Home to “white gold,” or salt.
The Siwa oasis is in a deep depression that reaches below sea level, to about −19 metres (−62 ft). To the west, the Jaghbub oasis lies in a similar depression and to the east, the large Qattara Depression also lies below sea level.
The Ancient Egyptian name of the oasis was Sekht-am, which meant “palm land”. Early Muslim geographers termed it Santariyyah.
The traditional culture of Siwa shows many features unusual in Egypt, some reflecting its longstanding links with the Maghreb and the fact that the inhabitants are of Berber origin. Until a tarmac road was built to the Mediterranean coast in the 1980s Siwa’s only links with the outside world were by arduous camel tracks through the desert. These were used to export dates and olives, bring trade goods, or carry pilgrims on the route which linked the Maghreb to Cairo and hence to Mecca.
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