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Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA

Egypt's second largest city and main port.

Modern Alexandria stands on the site of the ancient city of the same name, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 b.c.e. It is located on a narrow spit of land with the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Lake Mariut to the south. The climate is temperate and averages 45°F during the winter months. Summer weather, although not as hot as in Cairo, is significantly affected by seaborne humidity and reaches 90°F.

Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy I made the new port city his capital, and his Greek-speaking dynasty ruled until Cleopatra VII's suicide in 30 b.c.e. as Octavian's Romans invaded the country. Famed for its lighthouse, museum (primarily a research institute), and library, Hellenistic Alexandria continued as a great Mediterranean center of commerce and learning through Roman times. Eratosthenes, Euclid, and Claudius Ptolemy were among its mathematical and scientific luminaries, and Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollonius stood out as Greek poets. Alexandria declined in importance under Islamic rule as Egypt's center of gravity returned inland to the Cairo area, where it remains today.

Contemporary Alexandria is the site of oil refineries, food-processing plants, and car-assembly works. The port is the main point of export for cotton and other agricultural products and is one of Egypt's major venues for imports. Because of its significance to the commercial activity of the city, the harbor underwent major expansions in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Its size and position made it the headquarters of the British Royal Navy's Mediterranean squadron until the end of World War II.

The history of modern Alexandria begins in 1798 when the French occupied it until 1801 as part of Napoléon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign. By then the city's population had shrunk to under 10,000. Alexandria experienced a remarkable revival in the early nineteenth century when Muhammad Ali connected it to the Nile River by the Mahmudiyya Canal, dredged its long-neglected harbor, and made it the site of his naval building program and arsenal. By 1824, because of Muhammad Ali's agricultural policies, Egypt was experiencing the first of two significant cotton exporting booms. Both booms led to the arrival of numerous European entrepreneurs involved with cotton, a combination that was to govern Alexandria's commercial and political fortunes until the advent of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Suez Crisis of October 1956.

During the U.S. Civil War and the ensuing Union naval blockade of the Confederacy, Alexandria experienced a resurgence of its commercial and urban fortunes as well as a population explosion, reaching more than 180,000 inhabitants. With the
disappearance of cotton from the southern United States, Europeanespecially Britishmills turned to Egypt as the closest source of acceptable cotton. This in turn led to feverish economic activity aimed at improving agriculture and increasing urban development, manufacturing, and transport, and culminated in the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The Egyptian viceroy had embarked on an ambitious program of modernization, heavily indebting his country to Europe. European financiers and entrepreneurs settled in Alexandria, transforming it from a marginal seaside town into the major entrepôt of the eastern Mediterranean. The seaport also became the financial and political center of the country while Cairo remained the political capital of Egypt. By World War I, Alexandria's population had grown to nearly half a million and had reached a million when King Farouk abdicated in 1952.

Unable to repay or service its debt, in 1876 Egypt came under the supervision of Anglo-French financial advisers. This helped fuel a nationalist reaction that culminated in the revolt led by Ahmad Urabi. In 1882 the British bombarded and then occupied Alexandria in order to crush the nationalist insurrection. The town was then rebuilt along European lines with clearly demarcated areas for business, industry, and residence. The new city grew into nearly separate European and indigenous sections reflecting, like much colonial urbanism, the demographic dichotomies of its population.

Thus from the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, Alexandria was home to a polyglot population representing the Mediterranean littoral and comprising different national, ethnocultural, and religious backgrounds. The Greeks were the most numerous of the European communities, followed in number by Italians, British subjects (many of whom were actually Maltese), and Frenchmen. Poet Constantine Cavafy stood out in the vigorous Greek cultural scene; British residents gathered at the Sporting Club and in 1901 imported the English public school model for Victoria College. Today Alexandria still presents a unique mixture of architectural styles, blending Venetian rococo, turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts, Bauhaus, Mediterranean stucco, and, more recently, postmodernist high-tech, although it lacks Cairo's rich Islamic architectural heritage.

Extensive beaches and the moderate summer climate turned the city into a seaside resort where the well-to-do and a growing middle class escaped the heat of the interior. Raʾs al-Tin and especially al-Muntaza Palace became the royal family's summer residences. In 1934 the construction of the fourteen-mile-long Corniche along the city's coast began.

The vast and disproportionate wealth and commercial influence of Egypt's foreign population was still particularly glaring in Alexandria when Nasser's Free Officers seized control in 1952. It was no coincidence that Nasser chose Alexandria, that most European of Egypt's cities, to deliver a speech in July 1956 announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. The Suez Crisis, the ensuing ArabIsrael War of 1956, and expropriation of foreign-owned property and businesses led to a mass exodus of Alexandria's foreign residents in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Those developments also encouraged Nasser to Arabize and Egyptianize the city's ethos.

