Egypt; key historical events
See also Islam and Middle East
See also Judaism and Israel
Suez Crisis 1956
28/5/2014, Abdel Fattah al Sisi was elected President of Egypt.
3/7/2013, After massive street protests across Egypt, President Morsi was deposed by the military; his regime accused of sending the country towards bankruptcy.
24/6/2012, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood became President of Egypt.
13/4/2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was arrested, along with his sons, in Cairo.
11/2/2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned after widespread protests against him, leaving Egypt governed by the military. This was during the ‘Arab Spring’.
25/1/2011, ‘Arab Spring’ protests in Egypt and Lebanon,
3/2/2006, An Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea, killing1,300.
21/7/2005, 64 were killed by suicide bombers at the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh, on the Red Sea.
27/12/1993. In Cairo, Muslim militants opened fire on a tourist bus, wounding 16, including 8 Australians.
28/2/1993. In Cairo, a café used by foreigners was bombed by Muslim extremists. 4 were killed and 16 injured. Americans, Swedes, and Germans were amongst the injured.
25/1/1993. President Mubarak of Egypt vowed to end Muslim fundamentalism.
4/1/1993. Muslim fundamentalists killed two Coptic Christians in Egypt.
15/12/1991. More than 470 drowned when a ferry carrying returning Egyptian pilgrims and overseas workers sank in the Red Sea.
9/10/1984, Jordan mended relations with Egypt when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Amman. Egypt had been despised by the Arab world since the late President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with |Israel at Camp David in 1979. Now King Hussein of Jordan met with Arab hostility for mending relation with Egypt, a move sparked by problems in the Jordanian economy arising from a downturn in trade resulting form the Iran-Iraq war.
15/4/1982. The 5 men who killed Sadat in Egypt were executed.
10/11/1981. Hosni Mubarak became President of Egypt.
6/10/1981. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, 62, was assassinated in Cairo, whilst attending a military parade celebrating Egyptian successes in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. Vice President Hosni Mubarak became President. Army members who were part of Islamic Jihad organisation killed Sadat, opposing his negotiations with Israel, which led to the historic Camp David Agreement of 1979.
15/9/1981. Sadat expelled 1,500 Soviets from Egypt.
27/12/1980, Egypt and Syria resumed diplomatic relations after a 10-year break.
For Yom Kippur war see Israeli history.
2/9/1971, Egypt discontinued its use of the title
15/1/1971, The Aswan High Dam on the
14/10/1970, Nasser’s associate, Anwar Sadat, aged 51, was elected President of Egypt.
28/9/1970. President Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt since 1954, died
of a heart attack aged 52, after mediating in the
21/7/1970. The Aswan Dam in Egypt was completed. The annual Nile flooding could now be controlled, and hydro-electric power produced; the 111 metre high dam also created a significant fishing industry.
I, King of Egypt from 1936 to 1952, died in exile in
14/5/1964. Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser opened the first stage of the Aswan Dam in Egypt. The Nile had been diverted four years earlier to build the dam, which created a lake 6 miles wide and 350 miles long, displacing 100,000 people but irrigating a million acres of desert for farmland. Many of Egypt’s historic sites were also flooded, but the buildings were moved to safe locations.
began on the Aswan High Dam,
23/8/1958, The Egyptian Government approved the Aswan Dam project.
1/2/1958. Egypt and
30/4/1957 Egypt reopened the Suez Canal.
8/3/1957, The Suez Canal reopened for smaller ships.
4/1/1957. In the wake of the Suez Crisis, a UN sponsored force of German tugs and salvage vessels began to clear the Suez Canal. 13 ships of various nationalities had been stranded in the Canal and could now resume sailing towards the Mediterranean. On 1/1/1957 President Colonel Gamal Nasser of Egypt had abrogated a 1954 treaty that had preciously guaranteed the UK full access to the Canal during international conflicts.
27/12/1956, Clearance work on the Suez Canal began.
22/12/1956. Britain and France withdrew their forces from Egypt, under intense pressure from the USA. The Suez Crisis had caused a run on Sterling, and the US would not halt this without a withdrawal.
22/11/1956. The withdrawal of Anglo-French troops from Port Said was completed, UN forces moved in.
15/11/1956. UN emergency forces arrived in Suez, and began to clear the Canal of wrecked ships on 27/12/1956. UN forces began taking over from the British, under strong pressure from the USA. The British PM, Anthony Eden, was suffering from psychological strain caused by the unanticipated world hostility to his Suez adventure, and flew to Jamaica on 23/11/1957 to rest.
7/11/1956. Britain and France reluctantly agreed to UN demands for a ceasefire in the Suez Crisis.
6/11/1956. Israeli forces reached Sharm El Sheikh.
2/11/1956, Gaza fell to British troops.
