Monday, March 5, 2007


This article is about the country of Egypt. For other uses, see Egypt (disambiguation).
جمهورية مصر العربية
Jumhūriyyat Miṣr al-ʿArabiyyah
Arab Republic of Egypt
Flag of Egypt Coat of arms of Egypt
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Bilady, Bilady, Bilady
Location of Egypt
(and largest city) Cairo
30°2′N 31°13′E
Official languages Arabic
Government Republic
- President Hosni Mubarak
- Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif
- First Dynasty c.3150 BC
- Independence granted February 28, 1922
- Republic declared June 18, 1953
- Total 1,001,449 km² (30th)
386,660 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.6
- 2006 estimate 78,887,007 (15th)
- 1996 census 59,312,914
- Density 74/km² (120th)
192/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2004 estimate
- Total $305.253 billion (32nd)
- Per capita $4,317 (112th)
HDI (2006) 0.702 (medium) (111th)
Currency Egyptian pound (LE) (EGP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .eg
Calling code +20

Egypt (Egyptian: km.t ; Coptic: Ⲭⲏⲙⲓ Kīmi ; Arabic: مصر Miṣr ; Egyptian Arabic: Máṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in North Africa that includes the Sinai Peninsula, a land bridge to Asia. Covering an area of about 1,001,450 square kilometers (386,560 square miles), Egypt borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and Israel and the Gaza Strip to the northeast; on the north and the east are the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, respectively.

Egypt is the fifteenth most populous country in the world. The vast majority of its 78.8 million people (2006)[1] live near the banks of the Nile River (about 40,000 km² or 15,450 sq miles) where the only arable agricultural land is found. Large areas of land form part of the Sahara Desert and are sparsely inhabited. Around half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with the majority spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo (the largest city in Africa and the Middle East), Alexandria and other major towns in the Nile Delta.

Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and some of the world's most ancient and important monuments, including the Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza; the southern city of Luxor contains a particularly large number of ancient artifacts such as the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. Today, Egypt is widely regarded as a main political and cultural centre of the Middle East.[2][3][4][5]

* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Politics
o 3.1 National
o 3.2 Human rights
o 3.3 Foreign relations
* 4 Military
* 5 Administrative divisions
* 6 Economy
* 7 Demographics
* 8 Religion
* 9 Geography
o 9.1 Climate
* 10 Culture
o 10.1 Renaissance
o 10.2 Arts
o 10.3 Literature
o 10.4 Music
o 10.5 Festivals
o 10.6 Sports
* 11 See also
o 11.1 Lists
* 12 Notes and references
* 13 External links

[edit] Etymology
km.t (Egypt)
in hieroglyphs
km m t

* One of the ancient Egyptian names of the country, km.t, or "black land," is derived from the fertile black soils deposited by the Nile floods, distinct from the 'red land' (dSr.t) of the desert. The name is realized as kīmi and kīmə in the Coptic stage of the Egyptian language, and appeared in early Greek as Kymeía.

* Miṣr, the Arabic and official name for modern Egypt (Egyptian Arabic: Maṣr), is of Semitic origin directly cognate with the Hebrew מִצְרַיִם (Mitzráyim), meaning "the two straits" (a reference to the dynastic separation of upper and lower Egypt), and possibly means "a country" or "a state".[6] Miṣr in Arabic also means "a country" or "a state" or "frontier-land".

* The English name "Egypt" came via the Latin word Aegyptus derived from the ancient Greek word Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos). According to Strabo, Αίγυπτος (Aigyptos), in ancient Greek meant "below the Aegean" (Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως, "Aegaeou uptiōs"), and was formed by the combination of the two words. It has also been suggested that the word is a corruption of the ancient Egyptian phrase ḥwt-k3-ptḥ meaning "home of the Ka (Soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple of the god Ptah at Memphis.[7]

[edit] History
The Nile River in Egypt.
The Nile River in Egypt.

Main articles: History of Egypt, Ancient Egypt, and Egyptians

The Nile Valley has been a site of continuous human habitation since at least the Paleolithic era. Traces of these early peoples appear in the form of artifacts and rock carvings along the terraces of the Nile and in the desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a grain-grinding culture using the earliest type of sickle blades had been replaced by another culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers using stone tools. Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, eventually forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.[8]

By about 6000 BC, organized agriculture and large building construction had appeared in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to Dynastic Egyptian civilization. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining somewhat culturally separate, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appear during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.[9]
tAwy ('Two Lands')
in hieroglyphs

A unified kingdom was founded circa 3150 BC by King Menes, giving rise to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptians subsequently referred to their unified country as tAwy, meaning 'Two Lands'; and later km.t (Coptic: Kīmi), the 'Black Land', a reference to the fertile black soil deposited by the Nile river. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c.2700−2200 BC., famous for its many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza Pyramids.
The Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, built during the Old Kingdom, are modern national icons that also lie at the heart of Egypt's thriving tourism industry.
The Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, built during the Old Kingdom, are modern national icons that also lie at the heart of Egypt's thriving tourism industry.

The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years. Stronger Nile floods and stabilization of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first alien ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC, and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were eventually driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

The New Kingdom (c.1550−1070 BC) began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Jebel Barkal in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is known for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first known self-conscious expression of monotheism came during this period in the form of Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought in new ideas in the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians drove them out and regained control of their country.
First built in the third or fourth century AD, the Hanging Church is Cairo's most famous Coptic church.
First built in the third or fourth century AD, the Hanging Church is Cairo's most famous Coptic church.

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians in 343 BC after the last native pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. Later, Egypt fell to the Greeks and Romans, beginning over two thousand years of foreign rule. Before Egypt became part of the Byzantine realm, Christianity had been brought by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the AD first century. Diocletian's reign marks the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament was by then translated into Egyptian, and after the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.[10]

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Persian invasion early in the seventh century, until in AD 639, Egypt was invaded by the Muslim Arabs. The form of Islam the Arabs brought to Egypt was Sunni, though early in this period Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices that had survived through Coptic Christianity, giving rise to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day.[11] Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, including a period for which it was the seat of the Caliphate under the Fatimids. With the end of the Ayyubid dynasty, a Turco-Circassian military caste, the Mamluks, took control about AD 1250 and continued to govern even after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517.
Mosque of Mohamed Ali built in the early nineteenth century within the Cairo Citadel.
Mosque of Mohamed Ali built in the early nineteenth century within the Cairo Citadel.

The brief French Invasion of Egypt led by Napolean Bonaparte in 1798 had a great social impact on the country and its culture. Native Egyptians became exposed to the principles of the French Revolution and had an apparent chance to exercise self-governance.[12] A series of civil wars took place between the Ottoman Turks, the Mamluks, and Albanian mercenaries following the evacuation of French troops, resulting in the Albanian Muhammad Ali (Kavalali Mehmed Ali Pasha) taking control of Egypt where he was appointed as the Ottoman viceroy in 1805. He led a modernization campaign of public works, including irrigation projects, agricultural reforms and increased industrialization, which were then taken up and further expanded by his grandson and successor Isma'il Pasha.

Following the completion of the Suez Canal by Ismaiel in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub. In 1866, the Assembly of Delegates was founded to serve as an advisory body for the government. Its members were elected from across Egypt and eventually they came to have an important influence on governmental affairs.[13] The country also fell heavily into debt to European powers. Ostensibly to protect its investments, the United Kingdom seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914 when as a result of the declaration of war with the Ottoman Empire, Britain declared a protectorate over Egypt and deposed the khedive, replacing him with his uncle who was appointed Sultan of Egypt.
Public riot during the 1919 Revolution sparked by the British exile of nationalist leader Saad Zaghlul.
Public riot during the 1919 Revolution sparked by the British exile of nationalist leader Saad Zaghlul.

Between 1882 and 1906, a local nationalist movement for independence was taking shape. The Dinshaway Incident prompted Egyptian opposition to take a stronger stand against British occupation and the first political parties were founded. After the first World War, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement after gaining a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Malta on March 8, 1919, Egypt witnessed its first modern revolution. Constant revolting by the Egyptian people throughout the country led Great Britain to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on February 22, 1922.[14]

The new Egyptian government drafted and implemented a new constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary representative system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly-elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924, and in 1936 the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. However, continued instability in the government due to remaining British control and increasing involvement by the King in politics led to the eventual toppling of the monarchy and the dissolution of the parliament through a coup d'état by a group of army officers in 1952. They forced King Farouk I to abdicate in support of his son King Ahmed Fouad II.
Evening view of Cairo, the largest city in Africa and the Middle East. The Cairo Opera House (center) is the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital.
Evening view of Cairo, the largest city in Africa and the Middle East. The Cairo Opera House (center) is the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital.

The Egyptian Republic was declared on 18 June 1953 with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic. Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser – the real architect of the 1952 movement – and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President and declared the full independence of Egypt from the United Kingdom on June 18, 1956. His nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956 prompted the 1956 Suez Crisis. Three years after the 1967 Six Day War, in which Egypt lost the Sinai to Israel, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972, and launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while violently clamping down on religious and secular opposition alike.

In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched a surprise attack on Israel in an attempt to regain the occupied Sinai Peninsula. Both the US and the USSR intervened and a cease-fire was reached between both sides. Despite not being a complete military success, most historians agree that the Yom Kippur war presented Sadat with a political victory that would later allow him to pursue peace with Israel. In 1977, Sadat made a historic visit to Israel which led to the 1978 peace treaty in exchange for the complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat's initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League, but was supported by the vast majority of Egyptians.[15] Sadat was assassinated in Cairo by a fundamentalist military soldier in 1981 and was succeeded by the incumbent Hosni Mubarak. In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kifaya, was launched to seek a return to democracy and greater civil liberties.

[edit] Politics

Main article: Politics of Egypt

[edit] National
The Office of the President of Egypt at the Presidential Palace.
The Office of the President of Egypt at the Presidential Palace.

Egypt has been a republic since 18 June 1953. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has been the President of the Republic since October 14, 1981, following the assassination of former-President Mohammed Anwar El-Sadat. Mubarak is currently serving his fifth term in office. He is the leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif was sworn in as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004, following the resignation of Dr. Atef Ebeid from his office.

Although power is ostensibly organized under a multi-party semi-presidential system, whereby the executive power is theoretically divided between the President and the Prime Minister, in practice it rests almost solely with the President who traditionally has been elected in single-candidate elections for more than fifty years. Egypt also holds regular multi-party parliamentary elections. The last presidential election, in which Mubarak won a fifth consecutive term, was held in September 2005.

In late February 2005, President Mubarak announced in a surprise television broadcast that he had ordered the reform of the country's presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls in the upcoming presidential election. For the first time since the 1952 movement, the Egyptian people had an apparent chance to elect a leader from a list of various candidates. The President said his initiative came "out of my full conviction of the need to consolidate efforts for more freedom and democracy."[16] However, the new law placed draconian restrictions on the filing for presidential candidacies, designed to prevent well-known candidates such as Ayman Nour from standing against Mubarak, and paved the road for his easy re-election victory.[17]
The Egyptian Parliament.
The Egyptian Parliament.

Concerns were once again expressed after the 2005 presidential elections about government interference in the election process through fraud and vote-rigging, in addition to police brutality and violence by pro-Mubarak supporters against opposition demonstrators.[18] This poses major questions about the government's purported commitment to democracy.

