Alexandria (اسكندريه, pronounced [eskendeˈrejjæ] in Egyptian Arabic) is the second largest city in Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. It is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. Alexandria is Egypt's largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt's imports and exports. It is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also an important tourist resort.
Alexandria was an ancient city even as the Byzantine Empire reckoned things. It was the capital of the Ptolemies (the line of Hellenistic kings of Egypt) before Rome had acquired the province, and the Augustal prefect continued to use their palace as the place of government. Because of its age, its citizens were among the few that felt Constantinople was the "newcomer" rather than the city.
Unfortunately, in the summer of 1942, the war in North Africa was going against the British, as Germany came to Italy's aid, and the Afrika Korps sent the British into a perpetual retreat to Alexandria.