With a population of around 80 million, Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world, and the second most populous in Africa behind Nigeria. Its recorded history began in around 3100 B.C. when King Menes united the region, beginning a series of dynasties. The last dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. The Ottoman Turks controlled Egypt from 1517 until 1882 when Britain seized control of Egypt. In deference to growing nationalism, the United Kingdom declared Egyptian independence in 1922, but British influence continued to dominate Egypt's political life. In 1952 Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy, and it became a republic in 1953. Egypt has played a central role in Middle East politics in modern times. Its three wars with Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973, followed by peace with its adversary in 1979, have transitioned Egypt from being a warring nation to becoming a key representative in the peace process. However, peace with Israel led to Egypt being expelled from the Arab League until 1989, and in 1981 President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists. Since then, President Hosni Mubarak has taken a more moderate line, but Islamic groups have continued their campaigns sporadically, forging for deadly attacks that have often targeted tourists and resort areas. Egypt’s economy is the second largest in the Arab world -- following only Saudi Arabia. The country is a significant producer of oil and is a rapidly growing gas producer. Its economy is highly dependent on tourism revenues, oil and gas exports, remittances from Egyptian workers abroad, and revenue from the Suez Canal tolls.
In early 2011, protesters took to the streets in Egypt in a furious display of anger, demanding the resignation of President Mubarak. After days of protests, President Mubarak named a deputy, instituted a new government, and said he would stay on as president but would not seek re-election in September 2011. Thattimeline did not satisfy the protesters and the demonstrations continued, ultimately going from peaceful demonstrations to violent clashes as fierce battles with pro-Mubarak factions ensued. Meanwhile, journalists were targeted for attacks and suspicion fell on governing authorities for trying to silence the media. Protesters eyed a "day of departure" for Mubarak but the Egyptian president, in an interview, made it clear that his exit would mean chaos for his country. Strikes and protests continued until on Feb. 11, 2011, Egyptian President Mubarak stepped down from office, one day after powers were transferred to Vice President Suleiman. But it was the military who claimed power and were now in charge of the affairs of the country. Indeed, the military of Egypt announced it would guarantee the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people and turned their guns and tanks away from the crowd at the presidential palace. Protesters in the streets celebrated with joy and the military announced a plan for constitutional reform and a path towards democratic elections.