As a result, most Egyptians are skeptical about the process of democratization and the role of the elections. Less than 25 percent of the country's 32 million registered voters (out of a population of more than 78 million) actually turned out for the 2005 elections.[19] Newspapers, however, have exhibited an increasing degree of freedom in criticizing the president, and the results of the 2005 parliamentary elections, which saw Islamist candidates such as the banned Muslim Brotherhood winning seats, indicate that a change of some sorts may be underway. A proposed change to the constitution would limit the president to two seven-year terms in office.[20]

[edit] Human rights

Main article: Human rights in Egypt

Members of the Kifaya democracy movement protesting a fifth term for President Hosni Mubarak.
Members of the Kifaya democracy movement protesting a fifth term for President Hosni Mubarak.

Several local and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have reported on Egypt's poor human rights record for many years. In 2005, the government of President Hosni Mubarak faced unprecedented public criticism when it clamped down on democracy activists challenging his rule. Some of the most serious human rights violations according to HRW's 2006 report on Egypt are routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.[21]

Discriminatory personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance which put women at a disadvantage have also been cited. Laws concerning Christians which place restrictions on church building have been recently eased, but major constructions still require governmental approval.[22] In addition, intolerance of Baha'is and unorthodox Muslim sects remains a problem.[21]

In 2005, the Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt as "6" (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free rating), civil liberties as "5" and gave it the freedom rating of "Not Free."[23] It however noted that "Egypt witnessed its most transparent and competitive presidential and legislative elections in more than half a century and an increasingly unbridled public debate on the country's political future in 2005."[24]

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defense of human rights in Egypt.[25] In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights, headquartered in Cairo and headed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali who directly reports to the president.[26] The council has come under heavy criticism by local NGO activists, who contend it undermines human rights work in Egypt by serving as a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its violations[27] and to provide legitimacy to repressive laws such as the recently renewed Emergency Law.[28] Egypt has recently announced that it is in the process of abolishing the Emergency Law.[29]

Denying a basic right of religious belief, the high court of Egypt has outlawed all religions and belief except Islam, Christianity and Judaism. (For more information see Egyptian Identification Card Controversy).

Audio/Video Illustration of a "Kifaya or Kefaya" shout out for Human Rights in Egypt. This video is multimedia content related to the image illustrating this article. This addition contains °°°no explicit°°° visuals or foul language. Related links may be explicit and should be avoided by young and sensitive viewers.

[edit] Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Egypt

Egypt's foreign policy operates along a non-aligned level. Factors such as population size, historical events, military strength, diplomatic expertise and a strategic geographical position give Egypt extensive political influence in the Middle East and Africa, and within the Non-Aligned Movement as a whole. Cairo has been a crossroads of regional commerce and culture for centuries, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

The permanent headquarters for the League of Arab States (The Arab League) is located in Cairo. The Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the current Secretary General of the Arab League. The Arab League briefly moved out of Egypt to Tunis in 1978 as a protest at the peace treaty with Israel, but returned in 1989.

Egypt was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, after the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty at the Camp David Accords. Egypt has a major influence amongst other Arab states, and has historically played an important role as a mediator in resolving disputes between various Arab nations, and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Most Arab nations still give credence to Egypt playing that role, though its effects are often limited.

Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

[edit] Military

Main article: Military of Egypt

Egyptian F-16s flying in close formation
Egyptian F-16s flying in close formation

The Egyptian military is the strongest military power on the African continent, and one of the strongest in the Middle East. The Egyptian Armed forces have also had more battle-field experience than most armies in the region and have a combined troop strength of around 450,000 active personnel.[30] The Egyptian military has recently undergone massive military modernization mostly in their Air Force. Egypt is currently the only Arab and African country with a spy satellite, EgyptSat 1. Egypt is the first Arab country to have a Spy Satellite.[31] Egypt is the third Middle East country to operate a spy satellite after Israel and Iran.

The Egyptian government recently requested a batch of advanced F-15 fighters from the United States equipped with "smart" bombs to expand its Air Defense capability. Israel is trying to block the sale of the F-15 fighters because of concern that this would completely close the gap between the Egyptian and Israeli Air Forces.[32] According to the Israeli chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, the Egyptian Air Force has roughly the same number of modern warplanes as the Israeli Air Force and far more Western tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and warships than the IDF.[33]

Many Arab and African armies train in Egypt and in response to the poor performance the Lebanese armed forces showed during the recent Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, they have also signed deals with the Egyptian Armed Forces to train and equip the Lebanese Army.

Egypt continues to contribute regularly to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most recently in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Conscription is compulsory for Egyptian men of 18 years of age who are not the only male child. Full-time students may defer their service until the age of 28. The length of the service depends on the level and kind of education achieved by the conscript and needs of the army at the time of conscription.

[edit] Administrative divisions
Map of Egypt
Map of Egypt

Main article: Governorates of Egypt

Egypt is divided into twenty-seven governorates (muhafazat, singular muhafazah).
Governorate English name Type
Ad Daqahliyah Dakahlia lower
Aswan Aswan upper
Asyut Assyout upper
Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar Red Sea frontier
Bani Suwayf Beni-Suef upper
El-Beheirah Behera lower
Bur Sa'id Port Said urban
Dumyat Damietta lower
Al-Fayyum Fayoum upper
Al-Gharbiyah Gharbia lower
Al Iskandariyah Alexandria urban
Al-Isma'iliyah Ismailia lower
Janub Sina' South Sinai frontier
El Gizah Giza upper

Governorate English name Type
Kafr ash Shaykh Kafr El-Sheikh lower
Matruh Matrouh frontier
Al-Monufiyah Menoufia lower
Al-Minya Menia upper
Al-Qahirah Cairo urban
Al-Qalyubiyah Kalyoubia lower
Qina Quena upper
Shamal Sina' North Sinai frontier
Al-Sharqiyah Sharkia lower
Suhaj Suhag upper
Al-Suways Suez urban
El Wadi El-Gedid New Valley frontier
Al-Uqsur Luxor upper

[edit] Economy
Lions guard the Kasr-el-Nil Bridge which traverses the Nile at Tahrir Square. The construction of the bridge served as a catalyst for the development of the affluent commercial district Zamalek (Gezira Island).
Lions guard the Kasr-el-Nil Bridge which traverses the Nile at Tahrir Square. The construction of the bridge served as a catalyst for the development of the affluent commercial district Zamalek (Gezira Island).

Main article: Economy of Egypt

Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Europe. The United States as well has a large population of Egyptian immigrants. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly-growing population, limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress the economy.

The government has struggled to prepare the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investments in communications and physical infrastructure. Egypt has been receiving U.S. foreign aid (since 1979, an average of $2.2 billion per year) and is the third-largest recipient of such funds from the United States following the Iraq war. Its main revenues however come from tourism as well as traffic that goes through the Suez Canal.

Economic conditions have started to improve considerably after a period of stagnation from the adoption of more liberal economic policies by the government, as well as increased revenues from tourism and a booming stock market. In its annual report, the IMF has rated Egypt as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms. Some of the major steps concerning economic reforms taken by the new government since 2003 include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs, a new taxation law implemented in 2005 that decreases corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulted to the stated 100% increase in tax revenue by the year 2006.

FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) into Egypt has increased considerably in the past few years due to the recent economic liberalization measures taken by minister of investment Mahmoud Mohieddin, exceeding $6 billion in 2006. Egypt is slated to overcome South Africa as the highest earner of FDI on the African continent in 2007.

Although one of the main obstacles still facing the Egyptian economy is the trickle down of the wealth to the average population, many Egyptians criticize their government for higher prices of basic goods while their standards of living or purchasing power remains relatively stagnant. Often corruption is blamed by Egyptians as the major impediment of not feeling the benefits of the newly attained wealth. Although major reconstruction of the infrastructure in the country is promised by the government, with a large portion of the sum payed for the newly acquired 3rd mobile license ($3billion) by Etisalat, slated to be pumped into the country's railroad system after public outrage against the government for recent disasters that took place in 2006 claimed more than 100 lives.

The most well known examples of Egyptian companies that have expanded regionally and globally are the Orascom Group and Raya. The IT sector has been expanding rapidly in the past few years, with many new start-ups conducting outsourcing business to North America and Europe, operating with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and other major corporations, as well as numerous SME's. Some of these companies are the Xceed Contact Center, Raya Contact Center, E-Group Connections and C3 along with other start ups in that country. The sector has been stimulated by new Egyptian entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on their country's huge potential in the sector, as well as constant government encouragement.

[edit] Demographics
Egyptian farm.
Egyptian farm.

Main articles: Demographics of Egypt and Egyptians

Egypt is the most populous country in the Middle East and the second-most populous on the African continent, with nearly 79 million people. Almost all the population is concentrated along the banks of the Nile (notably Alexandria and Cairo), in the Delta and near the Suez Canal. Approximately 90% of the population adheres to Islam and most of the remainder to Christianity (primarily the Coptic Orthodox denomination).[1] Apart from religious affiliation, Egyptians can be divided demographically into those who live in the major urban centers and the fellahin or farmers of rural villages.

Egyptians are by far the largest ethnic group in Egypt at 97-98% (about 76.4 million) of the total population.[1] Ethnic minorities include the Bedouin Arab tribes living in the eastern deserts and the Sinai Peninsula, the Berber-speaking (Amazigh) Siwis of the Siwa Oasis, the ancient Nubian communities clustered along the Nile in the southernmost part of Egypt with interspersed communities of Beja who become more consolidated and concentrated in the south-eastern-most corner of the country, and a number of Roma clans mostly in the Nile Delta and Fayyum who are progressively losing their identity as urbanization increases.

Egypt also hosts some 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers, made up mostly of 70,000 Palestinian refugees and 20,000 Sudanese refugees. The once-vibrant Jewish community in Egypt has virtually disappeared, with only a small number remaining in Egypt and those who visit on religious occasions. Several important Jewish archaeological and historical sites remain.

[edit] Religion
Cairo's unique city scape with its ancient mosques
Cairo's unique city scape with its ancient mosques

Main article: Religion in Egypt

Religion plays a central role in most Egyptians' lives, as visitors to the country quickly discover. The rolling calls to prayer that are heard five times a day have the informal effect of regulating the pace of everything from business to entertainment. Cairo is famous for its numerous mosque minarets and church towers. Unfortunately, this religious landscape has been marred by a long-standing record of religious extremism,[34] most recently typified in a 16 December 2006 judgment of the Supreme Administative Council of Egypt which has insisted on a clear demarcation between "recognized religions"—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—and all other religious beliefs—thus effectively delegitimatizing and forbidding practice of all but these aforementioned religions.[35] This judgment has lead to the requirement for communities to either commit perjury or be subjected to denial of identification cards which is tantamount to the denial of their right to citizenship.

Egypt is predominantly Muslim, at approximately 90% of the population, with the majority being adherents of the Sunni branch of Islam[1] A significant number of Muslim Egyptians also follow native Sufi orders,[36] and a minority of Shi'a.

