El Faiyum (ĕl fīyōōm´), or Al Fayyum (äl fīyōōm´), region, coextensive with El Faiyum governorate, N Egypt, W of the Nile River, a depression (entirely below sea level) in the Libyan (or Western) Desert. It is an irrigated agricultural area made fertile by Nile water and silt, which are carried there by the canalized Bahr Yusuf River. The irrigation system in El Faiyum makes use of canals originally dug under King Amenemhet III (d.1801 BC). Cereals, fruit, and cotton are produced. Lake Karun (known in ancient times as Lake Moeris), located in the western part of the region, is used for fishing. El Faiyum is rich in archaeological finds. These include the remains of a Neolithic farm settlement and many papyri written both in ancient Egyptian and in Arabic. The city of El Faiyum (1986 pop. 213,070), located in the southeastern part of the governorate and its capital, is the region's trade, distribution, manufacturing, and transport center. Industries include cotton ginning, wool and cotton spinning and weaving, dyeing, tanning, and cigarette manufacturing.
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