There is a lot about Cairo to admire, from the richness of its history and culture to the kindness of its people and its unmatched civilisation, which remains, to date, a source of fascination to the world. Cairo is one of the world's most famous capital cities, and with a unique combination of the ancient and modern, it piques the curiosity of both tourists and business travellers alike. Here are some interesting facts about Egypt's capital that you may not know:
- Covering around 500 sq km, with an estimated population of 22 million, Greater Cairo is the largest city in Africa and the Middle East.
- The Arabic name for Cairo is al-Qahirah, which means "the conqueror", "the vanquisher" or "the victorious". Most Egyptians call Cairo "Masr", the Arabic for "Egypt". Cairo is also called the City of 1000 Minarets, and Umm al-Dounia, the "Mother of the World".
- Cairo was founded in 969 by the Fatimid Caliphate from Tunisia, though there were earlier Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, Persian and Pharaonic settlements, including the legendary Memphis.
- Throughout its history, Cairo has been ruled by the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, France and Great Britain.
- Cairo has one of only two metro rail systems in the whole of Africa – the other is in Algiers.
- For thousands of years until the first skyscrapers arrived in 1889, the Pyramids of Giza were the tallest manmade buildings in the world.
- Cairo hosts one of the oldest universities in the world, al-Azhar University, founded in 975 CE. And Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Cairo in 1882.
- The Nile runs through Cairo, and there are two large islands in the middle of the city.