The desert of central Sinai is open country, broken by isolated hills and scored by wadis.

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The hills run from near Suez to the Sudanese border; they are not a continuous range but consist of a series of interlocking systems more or less in alignment.

A number of peaks in the Red Sea Hills rise to more than 6,000 feet (1,800 metres), and the highest, Mount Shāʿib al-Banāt, reaches 7,175 feet (2,187 metres).

and, like Mesopotamia farther east, was the site of one of the world’s earliest urban and literate societies.

Pharaonic Egypt thrived for some 3,000 years through a series of native dynasties that were interspersed with brief periods of foreign rule.

With the exception of the cities of , covers an area of 9,650 square miles (25,000 sq km).

It is about 100 miles (160 km) long from Cairo to the Mediterranean, with a coastline stretching some 150 miles (240 km) from Alexandria to Port Said.

The outlets of some of the main wadis form deep bays, which contain small settlements of seminomads.

The second tier includes the sandstone plateau from Qinā southward.

Power was transferred to an elected government in 2012, and a new constitution was adopted at the end of the year.