Egypt / Cities and Towns /
City in southern Egypt with 280,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), capital of the Aswan Governorate. The city is situated on the Nile, just north of the Aswan High Dam, at what used to be the 1st Cataract.
Feluccas and cruise boats docked at Aswan.
Desert and lush vegetation at Aswan.
A tiny temple kiosk next to Yebu on Elephantine.
The Aga Khan Mausoleum on the west bank of the Nile from Aswan.
In recent decades, industries have been developed in Aswan benefitting from the electricity from the Dam. Trade with Sudan has some importance still, but is a relatively small contributor to local economy. Aswan is an important tourist destination, and is the start or ending point of Nile cruises. Aswan has very hot summers, but has gained great popularity as a destination for winter tourism. It sees very little rainfall, there can be years between every time it rains.
Of educational institutions, there is the Africa University, and The Higher Industrial Institute.
The population of Aswan is predominantly Nubian, Arabic is the main language but many also speak Nubian language.
Sunni Islam is the main religion, but there is also a large contingency of Christians, mainly Copts. Ismai'ilism, which with the Aga Khan Mausoleum here, has far less adherents in Aswan than what could be expected. Actual figures are not available.
Aswan was, as the ancient Swenet, important in the Pharaonic times, supplying fine red granite for several of the temples of Egypt with colossal statues, obelisks and monolithic shrines. During the Roman period, the city prospered.
Aswan has since the times of Ancient Egypt been the southernmost point of the Egyptian heartland, being the ethnic border to Nubia.
To Aswan, several important cultic centres belong. Elephantine is the most important, effectively being the ancient settlement corresponding to modern Aswan. Somewhat further south, beyond the 1st Cataract, lies Philae, then follows Kalabsha.
During the era of Ancient Egypt, Yebu on the Elephantine island, just off modern Aswan was early settled. It was known as Swenet.
Around 1500: Name changes from Sawan to Aswan.
Early 19th century: Aswan becomes headquarters for the conquest of Sudan.