Few other countries are so dominated by their capital: for Egyptians to speak of one is to speak of the other. The "Mother of the World" nurtures more than 16 million Egyptians, Arabs, Africans and sundry international hangers-on in a collision of East and West, old and new, African and Arabic.
She's overburdened with one of the world's highest population densities, which makes for a seething mass of people, buildings and cacophonous traffic.
Cairo has been the heart of Egypt for more than 1,000 years. Here the medieval world and the contemporary Western world clash in a confusion of mud-brick houses and towering modern office buildings, of flashy cars and donkey-drawn carts.
Cairenes see nothing strange in this. They aren't driven by the Western obsession to update and upgrade. The resulting pervasive sense of timelessness is one of the city's great charms. At the end of the day, it's a city travelers either love or hate; few come away indifferent.
Finding your way about Cairo's vast sprawl is not as difficult as it may seem. Midan Tahrir is at the center. Northeast of Tahrir and centered on Sharia Talaat Harb is Downtown, a bustling commercial district.
The city' main train station at Midan Ramses marks Downtown's northernmost extent. Heading east, Downtown ends at Midan Ataba and the old medieval heart of the city known as Islamic Cairo takes over.
Bordering Downtown to the west is the Nile River, which is obstructed by two sizeable islands. The more central of these, connected directly to Downtown by three bridges, is Gezira, home to the Cairo Tower and the Opera House complex.
The west bank of the Nile is less historical and much more residential. The primary districts are Mohandiseen, Agouza, Doqqi and Giza, all of which are light on charm and heavy on concrete. Giza covers by far the largest area of the four, stretching some 20km (12.4mi) west on either side of the long, straight road that ends at the foot of the Pyramids.
尼罗河西岸有着更短的和少得多的住宅。主要地区是Mohandiseen, Agouza, Doqqi和吉萨，所有这些都带着明亮、深层的魅力。吉萨到目前为止，包括四大领域，在长直路的两侧向西延伸20千米，一直伸展到金字塔的脚下。