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.