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The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial
sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which heights such as elevation may be measured. The global MSL is a type of Vertical datum, vertical dat ...

sea-level
waterway A waterway is any navigable A body of water ( Lysefjord) in Norway Norway ( nb, ; nn, ; se, Norga; smj, Vuodna; sma, Nöörje), officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe whose ...

waterway
in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, connecting the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
to the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
through the
Isthmus of Suez The Isthmus of Suez is the 75-mile-wide (125-km) strip of land
and dividing Africa and Asia. The canal is part of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade route A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of ...

Silk Road
that connects Europe with Asia. In 1858,
Ferdinand de Lesseps Ferdinand Marie, vicomte de Lesseps (; 19 November 1805 – 7 December 1894) was a France, French diplomat and later developer of the Suez Canal, which in 1869 joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas, substantially reducing sailing distances an ...

Ferdinand de Lesseps
formed the
Suez Canal Company Participating certificate of the ''Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez'', issued 1 January 1889 The Universal Company of the Maritime Canal of Suez (french: Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez) was the concessionary co ...
for the express purpose of building the
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * C ...

canal
. Construction of the canal lasted from 1859 to 1869. The canal officially opened on 17 November 1869. It offers vessels a direct route between the North Atlantic and northern
Indian Indian or Indians refers to people or things related to India, or to the indigenous people of the Americas, or Aboriginal Australians until the 19th century. People South Asia * Indian people, people of Indian nationality, or people who come ...

Indian
oceans via the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London by approximately , or 10 days at to 8 days at . The canal extends from the northern terminus of
Port Said Port Said ( ar, بورسعيد, Būrsaʿīd, ) is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal. With an approximate population of 603,787 (2010), it is the List of citie ...

Port Said
to the southern terminus of
Port Tewfik The Suez Port is an Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge forme ...
at the city of
Suez Suez ( ar, السويس '; ) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 ) in north-eastern Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries lo ...

Suez
. Its length is including its northern and southern access-channels. In 2020, more than 18,500 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 51.5 per day). The original canal featured a single-lane waterway with passing locations in the Ballah Bypass and the
Great Bitter Lake The Great Bitter Lake ( ar, البحيرة المرة الكبرى; transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ...
. It contained, according to
Alois Negrelli Image:Praha, Nové Město, Štvanice, Negrelliho viadukt.JPG, The Negrelli Viaduct in Prague, 1849 Nikolaus Alois Maria Vinzenz Negrelli, Ritter von Moldelbe (also: Luigi Negrelli) (23 January 1799 – 1 October 1858) was a County of Tyrol, Tyro ...

Alois Negrelli
's plans, no
lock Lock may refer to: *Lock and key A lock is a mechanics, mechanical or Electronics, electronic fastening device that is released by a physical object (such as a key, Keycard lock, keycard, fingerprint, Radio-frequency identification, RFID card ...
systems, with seawater flowing freely through it. In general, the water in the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. South of the lakes, the current changes with the
tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple gravity model of two tidal bulges; at most places however, the Moon and tides have a phase shift. Tides are the rise and fall of sea level ...

tide
at Suez. While the canal was the property of the Egyptian government, European shareholders, mostly British and French, owned the
concessionary company A concession or concession agreement is a grant of rights, land or property by a government, local authority, corporation, individual or other legal entity. Public services such as water supply may be operated as a concession. In the case of a pub ...
which operated it until July 1956, when President
Gamal Abdel Nasser Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, ( ɡəˈmɑːl æbdɛl ˈnɑːsər; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East Th ...

