Cairo is the capital of Egypt. Around 20 million inhabitants live in and around the city. This makes Cairo one of the largest cities in the world. It is important not only for its own country, but for many countries in the Middle East. Many books and television programmes in Arabic come from here.
In ancient Egypt there were already very old cities. Cairo is not one of them: It was not until the Romans that a fortress was built there. Cairo proper only came into being in the early Middle Ages, in 640 AD. An Arab army leader had conquered Egypt.
Around 1900 and afterwards, the city grew enormously. It is located on the Nile River, just before the Nile Delta begins. One reason for the growth was the Suez Canal. Near Cairo, it connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean. The city grew so fast that only poor, dirty houses and neighbourhoods were built for the new inhabitants. Even today, many inhabitants are very poor.
There are still some buildings from the Middle Ages in Cairo. One example is the Ibn Tulun Mosque in the Old City. The Egyptian Museum dates from the time when the British ruled Egypt. Nearby are also the pyramids of Giza.