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Sharm el Sheikh Egypt
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Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

January 17, 2006
This Landsat thematic mapper shows Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in 2004.

Located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula on the southern tip, Sharm el-Sheikh overlooks the very important shipping route of the Straits of Tiran. Since the mid-1980s, the Sharm el-Sheikh area has come into its own as a world-class resort destination, with the construction of almost forty hotels and resorts. Many of these can be seen especially to the top right of the image.

It is Sharm el-Sheikh which gave the Red Sea an international reputation as one of the world's most extraordinary diving destinations. And the coral reefs of Ras Mohammed, Tiran, and the Aqaba coast, on which Sharm built its legendary reputation, are as dazzling as ever. Today, however, diving is only part of the attraction here, as many visitors arrive simply to enjoy the sun, to parasail and windsurf and bicycle, or to explore the magical desert landscape of the southern Sinai.

The grey rectangles visible on the image are the Sharm el-Sheikh airport which has undergone a notable expansion. The passenger traffic in Sharm El-Sheikh is currently 3.4 million passengers per year and is expected to reach 9.5 million by year 2020. A plan to build a new terminal building is being prepared to increase the capacity of airport to 3200 passengers per hour instead of 1200 passengers per hour.

Of course, such expansion brings with it new problems and concerns--it is the natural beauty of the Sinai that brings so many guests, and it is also the natural beauty of the Sinai that is most endangered by so many visitors. Accordingly, the last several years have witnessed strong efforts by the Sharm el-Sheikh community to protect and to preserve the fragile environment of this region. The creation of Ras Mohammed National Park in 1983 marked the first great step in this effort, and today a full 52% of the Egyptian shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba is now protected.

The Ras Mohammed National Park is the very thin strip of land at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula. In itself a peninsula, it is bordered to the west by the relatively shallow waters of the Gulf of Suez, and to the east by the deep waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. Here the water reaches depths of up to 2000 meters as this is the beginning of an enormous cleavage in the earth's crust that separates the, African and Eurasian continental plates.

The town's large southwestern inlet, Sharm el-Sheikh bay, remains a military harbor.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Landsat
  • Instrument: Thematic Mapper
  • Acquisition: 25-Jun-2004
  • Center coordinates: lat. 27.78, lon. 34.20