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

NASA satellite photograph of the Nile Delta (shown in false color)
The Nile Delta at night

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 kilometres (150 mi) of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo.

Geography[edit]

Nile River and Delta

From north to south, the delta is approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) in length. From west-to-east, it covers some 240 kilometres (150 mi) of coastline. The delta is sometimes divided into sections, with the Nile dividing into two main distributaries, the Damietta and the Rosetta, 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 runs to the east of the delta, entering 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 Maryut.

The Nile is considered to be an "arcuate" delta (arc-shaped), as it resembles a triangle or lotus flower when seen from above. 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 High 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 70 feet (21 m) in depth.

History[edit]

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 River used to flood on an annual basis, but this ended with the construction of the Aswan Dam.

Ancient branches of the Nile[edit]

Ancient Nile delta.
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 (from east to west):

  • the Pelusiac,
  • the Tanitic,
  • the Mendesian,
  • the Phatnitic (or Phatmetic),[1]
  • the Sebennytic,
  • the Bolbitine, and
  • the Canopic (also called the Herakleotic[2] and the Agathodaemon[3])

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)[4] on 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. The Biblical Land of Goshen was located in a small area on the west bank of the Pelusiac distributary.[citation needed] There are many archaeological sites in and around the Nile Delta.[5]

Population[edit]

Population density

About half of Egypt’s 80 million people live in the Delta region. Outside of major cities, population density in the delta averages 1,000 persons/km² or more. Alexandria is the largest city in the delta with an estimated population of more than 4 million. Other large cities in the delta include Shubra al Khaymah, Port Said, El-Mahalla El-Kubra, El Mansura, Tanta, and Zagazig.[6]

Wildlife[edit]

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 Cyperus papyrus (papyrus sedge), although it is not nearly as plentiful as it once was, and is becoming quite rare.

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 Striped mullet and soles.

Climate[edit]

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 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 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) at days. With cooler temperatures and some rain, the Nile Delta region becomes quite humid during the winter months.

Sea level[edit]

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 100 yards a year.[7] As the polar ice caps melt, much of the northern delta, including the ancient port city of Alexandria, will disappear under the Mediterranean. A 30-centimeter rise in sea level is expected to occur by 2025, flooding approximately 200 square kilometers (77 sq mi).[8] 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 impact 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.[9]

Governorates[edit]

Large cities located in the Nile Delta:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilson, Ian. The Exodus Enigma (1985), page 46. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson.
  2. ^ e.g. at Callisthenes Alexander 1.31.
  3. ^ e.g. in Ptolemy, Geography.[1]
  4. ^ Hayes, W. 'Most Ancient Egypt', p. 87, JNES, 23 (1964), 73-114.
  5. ^ Location of the site, Kafr Hassan Dawood On-Line, with map of early sites of the delta.
  6. ^ City Population website, citing Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics Egypt (web), accessed 11 April 1908.
  7. ^ "Global Warming Threatens Egypt's Coastlines and the Nile Delta". 
  8. ^ "Egypt's Nile Delta falls prey to climate change". 
  9. ^ "Egypt fertile Nile Delta falls prey to climate change". 

External links[edit]

  1. ^ 1

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_Delta — Please support Wikipedia.
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5440 news items

 
WorldOil (subscription)
Mon, 18 May 2015 11:11:15 -0700

HAMBURG, Germany -- DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG has equalized its working interest and farmed down its stake in the West Nile Delta (WND) project in Egypt to its joint venture partner and operator BP. The deal includes the sale of a portion of DEA's stake ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Sun, 03 May 2015 10:48:45 -0700

Cairo: A Nile Delta prosecutor says he has charged 40 people with belonging to the Islamic State militant group and planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt. The announcement marks the first time people in Egypt's Nile Delta have been accused ...

Al-Bawaba

Ahram Online
Mon, 18 May 2015 00:41:15 -0700

Unknown assailants have bombed three high voltage electricity pylons in Beheira governorate, causing them to collapse, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. The attackers on Monday used at least eight explosive devices to bomb each pylon, said ...

ikhwanWeb.com

ikhwanWeb.com
Thu, 14 May 2015 23:00:00 -0700

As forces of the military junta in Egypt massacre Basarta village (north of Cairo) – like they did in Delga and Kerdasa – with 13 young girls rounded up and detained and six young men slaughtered, an FJP leader vows the Revolution will go on until it ...
 
Interfax Global Energy
Wed, 20 May 2015 03:52:30 -0700

Oil and gas explorer DEA, owned by Russian investment fund LetterOne since March, has reduced its stake in the West Nile Delta project in Egypt to 17.25%. You have reached your limit of 3 free articles this month... To continue reading this article ...
 
Baltimore Sun
Fri, 29 May 2015 11:33:45 -0700

A farmer leads her cattle on her way home at the end of the day in the Nile Delta town of Behira, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Farmers are busy with wheat harvest. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy). Abdo, 3, poses ...

Al-Monitor

Al-Monitor
Fri, 22 May 2015 13:15:00 -0700

The negative impact that the deterioration of the water quality has is not only limited to citizens' health. Fish die in large numbers from poisoning because of the high levels of ammonia and lead, as happened in January in the Rosetta branch in the ...

Inc.com

Inc.com
Fri, 22 May 2015 08:06:29 -0700

Kotn's founders decided to subsidize 12 farmers in the Nile Delta to grow the luxury textile and inked contracts to buy all the cotton for above-market prices. Can one bootstrapped startup save an industry? And as with every episode, find out what made ...
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