The history of Egypt is the longest continuous history, as a unified state, of any country in the world. The Nile valley forms a natural geographic and economic unit, being bounded to the east and west by deserts, to the north by the sea and to the south by the Cataracts of the Nile. The need to have a single authority to manage the waters of the Nile led to the creation of the world's first state in Egypt in about 3000 BC. Egypt's peculiar geography made it a difficult country to attack, which is why Pharaonic Egypt was for so long an independent and self-contained state.
Once Egypt did succumb to foreign rule, however, it proved unable to escape from it, and for 2,300 years Egypt was governed by foreigners: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks and British. President Nasser used to say that he was the first native Egyptian to exercise sovereign power in Egypt since the last Pharaoh, Nectanebo II, was deposed by the Persians in 341 BC, and he was only slightly exaggerating.
Egyptian has been divided by this encyclopedia into five periods:
- History of Ancient Egypt: 3000 BC to 332 BC
- History of Greek and Roman Egypt: 332 BC to 639 AD
- History of early Arab Egypt: 639 to 1517
- History of Ottoman Egypt: 1517 to 1882
- History of Modern Egypt: since 1882