Christians represent about 10% of the population, 90% of whom belong to the native Coptic denominations (primarily Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, but also Coptic Catholic Church; a very small Protestant Coptic community exists too), while the remainder includes the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Syriac Orthodox of Antioch, and Armenian Apostolic Church and some (Uniate) Eastern Catholic Churches such as the Maronite, Chaldean, Syriac Catholic and Armenian Catholic Churches, largely found in the urban regions of Alexandria and Cairo. However, the number and percentage of Egyptian Christians (primarily Copts) is largely understated according to many Coptic Christians and it is believed the actual number of Christians in Egypt is closer to 20% of the population. Over the last decades the proportion of Egyptian Christians has decreased due to Muslim families tending to have more children, and Egyptian Christians leaving Egypt due to discrimination and persecution. The Coptic Christian community usually has the highest standard of living in urban Egypt and usually have attained a higher average standard of education than the larger Muslim population.[1]

According to the present Egyptian constitution, any new legislation must at least implicitly agree with Islamic laws. The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through Wizaret Al-Awkaf (Ministry of Religious Affairs). Al-Awkaf controls all mosques and overviews Muslim clerics. Imams are trained in Imam vocational schools and at Al-Azhar University. The department supports Sunni Islam and has commissions authorised to give Fatwa judgements on Islamic issues.

Egypt hosts two major religious institutions. Al-Azhar University (Arabic: جامعة الأزهر) is the oldest Islamic institution of higher studies (founded around 970 A.D) and considered by many to be the oldest extant university. Egypt also has a strong Christian heritage as evidenced by the existence of the Coptic Orthodox Church headed by the Patriarch of Alexandria, which has a following of approximately 50 million Christians worldwide; affiliated sister churches are located in Ethiopia, Syria and Eritrea.
Over seven million Egyptians follow the Christian faith as members of the Coptic Church.
Over seven million Egyptians follow the Christian faith as members of the Coptic Church.

Religious freedom in Egypt is hampered to varying degrees by extremist Islamist groups and by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. Being the largest religious minority in Egypt (and the Arab World), Coptic Christian are the most negatively affected community. Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches. Although the law was recently eased by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts continue to face many obstacles in building new or repairing existing churches.[37] Copts have faced increased marginalization after the 1952 coup d'état. That however changed to some degree when President Sadat appointed Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as the Egyptian Foreign Minister. Prominent Copts on the cabinet now include Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Environment Minister Maged George. In addition, Naguib Sawiris, an extremely successful businessman and one of the wealthiest people internationally is a Copt. Under the Mubarak government, Coptic Christmas (January 7) was recognized as an official holiday in 2002.[38] The Coptic community however has occasionally been the target of hate crimes and physical assault, most recently in El Kosheh massacre that left 21 Copts dead, and during the 2006 attacks on three churches in Alexandria that left one dead.[39] In addition, many Copts continue to complain of being minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and of being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion.[40]

Egypt was once home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Egyptian Jews who were mostly Karaites partook of all aspects of Egypt's social, economic and political life; one of the most ardent Egyptian nationalists, Yaqub Sanu' (Abu Naddara), was a Jew, as are traditional musician elSheikh Dawoud Husni, and the popular singer Leila Mourad, and filmmaker Togo Mizrahi.

For a long time, Arab Jews from around the Ottoman Empire and Arab world, were attracted to Egypt in settled in it. After the 1956 Suez Crisis, some 25,000 Jews were expelled by Gamal Abdel Nasser, many of these held official Egyptian citizenship. Their Egyptian citizenship was revoked and their property was confiscated. A steady stream of migration of Egyptian Jews followed, reaching a peak after the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967. Today, Jews in Egypt number less than 200.[41]

Bahá'ís in Egypt, whose population is estimated to be a couple of thousands, have long been persecuted, having their institutions and community activities banned. Since their faith is not officially recognized by the state, they are also not allowed to use it on their national identity cards (conversely, Islam, Christianity, & Judaism are officially recognized); hence most of them do not hold national identity cards. In April 2006 a court case recognized the Bahá'í Faith, but the government appealed the court decision and succeeded in having it suspended on 15 May.[42] On December 16, 2006, only after one hearing, the Supreme Administrative Council of Egypt ruled against the Bahá'ís and stating that the government may not recognize the Bahá'í Faith in official identification numbers.[35]

There are Egyptians who identify as atheist and agnostic, but their numbers are largely unknown as openly advocating such positions risks legal sanction on basis of apostasy (if a citizen takes the step of suing the 'apostating' person, not automatically by the general prosecutor). In 2000, an openly atheist Egyptian writer, who called for the establishment of a local association for atheists, was tried on charges of insulting Islam in four of his books.[43]

Although freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, Egyptians converting from Islam to Christianity or vice-versa have faced great troubles due to the practices of administratives. Public officials, being conservative themselves dismay and increase the complexity of the legal procedures required to instate the religion change as required by law. Security agencies fear that such conversions, especially those from Islam to Coptic Christianity, may stir social unrest, and takes forceful steps to prevent it from happening in many cases, sometimes by detaining the subjects.

[edit] Geography
White Desert, Farafra.
White Desert, Farafra.

Main article: Geography of Egypt

At 386,636 mi² (1,001,450 km²[44]), Egypt is the world's thirtieth-largest country (after Mauritania). It is comparable in size to Tanzania, twice the size of France, four times the size of the UK, and is more than half the size of the US state of Alaska.

Nevertheless, due to the aridity of Egypt's climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that approximately 99% of the population uses only about 5.5% of the total land area.[45]

Egypt is bordered by Libya on the west, Sudan on the south, and by Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip on the northeast. Egypt's important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, which in turn is traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea.

Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt's landscape is a big, sandy desert. The winds blowing can create sand dunes over one hundred feet high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara Desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts were referred to as the "red land" in ancient Egypt, and they protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, one of the greatest ancient cities, Aswan, Asyut, Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital, El-Mahalla El-Kubra, Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu, Hurghada, Luxor, Kom Ombo, Port Safaga, Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, Suez, where the Suez Canal is located, Zagazig, and Al-Minya. Oases include Bahariya, el Dakhla, Farafra, el Kharga and Siwa.
Satellite image of Egypt, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Egypt, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

Protectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa. See Egyptian Protectorates for more information.

[edit] Climate

In terms of average rainfall, Egypt is almost certainly the driest country in the world. South of Cairo, rainfall averages only around 2 to 5 mm (0.1 to 0.2 in) per year, and years typically pass by between falls. On a very thin strip of the northern coast the rainfall can be as high as 170 mm (7 in), all between November and March. Snow has been known to fall on Mount Sinai.

It is hot in the summer, with temperatures averaging between 80 and 90°F (27 - 32°C), and up to 109°F (42°C) on the Red Sea coast. Winters are warm, with temperatures averaging between 55 and 70°F (13 to 21°C). A steady wind from the northwest helps hold down the temperature near the Mediterranean coast. The Khamaseen is a wind that blows from the south in Egypt, usually in spring or summer, bringing sand and dust, and sometimes raises the temperature in the desert to more than 100°F (38°C).

[edit] Culture
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a commemoration of the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt's second largest city.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a commemoration of the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt's second largest city.

Main article: Culture of Egypt

Egyptian culture has five thousand years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations and for millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity, and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of Egypt's ancient culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself with roots in ancient Egypt.

Egypt's capital city, Cairo, is Africa's largest city and has been renowned for centuries as a center of learning, culture and commerce. Egypt has the highest number of Nobel Laureates in Africa and the Arab World. Some Egyptian born politicians were or are currently at the helm of major international organizations like Boutros Boutros-Ghali of the United Nations and Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA.

[edit] Renaissance

The work of early nineteenth-century scholar Rifa'a et-Tahtawi gave rise to the Egyptian Renaissance, marking the transition from Medieval to Early Modern Egypt. His work renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and exposed Egyptian society to Enlightenment principles. Tahtawi co-founded with education reformer Ali Mubarak a native Egyptology school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars, such as Suyuti and Maqrizi, who themselves studied the history, language and antiquities of Egypt.[46] Egypt's renaissance peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the work of people like Muhammad Abduh, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Qasim Amin, Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein and Mahmoud Mokhtar. They forged a liberal path for Egypt expressed as a commitment to individual freedom, secularism and faith in science to bring progress.[47]

[edit] Arts
Eighteenth dynasty painting from the tomb of Theban governor Ramose in Deir el-Madinah
Eighteenth dynasty painting from the tomb of Theban governor Ramose in Deir el-Madinah

The Egyptians were one of the first major civilizations to codify design elements in art. The wall paintings done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene. The Cairo Opera House serves as the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital. Egypt's media and arts industry has flourished since the late nineteenth century, today with more than thirty satellite channels and over one hundred motion pictures produced each year. Cairo has long been known as the "Hollywood of the Middle East;" its annual film festival, the Cairo International Film Festival, has been rated as one of 11 festivals with a top class rating worldwide by the International Federation of Film Producers' Associations.[48] To bolster its media industry further, especially with the keen competition from the Persian Gulf Arab States and Lebanon, a large media city was built. Some Egyptian actors, like Omar Sharif, have achieved worldwide fame.
[edit] Literature

Literature constitutes an important cultural element in the life of Egypt. Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated throughout the Middle East. The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular.[49] Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Egyptian women writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition. Vernacular poetry is perhaps the most popular literary genre amongst Egyptians, represented by such luminaries as Ahmed Fuad Nigm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.

[edit] Music

Main article: Music of Egypt

Upper Egyptian folk musicians from Kom Ombo.
Upper Egyptian folk musicians from Kom Ombo.

Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African and Western elements. In antiquity, Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, including two indigenous instruments: the ney and the oud. Percussion and vocal music also became an important part of the local music tradition ever since. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of people such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz and Mahmud Osman, who influenced the later work of Egyptian music giants such as Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafez. These prominent artists were followed later by Amr Diab. He is seen by many as the new age "Musical Legend", whose fan base stretches all over the Middle East and Europe. From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, while Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other festivities.
[edit] Festivals

Egypt is famous for its many festivals and religious carnivals, also known as mulids. They are usually associated with a particular Coptic or Sufi saint, but are often celebrated by all Egyptians irrespective of creed or religion. Ramadan has a special flavor in Egypt, celebrated with sounds, lights (local lanterns known as fawanees) and much flare that many Muslim tourists from the region flock to Egypt during Ramadan to witness the spectacle. The ancient spring festival of Sham en Nisim (Copto-Egyptian: Ϭⲱⲙ‘ⲛⲛⲓⲥⲓⲙ shom en nisim) has been celebrated by Egyptians for thousands of years, typically between the Egyptian months of Baramouda (April) and Bashans (May) following Easter Sunday.[50]

[edit] Sports

Football (soccer) is the de facto national sport of Egypt. Egyptian Soccer clubs El Ahly and El Zamalek are the two most popular teams and enjoy the reputation of long-time champions of the sport regionally. Squash and tennis are other close favorites among Egyptians. The Egyptian Squash team has been known for its fierce competition in world-wide championships since the 1930s.



[edit] Achaemenid Empire (550 BC–330 BC)

Main article: Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus the Great, founder of Persian Empire and first charter of human rights.
Cyrus the Great, founder of Persian Empire and first charter of human rights.
Apadana Hall, Persepolis: Angra Mainyu kills the primeval bull, whose seed is rescued by Mah, the moon, as the source for all other animals.
Apadana Hall, Persepolis: Angra Mainyu kills the primeval bull, whose seed is rescued by Mah, the moon, as the source for all other animals.

