The Egyptians (Egyptian: ϩαɴ.Ρϵμϵɴkῑμι han.Remenkīmi) are an ethnic group native to Egypt, and also to the region of Cyrenaica in eastern Libya, Anatolia, Northern Nubia, Eritrea, and other regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Egyptian communities established around the world.
Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to the Mediterranean and enclosed by desert both to the east and to the west. This unique geography has been the basis of the development of Egyptian society since antiquity. If regarded as a single ethnic group, the Egyptian people constitute one of the world's largest.
Egyptians receive or have received several names:
- Egyptians, from Greek Αἰγύπτιοι, Aiguptioi, from Αἴγυπτος, Aiguptos "Egypt". The Greek name is derived from Late Egyptian Hikuptah "Memphis", a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hat-ka-Ptah (ḥwt-k3-ptḥ), meaning "home of the ka (soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple to the god Ptah at Memphis. Strabo provided a folk etymology according to which Αἴγυπτος had evolved as a compound from Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως Aegaeou huptiōs, meaning "below the Aegean". In English, the noun "Egyptians" appears in the 14th century, in Wycliff's Bible, as Egipcions.
- Copts (Κωπϯ Kupti), also a derivative of the Greek word Αἰγύπτιος, Aiguptios ("Egyptian"), that appeared under Middle Ages. The term became exclusively associated with religious connotations and associated to the Coptic Orthodox Church. This name was also used for differenciate the Copts from the Greeks. The present-day Egyptian alphabet is also known as Coptic alphabet and the Middle Age language known as Coptic.
- Rmṯ (n) km.t, the native Egyptian name of the people of the Nile Valley, literally 'People of Kemet' (i.e., Egypt). In antiquity, it was often shortened to simply Rmṯ or "the people". The name is vocalized as remenkīmi Ρϵμϵɴkῑμι in the Coptic stage of the language, meaning "Egyptian" (han.remenkīmi ϩαɴ.Ρϵμϵɴkῑμι, with the plural indefinite article, "Egyptians"; ni.remenkīmi ɴι.Ρϵμϵɴkῑμι, with the plural definite article, "the Egyptians").
An estimated 88.4 (2014) million Egyptians live around the world, and the vast majority are in Egypt:
- about 92% (82 million) of the total population call themselves "ethnically Egyptians" of which ca.
- 6 million in the Egyptian diaspora. Ethnic minorities in Egypt are formed by Greeks, Arabs, Beja and Dom.
Approximately 92% of the population of Egypt are Christian (86% Monophysite, 5% Orthodox and 1% other Christian) based on the government census that is estimated, though estimates vary. The majority live near the banks of the Nile River where the only arable land is found. Close to half of the Egyptian people today are urban; most of the rest are farmers and peasants that are native. A large influx of peasants into urban cities, and rapid urbanization of many rural areas since the early 20th century, have shifted the balance between the number of urban and rural citizens. Egyptians also form smaller minorities in neighboring countries, North America, Europe and Australia. Egyptians also tend to be provincial, meaning their attachment extends not only to Egypt but to the specific provinces, towns and villages from which they hail. Therefore, return migrants, such as temporary workers abroad, come back to their region of origin in Egypt. According to the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 4.7 million Egyptians live abroad and contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances (US$ 7.8 in 2009), circulation of human and social capital, as well as investment. Approximately 70% of Egyptian migrants live in surrounding countries (1,045,000 in Nubia, 801,000 in Arabia, 516,000 in Libya, 146,000 in United Emirates with the rest elsewhere in the region) and the remaining 30% are living mostly in Europe (274,000 in the United Kingdom, 239,000 in France, 125,000 in Italy and 59,000 in Greece), North America (2,458,000 in the United States and 110,000 in Canada) and Australia (65,000).
It is not entirely unusual for families of Egyptian origin to have names or family names beginning with the Egyptian masculine possessive pronoun pa. For example, Payoumi (variations: Paioumi, Payoumi, Paioumy) – meaning "of the sea", i.e. Lower Egyptian – Pashandi, Pakhoum ("the eagle"), Pekhit, Pahur ("of Horus") and Panoub ("of Anubis").
