With over 86 million inhabitants, Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East, and the 15th-most populated in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometers, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara Desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern state, having been continuously inhabited since the 10th millennium BC. Its monuments, such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, were constructed by its ancient civilization, which was one of the most powerful of its time and one of the first six civilizations to arise independently in the world. Its ancient ruins, such as those of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings outside Luxor, are a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest from around the world. Egypt's rich cultural legacy, as well as the attraction of its Red Sea Riviera, have made tourism a vital part of the economy, employing about 12 percent of the country's workforce.
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