31/10/1956. France and Britain bombed Egyptian airfields in the Suez Crisis. The speed of events – Egypt was only given 12 hours to withdraw from the Canal – suggested to US President Eisenhower that the whole operation was staged to maintain Anglo-French influence in Suez.
29/10/1956. 5.pm. Israeli troops invaded the Sinai Peninsula and troops pushed on towards the Suez Canal, ostensibly to destroy guerrilla strongholds, coming within 20 miles of the Canal. 30,000 tank-supported Israeli troops invaded Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, in retaliation “for Egyptian attacks on land and sea communications near Gaza”. Israeli forces wanted to reach the gun batteries at Sharm El Sheikh at the tip of the Sinai peninsula which were closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. These batteries were destroyed on 5/11/1956.
This was part of the Suez Crisis in which President Nasser nationalised the canal. See 16/11/1869, 26/7/1956, and 23/6/1956. On 30/10/1956 Britain and France issued an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel to stop fighting and on 31/10/1956 France and Britain invaded the Suez area ‘to stop the Israeli-Egyptian fighting. Nasser closed the canal by sinking 47 old ships full of concrete in it. In fact this move had been pre-planned with Israel’s co-operation. On 25/10/1956 the British, French, and Israeli PMs, Anthony Eden, Guy Mollet, and David Ben Gurion, had met in secret at Sevres. On 6/11/1956 Anglo-French forces, 600 British and 487 French paratroopers, seized the Canal itself, having landed at Port Said. The UN ordered a ceasefire on 8/11/1956. The US condemned the invasion and the UN saw the rare sight of US and USSR delegates voting together. The US had threatened not to defend Sterling against a run on international markets against it unless the UK pulled out of Suez.
Because of the fighting, backed by Britain and France, and ended by a UN ceasefire, the Canal was closed for more than six months, blocked by sunken ships. UK petrol rationing began on 23/11/1956, see this date. The Canal closed again during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and did not reopen until 1975. However by then very large oil tankers had been developed that were too deep to pass through the canal. It is hoped that plans to deepen the Canal and reduce fees will revive the enterprise (2001).
23/9/1956, Britain and France took the Suez issue to the UN Security Council.
29/8/1956, Major build up of British and French forces in the eastern Mediterranean, to intimidate Egypt.
1/8/1956, The US, Britain, and France met to talk about the Suez problem. On 8/8/1956 Eden said Nasser could not be trusted.
30/7/1956, Eden tells Nasser he cannot have the Suez Canal and imposed an arms embargo on Egypt.
26/7/1956. Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal a month after taking power. Nasser wanted the tolls from the Canal to pay for the Aswan Dam construction. On 28/7/1956 the Cabinet met in London and agreed that as a last resort military means would be used if the Canal was not kept open for free passage of ships in perpetuity, not just until the Suez Canal Company’s concession ran out in November 1968. On 9/9/1956 Nasser rejected US plans for international control over the Canal.
19/7/1956. Britain and the USA withdrew financial support for Egypt under its new leader, Nasser, who was seen as too pro-Soviet.
23/6/1956. General Gamal Adbel Nasser was elected Egypt’s first president. However voting was compulsory and he was the only candidate. Nasser graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938, aged 20, and was wounded in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Appointed Prime Minister of Egypt in 1954, he enjoyed popular support.
13/6/1956, The last British troops left the Suez Canal Zone.
4/6/1956, Egypt announced that it would not renew the Suez Canal Company’s concession when it expired in 1968.
2/3/1955. Egypt and
17/11/1954, Nasser became official head of state in
26/10/1954, An assassination attempt on Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser failed.
19/10/1954, Colonel Nasser of Egypt agreed with Britain a timetable for the withdrawal of Britain from the Canal Zone within two years.
27/7/1954, The UK Government agreed to Colonel Nasser’s request to pull British troops out of Suez. They were to leave by 1956.
21/7/1954. Britain, America and the World Bank turned down a request for aid from President Nasser of Egypt to build the Aswan Dam.
17/4/1954. Colonel Nasser took power in
18/6/1953, Egypt declared itself a republic.
24/5/1953, The Foreign Office advised British families to
16/1/1953, Egypt dissolved all political parties.
26/7/1952. King Farouk
abdicated as King of
23/7/1952, General Neguib marched on
27/1/1952, Anti-British rioters in Egypt burnt down the Shepheard Hotel, killing 17.
25/1/1952, British troops captured the police headquarters in Ismalia, Egypt; 46 Egyptians were killed This followed guerrilla attacks on British bases in Egypt, in which the British suspected police complicity.
4/12/1951, British forces attacked in Egypt during anti-British riots.
20/11/1951, Evacuation of British Army families from Egypt began.
22/10/1951, Britain stopped arms exports to Egypt.
21/10/1951, Four British warships arrived at Port Said, at the northern end of the Suez Canal.
