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Modern Egypt - Traditions and Daily Life
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
1 The majority of the population in Egypt lives in an area along the Nile River called the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta. As a result, many places in this region are extremely crowded, with several thousand persons per square kilometer. Egyptians are a mixture of many people. Their ancestors came from many lands over a period of thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, Arabs, Turks, and other peoples are blended in their ancestry.
2 The Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt, is the region between Cairo and the Mediterranean Sea. Seven branches of the Nile create the triangular-shaped delta, providing the area with a very rich soil. About half of the population of the Nile Delta are fellahin (pronounced fel-uh-heen), or peasants--either small landowners or laborers--living on the produce of the land. The average family of fellahin has four or five children, who start working as soon as they are able to do so. Most fellahin, especially the women, spend their lives in drudgery.
3 Men of the fellahin group wear baggy white trousers under blue or white full-length robes called galibiyeh (pronounced gah-lee-bee-yeh). Fellahin women wear black galibiyeh. Many of them also wear veils that cover their noses and mouths.
4 The region along the Nile River to the south of the Nile Delta is called the Nile Valley. The inhabitants of the Valley are referred to as Sa'idi (pronounced sah-ee-dee)--Upper Egyptians-- and are more conservative then the Delta people. In many areas of that region women do not appear in public without a veil; family honor is very important, and vendetta laws (a feud between families) apply.
5 The areas to the west and the east of the Nile River--the Western and the Eastern Deserts--only contain small settlements of semi-nomads--the Bedouins (pronounced bed-oo-in). They live by herding goats, sheep, and camels, or by trading--mainly with mining and petroleum camps, or with fishing communities on the coast. The Bedouins families are about the same size as the fellahin families, except that many Bedouin husbands have from two to four wives.
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