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Nile river - Essay Example

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While Was the River Nile Important for the Rise of Successful States in North Africa? Introduction River Nile is the longest in the world – 6 825 kilometers – whose catchment basin covers about a tenth of the African continent, with an area of over three million square kilometers; as of 1995 and 2005, the total population of the countries of the Nile basin has been estimated at 287 million people (Martinon 53)…
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Download file to see previous pages The river is not only thought to have meant different things to the different countries of its basin, but also to have deeply intrigued the wider world. On the one hand it’s widely perceived as “Egypt’s lifeline” ever since the days of the earliest Pharaohs, which is best described by the well-known statement of the Greek historian Herodotus – “Egypt is the gift of the Nile” – uttered in 460 BC (Martinon 53). On the other hand, the Nile plays a crucial economic, political and cultural role nowadays, and its importance is considered greater than ever, with over 300 million people depending on the river for drinking water, irrigation, etc. (Tvedt 1). The Importance of Nile for the Nile Basin States and Societies As Tvedt points out, water has been the principal concern of humanity ever since the dawn of civilization, with most of the population living on the banks of large rivers, like Euphrates and Tigris, Ganges, Indus, Nile, etc.; not surprisingly therefore, the consecutive societies have been fundamentally shaped by that fact since the times of Sumer (2). No international river basin, however, has more complex and eventful history, either in terms of water politics and their impact on the respective societies or in terms of actors involved, than the Nile’s valley (Tvedt 3). On the other hand, it was the twentieth century, or the period of European imperialism, with its rapid technological and scientific advance that actually brought about a revolution in the conceptualization planning and use of Nile’s waters, and had far-reaching implications for the development of the Nile basin region. Being home to many polities, including “a number of kingdoms of various degrees of stability and forms of administrative machinery”, the Nile valley was both culturally and religiously diverse when the British took control over it (Tvedt 5). In northern and central Sudan – under the Mahdi’s rule – the irrigated agriculture had played rather modest role of economic importance, as against trade; while to the southeast, the islands of Lake Tana housed one of the world centers of the Coptic Church (Tvedt 6). Thus, according to Tvedt, there had not been processes of economic and cultural homogenization, but rather, the various Nile environments framed, although partly, many different “special patterns of man-river relationships and forms of regional identification” (6). The Importance of Nile for the Transformation of Egypt into a Modern State Although being a relatively short period in the overall history of the Nile, the years of the British colonial expansion into the Nile valley could be considered the first time when the river became conceptualized as a political and hydrological planning unit (Tvedt 7). During that period various actors, besides the British imperial system, got involved in what Tvedt calls “a great drama of Nile politics and river-valley development” – Egyptian kings and nationalists, Ethiopian emperors and priests, Nilotic cattle herders, Mussolini, Eisenhower, Gamal Abdel Nasser, etc. (7). Insofar as the British played the major role, it’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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