19/10/1951. British troops seized the Suez Canal Zone after Egypt abrogated the 1936 Treaty.
10/9/1951, Anti-British riots in Egypt.
5/4/1951, The UK Government approved, in principle, of withdrawing troops from the Suez Canal.
16/11/1950, King Farook of Egypt demanded immediate evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal.
2/1/1939, Howard Carter, British Egyptologist who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, died.
26/5/1937. Egypt joined the
26/8/1936. A treaty (The
Anglo-Egyptian Alliance) ended the British protectorate over
28/4/1936, Farouk, aged 16, became King of Egypt on the death of his father, King Fuad (68). Fuad had become monarch in 1922 when Britain granted limited independence to Egypt.
6/8/1929, Britain and
15/3/1924. The first Egyptian Parliament opened.
15/3/1923, Fuad I was proclaimed King of Egypt.
17/2/1923. Tutenkhamen’s tomb opened by the Egyptologist Howard Carter. Carter
was born in Swaffham,
26/11/1922. The tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen was discovered by Howard Carter and his patron, Lord Carnarvon.
15/3/1922, Britain abolished its protectorate over Egypt and recognised its independence.
28/2/1922, The British Protectorate over
23/5/1921. British troops entered
11/2/1920, King Farouk, last King of
25/12/1918, Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, was born in Talah Minufiya.
15/1/1918, Gamal Nasser,
the first President of Egypt, was
20/12/1914, The British Protectorate of Egypt was established, with Hussein Kamil as Sultan.
19/12/1914. 1Britain declared
22/10/1914. Britain ordered all foreign ships out of the
20/2/1910, Egypt’s Christian PM, Butros Ghali, was assassinated by a Nationalist.
large dam at
7/12/1894, Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and engineer who promoted the Suez Canal, died aged 89.
10/1/1890, Cleopatra’s tomb was discovered.
29/10/1889. Britain, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire signed an agreement that the Suez Canal was neutral and open in wartime as well as peacetime to all ships.
14/9/1882, British troops occupied Cairo.
13/9/1882. A British Expeditionary Force under Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet Wolseley routed the Egyptian forces under Arabi Pasha at Tel el Kebir. Britain feared for the safety of the Suez Canal.
3/8/1882, Suez was occupied by British marines.
24/7/1882, Arabi Pasha declared a Holy War in Egypt.
11/7/1882. A British fleet bombarded Alexandria in retaliation for nationalist violence in which 50 Europeans died.
11/6/1882. (see 31/8/1801). After a mutiny of soldiers in Alexandria in 1881, an Anglo-French fleet arrived off the town in May 1882. This provoked a massacre of Europeans in Alexandria on 11/6/1882. The ruler of Egypt, Arabi Pasha, was strengthening the system of forts in Egypt and failed to respond to an ultimatum issued on 10/7/1882 by the British Admiral, Sir Beauchamp Seymour (Lord Alcester). Hence the British invaded and occupied the whole of Egypt.
12/9/1878. Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient red granite Egyptian obelisk 68.5 feet high, originally made for Thothmes III in 1460 BC, was presented to Britain and re-erected on the Thames Embankment.
27/11/1875. Britain bought Suez Canal shares. Britain bought nearly half the shares for £4million from the Khedive, or ruler, of Egypt. Disraeli, the British Prime Minister, was relieved to have prevented total French control of the Canal. When the Canal was built six years ago with French money and French expertise the British, under Gladstone, took no interest; now Britain accounts for 80% of the Canal traffic. On 15/11/1875 Disraeli learned that the Khedive owned 177,000 of the 400,000 shares but was on the verge of bankruptcy and wanted to sell, or at least mortgage the shares to a French syndicate. The British put pressure on the French syndicate who, without government help, pulled out, whilst Baron Lionel de Rothschild provided finance for the British to buy the shares for UK£ 4 million.
26/5/1871, Ismailia was annexed to Egypt.
17/11/1869. The Suez Canal was opened after 10 years of construction. The 100-mile canal, from Port Said to Port Tewfik, 26 feet deep, with bays and use of lakes to provide passing places for ships and avoid the need for locks, was designed by Ferdinand De Lesseps. The distance from London to Bombay by sea was reduced from 11,220 to 6,332 miles. The Canal concession was granted to de Lesseps by Said Pasha, after whom Port Said is named. The cost was 400million francs, ten times the original estimate. See 25/4/1859. By 1875 Britain was the largest shareholder in the Canal. In 1870 there were 486 transits, and in 1966/67, 20,326 transits. President Nasser nationalised the Canal in 1956, see 29/10/1956.
26/3/1868, King Fuad I of Egypt was born.
25/4/1859. Construction of the 100 mile Suez Canal began. Constructed by both Egyptian and French companies, under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps, it opened on 17/11/1869. It was 163 km long and had a minimum width of 60 metres. In 2000, some 25,000 ships used this canal.
