Nile Delta

The Nile Delta (Arabic: دلتا النيلDelta n-Nīl or simply الدلتا ed-Delta) is the delta formed in Northern Egypt (Lower Egypt) where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers 240 km (150 mi) of Mediterranean coastline and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km (99 mi) in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo.[1]

The Nile Delta is an area of the world that lacks detailed ground truth data and monitoring stations. Despite the economic importance of the Nile Delta, it could be considered as one of the most data-poor regions with respect to sea level rise.[2]

Coordinates: 30°54′N 31°7′E / 30.900°N 31.117°E

Nile delta landsat false color
NASA satellite photograph of the Nile Delta (shown in false color)
Nile River Delta at Night
The Nile Delta at night as seen from the ISS in October 2010.


Nile River and delta from orbit
Nile River and Delta

From north to south, the delta is approximately 160 km (99 mi) in length. From west to east, it covers some 240 km (150 mi) of coastline. The delta is sometimes divided into sections, with the Nile dividing into two main distributaries, the Damietta and the Rosetta,[3] flowing into the Mediterranean at port cities with the same name. In the past, the delta had several distributaries, but these have been lost due to flood control, silting and changing relief. One such defunct distributary is Wadi Tumilat.

The Suez Canal is east of the delta and enters the coastal Lake Manzala in the north-east of the delta. To the north-west are three other coastal lakes or lagoons: Lake Burullus, Lake Idku and Lake Mariout.

The Nile is considered to be an "arcuate" delta (arc-shaped), as it resembles a triangle or flower when seen from above. Some scholars such as Aristotle have written that the delta was constructed for agricultural purposes due to the drying of the region of Egypt. Although such an engineering feat would be considered equivalent to a wonder of the ancient world, there is insufficient evidence to determine conclusively whether the delta is man-made or was formed naturally.[4]

In modern day, the outer edges of the delta are eroding, and some coastal lagoons have seen increasing salinity levels as their connection to the Mediterranean Sea increases. Since the delta no longer receives an annual supply of nutrients and sediments from upstream due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the soils of the floodplains have become poorer, and large amounts of fertilizers are now used. Topsoil in the delta can be as much as 21 m (70 ft) in depth.


Nile Delta Surrounding
Ancient branches of the Nile, showing Wadi Tumilat, and the lakes east of the Delta

People have lived in the Delta region for thousands of years, and it has been intensively farmed for at least the last five thousand years. The Delta used to flood annually, but this ended with the construction of the Aswan Dam.

Ancient branches of the Nile

The Nile delta at the time of Herodotus, according to James Rennell (1800)

Records from ancient times (such as by Pliny the Elder) show that the delta had seven distributaries or branches, (from east to west):[3]

  • the Pelusiac,
  • the Tanitic,
  • the Mendesian,
  • the Phatnitic (or Phatmetic),[5]
  • the Sebennytic,
  • the Bolbitine, and
  • the Canopic (also called the Herakleotic[6] and the Agathodaemon[7])

There are now only two main branches, due to flood control, silting and changing relief: the Damietta (corresponding to the Phatnitic) to the east, and the Rosetta (corresponding to the Bolbitine)[8] in the western part of the Delta.

The Rosetta Stone was found in the Nile Delta in 1799 in the port city of Rosetta (anglicized name of Rashid). The delta was a major constituent of Lower Egypt. There are many archaeological sites in and around the Nile Delta.[9]


Egypt 2010 population density1
Population density

About 39 million people live in the Delta region. Outside of major cities, population density in the delta averages 1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi) or more. Alexandria is the largest city in the delta with an estimated population of more than 4.5 million. Other large cities in the delta include Shubra El Kheima, Port Said, El Mahalla El Kubra, Mansura, Tanta, and Zagazig.[10]


During autumn, parts of the Nile River are red with lotus flowers. The Lower Nile (North) and the Upper Nile (South) have plants that grow in abundance. The Upper Nile plant is the Egyptian lotus, and the Lower Nile plant is the Papyrus Sedge (Cyperus papyrus), although it is not nearly as plentiful as it once was, and is becoming quite rare.[11]

Several hundred thousand water birds winter in the delta, including the world’s largest concentrations of little gulls and whiskered terns. Other birds making their homes in the delta include grey herons, Kentish plovers, shovelers, cormorants, egrets and ibises.