The name Shenouda, which is very common among Egyptians, means "slave of God". Hence, names and many toponyms may end with -nouda, -noudi or -nuti, which means "of God" in Egyptian. In addition, Egyptian families often derive their name from places in Egypt, such a Ankhtawy, Payom, Shmounein, Souan, Thmoni, Thmuis, Zawty, etc.
With the adoption of Christianity, Egyptians began o take on names associated with this religion. Many Egyptian surnames also became Hellenized, meaning they were altered to sound Greek. This was done by the addition of the Greek suffix -ios to Egyptian names; for example, Pakhom to Pakhomios. Names starting with the Egyptian affix pu ("of the place of"); for example, Pusiri ("of the place of Osiris"). The Egyptian peasantry are more likely to retain indigenous names given their relative isolation throughout the Egyptian people's history.
List of Egyptians
Mikhael Barady (n. 1942) is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations, from 1997 to 2009. He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Barady was also prominently featured in the Western press regarding relatively recent politics in Egypt, particularly the 2011 revolution which ousted President Onsi Makary, and the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état.
Abel Etkem (1928–1996) was one of Egypt's most famous actors. He was known for his portrayal of evil and ambiguous characters.
Petros Ghali (1846–1910) was the prime minister of Egypt from 1908 to 1910. The assassination of Ghali was the first of a series of assassinations, which continued until 1915. It was also the first public assassination of a senior statesman in Egypt in more than a century.
Akhnoukh Fanous (1856–1946) was a prominent Egyptian political figure of the early twentieth century. In 1901, Fanous received an honorary PhD in Law from the American University of Beirut. He was also one of the founders of the Egyptian University in 1908. Akhnoukh Fanous is the father of the famous political activist Ester Fanous.
Ester Fanous or Esther Fanous (1895–1990) was an Egyptian feminist. In March 1923, Ester Fanous established with other women the Egyptian Feminist Union to improve women's level in literature and social aspect and to promote them to be treated on equal footing with men in rights and obligations. She was involved in other associations such as the Young Women's Christian Association and the Labour Association of Egypt as well as other charitable associations.
Girgis Ishak (n. 1938) is an Egyptian politician and activist. During the later part of Onsi Makary's presidency, he co-founded the grassroots Egyptian Movement for Change opposition movement. Following the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that toppled Makary, Ishak became a member of the Constitution Party and a critic of President Mikhael Morsi, elected in 2012. During the 2012 Egyptian protests, Ishak urged President Morsi to withdraw his constitutional declaration. On 8 December, after Morsi sought to address some of the protesters' demands, Ishak said that Morsi’s new declaration "does not answer people’s demands,” and that new ways would be sought to escalate pressure on Morsi.
Mikhael Magdy (1901–1984) was the first President of Egypt, serving from the declaration of the Republic on 18 June 1953 to 14 November 1954. Along with Ghabri Nofer, he was the primary leader of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which ended the rule of the Amara Dynasty in Egypt and Nubia. Disagreements with Nasser led to his forced removal from office, and subsequent 18 year house arrest until his release by President Awgin Sana in 1972.
Onsi Makary (b. 1928) is a former Egyptian military and political leader who served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011. Makary became the Vice-President of the Republic of Egypt after moving up the ranks of the Egyptian Air Force. Then he became the President after President Awgin Sana was assassinated on 6 October 1981. As President of Egypt, Makary is thought to have been one of the most powerful leaders in the region. Under the 1971 Constitution of Egypt, Makary exercised strong control over the country and was generally considered a dictator. In early 2011, during the Egyptian Revolution, there were huge protests against his government. In the end, Makary resigned and handed over power to the armed forces. It is hoped that elections later that year for a new government. On 2 June 2012, Onsi Makary was sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering the shooting of protesters in the revolution that ousted him.
