Suez Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, is referred as ‘the Highway to India’. Read further for more amazing and interesting facts about Suez Canal.

Facts About Suez Canal

Suez Canal, with an extensive history, forms an essential part of the global trading system used by many nations. This waterway is 118.2 miles long with a depth of 73.8 feet. It connects Mediterranean Sea and a northern branch of Red Sea, Gulf of Suez and greatly reduces the marine travel time by curbing the need to go around Africa. Suez Canal does not have special gates or locks to control the rise or fall of the water level as the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea are at the same level. In simple words, Suez Canal is a short cut to transport oil and many other goods between Europe and Asia. The project of making Suez Canal took 10 years to complete and it was officially functional from November 17, 1869. This significant waterway is responsible for 8% of the global sea trade and 2.5% of Egypt’s GDP.  Scroll further to gather more information on this manmade wonder.
Amazing And Interesting Facts About Suez Canal
  • Unlike the Panama Canal, Suez Canal, located in Egypt, runs in a straight direction going from north to south.
  • Since the Suez Canal connects Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, it makes the shipping transport easy between Europe, Middle East and Asia without any shipping barges. Also, the expense of shipping goods from Africa, Europe and Asia were overcome when this canal became functional.
  • The ‘Egyptian Expedition of Napolean Bonaparte’ was the first project for the construction of the modern canal. Since it would have been devastating for English trade, the project was discontinued. It was again given shape, this time by Charles le Pere, in 1799, but the work was again suspended due to a miscalculation of the levels between the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.
  • Later, in 1833, the Saint-Simons, a group of French intellectuals who arrived in Cairo, were very interested in the Suez project despite all the previous problems. Alas, Mohammed Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt then, had the least interest in this project. All the efforts went vain when, in 1835, an epidemic shattered the Saint–Simoniens and they returned to France.
  • Still eager, the Saint-Simoniens formed an association in Paris to study the possibility of Suez Canal in detail. A technical report was made which proved in 1847, that there was no real difference in the levels between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Despite all the efforts, this project failed to move forward as the British opposed it and Muhammed Ali Pasha was ill and, at the same time, less than enthusiastic.
  • The European influence on Pasha succeeded to carry the project ahead and a private company was given an agreement to take up the construction works. When the company came across financial problems, Muhammed Ali himself purchased 44% of the company to resume its operation. Thus, the work began in 1859 and its first part was completed in 1862. Unfortunately, the work was suspended again in 1863, when Ismail succeeded Pasha.
  • The construction works went on well till 1863 and was stopped in 1864 but was eventually completed on November 17, 1869, and the canal was made available for navigation and international trade. Thus, it took ten years for the completion of the canal, which was done by the Universal Suez Ship Company.
  • Since the other countries were least interested to take up the share of ownership of the canal, it was majorly owned by France. During this time, the ‘Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal’ took responsibility of the canal along with an Egyptian company.
  • Later, in 1875, the Egyptian government had to sell their share to British to save themselves from their increasing financial debt. After this, the canal remained an ‘international neutral shipping zone’ for years under the rule of the British and French.
  • After the Suez Crisis occurred in 1956, the Suez Canal Company took over the responsibility as Britain and France were no longer major shareholders.
  • As the Suez Canal was damaged extensively, it lost its operation after the Suez Crisis and the wars which followed, until 1967. However, on June 5, 1975, operations resumed and the canal was open again.
  • ‘Aigle’ was the first ship to pass through the Suez Canal after its completion on 17 November, 1869, followed by ‘Delta’, British P&O barge. There was a call for enormous celebrations including the heads of the state after their successful ten years of spectacular engineering and construction works. This was an immense achievement of the Egyptians till that date.
  • Along with tourism, gas exports and oil, Suez Canal forms an important source of revenue for Egypt. There has been a considerable rise in the revenue of 2010 where it reached US$412.8 million, a good increase as compared to 2009.
  • As of today, the canal transports over 4 million barrels of crude oil in a day that equals to about 5% of the global oil output.
  • Safety measures of the canal have also been checked to tackle any fire outbreaks, safe refueling and leakage in vessels. Its responsibilities towards pollution control of the marine eco-system were also tested.
  • From the time the canal was opened, it has had an intense effect on the world trade and has also featured on world politics. This made it easier for the European nations to enter and colonize Africa.

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