Other animals found in the delta include frogs, turtles, tortoises, mongooses, and the Nile monitor. Nile crocodiles and hippopotamus, two animals which were widespread in the delta during antiquity, are no longer found there. Fish found in the delta include the flathead grey mullet and soles.


The Delta has a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh) as the rest of Egypt, but its northernmost part, as is the case with the rest of the northern coast of Egypt which is the wettest region in the country, has relatively moderate temperatures, with highs usually not surpassing 31 °C (88 °F) in the summer. Only 100–200 mm (4–8 in) of rain falls on the delta area during an average year, and most of this falls in the winter months. The delta experiences its hottest temperatures in July and August, with a maximum average of 34 °C (93 °F). Winter temperatures are normally in the range of 9 °C (48 °F) at nights to 19 °C (66 °F) in the daytime. With cooler temperatures and some rain, the Nile Delta region becomes quite humid during the winter months.[12]

Sea level

Furthermore, Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline is being swallowed up by the sea because of global warming and the rise of the sea level, and the lack of sediments being deposited since the construction of the Aswan Dam, in some places as much as 90 m (100 yd) a year.[13] As the polar ice caps melt, much of the northern delta, including the ancient port city of Alexandria, will disappear under the Mediterranean. Even a 30 cm (12 in) rise in sea level will affect about 6.6% of the total land cover area in the Nile Delta region; At 1 m SLR, an estimated 887 thousand people will be at risk of flooding and displacement and about 100 km2 (40 sq mi) of vegetation, 16 km2 (10 sq mi) wetland, 402 km2 (160 sq mi) cropland, and 47 km2 (20 sq mi) of urban area land would be destroyed,[2] flooding approximately 450 km2 (170 sq mi).[14] The Nile Delta is turning into a salty wasteland by rising sea waters, forcing some farmers off their lands and others to import sand in a desperate bid to turn back the tide. Experts warn that global warming will have a major effect in the delta on agriculture resources, tourism and human migration besides shaking the region's fragile ecosystems. Environmental damage to the Nile Delta is not yet one of Egypt's priorities, but experts say if the situation continues to deteriorate, it will trigger massive food shortages which could turn seven million people into "climate refugees" by the end of the century if climate change remains unmitigated.[15]

In addition to the effect that the dams on the Nile have had on the delta, there has been a tremendous human effect internally with the rise of fisheries, the increased salt production, the building of roads, the heightened agricultural production, and the natural increase in human population in the region.[16]

Governorates and large cities

The Nile Delta forms part of these 10 governorates:

Large cities located in the Nile Delta:


  1. ^ Zeidan, Bakenaz. (2006). The Nile Delta in a global vision. Sharm El-Sheikh.
  2. ^ a b Hasan, Emad; Khan, Sadiq Ibrahim; Hong, Yang (2015). "Investigation of potential sea level rise impact on the Nile Delta, Egypt using digital elevation models". Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 187 (10): 649. doi:10.1007/s10661-015-4868-9. PMID 26410824.
  3. ^ a b John Cooper (30 September 2014). The Medieval Nile: Route, Navigation, and Landscape in Islamic Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-977-416-614-3.
  4. ^ Holz, Robert K (1969). Man-made landforms in the Nile delta. American Geographical Society. OCLC 38826202.
  5. ^ Wilson, Ian. The Exodus Enigma (1985), page 46. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  6. ^ e.g. at Callisthenes Alexander 1.31.
  7. ^ e.g. in Ptolemy, Geography.
  8. ^ Hayes, W. 'Most Ancient Egypt', p. 87, JNES, 23 (1964), 73-114.
  9. ^ Location of the site, Kafr Hassan Dawood On-Line, with a map of early sites of the delta.
  10. ^ City Population website, citing Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics Egypt (web), accessed 11 April 1908.
  11. ^ "Cyperus papyrus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  12. ^ Nile Delta Facts
  13. ^ "Global Warming Threatens Egypt's Coastlines and the Nile Delta". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Egypt's Nile Delta falls prey to climate change".
  15. ^ "Egypt fertile Nile Delta falls prey to climate change". Archived from the original on 9 February 2011.
  16. ^ El Banna, Mahmoud M.; Frihy, Omran E. (2009). "Human-induced changes in the geomorphology of the northeastern coast of the Nile delta, Egypt". Geomorphology. 107 (1): 72–78. Bibcode:2009Geomo.107...72E. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.06.025.

