Egypt / Geography /
Peninsula in Egypt, with an area of 61,000 kmē and a population of about 60,000.
Sinai represents Egypt's Asian part, as the border between Africa and Asia is drawn along the Suez Canal. Sinai borders to Israel and Palestine to the northeast. To the north lies the Mediterranean Sea, to the west the Gulf of Suez, to the east Gulf of Aqaba. At its most southern point, Ra's Muhammad, Sinai touches the Red Sea.
There is little vegetation in Sinai, and conditions for agriculture are very difficult. The majority of the limited population lives along the coast, while the people living in the interior almost exclusively are pastoral Bedouins. The main sources of income for southern Sinai is presently tourism, military activity and some oil production along the west coast.
Sinai, being the bridge between the rich lands of Asia and Africa, has been fought over far more times than its own resources would have motivated. In modern times, battles over Sinai has been connected to safety and nationalist issues.
1869: Opening of the Suez Canal.
1956: Invasion by Israel. At the end of the war, all of Sinai's territory is returned to Egyptian control.
1967 June 5-10: With the Six-Day War, all of Sinai comes under Israeli control.
1973: Disengagement agreements following the Yom Kippur War, leaves Egypt with parts on the east bank of the Suez Canal, a zone stretching a couple of kilometres into Sinai.
1979: Peace agreement with Israel, where Israeli starts to withdraw military forces as well as disengaging settlements.
1982: Israel finishes the withdrawal process. Multinational Force Observers are installed to secure Israeli protection from Egyptian military activities.
1989 March 15: The little town of Taba, next to the Israeli border, is handed over to Egypt. Before this happened Egypt and Israel had been through years of hard negotiations as Israel saw the peace agreement of 1979 as not including Taba.