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Egypt, Economy

For most of Egypt’s history, its economy was based almost entirely on farming, despite the fact that more than 95 percent of the country’s land area is infertile desert. Long an exporter of cereals, in the 19th century Egypt began to specialize in growing cotton, which is still an important cash crop. The first significant industries were set up only in the 1930s. Industrialization increased in the 1960s after much of the industrial sector was brought under state control. In the late 20th century other important sources of revenue included tourism, oil production, and remittances from the 3 million Egyptians working in the Persian Gulf states. Despite its economic and social development in the 20th century, Egypt was a relatively poor country in world terms, with a gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 of $98.7 billion, or $1,540 per capita.

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