City in the
Abu Simbel s a village in the Egyptian part of Nubia, about 240 kilometers southwest of Aswan and near the border with Sudan. As of 2012, it has about 2600 inhabitants. It is best known as the site of the Abu Simbel temples, which were built by King Ramses II.
In the past, Abu Simbel was located on the west bank of the Nile between the first and second Cataracts of the Nile. Cataracts are rapids caused by boulders or rock sills; they were only passable with difficulty by Nile ship traffic, especially at baseflow. Today both cataracts near Aswan and Wadi Halfa are covered by Lake Nasser, which is named after Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian president from 1954 to 1970. At the time of Ramses II, the southern border of the realm of the Pharaohs was located near the two cataracts. The construction of the Abu Simbel temple compound there was meant to demonstrate the power and eternal supremacy of Egypt with respect to the tributary Nubia.
The new dam flooded all of Lower Nubia, the inhabitants became homeless and were mostly resettled in the areas of Aswan and Kom Ombo. Only in Abu Simbel was a new village developed with a hotel and airport. Due to a lack of agricultural land the entire population now depends on tourism. Since the turn of the millennium, various projects are underway with the goal of making the elevated desert regions fertile using water from the lake.