Cairo is the capital of Egypt, the largest city in Africa and the Arab World, and one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Nicknamed “The City of a Thousand Minarets” for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a center of the regions political and cultural life. Even before Cairo was established in the 10th century, the land composing the present-day city was the site of national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo is also associated with Ancient Egypt due to its proximity to the Great Sphinx and the pyramids in adjacent Giza.
Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Masr , the Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city continued role in Egyptian influence. Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab World, as well as the world second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city, and the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of 8 million residents spread over 453 square kilometers (175 square miles), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. With an additional ten million inhabitants just outside the city, Cairo resides at the center of the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the eleventh-largest suburban centers in the world. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic gridlocks, but its subway (Metro) currently the only one on the African continent ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 700 million commuters annually.