External links

Ash (deity)

Ash was the ancient Egyptian god of oases, as well as the vineyards of the western Nile Delta and thus was viewed as a benign deity. Flinders Petrie in his 1923 expedition to the Saqqara (also spelt Sakkara) found several references to Ash in Old Kingdom wine jar seals: "I am refreshed by this Ash" was a common inscription.

In particular, he was identified by the Ancient Egyptians as the god of the Libu and Tinhu tribes, known as the "people of the oasis". Consequently Ash was known as the "lord of Libya", the western border areas occupied by the Libu and Tinhu tribes, corresponds roughly with the area of modern Libya.In Egyptian mythology, as god of the oases, Ash was associated with Set, who was originally a god of the desert. The first known reference to Ash dates to the Protodynastic Period, and he continued to be mentioned as late as the 26th Dynasty.

Ash was usually depicted as a human, whose head was one of the desert creatures, variously being shown as a lion, vulture, hawk, snake, or the unidentified Set-animal.Some depictions of Ash show him as having multiple heads, unlike other Egyptian deities, although some compound depictions were occasionally shown connecting gods to Min. In an article in the journal Ancient Egypt (in 1923), and again in an appendix to her book, The Splendor that was Egypt, Margaret Murray expands on such depictions, and draws a parallel to a Scythian deity, who is referenced in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia universalis.

The idea of Ash as an import god is contested, as he may have been the god of the city of Nebut, now known as Naqada, before Set's introduction there. One of his titles is "Nebuty" or "He of Nebut", indicating this position.Ash is sometimes seen as another name for Set.


Avaris (; Egyptian: ḥw.t wꜥr.t, sometimes transcribed Hut-waret in works for a popular audience, Greek: Αὔαρις, Auaris) was the capital of Egypt under the Hyksos. It was located at modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes. As the main course of the Nile migrated eastward, its position at the hub of Egypt's delta emporia made it a major administrative capital of the Hyksos and other traders. It was occupied from about 1783 to 1550 BC, or from the Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt through the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt until its destruction by Ahmose I, the first Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. The name in the Egyptian language of the 2nd millennium BC was probably pronounced *Ḥaʔat-Wūrat 'Great House' and denotes the capital of an administrative division of the land. Today, the name Hawara survives, referring to the site at the entrance to Faiyum. Alternatively, Clement of Alexandria referred to the name of this city as "Athyria".


Bilbeis (Arabic: بلبيس‎ pronounced [belˈbeːs]; Bohairic Coptic: Ⲫⲉⲗⲃⲉⲥ/Ⲫⲉⲗⲃⲏⲥ Phelbes/Phelbēs) is an ancient fortress city on the eastern edge of the southern Nile delta in Egypt, the site of the Ancient city and former bishopric of Phelbes and a Latin Catholic titular see.

The city is small in size but densely populated, with over 407300 residents. It also houses the Egyptian Air Force Academy complex, which contains the town's largest public school in Al-Zafer.

The mosque of Sadat Qureish, which is the oldest mosque in Egypt, and perhaps the entirety of Africa, is located in Belbeis.