Gamal Abdel Nasser
nationalized it—an event which led to the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War; ...
of October–November 1956. The canal is operated and maintained by the state-owned
Suez Canal Authority Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is a state-owned authority which owns, operates and maintains the Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ السُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranea ...
(SCA) of Egypt. Under the
Convention of Constantinople The Convention of Constantinople, a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include ...
, it may be used "in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag." Nevertheless, the canal has played an important military strategic role as a naval short-cut and
choke point In military strategy, a choke point (or chokepoint) is a geographical feature on land such as a valley, defile (geography), defile or bridge, or maritime transport, maritime passage through a critical waterway such as a strait, which an armed forc ...
. Navies with coastlines and bases on both the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea (
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...
and
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...
) have a particular interest in the Suez Canal. After Egypt closed the Suez canal at the beginning of the
Six-Day War The Six-Day War (; ar, النكسة, translit=an-Naksah, lit=The Setback or ), also known as the June War, the 1967 Arab–Israeli War or the Third Arab–Israeli War, was an armed conflict fought from 5 to 10 June 1967 between Israel ...
on 5 June 1967, the canal remained closed for precisely eight years, reopening on 5 June 1975. The Egyptian government launched construction in 2014 to expand and widen the Ballah Bypass for to speed up the canal's transit-time. The expansion intended to nearly double the capacity of the Suez Canal, from 49 to 97 ships per day. At a cost of 59.4 billion Egyptian pounds (US$bn), this project was funded with interest-bearing investment certificates issued exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals. The "
New Suez Canal The Suez Canal Corridor Area Project ( ar, مشروع تطوير محور قناة السويس) is a megaproject A megaproject is an extremely large-scale investment project. According to the ''Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management'', ...
", as the expansion was dubbed, was opened in a ceremony on 6 August 2015. The Suez Canal Authority officially opened the new side channel in 2016. This side channel, located at the northern side of the east extension of the Suez Canal, serves the East Terminal for berthing and unberthing vessels from the terminal. As the East Container Terminal is located on the Canal itself, before the construction of the new side channel it was not possible to berth or unberth vessels at the terminal while a convoy was running.


Precursors

Ancient west–east
canals Canals are waterways , or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service s. They may also help with irrigation. It can be thought of as an artificial version of a . Canals carry free surface flow under . In most cases, the eng ...
were built to facilitate travel from the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubi ...

Nile
River to the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
.Rappoport, S. (Doctor of Philosophy, Basel). ''History of Egypt'' (undated, early 20th century), Volume 12, Part B, Chapter V: "The Waterways of Egypt", pp. 248–257. London: The Grolier Society.Hassan, F. A. & Tassie, G. J. ''Site location and history'' (2003)
Kafr Hassan Dawood On-Line, Egyptian Cultural Heritage Organization
. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
One smaller canal is believed to have been constructed under the auspices of
Senusret II Khakheperre Senusret II was the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt, Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1897 BC to 1878 BC. Pyramid of Senusret II, His pyramid was constructed at El-Lahun. Senusret II took a great deal of interest i ...

Senusret II
Please refer to Sesostris#Modern research. or
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, rꜥ-ms-sw meaning "Ra is the one who bore him", ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', ; ) was the third pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state ...
. Another canal, probably incorporating a portion of the first, was constructed under the reign of
Necho II Necho II (sometimes Nekau, Neku, Nechoh, or Nikuu; Greek: Νεκώς Β'; ) of Ancient Egypt, Egypt was a king of the 26th Dynasty (610–595 BC), which ruled out of Sais, Egypt, Sais. Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his ki ...
, but the only fully functional canal was engineered and completed by
Darius I Darius I ( peo, wiktionary:𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁 ; New Persian: ''Dāryuš''; grc, wiktionary:Δαρεῖος, Δαρεῖος ; ; c. 550 – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third List ...
.


Second millennium BC

James Henry Breasted James Henry Breasted (; August 27, 1865 – December 2, 1935) was an American archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a b ...
attributes the earliest known attempt to construct a canal up through the first cataract to the
Sixth Dynasty of Egypt#REDIRECT Sixth Dynasty of Egypt The Sixth Dynasty of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is no ...
but its completion to
Senusret III Khakaure Senusret III (also written as Senwosret III or the hellenised form, Sesostris III) was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth king of the Twelfth ...

Senusret III
of the
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt The Twelfth Dynasty of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the place that is now the country . Ancient Egyptian civilization followed and coalesced around 3100 (according ...
. J. H. Breasted attributes the ancient canal's early construction to
Senusret III Khakaure Senusret III (also written as Senwosret III or the hellenised form, Sesostris III) was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth king of the Twelfth ...

