The Sinai Peninsula has been a part of Egypt from the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (c. 3100 BC). This comes in stark contrast to the region north of it, the Levant (present-day territories of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine), which, due largely to its strategic geopolitical location and cultural convergences, has historically been the center of conflict between Egypt and various states of Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. In periods of foreign occupation, the Sinai was, like the rest of Egypt, also occupied and controlled by foreign empires, in more recent history the Ottoman Empire (1517–1867) and the United Kingdom (1882–1956). Israel invaded and occupied Sinai during the Suez Crisis (known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression due to the simultaneous coordinated attack by the UK, France and Israel) of 1956, and during the Six-Day War of 1967. On 6 October 1973, Egypt launched the Yom Kippur War to retake the peninsula, which was the site of fierce fighting between Egyptian and Israeli forces. By 1982, as a result of the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979, Israel had withdrawn from all of the Sinai Peninsula except the contentious territory of Taba, which was returned after a ruling by a commission of arbitration in 1989.
Today, Sinai has become a tourist destination due to its natural setting, rich coral reefs, and biblical history. Mount Sinai is one of the most religiously significant places in the Abrahamic faiths.
The name Sinai may have been derived from the ancient moon-god Sin or from the Hebrew word Seneh (Hebrew: סֶ֫נֶּה Senneh) The peninsula acquired the name due to the assumption that a mountain near Saint Catherine's Monastery is the Biblical Mount Sinai. However this assumption is contested.
Sinai is triangular in shape, with northern shore lying on the southern Mediterranean Sea, and southwest and southeast shores on Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea. It is linked to the African continent by the Isthmus of Suez, 125 kilometres (78 mi) wide strip of land, containing the Suez Canal. The eastern isthmus, linking it to the Asian mainland, is around 200 kilometres (120 mi) wide. The peninsula's eastern shore separates the Arabian plate from the African plate.