Nile Delta

Nile Delta

Overview

The Nile Delta is the delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 formed in Northern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 (Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

) where the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 in the west to Port Said
Port Said
Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

 in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length.
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Encyclopedia

The Nile Delta is the delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 formed in Northern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 (Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

) where the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 in the west to Port Said
Port Said
Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

 in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

Geography


From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length. From west to east it covers some 240 km of coastline. The delta is sometimes divided into West and East sections, with the Nile dividing into two main distributaries
Distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

, the Damietta
Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

 and the Rosetta
Rosetta
Rosetta is a port city on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. It is located east of Alexandria, in Beheira governorate. It was founded around AD 800....

, flowing into the Mediterranean at port cities with the same name. In the past, the delta had several distributaries, but these have been lost due to flood control, silting and changing relief. One such defunct distributary is Wadi Tumilat. The Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 runs to the east of the delta, entering the coastal Lake Manzala
Lake Manzala
Lake Manzala is a brackish lake, sometimes called a lagoon, in northeastern Egypt on the Nile Delta near Port Said and a few miles from the ancient ruins at Tanis. It is the largest of the northern deltaic lakes of Egypt. As of 2008 it is 47km long and 30km wide.-Geography:Lake Manzala is long but...

 in the north-east of the delta. To the north-west are three other coastal lakes or lagoons: Lake Burullus
Lake Burullus
Lake Burullus is a brackish water lake in the Nile Delta in Egypt. It is located in Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate east of Rosetta, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the north and agricultural land to the south.-Hydrology:...

, Lake Idku and Lake Maryut

The Nile is considered to be an "arcuate" delta (arc-shaped), as it resembles a triangle or lotus flower when seen from above. The outer edges of the delta are eroding, and some coastal lagoons have seen increasing salinity levels as their connection to the Mediterranean Sea increases. Since the delta no longer receives an annual supply of nutrients and sediments from upstream due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the soils of the floodplains have become poorer, and large amounts of fertilizers are now used. Topsoil
Topsoil
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top to . It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.-Importance:...

 in the delta can be as much as 70 feet (21.3 m) in depth.

History


People have lived in the Nile Delta region for thousands of years, and it has been intensively farmed for at least five thousand years. The Nile River used to flood on an annual basis, but this ended with the construction of the Aswan Dam
Aswan Dam
The Aswan Dam is an embankment dam situated across the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt. Since the 1950s, the name commonly refers to the High Dam, which is larger and newer than the Aswan Low Dam, which was first completed in 1902...

. Records from ancient times (Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

) show that the delta had seven distributaries
Distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

: (from east to west) the Pelusiac, the Tanitic, the Mendesian, the Phatnitic (or Phatmetic), the Sebennytic, the Bolbitine, and the Canopic (also called the Herakleotic, e.g. at [Callisthenes] Alexander 1.31). There are now only two main branches, due to flood control, silting and changing relief: The Damietta (corresponding to the Phatnitic) to the east and the Rosetta (corresponding to the Bolbitine) on the western part of the delta. The Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek...

 was found in the Nile Delta in 1799 in the port city of Rosetta (anglicized name of Rashid
Rashid
Rashid or Rachid may refer to:*Rashid , people with the name*Rosetta, anglicized name of the city and port of Rashid in Egypt*Rashid, Yemen*Rachid, Mauritania, a town at the foot of the Tagant Plateau-See also:*Rashad...

). The delta was a major constituent of Lower Egypt. The Biblical Land of Goshen
Land of Goshen
The Land of Goshen is named in the bible as the place in Egypt given to the Hebrews by the pharaoh of Joseph, and the land from which they later left Egypt at the time of the Exodus...

 was located in a small area on the west bank of the Pelusiac distributary. There are many archaeological sites in and around the Nile Delta

Population


About half of Egypt’s 80 million people live in the Nile Delta region. Outside of major cities, population density in the delta averages 1,000 persons/km² or more. Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 is the largest city in the delta with an estimated population of more than 4 million. Other large cities in the delta include Shubra al Khaymah
Shubra al Khaymah
Shubra El-Kheima is the fourth largest city in Egypt. It is located in the Al Qalyubiyah governerate around . The city is situated in the north of Cairo and is part of its agglomeration of Greater Cairo.-Demographics:...

, Port Said
Port Said
Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

, El-Mahalla El-Kubra
El-Mahalla El-Kubra
El-Mahalla El-Kubra is a large industrial and agricultural city in Egypt, located in the middle of the Nile Delta on the western bank of the Damietta branch. It is known for its dominant textile industry...

, El Mansura, Tanta
Tanta
Tanta is a city in Egypt. It is the country's fifth largest populated area, with an estimated 429,000 inhabitants . Tanta is located north of Cairo and southeast of Alexandria...