30/11/1854. The Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained, from the Egyptian ruler Said Pasha, a 99-year concession to build a canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
13/7/1854, Abbas I, Khedive of Egypt, was murdered, aged 41. He was succeeded by his uncle, 32-year old Said Pasha.
2/8/1849. Mohammed Ali, ruler of Egypt from 1805 to 1848, died. Apart from his military successes, he laid the foundations of a modern educational and administrative system, and revolutionised the Egyptian economy.
1811, The Malelukes were massacred by Mehmet Ali (born 1769 in Macedonia, died 1849). 470 of them were killed in Cairo and some 1,200 across the whole of Egypt. He then went on to fight the Wahabi tribe in Arabia, on the instructions of the Ottoman Porte, a campaign which secured him the Hejaz region. This campaign was successfully concluded by Ali’s son, Ibrahim, who also subdued the Sudan.
19/11/1805, Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and engineer, builder of the Suez Canal, was born in Versailles.
31/8/1801. The British captured Alexandria, Egypt, from the French under Napoleon. Alexandria had, despite its classical prominence, become by 1801 an insignificant town. The French occupied the town on 2/7/1798, and captured Cairo on 3//8/1801.
21/3/1801, At the Battle of Alexandria, The French made a surprise attack on the British near Alexandria, Egypt. The British under General Abercrombie defeated the French, but Abercrombie himself was mortally wounded.
8/3/1801, The British Army captured Aboukir, Egypt.
See also France for British-French military conflict 1801 in Egypt
19/7/1799. The Rosetta Stone was found near the town of Rosetta on the Nile, bearing Greek, Hieroglyphic, and Demotic (ancient Egyptian) scripts.
1/8/1798. At the Battle of the Nile, at Aboukir Bay, Admiral Nelson, on the ship Vanguard, destroyed 11 out of 13 French battleships which were the convoy that took Napoleon to Egypt. The French commander was Brueys, aboard the ship L’Orient. The crew were mostly ashore getting water, leaving no one to man the 120 French guns. This effectively trapped the French Army in Egypt. Five French ships with 5,000 men were sunk, 2 ships were captured, and 2 ships managed to escape from Nelson. On 10/2/1799 Napoleon left Egypt for Syria, occupying Gaza on 24/2/1799. On 7/3/1799 Napoleon captured Jaffa, where his soldiers massacred over 2,0000 Albanian prisoners. On 17/5/1799 Napoleon lifted the siege of Acre after failing to capture it.
23/7/1798. An uprising by the people of Cairo against the French occupiers was brutally repressed on 22/10/1798. The French captured Suez on 7/12/1798. However a British expeditionary force arrived in Egypt on 6/3/1801. The battle of Alexandria was fought on 11/3/1801, just outside the actual town. After this British victory the British advanced on the town which surrendered on 31/8. See 11/6/1882.
1254, The first Mameluke Sultan acceded. The Mamelukes (Arabic = ‘slaves’) were horse mounted soldiers, originally Circassian slaves, but became powerful enough to install their own ruler this year. The Mameluke Dynasty was overthrown by Selim I in 1517 but continued to run the country behind the scenes. They were heavily defeated by the French in the late 1700s, and massacred by Mehmet Ali in 1811.
4/3/1193. Saladdin, Sultan of Egypt, died.
879, Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque in Cairo, was built.
17/9/642. Alexandria, Egypt, surrendered to the Arabs led by Amr Ibn Al-As. Amr invaded Syria in 633 and attacked Egypt in 639, taking Pelusium in January 640 and Heliopolis in June 640. In 646 Amr defeated a Greek attempt to retake Alexandria. Amr died, as governor of Egypt, on 6/1/664. The Arabs moved on south to conquer Nubia, also conquering Cyrenicia and Tripolitania in 643.
See Roman Empire for Roman occupation of Egypt
22/6/217 BCE, Egyptian native hoplites under Ptolemy IV crushed the Seleucid army under Antiochus III at Raphia near Gaza.
26/6/285 BCE, Egypt's Ptolemy I Soter abdicated. He was succeeded by his youngest son by his wife Berenice Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who had been co-regent for three years.
332 BCE, Alexander the Great founded the port of Alexandria.
594 BCE, Pharaoh Necho died (acceded 610 BCE)
950 BCE, First verified cultivation of poppies in Egypt.
1492 BCE, Egyptians reached the Land of Punt, probably modern-day Ethiopia.
2300 BCE, Egyptian explorer Harkhuf explored up the Nile.
2550 BCE, The Great Pyramid was completed.
2920 BCE, First Pharaoh reigned.
3100 BCE, Upper and Lower Egypt united under King Menes.
3300 BCE, Urban centres developed in the lower Nile Valley; start of hieroglyphics.