Senusret III
, up through the first cataract. Please refer to J. H. Breasted, ''
Ancient Records of Egypt ''Ancient Records of Egypt'' is a five-volume work by James Henry Breasted, published in 1906, in which the author has attempted to translate and publish ''all'' of the ancient written records of Egyptian history which had survived to the time of h ...
'', 1906. Volume One, pp. 290-292, §§642-648. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
The legendary
Sesostris Sesostris ( grc-gre, Σέσωστρις) was the name of a king of ancient Egypt who, according to Herodotus, led a military expedition into parts of Europe. Account of Herodotus In Herodotus' Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' there appears ...
(likely either
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...

Pharaoh
Senusret II Khakheperre Senusret II was the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt, Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1897 BC to 1878 BC. Pyramid of Senusret II, His pyramid was constructed at El-Lahun. Senusret II took a great deal of interest i ...

Senusret II
or
Senusret III Khakaure Senusret III (also written as Senwosret III or the hellenised form, Sesostris III) was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth king of the Twelfth ...

Senusret III
of the
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt The Twelfth Dynasty of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the place that is now the country . Ancient Egyptian civilization followed and coalesced around 3100 (according ...
) may have constructed the ancient canal, the
Canal of the Pharaohs The Canal of the Pharaohs, also called the Ancient Suez Canal or Necho's Canal, is the forerunner of the Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ السُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the ...
, joining the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nubi ...
with the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
(BC1897–1839), when an irrigation channel was constructed around BC1848 that was navigable during the flood season, leading into a dry river valley east of the Nile River Delta named
Wadi Tumilat Wadi Tumilat (Old Egyptian The Egyptian language (Egyptian: ''r n km.t'', , Coptic: ) is an Afro-Asiatic language Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A l ...
. (It is said that in
ancient times Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from t ...

ancient times
the Red Sea reached northward to the
Bitter Lakes The Great Bitter Lake ( ar, البحيرة المرة الكبرى; Arabic transliteration, transliterated: ''al-Buḥayrah al-Murra al-Kubrā'') is a large saltwater lake in Egypt that is part of the Suez Canal. Before the canal was built in 1 ...
and
Lake Timsah Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake, is a lake in Egypt on the Nile delta. It lies in a basin developed along a Fault (geology), fault extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez through the Bitter Lakes region. In 1800, a flood ...
.''
The Columbia Encyclopedia The ''Columbia Encyclopedia'' is a one-volume encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discip ...
'', Sixth Edition, s.v
"Suez Canal"
. Retrieved 14 May 2008.
Naville, Édouard. "Map of the Wadi Tumilat" (plate image), in ''The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus'' (1885). London: Trubner and Company.) In his ''
Meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the f ...
'',
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
wrote:
One of their kings tried to make a canal to it (for it would have been of no little advantage to them for the whole region to have become navigable; Sesostris is said to have been the first of the ancient kings to try), but he found that the sea was higher than the land. So he first, and
Darius Darius may refer to: Persian kings ;Kings of the Achaemenid Empire * Darius I (the Great, 550 to 487 BC) * Darius II (423 to 404 BC) * Darius III (Codomannus, 380 to 330 BC) ;Crown Prince * Darius (son of Xerxes I), Crown Prince of Persia, may ha ...

Darius
afterwards, stopped making the canal, lest the sea should mix with the river water and spoil it.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
wrote that Sesostris started to build a canal, and
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
wrote:
165. Next comes the
Tyro In , Tyro ( grc, Τυρώ) was a princess. Family Tyro was the daughter of and , and she married but loved . Tyro gave birth to and , the twin sons of . With Cretheus she had , , and . In some accounts, Tyro had a daughter named who gave he ...
tribe and, the harbour of the
Daneoi The Canal of the Pharaohs, also called the Ancient Suez Canal or Necho's Canal, is the forerunner of the Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the M ...
, from which Sesostris, king of Egypt, intended to carry a ship-canal to where the Nile flows into what is known as the Delta; this is a distance of over . Later the Persian king Darius had the same idea, and yet again
Ptolemy II ; egy, Userkanaenre wikt:mry-jmn, Meryamun#Clayton06, Clayton (2006) p. 208 , predecessor = Ptolemy I Soter , successor = Ptolemy III Euergetes , horus = ''ḥwnw-ḳni'Khunuqeni''The brave youth , nebty = ''wr-pḥtj ...
, who made a trench wide, deep and about long, as far as the Bitter Lakes.
In the 20th century, the northward extension of the later Darius I canal was discovered, extending from Lake Timsah to the Ballah Lakes.Shea, William H. "A Date for the Recently Discovered Eastern Canal of Egypt", in ''Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research'', No. 226 (April 1977), pp. 31–38. This was dated to the
Middle Kingdom of Egypt The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (also known as The Period of Reunification) is the period in the history of ancient Egypt following a period of political division known as the First Intermediate Period of Egypt, First Intermediate Period. The Middl ...
by extrapolating the dates of ancient sites along its course. The reliefs of the
Punt Punt or punting may refer to: Boats *Punt (boat), a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow developed on the River Thames *Falmouth Quay Punt, a small sailing vessel hired by ships anchored in Falmouth harbour *Norfolk Punt, a type of racing ding ...
expedition under
Hatshepsut Hatshepsut (; also Hatchepsut; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex an ...

