Construction of the Aswan High Dam

Construction of the Aswan High Dam

The construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt was a massive engineering project that aimed to harness the power of the Nile River for economic development and improve water management in the region. Its construction took place between 1960 and 1970, and the dam has had lasting effects on Egypt’s economy, ecology, and culture.


  • In 1952, the Egyptian Revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy, and he became president in 1956. Nasser had ambitious plans for Egypt’s development, and the construction of the Aswan High Dam was central to these plans.
  • In 1954, Nasser signed a contract with the Soviet Union to design and construct the dam. The agreement included financial and technical support from the Soviets.
  • Construction began on January 9, 1960, involving over 30,000 workers.
  • The dam was completed in 1970, after a decade of construction. It stands 111 meters tall and stretches 3,830 meters across the Nile River.


  1. The British initially proposed the project in the early 20th century but abandoned the idea due to the massive costs and potential risks.
  2. The dam was initially intended to be financed by the United States and the United Kingdom, but they withdrew their support in 1956. This led Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal, sparking the Suez Crisis.
  3. The dam’s construction displaced over 100,000 Nubian people, who had to be resettled in other parts of Egypt and Sudan.
  4. The dam led to the creation of Lake Nasser, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, which covers an area of 5,250 square kilometers.
  5. The dam’s construction required the relocation of 22 ancient monuments, including the temples of Abu Simbel and Philae, to prevent them from being submerged by the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

Effects on Pop Culture:

  • The construction of the Aswan High Dam captured the world’s imagination as a symbol of modernity and progress.
  • Several documentaries and news reports covered the construction process and the challenges involved in relocating the ancient monuments.
  • The dam has been featured in novels and films, often as a backdrop for stories set in Egypt.

Prominent People and Countries Involved:

  • Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s President, championed the project and secured funding from the Soviet Union.
  • Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, provided financial and technical assistance for the dam’s construction.
  • UNESCO, coordinated the international effort to save and relocate the ancient monuments threatened by the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

The construction of the Aswan High Dam was a monumental engineering project that transformed Egypt’s economy and infrastructure. It provided a reliable water source for agriculture, generating hydroelectric power, and enabled better control of the Nile’s floods. However, the dam’s construction also had significant social and environmental consequences, including the displacement of the Nubian people and the inundation of important cultural heritage sites. The dam remains a symbol of Egypt’s progress and development but also serves as a reminder of the challenges and trade-offs of large-scale infrastructure projects.