The Sinai Peninsula
, or simply Sinai
(now usually /
), is a peninsula
, and the only part of the country located in Asia. It is between the Mediterranean Sea
to the north and the Red Sea
to the south, and is a land bridge
between Asia and Africa. Sinai has a land area of about 60,000 km2
(23,000 sq mi) (6 percent of Egypt's total area) and a population of approximately 600,000 people.
Administratively, the vast majority of the area of the Sinai Peninsula is divided into two governorates
: the South Sinai Governorate
and the North Sinai Governorate
. Three other governorates span the Suez Canal
, crossing into African Egypt: Suez Governorate
on the southern end of the Suez Canal, Ismailia Governorate
in the center, and Port Said Governorate
in the north.
The Sinai Peninsula has been a part of Egypt from the First Dynasty
of ancient Egypt (c.
3100 BC). This comes in stark contrast to the region north of it, the Levant
(present-day territories of Syria
), which, due largely to its strategic geopolitical location and cultural convergences, has historically been the center of conflict between Egypt and various states of Mesopotamia
and Asia Minor
. In periods of foreign occupation, the Sinai was, like the rest of Egypt, also occupied and controlled by foreign empires, in more recent history the Ottoman Empire
) and the United Kingdom
). Israel invaded and occupied Sinai during the Suez Crisis
(known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression
due to the simultaneous coordinated attack by the UK, France and Israel) of 1956, and during the Six-Day War
of 1967. On 6 October 1973, Egypt launched the Yom Kippur War
to retake the peninsula, which was unsuccessful. In 1982, as a result of the Egypt–Israel peace treaty
of 1979, Israel withdrew from all of the Sinai Peninsula except the contentious territory of Taba
, which was returned after a ruling by a commission of arbitration in 1989.
Its modern Arabic
name is سِينَاء
(Egyptian Arabic سينا
; IPA: [ˈsiːnæ]
). The modern Arabic is an adoption of the biblical name, the 19th-century Arabic designation of Sinai was Jebel el-Tūr
which the name of the mountain is derived from a small town called El-Tor
(formerly called "Tur Sinai"), which this name comes from the Arabic term for the mountain where the prophet Moses
received the Tablets of the Law
from God, thus this mountain is designated as "Jabal Aṭ-Ṭūr
: جبل الطّور
)", and the town is also the capital of the South Sinai Governorate
. As another Arabic word for "mass of very high land going up to a peak - mountain" is "Ṭūr".
In English, the name is now usually pronounced /
The traditional pronunciation is /
Image from Gemini 11
spacecraft, featuring part of Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula in the foreground and the Levant
in the background
Most of the Sinai Peninsula is divided among the two governorates of Egypt
: South Sinai
(Ganub Sina) and North Sinai
Together, they comprise around 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 sq mi) and have a population (January 2013) of 597,000. Three more governates span the Suez Canal, crossing into African Egypt: Suez
(el-Sewais) is on the southern end of the Suez Canal, Ismailia
(el-Isma'ileyyah) in the centre, and Port Said
in the north.
The largest city of Sinai is Arish
, capital of the North Sinai, with around 160,000 residents. Other larger settlements include Sharm el-Sheikh
, on the southern coast. Inland Sinai is arid (effectively a desert), mountainous and sparsely populated, the largest settlements being Saint Catherine
Sinai is one of the coldest provinces in Egypt because of its high altitudes and mountainous topographies. Winter temperatures in some of Sinai's cities and towns reach −16 °C (3 °F).
A cave with paintings of people and animals was discovered about 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Mount Catherine
in January 2020, dates back to the Chalcolithic
Period, circa 5th–4th millennium BCE.
The fortress Tjaru
in western Sinai was a place of banishment for Egyptian criminals. The Way of Horus
connected it across northern Sinai with ancient Canaan
Biblical (according to Islamic sources)
These accounts are according solely from Islamic
Then in the year 1213 BC, the children of Isrā‘īl
(the Biblical Jacob
) left Egypt during the era of the Pharaoh of Egypt, where prophet Musa (the Biblical Moses
), walked to Madyan
, the Biblical
) - the home of his wife and her family, which is the current southernmost point of Sinai - and some believe that it is located on the western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba
in the area between Taba
. When Moses walked in this direction, where there is currently between both mountains, later known as Gebel al-Musa
) and Jabal al-Munājāh
, in Arabic "Munājāh
" implies an exclamatory address to absent person or to inanimate object - "confidential talk"), it is said that Moses received the commandments and laws
(the Ten Commandments) of the Jewish religion (Judaism)
. The people of Moses did not respond to his desire to enter Palestine
, so Allah
’s (God) wrath fell upon them and forbade them to enter it for forty years, wandering in Sinai. Musa and Aaron
died in Sinai during the wandering period, where Aaron died first and was buried in a mountain called Jabal Hūd
), then Moses died and was buried in a red dune, a place close to the land of Palestine, but it is not known now.
