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Just north of the city of Cairo the Nile divides into two main branches, the Rosetta (the curved dark line in the center of the image), and the Damietta Branch, a curving line at lower right. These spread apart to form two sides of the triangular Nile delta, and are separated by about 140 km. by the time the Nile reaches its mouth at the Mediterranean, 160 km to the north. The Nile deltaic floodplain is the light blue area at right, bounded by desert at left which is dark blue. Intervening zones of irrigated fields and canals are shown in purple, orange, and yellow.
This fertile strip in the desert has been settled by humans since the Paleolithic era. By 3500 BC the Nile floodplain became the focus for one of the world's greatest civilizations. Immediately to the south of this view are the pyramids of Giza and the site of the ancient city of Memphis.
The SIR-C radar image, centered at 30.2 degrees north latitude and 31.1 east longitude, was taken on October 4, 1994 by the space shuttle Endeavor.
[Fig.1: The southern edge of the Nile Delta near Cairo (NASA/JPL image P-46311; 1994).]
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