The earliest known record of the Persians comes from an Assyrian inscription from c. 844 BC that calls them the Parsu (Parsuash, Parsumash) and mentions them in the region of Lake Urmia alongside another group, the Madai (Medes). For the next two centuries, the Persians and Medes were at times tributary to the Assyrians. The region of Parsuash was annexed by Sargon of Assyria around 719 BC. Eventually the Medes came to rule an independent Median Empire, and the Persians were subject to them.

The Achaemenids were the first to create a centralized state in Persia, founded by Achaemenes (Hakhamanish), chieftain of the Persians around 700 BC.

Around 653 BC, the Medes came under the domination of the Scythians, and Teispes, the son of Achaemenes, seems to have led the nomadic Persians to settle in southern Iran around this time — eventually establishing the first organized Persian state in the important region of Anshan as the Elamite kingdom was permanently destroyed by the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal (640 BC). The kingdom of Anshan and its successors continued to use Elamite as an official language for quite some time after this, although the new dynasts spoke Persian, an Indo-Iranian tongue.

Teispes' descendants may have branched off into two lines, one line ruling in Anshan, while the other ruled the rest of Persia. Cyrus II the Great united the separate kingdoms around 559 BC. At this time, the Persians were still tributary to the Median Empire ruled by Astyages. Cyrus rallied the Persians together, and in 550 BC defeated the forces of Astyages, who was then captured by his own nobles and turned over to the triumphant Cyrus, now Shah of a unified Persian kingdom. As Persia assumed control over the rest of Media and their large empire, Cyrus led the united Medes and Persians to still more conquest. He took Lydia in Asia Minor, and carried his arms eastward into central Asia. Finally in 539 BC, Cyrus marched triumphantly into the ancient city of Babylon. After this victory, he set the standard of the benevolent conqueror by issuing the Cyrus Cylinder. Cyrus was killed in 530 during a battle against the Massagetae or Sakas.
Darius I of Persia.
Darius I of Persia.
Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent.
Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent.

Cyrus' son, Cambyses II, annexed Egypt to the Achaemenid Empire. The empire then reached its greatest extent under Darius I. He led conquering armies into the Indus River valley and into Thrace in Europe. A punitive raid against Greece was halted at the Battle of Marathon. His son Xerxes I tried to subdue the Greeks, but his army was defeated at the Battle of Plataea 479 BC.

The Achaemenid Empire was the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen. More importantly, it was well managed and organized. Darius divided his realm into about twenty satrapies (provinces) supervised by satraps, or governors, many of whom had personal ties to the Shah. He instituted a systematic tribute to tax each province. He took the advanced postal system of the Assyrians and expanded it. Also taken from the Assyrians was the usage of secret agents of the king, known as the King's Eyes and Ears, keeping him informed.

Darius improved the famous Royal Road and other ancient trade routes, thereby connecting far reaches of the empire. He may have moved the administration center from Fars itself to Susa, near Babylon and closer to the center of the realm. The Persians allowed local cultures to survive, following the precedent set by Cyrus the Great. This was not only good for the empire's subjects, but ultimately benefited the Achaemenids, since the conquered peoples felt no need to revolt.
Persian and Median soldiers with Farvahar in center.
Persian and Median soldiers with Farvahar in center.

It may have been during the Achaemenid period that Zoroastrianism reached South-Western Iran, where it came to be accepted by the rulers and through them became a defining element of Persian culture. The religion was not only accompanied by a formalization of the concepts and divinities of the traditional (Indo-)Iranian pantheon but also introduced several novel ideas, including that of free will, which is arguably Zoroaster's greatest contribution to religious philosophy. Under the patronage of the Achaemenid kings, and later as the de-facto religion of the state, Zoroastrianism would reach all corners of the empire. In turn, Zoroastrianism would be subject to the first sycretic influences, in particular from the Semitic lands to the west, from which the divinities of the religion would gain astral and planetary aspects and from where the temple cult originates. It was also during the Achaemenid era that the sacerdotal Magi would exert their influence on the religion, introducing many of the practices that are today identified as typically Zoroastrian, but also introducing doctrinal modifications that are today considered to be revocations of the original teachings of the prophet.

The Achaemenid Empire united people and kingdoms from every major civilization in south west Asia. For the first time in history, people from very different cultures were in contact with one another under one ruler.

[edit] Hellenistic Persia (330 BC–150 BC)

Main article: Seleucid Empire

The later years of the Achaemenid dynasty were marked by decay and decadence. The greatest empire of the time collapsed in only eight years, when it fell under the attack of a young Macedonian king, Alexander the Great.

The Achaemenid Empire's weakness was exposed to the Greeks in 401 BC, when a rebel prince, Cyrus the Younger, hired 14,000 Greek mercenaries to help secure his claim to the imperial throne (see Xenophon, Anabasis). This exposed the political instability weakness of Achaemenid State during a crisis of succession.

Philip II of Macedon, leader of most of Greece, decided to take advantage of this weakness when, after the death of Artaxerxes III Ochus in 338, the Persian Empire had no strong leader. After Philip's death in 336, his son and successor Alexander landed in Asia Minor in 334 BC. His armies quickly swept through Lydia, Phoenicia, and Egypt, before defeating all the troops of Darius III at Gaugamela (331) and capturing the capital at Susa. The last Achaemenid resistance was at the "Persian Gates" between Susa and near the royal palace at Persepolis. The Achaemenid Empire was now in Alexander's hands.

Map of Alexander's empire.
Map of Alexander's empire.

Along his route of conquest, Alexander founded many colony cities, often named "Alexandria". For the next several centuries, these cities served to greatly extend Greek, or Hellenistic, culture in Persia.

Alexander's empire broke up shortly after his death, and Alexander's general, Seleucus I Nicator, tried to take control of Persia, Mesopotamia, and later Syria and Asia Minor. His ruling family is known as the Seleucid Dynasty. However he was killed in 281 BC by Ptolemy Keraunos before he could conquer Greece and Macedonia.

Greek colonization continued until around 250 BC; Greek language, philosophy, and art came with the colonists. Throughout Alexander's former empire, Greek became the common tongue of diplomacy and literature. Trade with China had begun in Achaemenid times along the so-called Silk Road; but during the Hellenistic period it began in earnest. The overland trade brought about some fascinating cultural exchanges. Buddhism came in from India, while Zoroastrianism traveled west to influence Judaism. Incredible statues of the Buddha in classical Greek styles have been found in Persia and Afghanistan, illustrating the mix of cultures that occurred around this time (See Greco-Buddhism), although it is possible that Greco-Buddhist art dates from Achaemenid times when Greek artists worked for the Persians.

Although recently discovered cuneiform evidence (e.g., the Babylonian Chronicles from the Hellenistic Period) show how much continuity there was in the Eastern civilization, it can not be denied that the Seleucid kingdom began to decline after about a century. The eastern provinces of Bactria and Parthia broke off in 238 BC. King Antiochus III's military leadership kept Parthia from overrunning Persia itself, but when he tried to intervene in Greece, his successes alarmed the burgeoning Roman Republic. Roman legions began to attack the kingdom. At the same time, the Seleucids had to contend with the revolt of the Maccabees in Judea and the expansion of the Kushan Empire to the east. The empire fell apart and was conquered by Parthia and Rome.

[edit] Parthian Empire (250 BC–AD 226)

Main article: Parthia

The Parthian Empire.
The Parthian Empire.
Metallic statue of a Parthian prince (thought to be Surena), AD 100, kept at The National Museum of Iran, Tehran.
Metallic statue of a Parthian prince (thought to be Surena), AD 100, kept at The National Museum of Iran, Tehran.

Its rulers, the Arsacid dynasty, belonged to an Iranian tribe that had settled there during the time of Alexander. They declared their independence from the Seleucids in 238 BC, but their attempts to unify Iran were thwarted until after Mithridates I advent to the Parthian throne in about 170 BC.

The Parthian Confederacy shared a border with Rome along the upper Euphrates River. The two polities became major rivals, especially over control of Armenia. Heavily-armoured Parthian cavalry (cataphracts) supported by mounted archers proved a match for Roman legions, as in the Battle of Carrhae in which the Parthian General Surena defeated Marcus Licinius Crassus of Rome. Wars were very frequent, with Mesopotamia serving as the battleground.

During the Parthian period, Hellenistic customs partially gave way to a resurgence of Persian culture. However, the empire lacked political unity. The administration was shared between Seven Parthian clans who constituted the Dahae Confederation, each of these clans governed a province of the empire. Suren-Pahlav Clan, Karen-Pahlav Clan and Mihran Clan were the most influential ones. By the 1st century BC, Parthia was decentralized, ruled by feudal nobles. Wars with Rome to the west and the Kushan Empire to the northeast drained the country's resources.

Parthia, now impoverished and without any hope to recover the lost territories, was demoralized. The kings had to give more concessions to the nobility, and the vassal kings sometimes refused to obey. Parthia's last ruler Artabanus IV had an initial success in putting together the crumbling state. However, the fate of the Arsacid Dynasty was doomed when in AD 224, the Persian vassal king Ardashir revolted. Two years later, he took Ctesiphon, and this time, it meant the end of Parthia. It also meant the beginning of the third Persian Empire, ruled by the Sassanid kings. Sassanids were from the province of Persis, native to the first Persian Empire, the Achaemenids.

[edit] Sassanid Empire (226–651)

Main article: Sassanid Empire

The Sassanid Empire in 610.
The Sassanid Empire in 610.
One of the rock reliefs at Naqsh-e Rustam depicting the triumph of Shapur I over the Roman Emperor Valerian, and Philip the Arabian
One of the rock reliefs at Naqsh-e Rustam depicting the triumph of Shapur I over the Roman Emperor Valerian, and Philip the Arabian

Ardashir I, led a rebellion against the Parthian Confederacy in an attempt to revive the glory of the previous empire and to legitimize the hellenized form of Zoroastrianism practised in south western Iran. In two years he was the Shah of a new Persian Empire.

The Sassanid dynasty (also Sassanian) (named for Ardashir's grandfather) was the first dynasty native to the Pars province since the Achaemenids; thus they saw themselves as the successors of Darius and Cyrus. They pursued an aggressive expansionist policy. They recovered much of the eastern lands that the Kushans had taken in the Parthian period. The Sassanids continued to make war against Rome; a Persian army even captured the Roman Emperor Valerian in 260.

The Sassanid Empire, unlike Parthia, was a highly centralized state. The people were rigidly organized into a caste system: Priests, Soldiers, Scribes, and Commoners. Zoroastrianism was finally made the official state religion, and spread outside Persia proper and out into the provinces. There was sporadic persecution of other religions. The Eastern Orthodox Church was particularly persecuted, but this was in part due to its ties to the Roman Empire. The Nestorian Christian church was tolerated and sometimes even favored by the Sassanids.

The wars and religious control that had fueled The Sassanid empire's early successes eventually contributed to its decline. The eastern regions were conquered by the White Huns in the late 5th century. Adherents of a radical religious sect, the Mazdakites, revolted around the same time. Khosrau I was able to recover his empire and expand into the Christian countries of Antioch and Yemen. Between 605 and 629, Sassanids successfully annexed Levant and Roman Egypt and pushed into Anatolia.

