Siwa Oasis

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Oasis in northwest Egypt.

The Siwa oasis, 186 miles (300 km) west of Marsa Matruh, had an estimated population of 23,000 in 2002. In ancient times Siwa was the seat of the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, visited by Alexander the Great in 331 b.c.e. It has historically served as both Egypt's western boundary and the easternmost area inhabited by Berbers. The spoken Siwan dialect is a Berber language heavily influenced by Arabic. In the nineteenth century it was one of the centers of the Sanusi Order, and some fighting took place there during World War I. The people of Siwa pride themselves on their differences from other Egyptians and their ability to resolve disputes without resort to bloodshed. The oasis is a center for date palm agriculture. Formerly isolated, it has become accessible by motor transport and is now being developed for tourism. Siwa is also the name of a town in the southern part of the oasis.

see also sanusi order-.


Fakhry, Ahmed. Siwa Oasis. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1990.

Sears, Constance S. "The Oasis of Siwa: Visited and Revisited." Newsletter of the American Research Center in Egypt 165 (spring/summer 1994): 110.

Souryal, Sam S. "Social Control in the Oasis of Siwa: A Study in Natural Justice and Conflict Resolution." International Criminal Justice Review 11 (2001): 82103.

Vivian, Cassandra. Siwa Oasis: Its History, Sites, and Crafts. Ma'adi, Egypt, 1991.

arthur goldschmidt