I'm applying for a the US Diversity Visa Lottery and there is something in the instructions (PDF) that is making me so confused, and I'm so paranoid about it, so bear with me.

I live in Egypt, in Cairo.

Now I'm required to enter the city where I was born in the DV Lottery form and mentioned above ("City of birth only. Do not enter District/ County/ Province/ State"). I believe I was born in Cairo, but what is really Cairo?

Now because I live in Egypt, I never really understood the concept of what a state, county, district nor province really mean. All I know is that Egypt is a country, but is it a state?

And I know that Cairo is called the City of Cairo and it is also one of Egypt's twenty-seven governorates, so what category does Cairo fall into regarding from an American perspective? Is it really a city, a district, a county, or a province of Egypt? And what's even the difference between those?

Furthermore Cairo is divided divided into forty-one administrative divisions, called qism in Arabic. I live in one of those administrative areas, called Ain Shams (literally meaning Sun's Eye if you'r curious). This is even more confusing to me because I do not know what those administrative areas should be called as they are parts of Cairo, and I grew up knowing that these areas are just neighborhoods if I would translate how it is said in Arabic.

So same question: What is Ain Shams, a district, a county, or a province of Cairo? and what should I write in the DV lottery field that asks for the "City of Birth"? Should I write Cairo or Ain Shams?

What makes me more confused is there is another field in the mailing address section that asks for the City/ town, What should be my town? will it be the same as my city?

and another field asking for the District/County/ Province/ State, What should I write in this field?

Finally, my address. How should I translate my address in terms of eligibility if reviewed by someone potentially American. My Address as in my ID would be translated a so, first: Street number Second: My street name third: the neighborhood I live in fourth: mentioning the neighborhood either (eastern or western) So my address would be 20 Ahmed Hamdy St. Eastern Ain Shams, Cairo Is this eligible? or should I write it No 20 Ahmed Hamdy St. Eastern of Ain Shams (district/ county/ province whatever you tell me it is) + my apartment number.

If I made you confused sorry, Here are two links from wikipedia about the topics check them:

Cairo Governorate
Governorates of Egypt

  • Egypt uses Postal Codes. Your address would be incomplete without their inclusion..
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 0:25
  • Yes, it does. there is a field asking for the Postal/ Zip code. However addresses normally here when mentioned in governmental forms or even on my ID, Postal codes are not found. What form do you think my address would be written in correctly with postal code?
    – AndrewMk
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 21:41
  • @ AndrewMk ...... 20 Ahmed Hamdy St. Eastern Ain Shams, Cairo , Egypt (then) Post Code. ...............This should meet the requirements. My experience with international mail suggests you write "United States" in Arabic on the two bottom corners of the envelope in which you send your application
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 21:55
  • This is an online form application.
    – AndrewMk
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 22:15
  • @ AndrewMk OK. Still you need the Post Code.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Americans would consider Cairo a city. It is the capital and largest city of Egypt. Any of those other terms are intermediate between a city and the entire country. Egypt may not have that kind of a division, Wikipedia says that Cairo has a population of 9,500,000. The metropolitan area, which generally means the city and suburbs, has a population of 20,439,541.

A metropolitan area is not a unified government. The main city has its own local government, and nearby smaller cities and towns have their own governments. One way of picturing a metropolitan area is the territory covered by broadcast television stations, because usually over-the-air signals can travel maybe 80 km (50 miles), and do not stop for city and town borders.

Reading the Wikipedia article, I see that Cairo is also a governorate. Governors in the US are the executive leaders of states, so that Cairo is, no doubt due to its size and importance, also (in US terms) its own state. This fact does not take away from the fact that it also counts as a city, which is what those instructions ask you to list. This is similar to Washington, DC, which is the city of Washington, which is in and equivalent to the District of Columbia, which is a special territory similar to a state (but not part of any other state). This is a unique situation among cities in the US, but not in the world. Canberra, Australia, is in, and contains nearly all of the population of, the Australian Capital Territory.

I feel you're probably overthinking the question. You probably consider your city of birth to be Cairo, and Americans do, too.

  • I kind of started getting a blurry image of what you mean, but still I have 2 more question, if you may! What shall I write in the (District/ county/ province/ state) field in my mailing address. According to what you've explained Cairo acts as its own state, so I would also write Cairo in that field, should I? And lastly, what's is the proper way to translate my Address? I'm required to enter my Address Line.
    – AndrewMk
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 22:47
  • 1
    @AndrewMk Think of it this way: Whoever responds to your application is probably going to take what you wrote and send a letter to the address you provide. Fill out the form in such a way that mail so addressed will reach you. (In the U.S. it's conventional to repeat the country (if the country is not the U.S.) on the last line of the address so the postal service knows immediately the letter is to go outside the United States.
    – Xanne
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 5:15
  • For the district/county/province/state part, I'd write "Cairo governorate". The address line is the house or building number and the street name. For example, the White House is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 11:18
  • @StevenLittman I read more in Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Cairo and found that the metropolitan area is called "Greater Cairo" and it comprises "Cairo governorate". Do you think that Cairo governorate is the City/ town and that the state/ district/ county/ province would be Greater Cairo?
    – AndrewMk
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 22:32
  • 1
    I think that you're overthinking it. See my previous comment. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 13:35

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