However, a subsequent war with the Romans utterly destroyed the empire. In the course of the protracted conflict, Sassinid armies reached Constantinople, but could not defeat the Byzantines there. Meanwhile, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had successfully outflanked the Persian armies in Asia Minor and attacked the empire from the rear while the main Iranian army along with its top Eran Spahbods were far from battlefields. This resulted in a crushing defeat for Sassanids in Northern Mesopotamia. The Sassanids had to give up all their conquered lands and retreat. This defeat was mentioned in Qur'an as a "victory for believers," referring to the Romans, who were monotheists, in contrast to the pagan Sassinids. (Note: The official religion of the Sassanid empire was Zoroastrianism. It is not an Abrahamic/Semitic religion like Christianity or Islam, so it would be classified as "Pagan" by the followers of those religions even though it was monotheistic).

Following the advent of Islam and collapse of Sassanid Empire, Persians came under the subjection of Arab rulers for almost two centuries before native Persian dynasties could gradually drive them out. In this period a number of small and numerically inferior Arab tribes migrated to inland Iran. [1]

Also some Turkic tribes settled in Persia between the 9th and 12th centuries.[2]

In time these peoples were integrated into numerous Persian populations and adopted Persian culture and language while Persians retained their culture with minimal influence from outside.[3]

[edit] Islam and Persia (650–1037)

Main article: Islamic conquest of Persia

The explosive growth of the Arab Caliphate coincided with the chaos caused by the defeat of Sassanids in wars with the Byzantine Empire. Most of the country was conquered between 643 to 650. Persia's conquest by Islamic Arab armies marks the transition into "medieval" Persia.

Yazdgerd III, the last Sasanian emperor, died ten years after he lost his empire to the newly-formed Muslim Caliphate. He tried to recover some of what he lost with the help of the Turks, but they were easily defeated by Muslim armies. Then he sought the aid of the Chinese Tang dynasty. However, the Chinese help did not avail and Arab muslims ultimately defeated the Chinese forces in the battle of Talas, a century after Yazdgerd's death. He is believed to have lived on the borders of Islamic Persia. Some historians say that he lived inside Islamic Iran.

The Arab empire, ruled by the Umayyad Dynasty, was the largest state in history up to that point. It stretched from the Iberian Peninsula to the Indus River, from the Aral Sea to the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The Umayyads borrowed heavily from Persian and Byzantine administrative systems and moved their capital to Damascus, in the center of their empire. The Umayyads would rule Persia for a hundred years.

The Arab conquest dramatically changed life in Persia. Arabic became the new lingua franca, Islam eventually replaced Zoroastrianism, and mosques were built. A new language, religion, and culture were added to the Iranian cultural milieu.

In 750 the Umayyads were ousted from power by the Abbasid dynasty. By that time, Persians had come to play an important role in the bureaucracy of the empire [4]. The caliph Al-Ma'mun, whose mother was Persian, moved his capital away from Arab lands into Merv in eastern Iran. It was he who later founded the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, based on the Iranian Jondishapour.

But political unrest continued. In 819, Samanids carved out an independent state in eastern Persia to become the first native rulers after the Arabic conquest. They made Samarqand, Bukhara and Herat their capitals and revived the Persian language and culture. Zoroastrian clerics complied and authored major religious texts, such as the Denkard, in Pahlavi. It was approximately during this age, when the poet Firdawsi finished the Shahnameh, an epic poem retelling the history of the Iranian kings. This epic was completed by 1008 AD.

In 913, western Persia was conquered by the Buwayhid, a Deylamite tribal confederation from the shores of the Caspian Sea. They made the city of Shiraz their capital. The Buwayhids destroyed Islam's former territorial unity. Rather than a province of a united Muslim empire, Iran became one nation in an increasingly diverse and cultured Islamic world.

[edit] Turkic rule (1037–1219)

Main article: Seljuq dynasty

Persian Army- Watercolor by Haydar Hatemi-2002
Persian Army- Watercolor by Haydar Hatemi-2002

The Muslim world was shaken again in 1037 with the invasion of the Seljuk Turks from the northeast. The Seljuks created a very large Middle Eastern empire. The Seljuks built the fabulous Friday Mosque in the city of Isfahan. The famous Persian mathematician and poet, Omar Khayyám, wrote his Rubaiyat during Seljuk times.

In the early 13th century the Seljuks lost control of Persia to another group of Turks from Khwarezmia, near the Aral Sea. The Shahs of the Khwarezmid Empire later ruled.

[edit] Mongols and their successors (1219–1500)

Main articles: Ilkhanate and Timurid dynasty

Mosques with Persian names and designs in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India illustrate just how far east Persian culture extended due to their conquests. The actual architectural domed design of Mosques were borrowed from the Sassanid era, which then spilled into the Muslim world.
Mosques with Persian names and designs in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India illustrate just how far east Persian culture extended due to their conquests. The actual architectural domed design of Mosques were borrowed from the Sassanid era, which then spilled into the Muslim world.

In 1218, Genghis Khan sent ambassadors and merchants to the city of Otrar, on the northeastern confines of the Khwarizm shahdom. The governor of Otrar had these envoys executed. Genghis attacked Otrar in 1219, Samarkand and other cities of the northeast.

Genghis' grandson, Hulagu Khan, finished the invasions that Genghis had begun when he defeated Khwarzim Empire, Baghdad, and much of the rest of the Middle East from 1255 to 1258. Persia temporarily became the Ilkhanate, a division of the vast Mongol Empire.

In 1295, after Ilkhan Mahmud Ghazan converted to Islam, he renounced all allegiance to the Emperor Chengzong of Yuan China who had recently succeeded his grandfather Kublai Khan as Great Khan. The Ilkhans patronized the arts and learning in the fine tradition of Iranian Islam; indeed, they helped to repair much of the damage of the Mongol conquests.

In 1335, the death of Abu Sa'id, the last well-recognized Ilkhan, spelled the end of the Ilkhanate. Though Arpa Ke'un was declared Ilkhan his authority was disputed and the Ilkhanate was splintered into a number of small states. This left Persia vurnerable to conquest at the hands of Timur the Lame or Tamerlane, a Central Asian conqueror seeking to revive the Mongol Empire. He ordered the attack of Persia beginning around 1370 and robbed the region until his death in 1405. Timur was an even greater murderer than Genghis had been. In Isfahan, for instance, he was responsible for the murder of 70,000 people so that he could build towers with their skulls. He conquered a wide area and made his own city of Samarkand rich, but he made no effort to forge a lasting empire. The Persian Empire was essentially in ruins.

For the next hundred years Persia was not a unified state. It was ruled for a while by descendants of Timur, called the Timurid emirs. Toward the end of the 15th century, Persia was taken over by the Emirate of the White Sheep Turkmen (Ak Koyunlu). But there was little unity and none of the sophistication that had defined Iran during the glory days of Islam.

[edit] Safavid Dynasty (1500–1722)
Naghsh-i Jahan Square is one of the many monuments built during the Safavid era.
Naghsh-i Jahan Square is one of the many monuments built during the Safavid era.
Persian art and architecture reached an apex during the reign of the Safavid dynasty.
Persian art and architecture reached an apex during the reign of the Safavid dynasty.

The Safavid Dynasty hailed from the town of Ardabil in the region of Azarbaijan. The Safavid Shah Ismail I overthrew the White Sheep (Akkoyunlu) Turkish rulers of Persia to found a new native Persian empire. Ismail expanded Persia to include all of present-day Azerbaijan, Iran, and Iraq, plus much of Afghanistan. Ismail's expansion was halted by the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and war with the Ottomans became a fact of life in Safavid Iran.

Safavid Persia was a violent and chaotic state for the next seventy years, but in 1588 Shah Abbas I of Safavid ascended to the throne and instituted a cultural and political renaissance. He moved his capital to Isfahan, which quickly became one of the most important cultural centers in the Islamic world. He made peace with the Ottomans. He reformed the army, drove the Uzbeks out of Iran and into modern-day Uzbekistan, and (with English help) recaptured the island of Hormuz from the Portuguese. Abdur Razzaq was the Persian ambassador to Calicut, India, and wrote vividly of his experiences there.[5]

The Safavids were followers of Shi'a Islam, and under them Persia (Iran) became the largest Shi'a country in the Muslim world, a position Iran still holds today.

Under the Safavids Iran enjoyed its last period as a major imperial power. In 1639, a final border was agreed upon with the Ottoman Empire with the Treaty of Qasr-e Shirin; which delineates the border between the Republic of Turkey and Iran and also that of between Iraq and Iran, today.

[edit] Persia and Europe (1722–1914)
An 18th-century Persian astrolabe. Throughout the Middle Ages, the natural philosophy and mathematics of ancient Greeks were furthered and preserved within the Muslim world. During this period, Persia became a centre for the manufacture of scientific instruments, retaining its reputation for quality well into the 19th century.
An 18th-century Persian astrolabe. Throughout the Middle Ages, the natural philosophy and mathematics of ancient Greeks were furthered and preserved within the Muslim world. During this period, Persia became a centre for the manufacture of scientific instruments, retaining its reputation for quality well into the 19th century.

In 1722, the Safavid state collapsed. That year saw the first European invasion of Persia since the time of Alexander: Peter the Great, Emperor of Imperial Russia, invaded from the northwest as part of a bid to dominate central Asia. To make the situation truly hopeless, Ottoman forces accompanied the Russians, successfully laying siege to Isfahan.

The country was able to weather the invasions; neither the Russians nor the Turks gained any territory. However, the Safavids were severely weakened, and that same year (1722), the Afghans launched a bloody battle in response to the Safavids' attempts on trying to forcefully convert them from Sunni to Shi'a sect of Islam. The last Safavid shah was executed, and the dynasty came to an end.

The Persian empire experienced a temporary revival under Nadir Shah in the 1730s and 1740s. Nadir drove out the Russians and confined the Afghans to their present home in Afghanistan. He launched many successful campaigns against Persia's old enemies, the nomadic khanates of Central Asia; most of them were destroyed or absorbed into Persia. In 1739, he attacked and looted Delhi, the capital of Moghul India. However, his empire declined after his death. His rule was followed by the weak and short-lived Zand dynasty. Iran was left unprepared for the worldwide expansion of European colonial empires in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century.

Persia found relative stability in the Qajar dynasty, ruling from 1779 to 1925, but lost hope to compete with the new industrial powers of Europe; Persia found itself sandwiched between the growing Russian Empire in Central Asia and the expanding British Empire in India. Each carved out pieces from the Persian empire that became Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan amongst other previous provinces.

Although Persia was never directly invaded, it gradually became economically dependent on Europe. The Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 formalised Russian and British spheres of influence over the north and south of the country, respectively, where Britain and Russia each created a "sphere of influence", where the colonial power had the final "say" on economic matters.

At the same time Mozzafar-al-Din shah had granted a concession to William Knox D'Arcy, later the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, to explore and work the newly-discovered oil fields at Masjid Soleiman in southwest Persia, which started production in 1914. Winston Churchill, as First Sea Lord to the British Admiralty, oversaw the conversion of the Royal Navy to oil-fired battleships and partially nationalized it prior to the start of war. A small Anglo-Persian force was garrisoned there to protect the field from some hostile tribal factions.

See also: The Great Game

[edit] World War I and the interbellum (1914–1935)
Eram Garden, built in the Qajar era is an example of Persian architecture of that time.
Eram Garden, built in the Qajar era is an example of Persian architecture of that time.

