IntroductionAlexandria, Arabic Al Iskandariyah, city (1996 pop. 3,328,196), N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is at the western extremity of the Nile River delta, situated on a narrow isthmus between the sea and Lake Mareotis (Maryut). The city is Egypt's leading port, a commercial and transportation center, and the heart of a major industrial area where refined petroleum, asphalt, cotton textiles, processed food, paper, and plastics are produced. The Univ. of Alexandria; the Institute of Alexandria, an affiliate of Al Azhar Univ. in Cairo; a college of nursing; and medical and textile research centers are in the city, which is also the Middle East headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria houses a vast collection of Coptic, Roman, and Greek art. The striking Bibliotheca Alexandrina contains library, museum, planetarium, and conference facilities.
Much of ancient Alexandria is covered by modern buildings or is underwater; only a few landmarks are readily accessible, including ruins of the emporium and the Serapeum and a granite shaft (88 ft/27 m high) called Pompey's Pillar. Nothing remains of the lighthouse on the Pharos (3d cent. B.C.), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the site of the royal palace lies under the older (east) harbor.
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