Environment Field Note: A River and Two Seas

The environment of Egypt is a unique and beautiful one.  Despite the fact that is largely desert, there are also a lot of other features including two seas and a river that set it apart from other desert countries.  Egyptians have creatively adapted to the challenges of their unique environment in many ways.

Egypt is one of the most interesting and special places in the world.  Although the majority of the country is covered in desert, it is in a unique position near three large bodies of water that allow for water access, transportation and fishing.  People have been using these features of the land to adjust to the challenges that living in Egypt offer!

What makes this environment special or different?

Egypt is a very unique country.  Even though a large part of the land is desert, Egypt has a natural resource that is extremely important: the Nile River. This river has allowed people to grow crops so they can have food and live off of the land.  It also has allowed for an amazing transportation system on boats, which helps move people and goods across the country.

Egypt is bordered by two seas: the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Can you find the Nile, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea on a map?  The fact that Egypt, which is largely desert, is surrounded by so much water makes it very unique! It gives the people that live here a great deal of resources that would not be available to those in other desert countries.

Egypt is also has one of the coolest animals in the world, the camel!  People use camels as personal transportation as well as a way to transport large amounts of things across the country.  Today, camels are even used as a way to make money with the tourists that come to Egypt by charging them for camel rides or pictures.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

One of the most noticeable things about the Sahara Desert around Egypt is that it is very dry and very hot.  Due to the fact that there is very little rainfall and large areas of land without any water, most of the desert does not support any plant life.  Having no water and no plants would make it very difficult for people to survive!

People have been able to use the natural resources in some parts of Egypt to not only survive, but also create a thriving civilization!  How they been able to do this?  The biggest answer is the Nile River.  Both ancient and modern Egyptians have counted on the Nile. The Nile has allowed Egyptians all over the country, and all across time, to grow crops in an otherwise dry and unfriendly place for plants to grow. The Nile is also used for transportation.  One can take a boat to get from one place to another, or even just for fun. The Nile has been very useful for helping people adapt to the living environment.

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

As I mentioned before, probably the biggest challenge that Egyptians have faced is the fact that most of the country is desert. Another issue is the fact that the weather is so hot that it can be very uncomfortable, and even harmful.  People have had to learn how to protect their skin from the hot sun and have developed clothes that keep them cool in the hot desert. 

The issue of getting around and transporting goods is also a challenge that people have faced, more so in the past than now.  Since water is very scarce in the desert, finding a way to travel long distances was a challenge.

How have people been adapting to this environment?

Since the environment of Egypt presents many unique challenges, the people of Egypt have been finding creative solutions to these challenges over thousands of years.  I described before how people have been able to find ways to grow crops in the desert by creating irrigation systems using water from the Nile.  This has allowed the citizens of Egypt to create grand civilizations not only today, but also in ancient times.

Camels have also provided many solutions to the lack of water in the desert.  Camels can store fat in their humps so they do not need to eat for long periods of time.  They can also go a long time without water.  This has allowed Egyptians to go on long journeys across the desert where there are very little resources.

In addition to growing food and traveling, the traditional clothing of Egypt represents how they have designed clothing to keep them cool in the hot desert climate.  Galabeyas are long robe-like gowns that both men and women wear, traditionally in the countryside.  They cover most of one’s body so it protects from the sun. Even though they are long and cover the wearer, they are loose and lightweight, which means they keep one cool in the heat!

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