The Dictatorship of the Nile

A Brief History of Egypt, Part 1

Tomas Pueyo
13 min readSep 25, 2021


Why is Egypt the way it is?

Why did it go to war with Israel four times and then make a long-lasting peace, suffering ostracism from other Arab countries?
What’s the role of the Nile? Of the Suez Canal?
Why did the Arab Spring succeed there but failed in so many other countries?
Why did the Muslim Brotherhood reach the government?
Why did the military depose them? Why are they ruling the country now?

The root of all the events is a set of facts that are the same as they were 5000 years ago, when Egypt was born.

Let’s look into them. Can you recognize Egypt?

You can’t tell Egypt’s borders at all. But if there’s one thing that stands out, it’s that yellow flower, the line that culminates in a triangle: the Nile.

These lights tell you something flabbergasting about Egypt: 99% of its 105 million citizens live on the delta or the banks of the Nile1. The width of those banks ranges from 500m to 20km (0.3 to 12 miles).

The Nile’s banks, with the delta in the north and the Suez canal in the north-east, represent a total surface of 35,000 km², or about 3% of the 1 million km² of the country. 99% of the population in 3% of the land!

Egypt is just the Nile and desert. Thousands and thousands of kilometers of just desert. Look at this:

The craziest part is not the fact that it’s all desert. That’s to be expected given the climate.

And as we’ve seen in the past, the reason why the climate is this way is because…



Tomas Pueyo

2 MSc in Engineering. Stanford MBA. Ex-Consultant. Creator of applications with >20M users. Currently leading a billion-dollar business @ Course Hero