, and Zagazig
Zagazig
Zagazig is a town in Lower Egypt. Situated in the eastern part of the Nile delta, it is the capital of the governorate of Sharqia.As of 1999, its population was approximately 279,000. It is built on a branch of the Fresh Water or Ismaïlia Canal and on al-Muˤizz Canal , and is 47 miles by rail...

.

Wildlife


During Autumn, parts of the Nile River are red with lotus flowers
Nelumbo nucifera
Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the monogeneric family Nelumbonaceae...

. The Lower Nile (North) and the Upper Nile (South) have plants that grow in abundance. The Upper Nile plant is the Egyptian lotus, and the Lower Nile plant is the Cyperus papyrus
Cyperus papyrus
Cyperus papyrus is a monocot belonging to the sedge family Cyperaceae. It is a herbaceous perennial native to Africa, and forms tall stands of reed-like swamp vegetation in shallow water....

 (papyrus sedge), although it is not nearly as plentiful as it once was, and is becoming quite rare.

Several hundred thousand water birds winter in the delta, including the world’s largest concentrations of little gull
Little Gull
The Little Gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus or Larus minutus, is a small gull which breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It also has small colonies in parts of southern Canada. It is migratory, wintering on coasts in western Europe, the Mediterranean and the northeast USA. As is the case with many gulls,...

s and whiskered tern
Whiskered Tern
The Whiskered Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a number of geographical races, differing mainly in size and minor plumage details....

s. Other birds making their homes in the delta include grey heron
Grey Heron
The Grey Heron , is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions...

s, Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover
The Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus, is a small wader in the plover bird family. Despite its name, this species no longer breeds in Kent, or even Great Britain...

s, shovelers
Northern Shoveler
The Northern Shoveler , Northern Shoveller in British English, sometimes known simply as the Shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, and is a rare vagrant to Australia...

 and cormorant
Cormorant
The bird family Phalacrocoracidae is represented by some 40 species of cormorants and shags. Several different classifications of the family have been proposed recently, and the number of genera is disputed.- Names :...

s. Also found are egret
Egret
An egret is any of several herons, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes during the breeding season. Many egrets are members of the genera Egretta or Ardea which contain other species named as herons rather than egrets...

s and ibis
Ibis
The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae....

es.

Other animals found in the delta include frog
Frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s, tortoise
Tortoise
Tortoises are a family of land-dwelling reptiles of the order of turtles . Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise...

s, mongoose
Mongoose
Mongoose are a family of 33 living species of small carnivorans from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. Four additional species from Madagascar in the subfamily Galidiinae, which were previously classified in this family, are also referred to as "mongooses" or "mongoose-like"...

s, and the Nile monitor
Nile monitor
The Nile Monitor, Water Leguaan, or River Leguaan is a large member of the monitor lizard family ....

. Nile crocodile
Nile crocodile
The Nile crocodile or Common crocodile is an African crocodile which is common in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gabon, South Africa, Malawi, Sudan, Botswana, and Cameroon...

s and hippopotamus
Hippopotamus
The hippopotamus , or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse" , is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan Africa, and one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae After the elephant and rhinoceros, the hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal and the heaviest...

, two animals which were widespread in the delta during antiquity are no longer found there. Fish found in the delta include the Striped mullet and soles.

Climate


The Nile Delta has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by little rainfall. Only 100 to 200 mm of rain falls on the delta area during an average year, and most of this falls in the winter months. The delta experiences its hottest temperatures in July and August, averaging 30 °C, with a maximum of around 48 °C. Winter temperatures are normally in the range of 10° to 19 °C. With cooler temperatures and some rain, the Nile Delta region becomes quite humid during the winter months.

The Nile Delta is eroding at a rate of 50 km2 per year, and it has been predicted that this Delta will have vanished by the year 2550 CE.

Sea level


Furthermore, Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline is being swallowed up by the sea because of global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and the rise of the sea level, in some places as much as 100 yards a year. As the polar ice caps melt, much of the northern delta, including the ancient port city of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, will disappear under the Mediterranean. A 30 centimeters rise in sea level is expected to occur by 2025, flooding approximately 200 square kilometres (77.2 sq mi).The Nile Delta is turning into a salty wasteland by rising sea waters, forcing some farmers off their lands and others to import sand in a desperate bid to turn back the tide. Experts warn that global warming will have a major impact in the delta on agriculture resources, tourism and human migration besides shaking the region's fragile ecosystems.Environmental damage to the Nile Delta is not yet one of Egypt's priorities, but experts say if the situation continues to deteriorate, it will trigger massive food shortages which could turn seven million people into "climate refugees" by the end of the century.

