This triangular area covers about 61,100 square kilometers
(slightly smaller than West Virginia). Similar to the desert, the
peninsula contains mountains in its southern sector that are a
geological extension of the Red Sea Hills, the low range along
the Red Sea coast that includes Mount Catherine (Jabal Katrinah),
the country's highest point--2,642 meters. The Red Sea is named
after these mountains, which are red.
The southern side of the peninsula has a sharp escarpment
that subsides after a narrow coastal shelf that slopes into the
Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The elevation of Sinai's southern
rim is about 1,000 meters. Moving northward, the elevation of
this limestone plateau decreases. The northern third of Sinai is
a flat, sandy coastal plain, which extends from the Suez Canal
into the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Before the Israeli military occupied Sinai during the June
1967 War (Arab-Israeli war, also known as the Six-Day War), a
single Egyptian governorate administered the whole peninsula. By
1982 after all of Sinai was returned to Egypt, the central
government divided the peninsula into two governorates. North
Sinai has its capital at Al Arish and the South Sinai has its
capital in At Tur.
Data as of December 1990