Achaemenid Persian Period
At the end of the time of Darius I
, the Great (521–486 BCE) Sinai was part of the Persian province of Abar-Nahra
, which means 'beyond the river [Euphrates]'.
successfully managed the crossing of the hostile Sinai Desert, traditionally Egypt's first and strongest line of defence, and brought the Egyptians under Psamtik III, son and successor of Ahmose, to battle at Pelusium. The Egyptians lost and retired to Memphis; the city fell to the Persian control and the Pharaoh was carried off in captivity to Susa
Roman and Byzantine Periods
St. Catherine's Monastery
is the oldest working Christian monastery in the world and the most popular tourist attraction on the peninsula.
After the death of the last Nabatean
king, Rabbel II Soter
, in 106,
the Roman emperor Trajan
faced practically no resistance and conquered the kingdom on 22 March 106. With this conquest, the Roman Empire went on to control all shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Sinai Peninsula became part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea
During the Crusades
it was under the control of Fatimid Caliphate
. Later, Sultan Saladin
abolished the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt and took this region under his control too. It was the military route from Cairo to Damascus during the Crusades. And in order to secure this route, he built a citadel on the island of Pharaoh
(near present Taba) known by his name 'Saladin's Citadel
Mamluk and Ottoman Periods
The first scientifically accurate map of the peninsula: the 1869 Ordnance Survey of the Peninsula of Sinai
The peninsula was governed as part of Egypt under the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt
from 1260 until 1517, when the Ottoman Sultan, Selim the Grim
, defeated the Egyptians at the Battles of Marj Dabiq
and al-Raydaniyya, and incorporated Egypt into the Ottoman Empire. From then until 1906, Sinai was administered by the Ottoman
provincial government of the Pashalik
of Egypt, even following the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty
's rule over the rest of Egypt in 1805.
The wilderness of Sinai, 1862
In 1906, the Ottoman Porte
formally transferred administration of Sinai to the Egyptian government, which essentially meant that it fell under the control of the United Kingdom
, who had occupied and largely controlled Egypt since 1882. The border imposed by the British runs in an almost straight line from Rafah
on the Mediterranean
shore to Taba
on the Gulf of Aqaba
. This line has served as the eastern border of Egypt ever since.
Israeli invasions and occupation
In 1956, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal,
a waterway marking the boundary between Egyptian territory in Africa
and the Sinai Peninsula. Thereafter, Israeli ships were prohibited from using the Canal,
owing to the state of war between the two states. Egypt also prohibited ships from using Egyptian territorial waters on the eastern side of the peninsula to travel to and from Israel, effectively imposing a blockade on the Israeli port of Eilat
. In October 1956, in what is known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression, Israeli forces, aided by Britain, and France (which sought to reverse the nationalization and regain control over the Suez Canal), invaded Sinai and occupied much of the peninsula within a few days. In March 1957, Israel withdrew its forces from Sinai, following strong pressure from the United States
and the Soviet Union
. Thereafter, the United Nations Emergency Force
(UNEF) was stationed in Sinai to prevent any further conflict in the Sinai.
On 16 May 1967, Egypt ordered the UNEF out of Sinai
and reoccupied it militarily. Secretary-General U Thant
eventually complied and ordered the withdrawal without Security Council authorisation. In the course of the Six-Day War
that broke out shortly thereafter, Israel occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank
(including East Jerusalem
) from Jordan (which Jordan had controlled since 1949), and the Golan Heights
from Syria. The Suez Canal, the east bank of which was now occupied by Israel, was closed. Israel commenced efforts at large scale Israeli settlement in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt-Israel border, looking north from the Eilat
Following the Israeli conquest of Sinai, Egypt launched the War of Attrition
(1967–70) aimed at forcing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. The war saw protracted conflict in the Suez Canal Zone, ranging from limited to large scale combat. Israeli shelling of the cities of Port Said
, and Suez
on the west bank of the canal, led to high civilian casualties (including the virtual destruction of Suez), and contributed to the flight of 700,000
Egyptian internal refugees. Ultimately, the war concluded in 1970 with no change in the front line.
