Without the great Nile, the
longest river in the World, Egypt would just be a vast expanse of desert.
The River Nile enabled Egypt to become one of the greatest early civilisations,
and one of the most prosperous countries in Africa today.
This benefit came at a price.
Every year the Nile would flood, bringing fertile topsoil from Ethiopia,
and enabling crops to thrive. This
'inundation', however, was unreliable
and too much water would result in villages being destroyed, or too
little would cause famine. Prophets, or the more scientific 'nilometers'
would be used to try to forecast the height of the river.
There have been several attempts
to control the Nile's flow, notably when Britain built the Aswan Dam in 1902.
No-one succeeded until President Nasser constructed the Aswan High Dam
with Soviet resources in the 1960s. Now, the height of the Nile is predictable,
allowing irrigation to be planned, and there is a bonus of vast amounts
of hydro-electric power - pylons scar the desert skyline throught
Although roads and a railway run the length of the Nile from the Mediterranean
to Lake Nasser, by far the best way to see it is to take a boat. The numerous
Nile cruisers each house a hundred or so holiday makers in luxury. The more
basic Feluccas, sailing boats, can be used for short trips or even for
back-to-nature cruising where food is served on board and you sleep under
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