide disparity, the figure can be considered a good goal achieved, having halved this proportion in a decade. The very unbalanced distribution of the settlements persists even in the last decades, generating very high densities along the valley and the Nile delta with few episodes of oases in the desert areas. The distribution of the population between urban and rural areas has grown in parallel from the seventies onwards, with stable values, as a percentage, with the urban population, which oscillates between 40 and 43%. The country’s urbanization is identified with the capital, Cairo, the largest urban area in the Mediterranean and one of the most populous cities in the world, with over 9 million residents (19 million in its urban region, according to a 2013 estimate.). The urbanized area extends for 35 km from West to East and for 45 km along the Nile. This ‘metropolis of excess’, in addition to being the economic capital of the country, ensuring 2/3 of the national GDP, is also one of the main cultural capitals of the Arab world. Urban growth, faster than the national one, has moved, according to successive waves, towards the external part of the agglomeration. With the saturation of the central districts (average density of 70,000 residents / km2), the growth was directed towards the informal and peripheral areas. Since the 1990s, decongestion policies have been undertaken with the construction of new residential areas intended for the wealthiest classes, which however have not produced the hypothesized rebalancing effects. An urgent challenge is the environmental one: the incredible densifications generate air and water pollution, without considering waste management, in a context that has only 70% sanitation services in urban areas (even less in rural ones). Furthermore, the risks generated by climate change impact on water resources,
Economic conditions. – The political crisis, which broke out on January 25, 2011, opened a season that configures a condition of permanent overall instability in the country.
According to Sunglassestracker, Egypt is experiencing political uncertainty that is not easy to resolve, with sudden transitions, periodic unrest, violence, clashes and repressive actions by the military. The repercussions on the economic level are readable through the continuous slowdown in national wealth, which has grown by an average of 2% since 2011, when in the first ten years of 2000 it increased by 5% per year. Per capita income too (with prices being equal) it recorded a slowdown, but not a decline, settling, according to the World Bank, steadily above $ 10,000 on average. The drastic reduction of the neoliberal reform actions undertaken with the Mubārak government have been accompanied by the increase in social spending to meet the demands of popular protests. The sectors most affected were tourism and construction, but almost all sectors suffered a decline, pushing up the level of unemployment, estimated in 2014 at 13.4% of the active population, when only three years earlier was 9%. Since the beginning of the crisis, Egypt has withdrawn foreign exchange reserves, increasingly dependent on foreign assistance, particularly from the Gulf countries, to finance imports and energy products in an attempt to prevent further devaluation of the Egyptian pound and consequent inflation, which reached 6.9% in 2013. Agriculture still plays an important role, generating 14.5% of GDP (2013) and employing 29% of the workforce. Cotton remains one of the main productions in the country (7th in the world in cotton yarns), which has ensured an important role for the textile industry. The industrial sector, which in 2013 guaranteed 37.5% of the national product, has the main components in the steel industry and in the extraction of hydrocarbons. Despite the political crisis and continuous fluctuations, tourism remains the most important activity of the tertiary sector and, in general, of the Egyptian economy, employing over 12% of the workforce.