On 6 October 1973, Egypt commenced Operation Badr
to retake the Sinai, while Syria launched a simultaneous operation to retake the Golan Heights,
thereby beginning the Yom Kippur War
(known in Egypt and much of Europe as the October War
). Egyptian engineering forces built pontoon bridges to cross the Suez Canal, and stormed the Bar-Lev Line
, Israel's defensive line along the Suez Canal's east bank. Though the Egyptians maintained control of most of the east bank of the Suez Canal, in the later stages of the war, the Israeli military
crossed the southern section of the Suez Canal, cutting off the Egyptian 3rd Army, and occupied a section of the Suez Canal's west bank. The war ended following a mutually agreed-upon ceasefire. After the war, as part of the subsequent Sinai Disengagement Agreements
, Israel withdrew from immediate proximity with the Suez Canal, with Egypt agreeing to permit passage of Israeli ships. The canal was reopened in 1975, with President Sadat
leading the first convoy through the canal aboard an Egyptian destroyer.
1979–1982 Israeli withdrawal
In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in which Israel agreed to withdraw from the entirety of the Sinai Peninsula. Israel subsequently withdrew in several stages, ending in 1982. The Israeli pull-out involved dismantling almost all Israeli settlements, including the settlement of Yamit
in north-eastern Sinai. The exception was that the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh
(which the Israelis had founded as Ofira
during their occupation of the Sinai Peninsula) was not dismantled. The Treaty allows monitoring of Sinai by the Multinational Force and Observers
, and limits the number of Egyptian military
forces in the peninsula.
Sinai peacekeeping zones
Article 2 of Annex I of the Peace Treaty called for the Sinai Peninsula to be divided into zones. Within these zones, Egypt and Israel were permitted varying degrees of military buildup:
- Zone A: Between the Suez Canal and Line A. Egypt is permitted a mechanized infantry division with a total of 22,000 troops in Zone A.
- Zone B: Between Line A and Line B. Egypt is permitted four border security battalions to support the civilian police in Zone B.
- Zone C: Between Line B and the Egypt–Israel border. Only the MFO and the Egyptian civilian police are permitted within Zone C.
- Zone D: Between the Egypt–Israel border and Line D. Israel is permitted four infantry battalions in Zone D.
Early 21st century security issues
Also on the rise are kidnappings of refugees
. According to Meron Estifanos, Eritrean refugees are often kidnapped by Bedouin in the northern Sinai, tortured, raped, and only released after receiving a large ransom.
Two young Bedouins
making bread in the desert
The two governorates of North and South Sinai have a total population of 597,000 (January 2013). This figure rises to 1,400,000 by including Western Sinai, the parts of the Port Said
Governorates lying east of the Suez Canal. Port Said alone has a population of roughly 500,000 people (January 2013). Portions of the populations of Ismailia and Suez live in west Sinai, while the rest live on the western side of the Suez Canal.
The population of Sinai has largely consisted of desert-dwelling Bedouins
with their colourful traditional costumes and significant culture.
Large numbers of Egyptians from the Nile Valley and Delta
moved to the area to work in tourism, but development adversely affected the native Bedouin population.
In order to help alleviate their problems, various NGOs
began to operate in the region, including the Makhad Trust
, a UK charity that assists the Bedouin in developing a sustainable income while protecting Sinai's natural environment, heritage and culture.
in Southern Sinai is a popular beach and diving resort
- ^ a b January 2018 population data gives the North and South governorates' population at approximately 560,000 (per "اPop. Estimates by Governorate 1/1/2018". www.capmas.gov.eg. Archived from the original on 2 November 2018.). In 1997 these two governorates accounted for 97% of the peninsula's population.Greenwood, Ned (1997). The Sinai: A Physical Geography. University of Texas Press. pp. 5. ISBN 978-0-292-72799-1. Over 94 percent of the area and probably 97 percent of the population are found in the large governorates, leaving less than 6 percent of the area and 3 percent of the population attached to As Suways (Suez), Al Ismailiyah (Ismailia),and Bur Said (Port Said) governorates.
- ^ a b Vaux, Roland de (1978). The Early History of Israel. Darton, Longman & Todd. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-232-51242-7. The name 'Sinai peninsula' is modern. It is derived from the Christian tradition, according to which Sinai was located in the south of the peninsula. This Christian tradition goes back to the fourth century, to the time when the Spanish pilgrimEgeria (or Etheria) visited Sinai in A.D. 383. From this time onwards, Christians grouped all the Old Testament memories round the Jebel Musa.
- ^ See Biblical Mount Sinai for a fuller discussion.
- ^ "Sinai Peninsula (peninsula, Egypt) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- ^ "Sinai, Mount". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- ^ J. W. Parker, The Bible Cyclopaedia vol. 2 (1843), p. 1143. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Sinai and Palestine: In Connection with Their History (1877), p. 29.