Crested lark

The crested lark (Galerida cristata) is a species of lark distinguished from the other 81 species of lark by the crest of feathers that rise up in territorial or courtship displays and when singing. Common to mainland Europe, the birds can also be found in northern Africa and in parts of western Asia and China. It is a non-migratory bird, but can occasionally be found as a vagrant in Great Britain.

Gharbia Governorate

Gharbia Governorate (Egyptian Arabic: محافظة الغربية‎ Muḥāfẓet El Gharbeya, IPA: [elɣɑɾˈbejjɑ, -jæ]) is one of the governorates of Egypt. It is located in the north of the country, south of Kafr El Sheikh Governorate, and north of Monufia Governorate. Its capital is Tanta, which is 90 km north of Cairo, and 120 km south east of Alexandria. The largest city in Gharbia is El Mahalla El Kubra. The total area of Gharbia governorate is 1,942 km2, making it the tenth largest governorate of Egypt.

Greater Cairo

The Greater Cairo Area (GCA) (Arabic: القاهرة الكبرى‎ El Qāhira El Kobrā) is the largest metropolitan area in Egypt and the largest urban area in Africa and the Middle East. It is the third largest urban area in the Muslim world after Jakarta and Karachi, and the world's 16th largest metropolitan area, consisting of all cities in the Cairo Governorate as well as Giza, 6th of October, Sheikh Zayed City in the Giza Governorate and Shubra El Kheima and Obour in the Qalyubia Governorate, with a total population estimated at 20,500,000 (as of 2012); area: 1,709 km2; density: 10,400/km2.


Hatmehit, or Hatmehyt (reconstructed to have been pronounced *Hāwit-Maḥūyat in Egyptian) in the ancient Egyptian religion was a fish-goddess in the area around the delta city of Per-banebdjedet (called Mendes in ancient greek). In ancient Egyptian art Hatmehit was depicted either as a fish, or a woman with a fish emblem or crown on her head. She was a goddess of life and protection.

Kafr El Sheikh Governorate

Kafr El Sheikh Governorate (Egyptian Arabic: محافظة كفر الشيخ‎ Muḥāfẓet Kafr El Sheikh) is one of the governorates of Egypt. It lies in the northern part of the country, along the western branch of the Nile in the Nile Delta. Its capital is the city of Kafr El Sheikh.

Land of Goshen

The Land of Goshen (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן or ארץ גושן Eretz Gošen) is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt given to the Hebrews by the pharaoh of Joseph (Genesis 45:9-10), and the land from which they later left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. It was located in the eastern Delta of the Nile.

Lesser short-toed lark

The lesser short-toed lark (Alaudala rufescens) is a small passerine bird found in southern Eurasia and northern Africa. It is a common bird with a very wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern". Confusingly, Hume's short-toed lark is also sometimes called the lesser short-toed lark.

Lower Egypt

Lower Egypt (Arabic: مصر السفلى‎ Miṣr as-Suflā) is the northernmost region of Egypt: the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two channels major that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

Monufia Governorate

Monufia Governorate (Egyptian Arabic: محافظة المنوفية‎ Muḥāfẓet El Monofeya IPA: [elmenoˈfejjæ, -monoˈ-]) is one of the governorates of Egypt. It is located in the northern part of the country in the Nile Delta, to the south of Gharbia governorate and to the north of Cairo. The governorate is named after Menouf, an ancient city which was the capital of the governorate until 1826. The current governor is Said Mohammed Mohammed Abbas.


Papyrus is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge. Papyrus (plural: papyri) can also refer to a document written on sheets of such material, joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book.

Papyrus is first known to have been used in Egypt (at least as far back as the First Dynasty), as the papyrus plant was once abundant across the Nile Delta. It was also used throughout the Mediterranean region and in the Kingdom of Kush. Apart from a writing material, ancient Egyptians employed papyrus in the construction of other artifacts, such as reed boats, mats, rope, sandals, and baskets.

