views updated Jun 27 2018


Upper Egyptian province and its capital city, health resort, and industrial center.

Originally named Syene, the city was located on the east bank, at the first cataract of the Upper Nile River; it marked the southern border of pharaonic Egypt. About 3.5 miles (5.5 km) south of the city is the Aswan dam, erected by British and Egyptian engineers from 1899 to 1902 and enlarged in 1912 and 1934. The dam's construction facilitated the conversion of Middle Egypt and parts of Upper Egypt to perennial irrigation. From 1960 to 1971, this process was completed with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. One of the largest public works ever built, the High Dam has enabled Egypt to reclaim some desert land for cultivation (but not the 1.2 million acres [0.5 million ha] hoped for) and to generate hydroelectric power. It has cost dearly in soil erosion, the loss of fertile alluvium from the annual flood and of nutrients that used to support marine life, and the resettlement of Nubians who used to live in lands flooded by the waters of Lake Nasser, created by the dam. The province had some 801,400 inhabitants in 1986.

see also aswan high dam; egypt; nasser, lake; nile river; nubians.


Waterbury, John. Hydropolitics of the Nile Valley. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1979.

Arthur Goldschmidt


views updated Jun 08 2018

Aswan City on the e bank of the River Nile just above Lake Nasser, se Egypt. Aswan was of strategic importance in ancient times because it controlled all shipping and communications above the first cataract of the Nile. The modern city is a commercial and winter resort centre and has benefited greatly from the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The dam, built with Soviet aid between 1960 and 1970, has a generating capacity of 10,000 million kilowatt-hours and supersedes the first Aswan Dam completed in 1902 to establish flood control on the Nile. Many Nubians displaced by the dam's construction have moved to Aswan. The Aga Khan's tomb overlooks the city from the w bank of the Nile. The rock terrain surrounding Lake Nasser abounds in Egyptian and Greek temples and, though some sites submerged, the temples of Abu Simbel remain. Industries: copper, steel, textiles. Pop. (1996) 219,017.