- ^ "Étude de la turquoise : de ses traitements et imitations" Archived 15 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, thesis by Claire Salanne, Université de Nantes, 2009.
- ^ "Definition of Sinai". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- ^ "Sinai". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- ^ "Sinai". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- ^ "Sinai". Oxford Dictionaries UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- ^ "Sinai". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- ^ Homberg, Catherine and Martina Bachmann, Evolution of the Levant Margin and Western Arabia Platform Since the Mesozoic, The Geological Society of London, 2010, p 65 ISBN 978-1862393066
- ^ a b Ned Greenwood (1 January 2010). The Sinai: A Physical Geography. University of Texas Press. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-0-292-77909-9.
- ^ a b The translation 'mining country' is not certain, see also Rainer Hannig: Großes Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch : (2800 – 950 v. Chr.). p. 1135.
- ^ "Cave Covered in Ancient Egyptian Paintings of Donkeys and People Discovered by Accident". Newsweek. 23 January 2020.
- ^ "EgyptSearch Forums: Archaeology of the Sinai Desert during the early-mid Holocene (10 000BC-3000BC)?". www.egyptsearch.com. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- ^ Joseph Davidovits and Ralph Davidovits (2007). "Why Djoser's blue Egyptian faience tiles are not blue? Manufacturing Djoser's faience tiles at temperatures as low as 250 °C?" (PDF). In Jean Claude Goyon, Christine Cardin (ed.). Proceedings of the ninth International Congress of Egyptologists. 1. Louvain/Paris/Dudley. p. 375.
- ^ "History of Iran: Achaemenid Persian Syria 538–331 BCE; Two Centuries of Persian Rule". www.iranchamber.com. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- ^ Schürer, Emil; Millar, Fergus; Vermes, Geza (26 March 2015). The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 583. ISBN 978-0-567-50161-5.
- ^ Taylor, Jane: Petra And the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans. I. B. Tauris 2001, ISBN 1860645089, p. 73-74 (online copy, p. 73, at Google Books)
- ^ Editors, History com. "Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal". HISTORY. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- ^ "1956: Egypt Seizes Suez Canal". BBC. 26 July 1956.
- ^ Samir A. Mutawi (18 July 2002). Jordan in the 1967 War. Cambridge University Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-521-52858-0. Although Eshkol denounced the Egyptians, his response to this development was a model of moderation. His speech on 21 May demanded that Nasser withdraw his forces from Sinai but made no mention of the removal of UNEF from the Straits nor of what Israel would do if they were closed to Israeli shipping. The next day Nasser announced to an astonished world that henceforth the Straits were, indeed, closed to all Israeli ships
- ^ Spencer, Tucker. Encyclopedia or the Arab-Israeli Conflict. p. 175.
- ^ "War of Attrition".
- ^ Serene Assir (23 July 2005). "Shock in Sharm". Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- ^ "Close the Torture Houses in North Sinai and Egypt". [AI] Asmarino Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- ^ Sound of Torture documentary
- ^ Fouad, Ahmed (17 April 2015). "Egypt discovers record-length smuggling tunnel". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- ^ Leonard, William R. and Michael H. Crawford, The Human Biology of Pastoral Populations, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 67 ISBN 978-0521780162
- Gardner, Ann. "At Home in South Sinai". Nomadic Peoples 2000. Vol. 4, Iss. 2; pp. 48–67. Detailed account of Bedouin women
- H. J. L. Beadnell (May 1926). "Central Sinai". Geographical Journal. 67 (5): 385–398. doi:10.2307/1782203. JSTOR 1782203.
- C. W. Wilson (1873). "Recent Surveys in Sinai and Palestine". Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 43: 206–240. doi:10.2307/1798627. JSTOR 1798627.
- Jacobs, Jessica (2006). "Tourist Places and Negotiating Modernity: European Women and Romance Tourism in the Sinai". In Minca, Claudio; Oakes, Tim (eds.). Travels in Paradox: Remapping Tourism. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-2876-5. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
- Teague, Matthew; Moyer, Matt (March 2009). "The Sinai's Separate Peace". National Geographic Magazine. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. 215 (3): 99–121. ISSN 0027-9358. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
- Jarvis, C.S.,Yesterday and To-day in Sinai (Edinburgh/London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1931).
- New terrorist challenges in the Sinai peninsula, prominent jihadists organisations, Strategic Impact (52), issue: 3 / 2014, pp. 39–47
Last edited on 8 May 2021, at 22:52
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