Persia was drawn into the periphery of World War I because of its strategic position between Afghanistan and the warring Ottoman, Russian, and British Empires. In 1914 Britain sent a military force to Mesopotamia to deny the Ottomans access to the Persian oilfields. The German Empire retaliated on behalf of its ally by spreading a rumour that Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany had converted to Islam, and sent agents through Iran to attack the oil fields and raise a Jihad against British rule in India. Most of those German agents were captured by Persian, British and Russian troops who were sent to patrol the Afghan border, and the rebellion faded away. This was followed by a German attempt, assisted by his mainly Swedish bodyguard, to abduct and control Ahmad Shah Qajar, which was foiled at the last moment.

In 1916 the fighting between Russian and Ottoman forces to the north of the country had spilt down into Persia; Russia gained the advantage until most of her armies collapsed in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917. This left the Caucasus unprotected, and the Caucasian and Persian civilians starving after years of war and deprivation. In 1918 a small force of 400 British troops under General Dunsterville moved into the Trans-Caucasus from Persia in a bid to encourage local resistance to German and Ottoman armies who were about to invade the Baku oilfields. Although they later withdrew back into Persia, they did succeed in delaying the Turks access to the oil almost until the Armistice. In addition, the expedition’s supplies were used to avert a major famine in the region, and a camp for 30,000 displaced refugees was created near the Mesopotamian frontier.

By World War I, Persia was not the world power it had once been. It had become a tool in the political battles of other empires. In 1919, northern Persia was occupied by the British General William Edmund Ironside to enforce the Turkish Armistice conditions and assist General Dunsterville and Colonel Bicherakhov contain Bolshevik influence (of Mirza Kuchak Khan) in the north. Britain also took tighter control over the increasingly lucrative oil fields.

In 1925, Reza Shah Pahlavi seized power from the Qajars and established the new Pahlavi dynasty, the last Persian monarchy before the establishment of the Islamic Republic. However, Britain and the Soviet Union remained the influential powers in Persia into the early years of the Cold War.

On March 21, 1935, Iran was officially accepted as the new name of the country. After Persian scholars' protests to this decision, in 1953 Mohammad Reza Shah announced both names "Iran" and "Persia" could be used.


In linguistics, syntax is the study of the rules, or "patterned relations", that govern the way words combine to form phrases and phrases combine to form sentences. The word originates from the Greek words συν (syn), meaning "co-" or "together", and τάξις (táxis), meaning "sequence, order, or arrangement". The combinatory behavior of words is governed to a first approximation by their part of speech (noun, adjective, verb, etc., a categorization that goes back in the Western tradition to the Greek grammarian Dionysius Thrax). Modern research into natural language syntax attempts to systematize descriptive grammar and, for many practitioners, to find general laws that govern the syntax of all languages. It is unconcerned with prescriptive grammar (see prescription and description).

Theories of syntax differ in the object of study. While formal grammars (especially in the generative grammar tradition) have focused on the mental process of language production (i-language), empirical grammars have focused on linguistic function, explaining the language in use (corpus linguistics). The latter often encodes frequency data in addition to production rules, and provide mechanisms for learning the grammar (or at least the probabilities) from usage data. One way of considering the space of grammars is to distinguish those that do not encode rule frequency (the majority) and those that do (probabilistic grammars).

From a biological and neurobiological perspective syntax has recently played a crucial role. On the one hand, it has been proven that syntax (in that it involves recursion rules) is a specific characteristic of all and only human language; on the other, experiments in neuroimaging have shown that that a dedicated network in the human brain (crucially involving Broca's area, a portion of the left inferior frontal gyrus), is selectively activated by those languages that meet the Universal Grammar requirements characterizing all and only human languages as shown by generative grammar in the pioneering work of Noam Chomsky.

* 1 History of syntax
* 2 Formal syntax
* 3 Empirical approaches to syntax
* 4 See also
o 4.1 Syntactic terms
* 5 References
* 6 External links

[edit] History of syntax

Syntax, literally "composition", is an Ancient Greek work, whereas the name of other domain of linguistics such semantics or morphology are recent (19th century). The history of this field is rather complicated: two landmarks in the field are the first complete Greek grammar, written by Dionysus Thrax in the 1st century BC - a model for Roman grammarians, whose work led to the medieval and Renaissance vernacular grammars - and the Grammaire of Port-Royal - a Cistercian convent in the Vallée de Chevreuse southwest of Paris that launched a number of culturally important institutions. The central role of syntax within theoretical linguistics became clear only in the last century which could reasonably called the "century of syntactic theory" as far as linguistics is concerned. For a detailed and critical survey of the history of syntax in the last two centuries see the monumental work by Graffi 2001 [1]

[edit] Formal syntax

There are many theories of formal syntax — theories that have in time risen or fallen in influence. Most theories of syntax share at least two commonalities. First, they hierarchically group subunits into constituent units (phrases). Second, they provide some system of rules to explain patterns of acceptability/grammaticality and unacceptability/ungrammaticality. Most formal theories of syntax offer explanations of the systematic relationships between syntactic form and semantic meaning. The earliest framework of semiotics was established by Charles W. Morris in his 1938 book Foundations of the Theory of Signs. Syntax is defined within the study of signs as the first of its three subfields, specifically the study of the interrelation of the signs. The second subfield is semantics and is the study of the relation between the signs and the objects to which they apply. The third is pragmatics which studies the relationship between the sign system and the user.

In the framework of transformational-generative grammar (of which government and binding theory and minimalism are recent developments), the structure of a sentence is represented by phrase structure trees, otherwise known as phrase markers or tree diagrams. Such trees provide information about the sentences they represent by showing the hierarchical relations between their component parts.

There are various theories for designing the best grammars such that by systematic application of the rules, one can arrive at every phrase marker in a language and hence every sentence in the language. The most common are Phrase structure grammars, preferred by Noam Chomsky's MIT school of linguistics, and ID/LP grammars, the latter of which some argue has an explanatory advantage (especially those in opposition to the MIT school of linguistics, such as Ivan Sag and Geoffrey Pullum.) Dependency grammar is a class of syntactic theories separate from generative grammar in which structure is determined by the relation between a word (a head) and its dependents. One difference from phrase structure grammar is that dependency grammar does not have phrasal categories. Algebraic syntax is a type of dependency grammar.

A modern approach to combining accurate descriptions of the grammatical patterns of language with their function in context is that of systemic functional grammar, an approach originally developed by Michael A.K. Halliday in the 1960s and now pursued actively on all continents. Systemic-functional grammar is related both to feature-based approaches such as Head-driven phrase structure grammar and to the older functional traditions of European schools of linguistics such as British Contextualism and the Prague School.

Tree adjoining grammar is a grammar formalism with interesting mathematical properties which has sometimes been used as the basis for the syntactic description of natural language. In monotonic and monostratal frameworks, variants of unification grammar are often preferred formalisms.

With the publication of Gold's Theorem[2] 1967 it was claimed that grammars for natural languages governed by deterministic rules could not be learned based on positive instances alone. This was part of the argument from the poverty of stimulus, first presented in 1980[3]. This led to the nativist view, that a form of grammar (including a complete conceptual lexicon in certain versions) were hardwired from birth.

[edit] Empirical approaches to syntax

A grammar is a description of the syntax of a language. Theoretical models rarely consider the language in use, as revealed by corpus linguistics, but focus on a mental language or i-language as its "proper" object of study. In contrast, the "empirically responsible"[4] approach to syntax seeks to construct grammars that will explain language in use. A key class of grammars in the latter tradition are the stochastic context-free grammars.

A problem faced in any formal syntax is that often more than one production rule may apply to a structure, thus resulting in a conflict. The greater the coverage, the higher this conflict, and all grammarians (starting with Panini) have spent considerable effort devising a prioritization for the rules, which usually turn out to be defeasible. Another difficulty is overgeneration, where unlicensed structures are also generated. Probabilistic grammars circumvent these problems by using the frequency of various productions to order them, resulting in a "most likely" (winner-take-all) interpretation, which by definition, is defeasible given additional data. As usage patterns are altered in diachronic shifts, these probabilistic rules can be re-learned, thus upgrading the grammar.

One may construct a probabilistic grammar from a traditional formal syntax by assigning each non-terminal a probability taken from some distribution, to be eventually estimated from usage data. On most samples of broad language, probabilistic grammars that tune these probabilities from data typically outperform hand-crafted grammars (although some rule-based grammars are now approaching the accuracies of PCFG).

Recently, probabilistic grammars appear to have gained some cognitive plausibility. It is well known that there are degrees of difficulty in accessing different syntactic structures (e.g. the Accessibility Hierarchy for relative clauses). Probabilistic versions of minimalist grammars have been used to compute information-theoretic entropy values which appear to correlate well with psycholinguistic data on understandability and production difficulty.[5]

Statistical grammars are not subject to Gold's theorem since the learning is incremental.


Biographical sketch

Galileo was born in Pisa, in the Tuscany region of Italy, on February 15, 1564, the first of six children of Vincenzo Galilei. Although as a young man he seriously considered the priesthood, at his father's urging he enrolled for a medical degree at the University of Pisa. He did not complete this degree, but instead studied mathematics, in 1589 being appointed to the chair of mathematics in Pisa. In 1592 he moved to the University of Padua, teaching geometry, mechanics, and astronomy until 1610. During this period Galileo made significant discoveries in both pure science (e.g., kinematics of motion, and astronomy) and applied science (e.g., strength of materials, improvement of the telescope).

Although a devout Roman Catholic, Galileo fathered three children out of wedlock with Marina Gamba. They had two daughters (Virginia in 1600 and Livia in 1601) and one son (Vincenzio, in 1606). Because of their illegitimate birth, both girls were sent to the convent of San Matteo in Arcetri at early ages and remained there for the rest of their lives. Virginia (b. 1600) took the name Maria Celeste upon entering the convent. Galileo's eldest child, she was also the most beloved, and inherited her father's sharp mind. She died on April 2, 1634, and is buried with Galileo at the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze. Livia (b. 1601) took the name Suor Arcangela and was ill for most of her life. Vincenzio (b. 1606) was later legitimized and married Sestilia Bocchineri.

In 1610, Galileo published an account of his telescopic observations of the moons of Jupiter, using this observation to argue in favor of the sun-centered, Copernican theory of the universe against the dominant earth-centered Ptolemaic and Aristotelian theories. The next year Galileo visited Rome in order to demonstrate his telescope to the influential philosophers and mathematicians of the Jesuit Collegio Romano, and to let them see with their own eyes the reality of the four moons of Jupiter. While in Rome he was also made a member of the Accademia dei Lincei. In 1612, opposition arose to the Sun-centered solar system which Galileo supported. In 1614, from the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella, Father Tommaso Caccini (1574-1648) denounced Galileo's opinions on the motion of the Earth, judging them dangerous and close to heresy. Galileo went to Rome to defend himself against these accusations, but, in 1616, Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino personally handed Galileo an admonition enjoining him neither to advocate nor teach Copernican astronomy.[1] In 1622, Galileo wrote his first book, The Assayer (Saggiatore), which was approved and published in 1623. In 1624, he developed the first known example of the microscope. In 1630, he returned to Rome to apply for a license to print the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in Florence in 1632. In October of that year, however, he was ordered to appear before the Holy Office in Rome.

