Aswan is the southernmost city in Egypt, and had the name Abu ("elephant") in Ancient Egypt. In Coptic the city was named Sawan which later has become today's name Aswan. Here in Aswan the first cataracts in the Nile is found when coming from north and up the river, and this formed the borderland to the Nubian kingdom.

Today's Aswan is by many considered one of the most beautiful places on earth, as did late Aga Khan who chose Aswan as his winter resort and burial place. The high dam is along with tourism the most important resource for the area, and the gigantic Lake Nasser starts in Aswan, created by the second dam that was built in the late sixties.

The city was during Pharaonic times located on the island Elephantine while today's Aswan is on the east bank of the Nile.