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Zabargad Island is the largest of a group of islands in Foul Bay, Egypt. It covers an area of 4.50 square kilometres . It is not a quaternary volcanic island, but rather is believed to be an upthrusted part of upper mantle material. The nearest island is known as "Rocky Island". The island is slightly north of the Tropic of Cancer, and its highest point is 235 metres. Before the mid 270s [BCE] Ptolemaic activity along the African coast of the Red Sea had been limited with few significant results other than the discovery of the 'topaz' deposits on the island of Gazirat Zabarjad southeast of Ras Banas. The island comprises three massives of peridotite, which are rich in the gemstone peridot (olivine). This gem makes the island notable as it is believed to be the first discovered source of peridot, which was called topazios in ancient times, hence the Greek name for the island, Topazios. The presence of all of these minerals has led to mining on the island which dates back as early as ancient times. The island serves as a breeding ground for at least 9 known species of birds. The most recent discovery was that of 150 pairs of sooty falcon (Falco concolor) in October, 1994. The island is near coral reefs, which are a popular diving attraction for tourists. The diving industry on the island has increased as well as the tourism industry on the island in general resulting in construction of hotels and diving shelves. The beaches are often quiet and are relatively unspoilt by development. However, most tourists go to this island as a "stop-off" before going to Rocky Island in the south.
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