Economy & Agriculture
With the promulgation of a series of laws beginning in 1961, the economy of Egypt was rapidly socialized. Foreign trade, wholesale trade, banking, insurance, and most manufacturing enterprises were taken over by the government. Although agriculture, urban real estate, and some manufacturing concerns remained in private hands, stringent regulations were imposed. An economic development plan introduced in 1960 brought about a considerable expansion of industry and increase in production during the succeeding five years. The plan was replaced in 1965 by a seven-year plan that was less successful, partly because of insufficient foreign investment; a comparatively modest three-year plan was introduced in 1967. Losses suffered during the Arab-Israeli War of June 1967 (see the section "Wars of the 1960s" below) and the general economic dislocation that persisted afterward seriously retarded social and economic development. Egypt's economic ills were a major reason for the peace efforts of the late 1970s, because the country could not afford another war. Although the economy grew rapidly during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the collapse of world oil prices in the mid-1980s, followed by the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990, left Egypt in difficult financial straits.
With one of the highest ratios in the world of population to cultivable land, Egyptian government leaders have acknowledged population growth as the principal cause of the country's economic difficulties. The economy also is burdened by foreign debt, which in the early 1990s was more than twice the size of the country's annual budget. In the early 1990s Egypt began putting into place economic reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, including relaxed price controls, reduced subsidies, and a liberalization of trade and investment.
The estimated annual national budget in the mid-1990s included about $16.8 billion in revenues and $19.4 billion in expenditures.
Currency and Banking:
Picture of the Egyptian Pound from the Arabic Side. The other side is different, but we wasn't able to scan it.
The basic unit of currency is the Egyptian pound, consisting of 100 piastres (3.50 Egyptian pounds equal U.S.$1; July 2000). The Central Bank of Egypt, set up in 1961, controls government banking, commercial banks, and the issue of notes by the National Bank. Many domestic and foreign banks operate in the country.
Egypt is predominantly an agricultural country, with about 40 percent of the labor force engaged in crop farming or herding. The pattern of landownership was greatly altered by the Agricultural Reform Decree of 1952, which limited individual holdings to about 80 hectares (about 200 acres), a figure revised in 1961 to about 40 hectares (about 100 acres), and revised again to about 20 hectares (about 50 acres) in 1969. Lands requisitioned by the government were distributed to the fellahin (peasants), but an economic gap still remains between the middle-class farmers and the fellahin. Government programs have expanded arable areas through reclamation, irrigation (notably since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970), and the use of advanced technology (fertilizers, mechanized equipment).
The yields of Egyptian farmlands are now among the highest in the world. Egypt is one of the world's leading producers of long-staple (long-fibered) cotton. Annual cotton lint production in the early 1990s was about 324,000 metric tons. Warm weather and plentiful water permit as many as three crops a year, giving Egypt abundant agricultural yields. In the early 1990s principal crops, ranked by estimated value and annual production in metric tons, included rice (3.9 million), tomatoes (4.7 million), wheat (4.6 million), maize (5.2 million), sugarcane (11.6 million), potatoes (1.8 million), and oranges (1.7 million). A wide variety of other vegetables and fruits are also grown.
The principal pastoral industry of Egypt is the breeding of beasts of burden. The livestock population in the early 1990s included about 3 million cattle, 3 million buffalo, 4.4 million sheep, 4.8 million goats, 1.6 million asses, and 44 million poultry.
Playing: Helwa Ya Baladi Midi