It's very hard for me to find the borders for French Egypt during the time of Napoleon 1798-1803.

Specially the southern borders of Egypt where did they go?

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    I suspect that, at the time, the borders of Egypt were very vaguely defined. It was only when the Europeans started dividing up Africa later in the 19th Century that countries with fixed borders were established. It's also arguable about how much control the French actually exerted away from the coastal regions.
    – Steve Bird
    Nov 4, 2015 at 11:47
  • I found a frame where they mention that Aswan was part of French Egypt. They wanted to build a dam there. But I was wondering how far south they were going. Nov 4, 2015 at 12:24
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    Basically you keep walking south until you see pygmies with blowguns. That is the border. Nov 4, 2015 at 13:37
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    @SteveBird - For most of Africa that's quite true, however, there has been a state of some level on the Nile south of Egypt since ancient times (when it was called "Nubia" rather than "Sudan"). There had been a state border there much longer than there were state borders in Europe.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 4, 2015 at 14:53
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    @T.E.D. Although there would have been a notional border, I would imagine that at the start of the 19th Century, that border became much less well-defined as you moved away from the coasts and the Nile, especially to the south west. Under the Ottoman Empire, the border defining Ottoman Egypt seems to have criss-crossed what is now considered the Egypt/Sudan border.
    – Steve Bird
    Nov 4, 2015 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


Immediately prior to the French Invasion, Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire, which stretched roughly to the modern boundary of Libya in the west, the first cataract of the Nile, and down the Red Sea coast to roughly the boundary of modern Somalia.

However, the African boundaries of the Ottoman Empire at this time were mostly a polite fiction, and Egypt proper (from the mouth of the Nile down to the first cataract) was effectively ruled during this period by either Mamluk descendants, or whatever strongman or adventurer managed to scrape up enough forces to push the former out, for the honor of paying nominal tribute to Istanbul.

When the French took over, we know their control didn't even fully extend to the first cataract for the following reason: When the French won the Battle of the Pyramids, the opposing survivors retreated upriver and fought a guerrilla campaign from there.

Colin McEvedy's Penguin Atlas of African History has a map of 1800 (which I sadly couldn't find online) showing the result. Basically the controlled portion of Egypt was just Alexandria and the Nile below the 1st cataract. The area between that and Libya was effectively uncontrolled, as was the Nile between the 1st cataract and the Funj territory up above the 6th cataract. The Red Sea coast remained as much Ottoman territory as it was before Napoleon's little adventure.

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