The Suez Canal

Posted On : 20/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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The Suez Canal is a great development in Egyptian shipping

The Suez Canal has a very large and remarkable importance in Egyptian commerce and politics and science and has helped to facilitate the process of navigation, as the Suez Canal links the port said with the Suez, its length reaches up to 163 kilometers and its width reaches up to 52 meters and then later it was enlarged up to 352 meters.

It is said that the financing of the Suez canal was 56% from the French and 49% from the Egyptians and there were many French and Egyptian scientists who gave some ideas for the construction.


The early history of the Suez Canal

The Suez area has had a fundamental importance since ancient times as a meeting point for trade and connections between Asia and Africa. Many efforts were made in various historical periods to join the Mediterranean to the Red Sea , separated only by a thin strip of land.

The oldest navigable artificial canal seems to have been the one built by the Egyptians and the French in the 3rd century BC, connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea through a branch of the Nile . The project to open such an important waterway seems to date back to the genius of Pharaoh Necho II. It also has the option of facilitating the journey between the continent of Africa and Asia, most of the ships carrying the goods from one country to another have chosen to use the Suez Canal to save time and effort even if they have to pay fees to pass.

The construction of the Suez Canal 

The Suez Canal is considered as an artificial canal built by a French Egyptian hand that links the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea and the main idea of the construction of the canal goes back to the time of the pharaohs and then the Islamic period and then in our time. It has been closed 5 times and the last time it was closed was the riskiest time since it lasted so many years and then it was reopened in 1975 fortunately. The construction lasted for 10 years in 1859.

The channel of the Pharaohs

The first canal was built around 250 BC, and called the "canal of the Pharaohs", a work which allowed the transit of large cargo and military boats. Based on some historical documents, it seems that the canal has been used for more than five centuries, and subsequently due to a probable silting up, it was abandoned. Under the rule of Trajan, in 106 BC, the Amnis Traianus was built. 

A navigable channel that effectively connected the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and that resisted for seven hundred years. In more recent times countless projects were presented, but none functional and concretely feasible until the arrival of Napoleon and his expedition to Egypt in 1789. 

The Emperor was very interested in rebuilding the passage between the two seas, considering it a possible alternative to the sea route to the Indies. Even this new project was not developed as the engineer appointed by Napoleon declared that due to some erroneous surveys, the water level of the Red Sea was higher than that of the Mediterranean, and therefore the work was not feasible. 

Finally in 1854 Ferdinand de Lesseps, of the Société d'études du Canal de Suez, presented a new project for the construction of the current canal, and after years dedicated to raising funds, construction work began in April 1858. The canal was opened to navigation ten years later, on November 17, 1869. Originally the width of the bottom was 22m, the surface width 58m and the depth 8m. 

The current situation of the Suez Canal

Today the canal is about 163 km long and is 50 to 110 meters wide; allows the transit of ships with a full load capacity of up to 150,000 tons. It has no locks since it connects two points at the same sea level without reaching different intermediate heights, and takes advantage of the presence of three lake basins, Lake Manzala, Lake Timsah and the Amari lakes.

Most of the canal is wide enough to accommodate a single ship, but in some places it is passable in both directions, particularly in the Amari lakes and between al-Kantara and Ismailia. The railway runs parallel to the canal, on the east bank, for its entire length. The Suez Canal assumes considerable importance for the Egyptian economy as it is one of the main sources of income.

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By Kate Clark

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