This image of Alexandria was taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station in December 2000 using an Electronic Still Camera. A wider-angle view (STS088-739-90) taken from the Space Shuttle in December 1998 is available for context.
Alexandria (Al Iskandariya) occupies a T-shaped peninsula and strip of land separating the Mediterranean from Lake Mariout. Originally the town was built upon a mole (stone breakwater) called Heptastadium, which joined the island of Pharos (see referenced website, below) to the mainland. Since then sedimentary deposits have widened the mole. Since 1905, when the 370,000 Alexandrians lived in an area of about 4 sq km between the two harbors, the city (population 4 million; see referenced website, below) has grown beyond its medieval walls and now occupies an area of about 300 sq km. The Mahmudiya Canal, connecting Alexandria with the Nile, runs to the south of the city and, by a series of locks, enters the harbor of the principal port of Egypt (note ships). The reddish and ochre polygons west of Lake Mariout are salt-evaporation, chemical-storage, and water-treatment ponds within the coastal lagoon.
Alexandria was founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great and served as the capital of Egypt for more than 1,000 years. The ruins of Pharos, the first lighthouse and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, now lie beneath the Mediterranean. In about 295 BC Ptolemy I Soter began to construct the Great Library at Alexandria, the premier intellectual resource of the age; it was later destroyed by the caliph Umar in 640 AD. The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, being constructed by the Egyptian government in cooperation with UNESCO, is nearing completion and is due to open in spring, 2001.
Youssef Halim and Fatma Abou Shouk, 2000, Human impacts on Alexandria's marine environment: UNESCO, Coastal Regions and Small Islands Unit (CSI) (http://www.unesco.org/csi/pub/source/alex8.htm), Coastal Management Sourcebooks 2 (accessed December 20, 2000)
Additional photographs taken by astronauts can be viewed at NASA-JSC's Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop/)