Qalyubia Governorate

Qalyubia Governorate (Egyptian Arabic: محافظة القليوبية‎ Moḥāfẓet El Alyobeya Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [elʔæljoˈbejjæ]) is one of the governorates of Egypt. Located in Lower Egypt. It is situated north of Cairo in the Nile Delta region. Its capital is Benha.

Benha and several other settlements blend into the neighboring Cairo Governorate; as a result, parts of Qalyubia (particularly Shubra El Kheima) are generally considered to form part of the Greater Cairo metropolitan area (along with Cairo governorate, Giza city and 6 October city).

Sais, Egypt

Sais (Ancient Greek: Σάϊς, Coptic: Ⲥⲁⲓ) or Sa El Hagar (Arabic: صا الحجر‎) was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, the fifth nome of Lower Egypt and became the seat of power during the Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt (c. 732–720 BC) and the Saite Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (664–525 BC) during the Late Period. Its Ancient Egyptian name was Zau.


Tanis (; Ancient Greek: Τάνις; Ancient Egyptian: ḏˁn.t /ˈɟuʕnat/ or /ˈcʼuʕnat/; Arabic: صان الحجر‎ Ṣān al-Ḥagar; Coptic: ϫⲁⲛⲓ/ϫⲁⲁⲛⲉ) is a city in the north-eastern Nile Delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.

Twenty-first Dynasty of Egypt

The Twenty-first Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXI, alternatively 21st Dynasty or Dynasty 21) is usually classified as the first Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, lasting from 1069 BC to 945 BC.


Wadj-wer is an Egyptian god of fertility whose name means the "Great Green".It was commonly believed that Wadj-wer was a personification of the Mediterranean Sea; however, it is apparently more likely that he rather represented the lagoons and lakes in the northernmost Nile Delta, as suggested by some texts describing the "great green" as dry lands which could be crossed by foot, possibly a mention of the edge between two or more lakes.The earliest known attestation of Wadj-wer is dated back to the 5th Dynasty, in the mortuary temple of the pyramid of Sahure, at Abusir; here, he appears similar to the god Hapi, but with his body filled by water ripples. He also appears on the walls of the much later (20th Dynasty) tomb QV55 of prince Amunherkhepeshef, son of pharaoh Ramesses III.


Zagazig (Arabic: الزقازيق‎ az-Zaqāzīq Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ez.zæʔæˈziːʔ], rural: [ez.zæɡæˈziːɡ], Coptic: ϫⲱⲕⲉϫⲓⲕ) is a city in Lower Egypt. Situated in the eastern part of the Nile delta, it is the capital of the governorate of Sharqia.

In 1999, its population was approximately 279,000, which increased to 529,100 in 2018. It is built on a branch of the Sweet Water Canal and on al-Muˤizz Canal (the ancient Tanaitic channel of the Nile), and is 47 miles by rail north-northeast of Cairo. Situated on the Nile Delta in the midst of a fertile district, Zagazig is a centre of the cotton and grain trade of Egypt. It has large cotton factories and used to have offices of numerous European merchants.

It is located on the Muweis Canal and is the chief hub of the corn and cotton trade. There is a museum of antiquities, the Sharkeya National Museum (sometimes called the Amed Orabi Museum, at Herriat Raznah) that contains many important archaeological exhibits (currently closed for restoration).Zagazig University, one of the largest universities in Egypt, is also located in the city, with colleges in different fields of science and arts. The Archaeological Museum of the University of Zagazig exhibits significant finds from the nearby sites, Bubastis (Tell Basta) and Kufur Nigm. Also there is a branch for Al-Azhar University, the largest Islamic university in the world.

Zagazig is the birthplace of famous Coptic Egyptian journalist, philosopher and social critic, Salama Moussa.

The most notable streets in Zagazig are Farouk St., Government St. and El Kawmia St. [[Archive:Template:Flag of Aswan.svg|borde|22x22px]]

Regions of Africa
Central Africa
East Africa
North Africa
West Africa
Southern Africa
Egypt Egypt topics

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.