Governorates

  • Alexandria
  • Beheira
    Beheira Governorate
    Beheira Governorate is a coastal governorate in Egypt. Located in the northern part of the country in the Nile Delta, its capital is Damanhur.-Overview:Beheira governorate enjoys an important strategical place, west of the Rosetta branch of the Nile...

  • Kafr el Sheikh
    Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate
    Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate is one of the governorates of Egypt. It lies in the northern part of the country, along the western branch of the Nile in the Nile Delta. Its capital is the city of Kafr el-Sheikh.-History:...

  • Gharbiya
  • Minufiya
  • Qalyubiya
  • Dakahlia
    Dakahlia Governorate
    Dakahlia Governorate is an Egyptian governorate lying north east of Cairo. Its area is about 3,500 km² and it has a population of about 5 million. The capital is Mansoura.-Overview:...

  • Damietta
  • Sharqiyah
  • Port Said


Large cities located in the Nile Delta:
  • Abusir
    Abusir (Lake Mariout)
    Abusir, or Abousir is a seaside town on the shore of Lake Mariout on the western extremity of Egypt's Nile delta. It is situated about SW of Alexandria. Ruins of an ancient temple and an ancient replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria are to be seen here...

  • Alexandria
    Alexandria
    Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

  • Avaris
    Avaris
    Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

  • Bilbeis
    Bilbeis
    Bilbeis is an ancient fortress city on the eastern edge of the southern Nile delta in Egypt.The city played a role in the machinations for control of the Fatimid vizierate: first in 1164, when Shirkuh was besieged in the city by the combined forces of Shiwar and Amalric I of Jerusalem for three...

  • Bubastis
    Bubastis
    Bubastis , also known as Tell Basta or Egyptian Per-Bast was an Ancient Egyptian city, the capital of its own nome, located along the River Nile in the Delta region of Lower Egypt...

  • Canopus
  • Damanhur
    Damanhur
    Damanhur is a city in Lower Egypt, and the capital of the Beheira Governorate. It is located northwest of Cairo, and E.S.E. of Alexandria, in the middle of the western Nile Delta....

  • Damietta
    Damietta
    Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

  • Kafr el-Sheikh
    Kafr el-Sheikh
    Kafr el-Sheikh is the capital of Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate, Egypt, about 134 km north of Cairo, in the Nile Delta. As of November 2006, the town had a population of 147,380 inhabitants.-Factories:...

  • Leontopolis
    Leontopolis
    Leontopolis or Leonto or Latin: Leontos Oppidum or Egyptian: Taremu, was an Ancient Egyptian city that is known as Tell al Muqdam today.-History:The city is located in the central part of the Nile Delta region...

  • Mendes
    Mendes
    Mendes , the Greek name of the Ancient Egyptian city of Djedet, also known in Ancient Egypt as Per-Banebdjedet and Anpet, is known today as Tell El-Ruba ....

  • Mit Abu al-Kum
    Mit Abu al-Kum, al-Minufiyah, Egypt
    Mit Abu al-Kum is a village in the Egyptian Nile Delta and the Al-Minufiyah governorate. It is the birthplace of Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat , and his childhood home has been made into a museum....

  • Mansoura
  • Naucratis
    Naucratis
    Naucratis or Naukratis, , loosely translated as " power over ships" , was a city of Ancient Egypt, on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, 45 mi SE of the open sea and the later capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, Alexandria...

  • Pelusium
    Pelusium
    Pelusium was a city in the eastern extremes of Egypt's Nile Delta, 30 km to the southeast of the modern Port Said. Alternative names include Sena and Per-Amun , Pelousion , Sin , Seyân , and Tell el-Farama...

  • Port Said
    Port Said
    Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

  • Rosetta
    Rosetta
    Rosetta is a port city on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. It is located east of Alexandria, in Beheira governorate. It was founded around AD 800....

  • Sais
    Sais, Egypt
    Sais or Sa el-Hagar was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, the fifth nome of Lower Egypt and became the seat of power during the Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt and the Saite Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt ...

  • Tanis
    Tanis, Egypt
    Tanis , the Greek name of ancient Djanet , is a city in the north-eastern Nile delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.-History:...

  • Tanta
    Tanta
    Tanta is a city in Egypt. It is the country's fifth largest populated area, with an estimated 429,000 inhabitants . Tanta is located north of Cairo and southeast of Alexandria...

  • Zagazig
    Zagazig
    Zagazig is a town in Lower Egypt. Situated in the eastern part of the Nile delta, it is the capital of the governorate of Sharqia.As of 1999, its population was approximately 279,000. It is built on a branch of the Fresh Water or Ismaïlia Canal and on al-Muˤizz Canal , and is 47 miles by rail...


External links