Until the 1960s Pompey's Pillar (actually dating from the reign of Diocletian), the Roman-era Kom al-Shuqafa catacombs, the Mamluk Qaitbay Fort, and the Greco-Roman Museum attracted cursory attention from Western tourists passing on their way to the richer antiquities of the interior. The shift from steamship to air travel, however, put Alexandria off the beaten path as Western tourists flew directly into Cairo. This often reduced Alexandria to an optional day trip from Cairo for Westerners on a nostalgic quest for the lost (and highly imaginary) city of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. The UNESCO-sponsored Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002, an attempt by the city to regain something of its cosmopolitan glitter by invoking the glories of ancient Alexandria. With perhaps five million people today, greater Alexandria sprawls westward toward El Alamein and Marsa Matruh, with beachside resorts devouring the once pristine desert coastline.

see also arabisrael war (1956); free officers, egypt; nasser, gamal abdel; suez canal; suez crisis (19561957); victoria college.

Bibliography

Aciman, André. Out of Egypt: A Memoir. New York: River-head Books, 1995.

Forster, E. M. Alexandria: A History and a Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Owen, E. R. J. Cotton and the Egyptian Economy, 18201914. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Reimer, Michael J. Colonial Bridgehead: Government and Society in Alexandria, 18071882. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

Jean-Marc R. Oppenheim

Updated by Donald Malcolm Reid

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"Alexandria." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Alexandria (city, Egypt)

Alexandria, Arabic Al Iskandariyah, city (1996 pop. 3,328,196), N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is at the western extremity of the Nile River delta, situated on a narrow isthmus between the sea and Lake Mareotis (Maryut). The city is Egypt's leading port, a commercial and transportation center, and the heart of a major industrial area where refined petroleum, asphalt, cotton textiles, processed food, paper, and plastics are produced. The Univ. of Alexandria; the Institute of Alexandria, an affiliate of Al Azhar Univ. in Cairo; a college of nursing; and medical and textile research centers are in the city, which is also the Middle East headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria houses a vast collection of Coptic, Roman, and Greek art. The striking Bibliotheca Alexandrina contains library, museum, planetarium, and conference facilities.

Much of ancient Alexandria is covered by modern buildings or is underwater; only a few landmarks are readily accessible, including ruins of the emporium and the Serapeum and a granite shaft (88 ft/27 m high) called Pompey's Pillar. Nothing remains of the lighthouse on the Pharos (3d cent. BC), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the site of the royal palace lies under the older (east) harbor.

History

Alexandria, founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great, was (304–30 BC) the capital of the Ptolemies. The city took over the trade of Tyre (sacked by Alexander the Great), outgrew Carthage by c.250 BC, and became the largest city in the Mediterranean basin. It was the greatest center of Hellenistic civilization and Jewish culture. The Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament into Greek, was prepared there. Alexandria had two celebrated royal libraries, one in a temple of Zeus and the other in a museum. The collections were said to contain c.700,000 rolls. A great university grew around the museum and attracted many scholars, including Aristarchus of Samothrace, the collator of the Homeric texts; Euclid, the mathematician; and Herophilus, the anatomist, who founded a medical school there.

Julius Caesar temporarily occupied (47 BC) the city while pursuing Pompey, and Octavian (later Augustus) entered it (30 BC) after the suicide of Antony and Cleopatra. Alexandria formally became part of the Roman Empire in 30 BC It was the greatest of the Roman provincial capitals, with a population of about 300,000 free persons and numerous slaves. In the later centuries of Roman rule and under the Byzantine Empire, Alexandria rivaled Rome and Constantinople as a center of Christian learning. It was (and remains today) the seat of a patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The libraries, however, were gradually destroyed from the time of Caesar's invasion, and suffered especially in AD 391, when Theodosius I had pagan temples and other structures razed. When the Muslim Arabs took Alexandria in 642, its prosperity had withered, largely because of a decline in shipping, but the city still had about 300,000 inhabitants. The Arabs moved the capital of Egypt to Cairo in 969 and Alexandria's decline continued, accelerating in the 14th cent., when the canal to the Nile silted up.

During his Egyptian campaign, Napoleon I took the city in 1798, but it fell to the British in 1801. At that time Alexandria's population was only about 4,000. The city gradually regained importance after 1819, when the Mahmudiyah Canal to the Nile was completed by Muhammad Ali, who developed Alexandria as a deepwater port and a naval station.

During the 19th cent. many foreigners settled in Alexandria, and in 1907 they made up about 25% of the population. In 1882, during a nationalist uprising in Egypt spearheaded by Arabi Pasha, there were antiforeign riots in Alexandria, which was subsequently bombarded by the British. During World War II, as the chief Allied naval base in the E Mediterranean, Alexandria was bombed by the Germans. In a 1944 meeting in Alexandria, plans for the Arab League were drawn up. The city's foreign population declined during the 20th cent., particularly after the 1952 Egyptian revolution.

