Egypt was part of the Ottoman empire, and then under British rule till it was declared a Republic in 1953. Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations and the Non Aligned-Movement, formed in the times of the Cold War. In 2011, following the start of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Tahrir Square in Cairo witnessed massive protests against the current president, Hosni Mubarak, which eventually led to his resignation. The protests were followed by three years of political instability, which affected tourism and foreign investment, both of which play a big role in Egypt’s economy. In a poll conducted in September 2011, the majority of Egyptians felt that the ongoing protests were worsening the country’s situation. Political changes have helped revive the Egyptian economy and growth is predicted in the years from 2017, as well as a decreasing unemployment rate. The inflation rate, which is expected to soar in 2017 and 2018, seems to slowly stabilize after that as well. National debt, which takes a major chunk of the country’s GDP, is predicted to reduce gradually from 2017.
Egypt has experienced major trade deficits in the past decade. China and the United Arab Emirates are the country’s most important trade partners; Egypt has large coal reserves and mainly exports petroleum and crude oil. The traditional and most important export crop is cotton. In spite of the limitations in arable land, Egypt has managed to reclaim agricultural land and thereby increase its agricultural crop production in the last decade, providing jobs to many Egyptians. About a quarter of Egypt’s workforce is now employed in the agricultural sector.