under 200,000. Jomard reckoned that there were 10,000 Copts in Cairo; this number is probably too low given our knowledge of the early eighteenth century.21
After the Description de l'Egypte, a whole series of new estimates is found in the years 1830-40; at 150,000-160,000 these figures are slightly lower than those of the beginning of the century. In 1827, Renoüard de Bussiere put the number of Copts at i60,000.In 1835 E. Lane counted 150,000 Copts, ofwhom 10,000 were in Cairo; he put the total population at 4 million. In 1836 Jomard - once again in Egypt - counted 160,000 Copts and attributed the decline compared to the beginning of the century to the depopulation ofthe countryside and the heavy losses oflife during the wars of Muhammad All. This figure is corroborated by St John, who visited Egypt in the same year. He also put the number of Copts in Cairo at 10,000; in 1838 Michaud and Poujoulat give 150,000, while in 1840 Clot bey also has 150,000 out of a total population of 3 million. Writing at the same time, Cadalvene reduces the figure for the number of Copts to 145,000. After 1840, the estimates rise at the same time as Egypt's population. In 1854, Vimercati puts the figure for Copts again at 160,000, whereas the next year, on the basis of information supplied by the patriarchate, Butcher gives an estimate of 217,000 Copts out of a total population of 5 million. The sharp rise may have something to do with the abolition of the jizya that same year. Dalfi in 1861 provides the figure of 382,438 Christians in a total population of 4,606,160. At the end of the century, before the first official survey in 1897, the figures rise to 700,000-800,000 Copts in a total Egyptian population of 9 to 10 million.22
The census of 1907 found that 7.9 per cent of the population of Egypt was Christian. The four decennial censuses carried out between 1917 and 1947 reported 8 per cent. A slight decline was found in i960 at 7.4 per cent, which at 6.6 per cent was even more pronounced in 1966 and can be explained by the departure of many Syrian-Lebanese, Armenian and Greek Christian communities during Nasser's regime.
It is difficult to establish anything hard and fast about the present number of Christians in Egypt, especially the actual size of the community. The Egyptian government census, conducted in November i976, reported a total of 2,315,560 Copts or 6.31 per cent of the total population. This figure met with incredulity and protests from the Copts themselves, who threatened to launch their own head count. The government dissuaded them, but Coptic sources continue to speak of a much higher figure. Coptic groups outside
21 Martin, 'Note sur la communauté copte entre 1650-1850', 211.
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