Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East. The great majority of its estimated 47 million people live near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 sq km (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large areas of the Sahara Desert are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and some of the world's most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complex and its Great Sphinx. Its ancient ruins, such as those of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, are a significant focus of archaeological study, and artefacts from these sites are now displayed in major museums around the world.
Egypt possesses one of the most developed and diversified economies in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service at almost equal production levels. The Egyptian economy is rapidly developing, due in part to legislation aimed at luring investments, coupled with both internal and political stability, along with recent trade and market liberalization.