By Kenya Barrett
When you hear “Egypt,” you probably think of its pyramids, giant desert sand dunes, or even camels. But, this extraordinary country is filled with many amazing wonders and ancient history that is often overlooked. Read on to discover 10 fun facts about Egypt!
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Egypt is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Because Egypt is the oldest civilization known to mankind, it's no surprise that the country is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These landmarks are culturally significant and drive millions of tourists to Egypt on an annual basis. The sites are as follows: Wadi Al-Hitan, Saint Catherine Area, Abu Mena, Historic Cairo, Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae, Ancient Thebes, and Memphis. Learn more about the top landmarks in Egypt to visit!
Egyptians created toothpaste
Did you know experts have confirmed that Egyptians are some of the first humans to create and use toothpaste? The earliest records of toothpaste date back to 4 A.D., and its formula was much simpler than what we use today. A few ingredients featured in this dental paste include myrrh, oxen hooves, water, pumice, and eggshells. Over time, some recipes began incorporating iris flowers, mint, pepper, and even crushed rock salt.
Cleopatra wasn’t fully Egyptian
Although Cleopatra was born in Egypt, she doesn't come from a long line of Egyptian heritage. In fact, the ex-Queen of Egypt comes from a bloodline that originated in Macedonian Greece. One of her ancestors, Ptolemy I Soter, served as a general for Alexander The Great during his reign over Greece. While Cleopatra embraced her ancient culture deeply, she was the first of the Ptolemaic ancestors to learn the Egyptian language.
Ancient Egyptians believed makeup had healing powers
Even though Cleopatra had natural beauty, she and other citizens of Egypt actively incorporated makeup into their daily lives – and it wasn’t to enhance their looks. Egyptians wore makeup regularly because they believed it possessed healing powers. While they thought that their cosmetics fought off infections and certain bacteria, other Egyptians felt as though makeup helped ward off evil spirits. It wasn’t uncommon to find men wearing makeup alongside their spouses for this reason. Of all the fun facts about Egypt, this has to be one of the most interesting!
The Egyptian pyramids are tombs
Contrary to popular belief, the tombs aren’t just big beautiful landmarks for show. They are actually tombs that were used as the resting place for Egypt’s most wealthy and high-ranking individuals. While the Pyramids of Giza are the most popular, there are over 115 pyramids scattered throughout Egypt. All of them served as burial grounds for different pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom eras.
Egypt only has 2 seasons
Due to Egypt’s geographical location, the country only experiences two seasons a year – summer and winter. Naturally, Egypt is situated in a rather hot and arid climate and experiences brutally hot summers as a result. The summer season generally ranges from May to October. Unlike winter in different parts of the world, Egypt’s winters are really just cooler temperatures with some rain scattered near the coastal areas. Winter also lasts from November to April.
Egyptians created the first calendar
The very first iteration of the calendar was created by the Egyptians and featured a 13-month cycle. This version of the calendar was developed based on the cycle of the sun. However, over time the Egyptians took note of the lunar cycle and incorporated their findings into a 12-month calendar which helped create a distinction between full years and leap years. This discovery also helped them divide the calendar into specific seasons, months, days, and hours.
The afterlife in Egypt was very important
Ancient Egyptians were very spiritual beings who put much time and effort into preparing for the afterlife. Because they believed that bodies would continue to live after death, Egyptians often participated in ritualistic activities that assisted in comforting themselves when transitioning. This included reading ancient texts, purchasing funerary items in advance, and building tombs.
Egypt is home to the 2nd longest river in the world
Although the Nile River has been named the longest river in the world historically, it only measures to about 6,695 kilometers – just a few hundred kilometers shy of the Amazon River in South America. However, the Nile remains the longest river in Africa and certainly one of the most popular on Earth. The flow of the river extends north, beginning in the Sub-Saharan region and running through Egypt before ending in the Mediterranean Sea.
Egypt is the 3rd most populous country in Africa
With a whopping 100 million citizens, Egypt sets the bar as the third most populated country in Africa, behind Nigeria and Ethiopia. As such, Egypt also stands as the 14th most populated country globally.
After learning a few fun facts about Egypt, where in the country will you visit next?