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Alexandria (cities, United States)

Alexandria:1 City (1990 pop. 49,188), seat of Rapides parish, central La., on the Red River; inc. 1818. It is a trade, rail, and medical center for a rich agricultural and timber area. Among its many manufactures are fabricated metals, wood panels, adhesives, and fishing lures. During the Civil War the city was burned (May, 1864) by federal troops. Alexandria is the headquarters for Kisatchie National Forest and the seat of a branch of Louisiana State Univ. Louisiana College is in the neighboring twin city of Pineville. 2 City (1990 pop. 111,183), independent and in no county, N Va., a port of entry on the Potomac; patented 1657, permanently settled 1730s, inc. 1779. Primarily a residential suburb of Washington, D.C., it also has extensive railroad yards and repair shops, a deepwater port, and varied industry (printing and publishing, fiber optics research, and machinery and computer-hardware manufacturing). A number of U.S. government buildings and scientific and engineering research firms are there; Crystal City and Pentagon City are vast office developments. George Washington helped lay out the streets in 1749. The city was part of the District of Columbia from 1789 to 1846. In May, 1861, it was occupied by federal troops; it was cut off from the rest of the South throughout the Civil War. Its many historic buildings include Gadsby's Tavern (1752), frequented by Washington; Carlyle House (1752), where Washington received his commission as major; Christ Church (1767–73), where Washington, and later Robert E. Lee, worshiped; and Ramsey House (1749–51). The George Washington Masonic National Memorial Temple (1923–32), modeled after the ancient lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt, houses Washington mementos. The Alexandria Gazette, among the nation's oldest daily newspapers, was first printed in 1784. Nearby are Mount Vernon; Woodlawn, one of the Washington family estates; an Episcopal seminary (1823); Fort Belvoir; and the U.S. Army Engineer Center, with an engineering school and research and development laboratories.

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Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA

ALEXANDRIA, a city in Virginia on the Potomac River, below Washington, D.C., was an important trading center until early in the nineteenth century, particularly as a tobacco warehousing and deep-sea shipping port. First settled in 1695, it was established as a town in 1749 on an original grant of 6,000 acres awarded in 1669. For nearly a century, the Alexander family had owned the site. It lay on the main stage route, the King's Highway, which ran southward into Virginia. Gen. Edward Braddock departed from there on his fatal expedition in 1755. The Fairfax Resolves were signed in Alexandria, 18 July 1774. Alexandria was incorporated in 1779. From 1791 to 1847, the city was under federal jurisdiction as part of the District of Columbia. Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807 destroyed its tobacco trade. During the American Civil War, Union troops occupied it. Alexandria was the home of many prominent Virginia families. Alexandria's population greatly increased in the twentieth century and reached 128,283 in 2000. It has become an affluent and largely residential city noted for its colonial architecture. Many corporations in diverse fields, such as Time-Life, Inc., and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), have chosen to make Alexandria their headquarters.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983.

Hurst, Harold W. Alexandria on the Potomac: The Portrait of an Antebellum Community. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991.

Kolp, John Gilman. Gentlemen and Freeholders: Electoral Politics in Colonial Virginia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

EthelArmes/a. e.

See alsoBraddock's Expedition ; Potomac River ; Red River Campaign ; Virginia ; Washington, D.C .

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Alexandria

Alexandria Chief port and second largest city of Egypt, situated on the w extremity of the Nile delta. Founded by Alexander the Great in 332 bc, it became a great centre of Greek (and Jewish) culture. An offshore island housed the 3rd-century bc Pharos lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the city contained a great library (founded by Ptolemy I, and said to contain 700,000 volumes). Today, it is a deep-water port handling more than 75% of Egypt's trade. Alexandria is the Middle East headquarters for the World Health Organization (WHO). Industries: oil refining, cotton textiles, plastics, paper. Pop. (1996) 3,328,196.

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Alexandria

Alexandria. City in Egypt, notable in Christian tradition (stemming, traditionally, from St Mark) for its catechetical school in the 2nd and 3rd cents. and in the 4th and 5th cents. especially for the ‘Alexandrian theology’ represented by Origen, Athanasius, and Cyril.

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Alexandria

Alexandriabarrier, carrier, farrier, harrier, tarrier •Calabria, Cantabria •Andrea • Kshatriya • Bactria •Amu Darya, aria, Zaria •Alexandria •Ferrier, terrier •destrier •aquaria, area, armamentaria, Bavaria, Bulgaria, caldaria, cineraria, columbaria, filaria, frigidaria, Gran Canaria, herbaria, honoraria, malaria, pulmonaria, rosaria, sacraria, Samaria, solaria, tepidaria, terraria •atria, gematria •Assyria, Illyria, Styria, SyriaLaurier, warrior •hypochondria, mitochondria •Austria •auditoria, ciboria, conservatoria, crematoria, emporia, euphoria, Gloria, moratoria, phantasmagoria, Pretoria, sanatoria, scriptoria, sudatoria, victoria, Vitoria, vomitoria •Maurya •courier, Fourier •currier, furrier, spurrier, worrier •Cumbria, Northumbria, Umbria •Algeria, anterior, bacteria, Bashkiria, cafeteria, criteria, cryptomeria, diphtheria, exterior, hysteria, Iberia, inferior, interior, Liberia, listeria, Nigeria, posterior, Siberia, superior, ulterior, wisteria •Etruria, Liguria, Manchuria, Surya

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