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Africa   >   Egypt


Sharm el-Sheikh is a large resort at the south tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The main reasons to visit are for scuba-diving and other water and beach activities, and to explore the Sinai desert. Often abbreviated to "Sharm", in Arabic it's pronounced Sharm i-Shaykh: the "Sha" is a sun-letter that absorbs the preceding "el-". It's the most developed and most cosmopolitan of the Sinai resorts.

Sharm el-Sheikh is at the south tip of a desert peninsula backed by rugged mountains, with no historic trade or pilgrim routes through it, and no mineral wealth. So it remained an insignificant fishing village until the 20th century, when it developed as a naval base to control the shipping lanes east up the Gulf of Aqaba to Jordan and west up the Gulf of Suez to the canal. But that made it a target for military attack. World War II attacks were against the shipping convoys rather than town, Thistlegorm sunk in 1941 being one notable nearby casualty. In 1956 Sinai was occupied by Israel during the Suez conflict, returning to Egyptian control in 1957. The area was again occupied in 1967, this time for 15 years, during which the Israelis developed Sharm as a tourist resort (and to some extent the other small towns along the Sinai coast). A peace deal led to their gradual withdrawal between 1979 and 1982.

The climate is very dry, with sometimes no rain all year. Summer days are blisteringly hot and the nights are warm to hot. In winter, the days are shirt-sleeve warm but the nights and the sea are cold: there's often a shimal, a cold wind blowing from the north.

- Wikivoyage

Image by Mesut Kaya

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