The History of Egypt - The Story of a Truly Great Nation - Very few countries in the world have as antique a history as Egypt. Most people say Pharaoh Ramses and Queen Cleopatra when asked to name Egyptian rulers, but this ancient country has a fascinating history that includes many more people. What is very clear is that the history of Egypt is inescapably linked to the great river Nile that flows through it and that it has been a magnet for invaders because of the riches it produced. This land has been occupied by people right from the 7th millennium BC but the first united kingdom of Egypt dates to 3200 BC. There were many dynasties ruling this land in succession from the first capital of Memphis. It is a testament to the antiquity of this land that the period 1570-1070 BC is called the New Kingdom. This was then followed by the Ramesside period when Egypt was ruled by the 19th Dynasty which was founded by Pharaoh Ramses I. These rulers reigned from the new capital of Pi-Ramesse. The New Kingdom went into decline because the army and the priests of Amon grabbed power. Egypt came under Persian rule in 525 BC until Alexander the Great occupied it in 332 BC. Alexander passed through Egypt, leaving his general Ptolemy in charge. Ptolemy became king as Ptolemy I and this led to the Hellenestic period in the history of Egypt, a time when the country was the dominant power in Asia Minor and parts of Africa. The last member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled from Alexandria, was Cleopatra who was unsuccessful in protecting her country against Roman occupation. Egypt came under Rome for the next seven centuries, with the latter half being under Byzantine rule. This country become very Hellenized but fell to the inevitable onslaught of Islam in 642. It has remained an Islamic country ever since because of large scale immigration of Arabs which left the Christians a minority. The Arab rules of Egypt changed the capital to Al Fustat, although they retained the Byzantine decentralized system of administration. The Fatimid rulers, who were Shias, came to power in 969 and they made Cairo the capital of the country. They also established Al Azhar, the oldest university in the world. Egypt became a Sunni country when Saladin abolished the Fatimid dynasty in 1171 and founded the Ayyubid dynasty which did most of the fighting against the crusaders with Mameluke help. The Ayyubids were replaced by the Mamelukes who were in turn defeated by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1517. The Ottoman rule of Egypt lasted until the 20th century, albeit nominally after the 17th century. The history of Egypt took a different turn when the French under Napoleon and then the British took interest in it. This great country was then drawn into the modern era with the Suez Canal being built and the Nile being dammed. The country became independent in 1922 although it became a republic only in 1953. This country has been a very important power in the Arab world ever since.

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