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This article is about Cairo, the capital of Egypt; for other uses of the name click here.

Cairo (Arabic: القاهرة, Romanization: al-Qāhira) is the capital city of Egypt and has a population of around 16 million. It is the largest city in both Africa and the Middle East.

It is located on the banks and islands of the Nile in the north of Egypt. To the west is the city of Giza and the ancient necropolis of Memphis on the Giza plateau, with its three large pyramids including the Great Pyramid of Giza. To the south is the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis.

The city contains the Museum of Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil and his Wife.

Cairo is the only city in Africa with a metro system.



Era of Westernization

The first hints of westernization began under the successors to Mehemet Ali this included a railway connection to Alexandria in 1851. The period of great change really began under Isma'il Pasha in 1863. The construction of the Suez Canal brought westerners to Egypt as did the booming cotton trade. A network of gas lighting was installed by a French company and the railway lines were expanded. In 1867 Isma'il visited the Paris to attend the Universal Exposition of 1867. There he saw the newly redesigned city of Haussmann and decided to rebuild Cairo on the model of a European capital. He hoped to have this done by 1869 when the world would come to Egypt for the opening of the Suez Canal.

Rather than rebuild the old city Isma'il instead elected to erect a new quarter to the west, along the bank of the Nile. The project was carried out bu Ali Pasha Mubarak and designed by the French urban planner Pierre Grand. A new area of luxurious villas and apartments was constructed and new government ministries were erected. Grand boulevards were driven through the old town and tram lines soon followed.

The era of colonization in 1882 saw the rebuilding of Cairo continuing. A modern sewer system was installed and new suburbs such as Heliopolis were constructed in the desert. Cairo's population exploded, increasing from 374,000 in 1882 to 1,312,000 by 1937. The city was dominated by westerners, however. And the new plans would usually place a Christian cathedral in a more prominent position than the Mosque.

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