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Why is Lower Egypt in the north and Upper Egypt in the south (i.e., why is Upper Egypt south of Lower Egypt)?

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The Nile River is a unique river in that it actually flows south to north, emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. The reason for this is that there is a substantial elevation difference between the southern half of its path and its northern half.
As the ancient Egyptian cultures formed around the Nile, they naturally separated themselves, and two kingdoms quickly arose—that of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.

However, contrary to what you might think, Upper Egypt was south of Lower Egypt. Because the southern portion of the Nile was elevated on a plateau of sorts, that portion quickly became known as "Upper Egypt" while the converse was true for the northern portion. When you consider the fact that the distinction between "upper" and "lower" is not based on cardinal directions, this delineation made sense.

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The reason for this has to do with the flow of the Nile River.

Because we live in the Northern Hemisphere, we tend to think of north as “up” and south as “down.”  But there is really no logic behind that.  There is no reason that north should be thought of as “up.”  If we looked at it logically, there is no reason to feel that “Lower Egypt” ought to be in the south and “Upper Egypt” in the north.

The terms “Upper Egypt” and “Lower Egypt” do not derive from where they are on a map that has north at the top.  Instead, they are derived from how the Nile River flows.  When we talk about rivers, “up” is upstream, nearer to the source of the river.  “Down” is downstream, farther away from the source.  The Nile River flows from south to north.  Therefore, the upper Nile is south of the lower Nile.  Upper and Lower Egypt were named because they were on the upper and lower Nile, respectively.

So, Upper Egypt is south of Lower Egypt because the upper Nile is south of the lower Nile.

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