Hatshepsut
, BC 1470, depict seagoing vessels carrying the expeditionary force returning from Punt. This suggests that a navigable link existed between the Red Sea and the Nile. Recent excavations in Wadi Gawasis may indicate that Egypt's maritime trade started from the Red Sea and did not require a canal. Evidence seems to indicate its existence by the 13th century BC during the time of
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, rꜥ-ms-sw meaning "Ra is the one who bore him", ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', ; ) was the third pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state ...
.


Canals dug by Necho, Darius I and Ptolemy

Remnants of an ancient west–east canal through the
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

ancient Egypt
ian cities of
Bubastis Bubastis ( Bohairic Coptic: ''Poubasti''; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...
,
Pi-Ramesses Pi-Ramesses (; Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A ...
, and
Pithom Pithom ( egy, pr-jtm; he, פיתום; grc, Ηρώ πόλις ''Heroöpolis'' or grc, Ηρώων πόλις ''Heroonopolis'') was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the ...
were discovered by
Napoleon Bonaparte Napoleon Bonaparte ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) r ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
and his engineers and cartographers in 1799. According to the ''
Histories Histories or, in Latin, Historiae may refer to: * the plural of history * Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' (Herodotus), by Herodotus * ''The Histories'', by Timaeus (historian), Timaeus * The Histories (Polybius), ''The Histories'' (Polybius), ...
'' of the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
historian
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
, about BC 600,
Necho II Necho II (sometimes Nekau, Neku, Nechoh, or Nikuu; Greek: Νεκώς Β'; ) of Ancient Egypt, Egypt was a king of the 26th Dynasty (610–595 BC), which ruled out of Sais, Egypt, Sais. Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his ki ...
undertook to dig a west–east canal through the Wadi Tumilat between Bubastis and Heroopolis, and perhaps continued it to the Heroopolite Gulf and the Red Sea. Regardless, Necho is reported as having never completed his project. Herodotus was told that 120,000 men perished in this undertaking, but this figure is doubtless exaggerated. According to
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
, Necho's extension to the canal was about , equal to the total distance between Bubastis and the Great Bitter Lake, allowing for winding through
valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land surface by rivers or streams over a ...

valley
s. The length that Herodotus tells, of over 1000 stadia (i.e., over ), must be understood to include the entire distance between the Nile and the Red Sea at that time. With Necho's death, work was discontinued. Herodotus tells that the reason the project was abandoned was because of a warning received from an
oracle An oracle is a person or agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which go ...

oracle
that others would benefit from its successful completion. Necho's war with
Nebuchadnezzar II Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform: ''Nabû-kudurri-uṣur'', meaning "Nabu, watch over my heir"; Biblical Hebrew: ''Nəḇūḵaḏneʾṣṣar''), also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling f ...
most probably prevented the canal's continuation. Necho's project was completed by
Darius I of Persia Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayava(h)uš; New Persian: ; ; c. 550 – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third List of kings of Persia, Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, reigning from ...
, who ruled over
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
after it had been conquered by his predecessor
Cambyses II Cambyses II ( peo, 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 ''Kabūjiya'') was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, wa ...

Cambyses II
. It may be that by Darius's time a natural waterway passage which had existed between the Heroopolite Gulf and the Red SeaApparently,
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...