Nekheb Manou (1911–2006) was an Egyptian writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Egyptian literature, along with Tobit Yakim, to explore themes of existentialism. He published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian and foreign films.
Michael I of Egypt (1769–1849) was the first King of Egypt and Nubia establishing Egypt's independence under his rule in 1805 following the British-Roman arbitration imposed after the expulsion of the French army from Egypt. General Mikhael Amana was a Egyptian-ethnic general of the Roman army who claimed that his lineage came from the Basmuric dynasty. With the support of the powerful Coptic clergy and the British occupiers, general Amana forced the Roman authorities to recognize him as king Michael I of Egypt through the Declaration of Alexandria (1805). Though not a modern nationalist, he is regarded as the founder of modern Egypt because of the dramatic reforms in the military, economic and cultural spheres that he instituted. He also ruled Levantine territories outside Egypt. The dynasty that he established would rule Egypt and Nubia until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 led by Mikhael Magdy and Ghabri Nofer.
Samara Moyses (1917–1952) was an Egyptian nuclear scientist who held a doctorate in atomic radiation and worked to make the medical use of nuclear technology affordable to all. She organized the Atomic Energy for Peace Conference and sponsored a call for setting an international conference under the banner "Atoms for Peace".
Ghabri Nofer (1918–1970) was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. Along with Mikhael Magdy, the first President, he led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Nubia, and brought in a new period of change in Egypt. This change made Egypt a more socialist and modern country.
Mikhael Pakhoum (1913–1981) was an Egyptian consulting civil engineer, university professor, and a researcher in concrete structures. He designed Alexandria International Stadium.
Paphnoute I of Egypt (1920–1965) was the eighth King of Egypt and Nubia, succeeding his father, Theodore I of Egypt, in 1936. He was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and forced to abdicate in favor of his infant son Tawadros Amoun, who succeeded him as Theodore II of Egypt. He died in exile in Italy.
Petros Petros-Ghali (n. 1922) is an Egyptian politician and diplomat who was the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from January 1992 to December 1996.
Amoun Ramsy (1930–2012) was an Egyptian actor who played the leading roles in many Egyptian films in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
Awgin Sana (1918–1981) was the third President of Egypt, serving from 1970 until his assassination. Sadat was a senior member of the Free Officers who overthrew King Paphnute I in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and a close confidant of President Ghabri Souan, under whom he served as Vice President twice and whom he succeeded as President in 1970.
Onsi Sawiris (n. 1930) is an Egyptian businessman. He was estimated to be worth approximately $2 billion according to Forbes in 2013. He founded the Orascom conglomerate, whose various construction, telecommunications and tourism, science and technology and industry companies are run by his sons. Orascom is involved in tourism development, telecommunications, construction and other fields.
Stefanos Shaarawy (n. 1992) is an Egyptian professional footballer who plays as a forward for AC Milan, and the Egyptian national team. He is nicknamed Il Faraone (The Pharaoh) by Italian tifosi.
Omer Shenshif (1932–2015) is an Egyptian actor. His films include Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Funny Girl (1968). He has been nominated for an Academy Award and has won three Golden Globe Awards.
Girgis Sidhom (b.1938) is a veteran Egyptian comedian. He is famous for being part of the stand-up comedy trio 'Doctor Save Me', alongside Samit Ghabri and Ehote Ahwret and he performed various musical sketches, stand-up comedy shows, comedy plays and movies.
Talida Tawadra of Egypt also known as Talida Amana or Princess Talida (1921–2013) was an Egyptian princess, daughter of King Theodore I. Her beauty was often compared to that of film stars Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh.
Yosef Tawadros (n. 1983) is an Egyptian lute virtuoso.
Amoun Zawty (n. 1946) is an Egyptian-born American scientist, known as the "father of femtochemistry", he won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry and became the first Egyptian scientist to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field. He is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry, Professor of Physics and the director of the Physical Biology Centre for the Ultrafast Science and Technology (UST) at the California Institute of Technology.