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Egypt, People and Society

The population of Egypt is 70,712,345 (2002 estimate). The people live almost exclusively in the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta, the Suez Canal region, and the northern coastal region of the Sinai Peninsula. There are small communities in the oases of the Libyan Desert and in the oil-drilling and mining towns of the Arabian Desert. There is also a small population of nomadic Bedouins. Egypt’s overall population density is 71 persons per sq km (184 per sq mi), but the population density in the inhabited portions of the country, which make up less than 5 percent of its land area, is 1,900 persons per sq km (4,900 per sq mi).

The population growth rate, which was about 2.5 percent per year in the 1980s, declined steadily in the 1990s as the country’s birth rate fell. In 2002 the rate of population growth was 1.66 percent. The birth rate was 24 per 1,000 persons, and the death rate was 8 per 1,000 persons.

For most of Egypt’s history, the majority of the population was rural and agricultural. In the second half of the 20th century, limited availability of agricultural land prompted peasants to migrate to the cities in search of work. By 2000, 45 percent of the population lived in urban areas.

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