South Sinai Governorate is the least populated governorate of Egypt. It is located in the east of the country, encompassing the southern half of the Sinai Peninsula. Saint Catherine's Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox Church monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site of world renown, is located in central part of the governorate.
The site contains the world's oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus. Population of Sinai has largely consisted of desert-dwelling Bedouins with their colourful traditional costumes and significant culture. Large numbers of Egyptians from the Nile Valley and Delta moved to the area to work in tourism. St Katherine Protectorate is an important Egyptian national park in the south of Sinai. It encloses most of the mountainous area of central South Sinai, including the country's highest mountain, Mount Catherine (2641m, above sea level).
In 2002, a 640 km2 area demarcated by the ‘Ring Dyke’ within the Protectorate core has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The listed area includes the highest mountains in the Protectorate, including Mount Sinai and the Saint Catherine's Monastery. Its high altitude ecosystem supports a surprising diversity of endangered wild flora and wildlife; some found nowhere else in the world. Around 472 plant species out of which115 of medicinal importance and 19 are endemic to Egypt. To date 27 mammal species have been recorded, 9 of which are bats. There are 46 reptile species, where 15 of which are found nowhere else in Egypt.
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