Egypt is a country located mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge (via the Isthmus of Suez) with Southwest Asia. It has shorelines on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt covers an area totalling 1,001,450 km2 of which only 40,000 km2 (or 4%) of the total land area is cultivated and permanently settled. Most of the country lies within the Sahara desert. The Nile Valley and Delta covering only about 5.5% of the total area support about 99% of the population. The Nile River, which bisects Egypt, is a combination of three major tributaries whose sources are in east-central Africa: the White Nile (28%), the Blue Nile (58%), and the Atbara River (14%). Lake Nasser, the world's third largest artificial lake by volume, extends from the Aswan High Dam on the Nile for 560km into northern Sudan. The Western (or Libyan) Desert (c. 700,000 km2) is a low plateau with an immense sand sea. There are seven important depressions which all are oases except the largest, Qattara, which comprises badlands and salt lakes. The Qattara Depression (c. 15,000 km2) is largely below sea level and reaches -133 m at its lowest point. The relatively rocky and deeply incised, mountainous Eastern (or Arabian) Desert (c. 220,000 km2) lies between the Nile and Red Sea of which the most prominent feature is the Red Sea Hills along the Red Sea coast. The Eastern Desert is important for its natural resources, especially oil. The Asian Sinai Peninsula (c. 61,100 km2) has mountains in the south that are an extension of the Red Sea Hills and includes Mount Catherine, the country's highest point at 2,642 m.


The oldest rocks in Egypt are high-grade crystalline basement units that occur as isolated Archean (- early Proterozoic) inliers in the Western Desert; no other definite pre-Pan-African rocks have been identified elsewhere in Egypt, suggesting that much of the region was a stable craton  between  approximately 1800-800 Ma . The Eastern Desert corresponds to the Egyptian part of the Arabian-Nubian Shield along the coastal Red Sea region and is almost exclusively made up of accreted sequences of Neoproterozoic Pan African rocks. Thick Palaeozoic sedimentary strata mantle the basement rocks throughout Egypt in common with much of northeast Africa. Following a Hercynian hiatus, Cretaceous sediments are well exposed in various parts of the country. The Cenozoic history is characterised by a series of transgressions and regressions and their respective sediment types.