Middle East

Egypt in numbers

Millions of people are due to elect a new president in Egypt. It is the latest in a series of polls in a country in the throes of political, social and economic instability. Here is a look at aspects of Egypt through numbers.


Egypt is home to more than 86 million people. It is the Arab world's most populous nation and is growing fast. Between 2010 and 2012 Egypt recorded the biggest biennial rise since records began.

With continuing political unrest, unemployment and a struggling economy, population growth is seen as a ticking time bomb.

Egypt is already suffering food shortages and the growing population is encroaching on agricultural land to meet housing needs. Furthermore, most of the population is young - 60% of Egyptians are under the age of 30, putting pressure on an already squeezed job market.


Three years of upheaval have left Egypt's economy in a state of crisis. GDP is contracting and the tourism industry, Egypt's most valuable sector by far, has collapsed.

In 2013, there were 9.5 million visitors to Egypt, a sharp drop from a record 14.7 million three years earlier.

Foreign investment has dried up, Egypt's currency reserves have dwindled and the value of the Egyptian pound has reached its lowest level in years, making imports more expensive. Egypt is the world's biggest importer of wheat.

Inflation is on the rise and the country is suffering food and fuel shortages, a recipe for popular discontent.


As a tool to help Egypt's poor, the government has subsidised bread and fuel for decades, but now the country finds itself struggling financially and is rethinking the system.

The government spends about 30% of the state budget on subsidising food and fuel and aims to cut fuel subsidies by 25-30% in the next few years.

According to a 2013 World Food Programme report, about a quarter of Egyptians live below the poverty line, while food prices have risen - carrying with it a heightened risk of widespread disorder.

Foreign aid

Egypt has received annual military and economic aid from the US - currently $1.5bn - for the past 30-plus years, as part of upholding the peace agreement with Israel. Next to Israel, Egypt is the second-biggest recipient of US foreign assistance.

After Mohammed Morsi came to power, Qatar, which supported Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood-backed government, sent $3bn, though this upset other Gulf countries which opposed the Islamist president.

This became clear after Mr Morsi was deposed, when Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait combined pledges of up to $12bn in loans and grants.

The new interim government returned $2bn to Qatar saying that an agreement had not been finalised. Egypt is still in talks with the IMF to secure a $3bn loan.


In 2013, Egypt's unemployment officially reached 13.4%. The majority of unemployed - 69% - are aged 15-29, and university graduates have been hit particularly hard.

Since 2010, the number of unemployed has increased by 1.3 million - a reflection of slow economic growth coupled with the increase in the number of people under the age of 30. Official statistics show 10% of men and 25% of women are unemployed.

Stimulus packages, funded by Gulf money, aim to create jobs as public spending increases.


Fewer than three-quarters of adults in Egypt are literate - a symptom of a deeply flawed education system. A lack of schools, facilities and proper curriculums coupled with low standards of teaching from underpaid teachers mean this sector is in deep need for reform.

About $2bn is spent on private tuition per year - equivalent to about 25% of the total education budget - squeezing family finances.

Fewer women than men are literate, and in rural areas illiteracy is most prevalent, helping to perpetuate poverty and the gender gap.


Since the 2011 revolution, Egyptians have gone to the ballot box six times - three time for constitutional referendums, twice for parliamentary elections and once to choose a president. Turnout was exceptional compared to the Mubarak era, when people tended not to vote as they believed the results of elections and referendums were predetermined.

Up to and including the 2012 presidential election, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won every post-revolutionary poll - but the results alone do not give a true picture of the strength of their popularity. For instance, almost half of Egyptians who voted in presidential election did not vote for Mohammed Morsi.

Nearly 54 million people are registered to vote in the 2014 presidential poll, but this time Islamist groups and secular activists have announced a boycott in protest at repression by the state.


Egypt has made big strides in some key health indicators over the past two decades.

Between 1990 and 2012, life expectancy went up from 65 to 71 years. In the same period, the under-five mortality rate plummeted from 86 to 21 per 1,000 live births.

Access to improved drinking-water sources and sanitation facilities meets UN Millennium Development Goal targets. Rural areas have seen particularly strong progress: between 1990 and 2012, access went up from 90% to 99% for drinking water and from 57% to 94% for sanitation.

Health spending has been fairly stable at about 5% of overall expenditure in recent years. In 2013-14 it stood at 4.75%, down from 5.14% the previous year.

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