Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Open almost any study of Egypt produced by an American or an international development agency and you are likely to find it starting with the same simple image. The question of Egypt’s economic development is almost invariably introduced as a problem of geography versus demography, pictured by describing the narrow valley of the Nile River, surrounded by desert, crowded with rapidly multiplying millions of inhabitants.

A 1980 World Bank report on Egypt provides a typical example. “The geographical and demographic characteristics of Egypt delineate its basic economic problem,” the book begins:

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How to cite this article:

Timothy Mitchell "America’s Egypt," Middle East Report 169 (March/April 1991).