Scientific methods

Galileo Galilei pioneered the use of quantitative experiments whose results could be analyzed with mathematical precision. (More typical of science at the time were the qualitative studies of William Gilbert, on magnetism and electricity.) By contrast, Galileo's father, Vincenzo Galilei, a lutenist and music theorist, had performed experiments establishing perhaps the oldest known non-linear relation in physics: for a stretched string, the pitch varies as the square root of the tension. These observations lay within the framework of the Pythagorean tradition of music, well-known to instrument makers, which included the fact that subdividing a string by a whole number produces a harmonious scale. Thus, a limited amount of mathematics had long related music and physical science, and young Galileo could see his own father's observations expand on that tradition. Galileo is perhaps the first to clearly state that the laws of nature are mathematical, writing that "the language of God is mathematics." His mathematical analyses are a further development of a tradition employed by late scholastic natural philosophers, which Galileo learned when he studied philosophy (Wallace, 1984).

Although he tried to remain loyal to the Catholic Church, Galileo's adherence to experimental results, and their most honest interpretation, led to his rejection of blind allegiance to authority, both philosophical and religious, in matters of science. In broader terms, this helped separate science from both philosophy and religion, a major development in human thought.

By the standards of his own time, Galileo was often willing to change his views in accordance with observation. Philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend also noted the supposedly improper aspects of Galileo's methodology, but he argued that Galileo's methods could be justified retroactively by their results. The bulk of Feyerabend's major work, Against Method (1975), was devoted to an analysis of Galileo, using his astronomical research as a case study to support Feyerabend's own anarchistic theory of scientific method. As he put it: 'Aristotelians [...] demanded strong empirical support while the Galileans were content with far-reaching, unsupported and partially refuted theories. I do not criticize them for that; on the contrary, I favour Niels Bohr's "this is not crazy enough."'[2]

In order to perform his experiments, Galileo had to set up standards of length and time, so that measurements made on different days and in different laboratories could be compared in a reproducible fashion. For measurements of particularly short intervals of time, Galileo sang songs with whose timing he was familiar.

Galileo also attempted to measure the speed of light, wisely concluding that his measurement technique was too imprecise to accurately determine its value.

* He climbed one hill and had an assistant to climb another hill; both had lanterns with shutters, initially closed.
* He then opened the shutter of his lantern. His assistant was instructed to open his own shutter upon seeing Galileo's lantern. Galileo then measured the time interval for his assistant's shutter to open.
* Knowing the time interval and the separation between the hills, he determined the apparent speed of light.

On repeating the experiment with more distant hills, Galileo obtained the same time lapse, concluding that the time for the light to travel was much less than his and his assistant's reaction time, and therefore that the actual speed of light was beyond the sensitivity of his measurement technique.[citation needed]

Galileo showed a remarkably modern appreciation for the proper relationship between mathematics, theoretical physics, and experimental physics. For example:

* He understood the parabola, both in terms of conic sections and in terms of the ordinate (y) varying as the square of the abscissa (x).
* He asserted that the parabola was the theoretically-ideal trajectory for uniformly accelerated motion, in the absence of friction and other disturbances. Further, he noted that there are limits to the validity of this theory, stating that it was appropriate only for laboratory-scale and battlefield-scale trajectories, and noting on theoretical grounds that the parabola could not possibly apply to a trajectory so large as to be comparable to the size of the planet. (Two New Sciences, page 274 of the National Edition).
* He recognized that his experimental data would never agree exactly with any theoretical or mathematical form, because of the imprecision of measurement, irreducible friction, and other factors.

Albert Einstein, in appreciation, called Galileo the "father of modern science".



Based only on sketchy descriptions of the telescope, invented in the Netherlands in 1608, during that same year Galileo made one with about 3x magnification, and later made others with up to about 32x magnification. With this improved device he could see magnified, upright images on the earth - it was what is now known as a terrestrial telescope, or spyglass. He could also could use it to observe the sky; for a time he was one of very few who could construct telescopes good enough for that purpose. On August 25, 1609, he demonstrated his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers. His work on the device made for a profitable sideline with merchants who found it useful for their shipping businesses. He published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a short treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).
It was on this page that Galileo first noted an observation of the moons of Jupiter. This observation upset the notion that all celestial bodies must revolve around the Earth. Galileo published a full description in Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610.
It was on this page that Galileo first noted an observation of the moons of Jupiter. This observation upset the notion that all celestial bodies must revolve around the Earth. Galileo published a full description in Sidereus Nuncius in March 1610.

In the week of January 7, 1610 Galileo discovered three of Jupiter's four largest satellites (moons): Io, Europa, and Callisto. He discovered Ganymede four nights later. He noted that the moons would appear and disappear periodically, an observation which he attributed to their movement behind Jupiter, and concluded that they were orbiting the planet. He made additional observations of them in 1620. Later astronomers overruled Galileo's naming of these objects, changing his originally named Medicean stars (after his patrons, the Medici) to Galilean satellites. The demonstration that a planet had smaller planets orbiting it was problematic for the orderly, comprehensive picture of the geocentric model of the universe, in which everything circled around the Earth.

From September 1610 Galileo observed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases similar to that of the Moon. The heliocentric model of the solar system developed by Copernicus predicted that all phases would be visible since the orbit of Venus around the Sun would cause its illuminated hemisphere to face the Earth when it was on the opposite side of the Sun and to face away from the Earth when it was on the Earth-side of the Sun. In contrast, the geocentric model of Ptolemy predicted that only crescent and new phases would be seen, since Venus was thought to remain between the Sun and Earth during its orbit around the Earth. Galileo's observations of the phases of Venus proved that it orbited the Sun and lent support to (but did not prove) the heliocentric model.

Galileo also observed the planet Saturn, and at first mistook its rings for planets, thinking it was a three-bodied system. When he observed the planet later, Saturn's rings were directly oriented at Earth, causing him to think that two of the bodies had disappeared. The rings reappeared when he observed the planet in 1616, further confusing him. [3]

Galileo was one of the first Europeans to observe sunspots. He also reinterpreted a sunspot observation from the time of Charlemagne, which formerly had been attributed (impossibly) to a transit of Mercury. The very existence of sunspots showed another difficulty with the unchanging perfection of the heavens as assumed in the older philosophy. And the annual variations in their motions, first noticed by Francesco Sizi, presented great difficulties for both the geocentric system and that of Tycho Brahe. A dispute over priority in the discovery of sunspots, and in their interpretation, led Galileo to a long and bitter feud with the Jesuit Christoph Scheiner; in fact, there is little doubt that both of them were beaten by David Fabricius and his son Johannes. Scheiner quickly adopted Kepler's 1615 proposal of the modern telescope design, which gave larger magnification at the cost of inverted images; Galileo apparently never changed to Kepler's design.

Galileo was also the first to report lunar mountains and craters, whose existence he deduced from the patterns of light and shadow on the Moon's surface. He even estimated the mountains' heights from these observations. This led him to the conclusion that the Moon was "rough and uneven, and just like the surface of the Earth itself," rather than a perfect sphere as Aristotle had claimed. Galileo observed the Milky Way, previously believed to be nebulous, and found it to be a multitude of stars packed so densely that they appeared to be clouds from Earth. He located many other stars too distant to be visible with the naked eye. Galileo also observed the planet Neptune in 1612, but did not realize that it was a planet and took no particular notice of it. It appears in his notebooks as one of many unremarkable dim stars.

Galileo made at least one major scientific error, in addition to opposing Kepler's hypothesis that the gravity of the moon is the origin of the tides. This was his view on the origin of the comets of 1618. He argued vehemently in The Assayer that they were an optical illusion, in opposition to the interpretation of the Jesuit Orazio Grassi that they were real, and quite distant from the Moon. His alienation of both Scheiner and Grazzi likely contributed to the hostile response of the Jesuit order to his publication of "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" in 1632, and the inquisition that followed.

Galileo, Kepler, and theories of tides

Cardinal Bellarmine had written in 1615 that the Copernican system could not be defended without "a true [physical] demonstration that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun" (Finocchiaro 1989:67-9). Galileo considered his theory of the tides to provide the required physical proof of the motion of the earth. This theory was so important to Galileo that he originally intended to entitle his Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems the Dialogue on the Ebb and Flow of the Sea (Finocchiaro 1989:p. 354, n. 52). For Galileo, the tides were caused by the sloshing back and forth of water in the seas as a point on the Earth's surface speeded up and slowed down because of the Earth's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun. Galileo circulated his first account of the tides in 1616, addressed to Cardinal Orsini (Finocchiaro 1989:119-133).

If this theory were correct, there would be only one high tide per day. Galileo and his contemporaries were aware of this inadequacy because there are two daily high tides at Venice instead of one, about twelve hours apart. Galileo dismissed this anomaly as the result of several secondary causes, including the shape of the sea, its depth, and other factors (Finocchiaro 1989:127-131; Drake 1953:432-6). Against the assertion that Galileo was deceptive in making these arguments, Albert Einstein expressed the opinion that Galileo developed his "fascinating arguments" and accepted them uncritically out of a desire for physical proof of the motion of the Earth (Einstein 1952:xvii).

Galileo dismissed as a "useless fiction" the idea, held by his contemporary Johannes Kepler, that the moon caused the tides (Finocchiaro 1989:128). Galileo also refused to accept Kepler's elliptical orbits of the planets,[4] considering the circle the "perfect" shape for planetary orbits.


Galileo's theoretical and experimental work on the motions of bodies, along with the largely independent work of Kepler and René Descartes, was a precursor of the Classical mechanics developed by Sir Isaac Newton. He was a pioneer, at least in the European tradition, in performing rigorous experiments and insisting on a mathematical description of the laws of nature.

Galileo is said to have dropped balls of different masses from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that their time of descent was independent of their mass (excluding the limited effect of air resistance). This was contrary to what Aristotle had taught: that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones, in direct proportion to weight. Although the story of the tower first appeared in a biography by Galileo's pupil Vincenzo Viviani, it is not now generally accepted as true. Moreover, Giambattista Benedetti had reached the same scientific conclusion years before, in 1553. However, Galileo did perform experiments involving rolling balls down inclined planes, one of which is in Florence, called the bell and ball experiment, which proved the same thing: falling or rolling objects (rolling is a slower version of falling, as long as the distribution of mass in the objects is the same) are accelerated independently of their mass. (Although Galileo was the first person to demonstrate this via experiment, he was not — contrary to popular belief — the first to argue that it was true. John Philoponus had argued this centuries earlier: see also the Oxford Calculators).

