Cairo is the capital city of Egypt and has a metropolitan area population of approximately 20 million people. The name AL-Qahirah literally means "The Subduer", though it is often translated as "The Victorious". The legacy of the name evolved into the title "Qahirat Al Adaa" meaning "subduer of the enemies". This title was given to the city as many armies were destroyed in attempts to invade Cairo or defeated elsewhere by troops sent from Cairo.
Cairo is located on the banks and islands of the Nile River, the world's longest river (4180 miles); flows northward through eastern Africa into the Mediterranean; the Nile River valley in Egypt was the site of the world's first great civilizations in the north of Egypt, immediately south of the point where the river leaves its desert-bound valley and breaks into three branches into the low-lying Nile Delta.
The oldest part of the city is somewhat east of the river. There, the city gradually spreads west, engulfing the agricultural lands next to the Nile. These western areas, built on the model of Paris, the capital and largest city of France. It became an international center of culture and commerce under the leadership of Ismail the Magnificent in the mid-19th century; marked by wide boulevards, public gardens, and open spaces. The older eastern section of the city is very different: having grown up haphazardly over the centuries it is filled with small lanes and crowded tenements. While western Cairo is dominated by government buildings and modern architecture, the eastern half is filled with hundreds of ancient mosques.