Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa. Its metropolitan area is the 16th largest in the world. Located near the Nile Delta, it was founded in AD 969. Nicknamed "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life. Cairo was founded by the Fatimid dynasty in the 10th century AD, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo is also associated with Ancient Egypt as it is close to the ancient cities of Memphis, Giza and Fustat which are near the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza.
Egyptians today often refer to Cairo as Maṣr ([mɑsˤɾ], مصر), the Egyptian Arabic pronunciation of the name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city's continued role in Egyptian influence. Its official name is القاهرة al-Qāhirah , means literally "the Vanquisher" or "the Conqueror"; Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [elqɑ(ː)ˈheɾɑ], sometimes it is informally also referred to as كايرو Kayro [ˈkæjɾo]. It is also called Umm al-Dunya, meaning "the mother of the world".
Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world's second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of 6.76 million spread over 453 square kilometers (175 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. With an additional 10 million inhabitants just outside the city, Cairo resides at the center of the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the Arab World as well as the tenth-largest urban area in the world. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic. Cairo's metro—one of only two metros on the African continent (the other the Algiers Metro)—ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 1 billion annual passenger rides. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East and 43rd globally by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index.