Galileo determined the correct mathematical law for acceleration: the total distance covered, starting from rest, is proportional to the square of the time (d \propto t^2). He expressed this law using geometrical constructions and mathematically-precise words, adhering to the standards of the day. (It remained for others to re-express the law in algebraic terms.) He also concluded that objects retain their velocity unless a force — often friction — acts upon them, refuting the generally accepted Aristotelian hypothesis that objects "naturally" slow down and stop unless a force acts upon them (again this was not a new idea: Ibn al-Haitham had proposed it centuries earlier, as had Jean Buridan, and according to Joseph Needham, Mo Tzu had proposed it centuries before either of them, but this was the first time that it had been mathematically expressed). Galileo's Principle of Inertia stated: "A body moving on a level surface will continue in the same direction at constant speed unless disturbed." This principle was incorporated into Newton's laws of motion (first law).
Dome of the cathedral of Pisa with the "lamp of Galileo"
Dome of the cathedral of Pisa with the "lamp of Galileo"

Galileo also noted that a pendulum's swings always take the same amount of time, independently of the amplitude. The story goes that he came to this conclusion by watching the swings of the bronze chandelier in the cathedral of Pisa, using his pulse to time it. While Galileo believed this equality of period to be exact, it is only an approximation appropriate to small amplitudes. It is good enough to regulate a clock, however, as Galileo may have been the first to realize. (See Technology below)

In the early 1600s, Galileo and an assistant tried to measure the speed of light. They stood on different hilltops, each holding a shuttered lantern. Galileo would open his shutter, and, as soon as his assistant saw the flash, he would open his shutter. At a distance of less than a mile, Galileo could detect no delay in the round-trip time greater than when he and the assistant were only a few yards apart. While he could reach no conclusion on whether light propagated instantaneously, he recognized that the distance between the hilltops was perhaps too small for a good measurement.

Galileo is lesser known for, yet still credited with, being one of the first to understand sound frequency. By scraping a chisel at different speeds, he linked the pitch of the sound produced to the spacing of the chisel's skips, a measure of frequency.

In his 1632 Dialogue Galileo presented a physical theory to account for tides, based on the motion of the Earth. If correct, this would have been a strong argument for the reality of the Earth's motion. (The original title for the book, in fact, described it as a dialogue on the tides; the reference to tides was removed by order of the Inquisition.) His theory gave the first insight into the importance of the shapes of ocean basins in the size and timing of tides; he correctly accounted, for instance, for the negligible tides halfway along the Adriatic Sea compared to those at the ends. As a general account of the cause of tides, however, his theory was a failure. Kepler and others correctly associated the Moon with an influence over the tides, based on empirical data; a proper physical theory of the tides, however, was not available until Newton.

Galileo also put forward the basic principle of relativity, that the laws of physics are the same in any system that is moving at a constant speed in a straight line, regardless of its particular speed or direction. Hence, there is no absolute motion or absolute rest. This principle provided the basic framework for Newton's laws of motion and is the infinite speed of light approximation to Einstein's special theory of relativity.


While Galileo's application of mathematics to experimental physics was innovative, his mathematical methods were the standard ones of the day. The analysis and proofs relied heavily on the Eudoxian theory of proportion, as set forth in the fifth book of Euclid's Elements. This theory had become available only a century before, thanks to accurate translations by Tartaglia and others; but by the end of Galileo's life it was being superseded by the algebraic methods of Descartes.

Galileo produced one piece of original and even prophetic work in mathematics: Galileo's paradox, which shows that there are as many perfect squares as there are whole numbers, even though most numbers are not perfect squares. Such seeming contradictions were brought under control 250 years later in the work of Georg Cantor.

Galileo Galilei.-portrait in crayon by Leoni
Galileo Galilei.-portrait in crayon by Leoni
A replica of the earlest surviving telescope attributed to Galileo Galilei, on display at the Griffith Observatory
A replica of the earlest surviving telescope attributed to Galileo Galilei, on display at the Griffith Observatory

Galileo made a few contributions to what we now call technology as distinct from pure physics, and suggested others. This is not the same distinction as made by Aristotle, who would have considered all Galileo's physics as techne or useful knowledge, as opposed to episteme, or philosophical investigation into the causes of things.

In 1595–1598, Galileo devised and improved a "Geometric and Military Compass" suitable for use by gunners and surveyors. This expanded on earlier instruments designed by Niccolo Tartaglia and Guidobaldo del Monte. For gunners, it offered, in addition to a new and safer way of elevating cannons accurately, a way of quickly computing the charge of gunpowder for cannonballs of different sizes and materials. As a geometric instrument, it enabled the construction of any regular polygon, computation of the area of any polygon or circular sector, and a variety of other calculations.

About 1593, Galileo constructed a thermometer, using the expansion and contraction of air in a bulb to move water in an attached tube.

In 1609, Galileo was among the first to use a refracting telescope as an instrument to observe stars, planets or moons.

In 1610, he used a telescope as a compound microscope, and he made improved microscopes in 1623 and after. This appears to be the first clearly documented use of the compound microscope.

In 1612, having determined the orbital periods of Jupiter's satellites, Galileo proposed that with sufficiently accurate knowledge of their orbits one could use their positions as a universal clock, and this would make possible the determination of longitude. He worked on this problem from time to time during the remainder of his life; but the practical problems were severe. The method was first successfully applied by Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1681 and was later used extensively for large land surveys; this method, for example, was used by Lewis and Clark. (For sea navigation, where delicate telescopic observations were more difficult, the longitude problem eventually required development of a practical portable chronometer, such as that of John Harrison).

In his last year, when totally blind, he designed an escapement mechanism for a pendulum clock, a vectorial model of which may be seen here. The first fully operational pendulum clock was made by Christiaan Huygens in the 1650s.

He created sketches of various inventions, such as a candle and mirror combination to reflect light throughout a building, an automatic tomato picker, a pocket comb that doubled as an eating utensil, and what appears to be a ballpoint pen.

Church controversy

Main article: Galileo affair

Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition
Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and Chronicles 16:30 state that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." Psalm 104:5 says, "[the LORD] set the earth on it's foundations; it can never be moved." Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "the sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises."

Galileo defended heliocentrism, and claimed it was not contrary to those Scripture passages. He took Augustine's position on Scripture: not to take every passage literally, particularly when the scripture in question is a book of poetry and songs, not a book of instructions or history. The writers of the Scripture wrote from the perspective of the terrestrial world, and from that vantage point the sun does rise and set. In fact, it is the earth's rotation which gives the impression of the sun in motion across the sky.

By 1616 the attacks on Galileo had reached a head, and he went to Rome to try to persuade the Church authorities not to ban his ideas. In the end, Cardinal Bellarmine (who had recently had Giordano Bruno, another recent proponent of a sun-centered world view, burned at the stake for heresy[5]), acting on directives from the Inquisition, delivered him an order not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre. The decree did not prevent Galileo from discussing heliocentrism hypothetically. For the next several years Galileo stayed well away from the controversy.

He revived his project of writing a book on the subject, encouraged by the election of Cardinal Barberini as Pope Urban VIII in 1623. Barberini was a friend and admirer of Galileo, and had opposed the condemnation of Galileo in 1616. The book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was published in 1632, with formal authorization from the Inquisition and papal permission.

Pope Urban VIII personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in the book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism. He made another request, that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo's book. Only the latter of those requests was fulfilled by Galileo. Whether unknowingly or deliberate, Simplicius, the defender of the Aristotelian Geocentric view in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was often caught in his own errors and sometimes came across as a fool. This fact made Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems appear as an advocacy book; an attack on Aristotelian geocentrism and defense of the Copernican theory. To add insult to injury, Galileo put the words of Pope Urban VIII into the mouth of Simplicius. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice and felt blindsided by the reaction to his book. However, the Pope did not take the public ridicule lightly, nor the blatant bias. Galileo had alienated one of his biggest and most powerful supporters, the Pope, and was called to Rome to explain himself.

With the loss of many of his defenders in Rome because of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633. The sentence of the Inquisition was in three essential parts:

* Galileo was required to recant his heliocentric ideas; the idea that the Sun is stationary was condemned as "formally heretical." However, while there is no doubt that Pope Urban VIII and the vast majority of Church officials did not believe in heliocentrism, Catholic doctrine is defined by the pope when he speaks ex cathedra (from the Chair of Saint Peter) in matters of faith and morals. While Church officials did condemn Galileo, heliocentrism was never formally or officially condemned by the Catholic Church.
* He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
* His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial and not enforced, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

After a period with the friendly Ascanio Piccolomini (the Archbishop of Siena), Galileo was allowed to return to his villa at Arcetri near Florence, where he spent the remainder of his life under house arrest, dying from natural causes on January 8, 1642. It was while Galileo was under house arrest when he dedicated his time to one of his finest works, Two New Sciences. Here he summarized work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials. This book has received high praise from both Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. As a result of this work, Galileo is often called, the "father of modern physics".
Tomb of Galileo Galilei, Santa Croce
Tomb of Galileo Galilei, Santa Croce

Galileo was reburied on sacred ground at Santa Croce in 1737. He was formally rehabilitated in 1741, when Pope Benedict XIV authorized the publication of Galileo's complete scientific works (a censored edition had been published in 1718), and in 1758 the general prohibition against heliocentrism was removed from the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.[6]

In modern scientific terms, we consider Galileo's views on heliocentricity to be no fundamental advance. Most of his discoveries were only further advances of Copernicus' views. The heliocentric model that Galileo presented was no more accurate than the Tychonic system model, the main competing theory at the time. Stellar parallax, the first evidence from outside the solar system that the Earth does indeed move, would not be observed until 1838 (Consolmagno 150-152). Today, we know the Sun is no more the center of the universe than the Earth is, as it has its own orbit in the Milky Way Galaxy, just like the Galilean moons of Jupiter have orbits around Jupiter while Jupiter orbits the Sun. He found this because he realized that the only orbit the moons could follow is that which orbits behind Jupiter.

Galileo's writings
Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence
Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence

* The Little Balance 1586
* The Starry Messenger 1610 Venice (in Latin, Sidereus Nuncius)
* Letters on Sunspots 1613
* Letter to Grand Duchess Christina 1615
* The Assayer (In Italian, Il Saggiatore) 1623
* Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems 1632 (in Italian, Dialogo dei due massimi sistemi del mondo)
* Two New Sciences 1638 Lowys Elzevir (Louis Elsevier) Leiden (in Italian, Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze Leida, Appresso gli Elsevirii 1638)

Galileo in popular culture

* Life of Galileo, a play by Bertolt Brecht, 1940
* Galileo's Daughter, a memoir by Dava Sobel, 2000
* Galileo Galilei, an opera by Philip Glass, Mary Zimmerman, and Arnold Weinstein, 2002
* Galileo is mentioned in Queen's song Bohemian Rhapsody.

Named after Galileo

* Galileo (unit of acceleration)
* Galileo positioning system
* Galileo Galilei Airport in the Italian city of Pisa
* Galilei number (fluid dynamics)
* The Galileo mission to Jupiter
* The Galilean moons of Jupiter
* Galileo Regio on Ganymede
* Galileo stadium in Miami, Florida
* Galileo High School in San Francisco, California
* Galilaei crater on the Moon
* Galilaei crater on Mars
* Asteroid 697 Galilea (named on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the Galilean moons)
* Galileo Commissions processing system at Sesame

While in the University, Galileo did extensive experimentation with pendulums, finding that they nearly return to the height at which they were released, that different pendulums have different periods (independent of bob weight and amplitude), and that the square of the period varies directly with the pendulum's length (and it does not depend on the arc of the swing). He later used pendulums to make a clock (1641). Galileo also found that the speed at which bodies fall does not depend on their weight. He documented these discoveries in his book called, "De Motu" (meaning "On Motion"). Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Padua (1592-1610). In 1593, Galileo invented the thermometer. Some of his many other inventions included a revolutionary water pump and a hydrostatic balance (a device that weighed things accurately in either air or water).