The following is paraphrased, edited and abridged from Bartleby's.
Egypt is a nominally-independent former British colony, still dominated by British interests. Independence was unilaterally granted by Great Britain on Feb 28, 1922, with certain important exceptions, including control over Egyptian foreign affairs and defense, the Suez Canal, and the Sudan. The British also insisted on the maintenance of the Capitulations, the system of special laws and courts that applied to foreigners. Into the late 1930s, these four reservations proved a constant source of irritation to Anglo-Egyptian relations. Because the declaration was a unilateral act and because it did not really provide Egypt with full independence, the Egyptian leadership never really accepted it.
In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty abolished the Capitulations and removed direct British interference in foreign affairs and defense. The British garrison of 10,000 men in the Canal Zone was allowed to stay another 20 years, and the British kept the right to use Egyptian facilities in the event of war. No agreement was reached on the status of the Sudan, but Egyptian troops were allowed to return there. Egypt was furthermore to be admitted to the League of Nations. This was still seen as a compromise short of true independence, and so the new treaty merely inflamed the politicians' preoccupation with Anglo-Egyptian relations.
In 1920, the population stood at about 13 million, over 90 percent of whom were Sunni Muslims. About one-quarter of the inhabitants resided in cities and large towns. The biggest cities were Cairo (900,000) and Alexandria (500,000).
The economy remains largely agricultural. Foreign export is dominated by cotton -- as much as 70% of total exports. Some growth of light industries such as textiles and food processing occurred during the 1930s.
Since independence, Egypt is nominally a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. However, the king (since 1936, King Faruq) has frequently abused his power, dismissing popularly elected governments and nominating minority cabinets in their place. This has often come with the support, or indeed the insistence, of the British.
Political life is dominated by a class of large landholders who shuffle governments among themselves. The nationalist Wafd has been the most important party and enjoyed the greatest popularity as well as the only true grassroots organization in the country. There are a number of lesser establishment parties, including the People's Party, the strikingly-named Sa'dist Party, the Independent Wafd, the Liberal Constitutional Party, and the Union Party. More serious opposition, though, came from less conventional parties, namely the Young Egypt Party (1936) and, above all, the Muslim Brotherhood (1928).
The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in 1928 in Ismailiyya by Hasan al-Banna. The organization began as a religious and educational society that sponsored public meetings and lectures on Islam. In general, its program stressed the need to defend Islam from corrupting forces and outside threats (e.g., missionary activity), and to reform Egyptian society and politics according to Islamic principles.
In 1932, the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood moved to Cairo. By the late 1930s, it had become increasingly involved in Egyptian and Arab politics. Openly proclaiming an anti-Zionist and anti-British platform, the Brotherhood sent aid to Palestine and plotted during World War II with anti-British politicians. By the late 1940s, the Brotherhood had become one of the most powerful political organizations in the country.
In 1933, Ahmad Husayn created the Young Egypt Party (Misr al-Fatat), which became a full-fledged political organization in 1936. It favored aggressive state activity in economic development and rapid expansion of the armed forces. The party's ideology originally emphasized Egyptian nationalism, but switched to more Islamic themes after it was renamed the Nationalist Islamic Party (1940). The party exercised its strongest appeal in Cairo and the surrounding suburbs, where more than half its members lived.
The party organized many of its young members into paramilitary squads, known as the Green Shirts, who became notorious for their hooliganism. On the political scene, such behavior was hardly isolated. The rival Wafd Party assembled its own bands of thugs, the Blue Shirts, who engaged in many of the same violent and lawless practices.
Howard Carter's expedition discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen near Luxor in 1922.
"Layla", the first full-length film in the Arab world, was produced in 1927. The first talking movie appeared in 1932. The first Arab movie studio, Studio Misr, was founded in 1934, and Egypt immediately assumed cinematic leadership of the Arab world.
Sept 3. Following the invasion of Poland, Egypt severs relations with Germany, but remains neutral.
Oct 19. Turkey signs treaty of alliance with Britain and France, but spends much of the war struggling to keep out of the fighting.
June 10. Italy declares war on France and Britain.
Aug 6. Italian forces invade British Somaliland from Italian East Africa, (Ethiopia) completing conquest by Aug 19.
Sept 13-15. Italian army invades Egypt from Libya.
Dec. 1. British launch surprise counterattack against Italians from Mersa Matruh, to which they had retreated, imperial troops outflanked the Italians, captured 1,000 prisoners, and advanced so rapidly that they were in Sidi Barrani and had begun the invasion of Libya by Dec. 12.