Ptolemy
considered the Great Bitter Lake as a northern extension of the Red Sea, whereas Darius had not, because Arsinoe is located north of Shaluf. (See Naville, "Map of the Wadi Tumilat", referenced above.)
in the vicinity of the Egyptian town of Shaluf (alt. ''Chalouf'' or ''Shaloof''), located just south of the Great Bitter Lake, had become so blocked with
silt Silt is granular material A granular material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic scale, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact (the most common example would be friction when gra ...
that Darius needed to clear it out so as to allow
navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another.Bowditch, 2003:799. The field of navigation includes four general categories: land navigation, ...

navigation
once again. According to Herodotus, Darius's canal was wide enough that two
trireme A trireme (, ; derived from Latin: ''trirēmis'' "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs'', ''literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the w ...

trireme
s could pass each other with oars extended, and required four days to traverse. Darius commemorated his achievement with a number of
granite Granite () is a coarse-grained (phaneritic A phanerite is an igneous rock Igneous rock (derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Lat ...

granite
stela A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country ...
e that he set up on the Nile bank, including one near Kabret, and a further one a few kilometres north of Suez.
Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions were texts written in Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian (the language of Sas ...
read: The canal left the Nile at Bubastis. An inscription on a pillar at
Pithom Pithom ( egy, pr-jtm; he, פיתום; grc, Ηρώ πόλις ''Heroöpolis'' or grc, Ηρώων πόλις ''Heroonopolis'') was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the ...
records that in 270 or 269 BCE, it was again reopened, by
Ptolemy II Philadelphus ; egy, Userkanaenre wikt:mry-jmn, Meryamun#Clayton06, Clayton (2006) p. 208 , predecessor = Ptolemy I Soter , successor = Ptolemy III Euergetes , horus = ''ḥwnw-ḳni'Khunuqeni''The brave youth , nebty = ''wr-pḥtj ...

Ptolemy II Philadelphus
. In Arsinoe, Ptolemy constructed a navigable lock, with
sluice A sluice ( ) is a water channel sometimes controlled by a gate or lock Lock may refer to: *Lock and key A lock is a mechanics, mechanical or Electronics, electronic fastening device that is released by a physical object (such as a key, Ke ...

sluice
s, at the Heroopolite Gulf of the Red Sea, which allowed the passage of vessels but prevented salt water from the Red Sea from mingling with the fresh water in the canal. In the second half of the 19th century, French
cartographer Cartography (; from Greek χάρτης ''chartēs'', "papyrus, sheet of paper, map"; and γράφειν ''graphein'', "write") is the study and practice of making and using maps. Combining science Science (from the Latin word ''scienti ...

cartographer
s discovered the remnants of an ancient north–south canal past the east side of
Lake Timsah Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake, is a lake in Egypt on the Nile delta. It lies in a basin developed along a Fault (geology), fault extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez through the Bitter Lakes region. In 1800, a flood ...
and ending near the north end of the Great Bitter Lake.''Carte hydrographique de l'Basse Egypte et d'une partie de l'Isthme de Suez'' (1855, 1882). Volume 87, page 803. Paris. Se

.
This proved to be the canal made by Darius I, as his stele commemorating its construction was found at the site. (This ancient, second canal may have followed a course along the shoreline of the Red Sea when it once extended north to Lake Timsah.)


Receding Red Sea and the dwindling Nile

The
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
is believed by some
historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the stu ...
s to have gradually receded over the centuries, its coastline slowly moving southward away from
Lake Timsah Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake, is a lake in Egypt on the Nile delta. It lies in a basin developed along a Fault (geology), fault extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez through the Bitter Lakes region. In 1800, a flood ...
and the Great Bitter Lake. Coupled with persistent accumulations of Nile
silt Silt is granular material A granular material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic scale, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact (the most common example would be friction when gra ...
, maintenance and repair of Ptolemy's canal became increasingly cumbersome over each passing century. Two hundred years after the construction of Ptolemy's canal,
Cleopatra Cleopatra VII Philopator ( grc-gre, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ}; 69 BC10 August 30 BC) was queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, and its last active ruler.She was also a diplomat, Ancient ...
seems to have had no west–east waterway passage, because the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, which fed Ptolemy's west–east canal, had by that time dwindled, being choked with silt.


Old Cairo to the Red Sea

By the 8th century, a navigable canal existed between
Old Cairo __NOTOC__ Old Cairo (Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countr ...

Old Cairo
and the Red Sea, but accounts vary as to who ordered its construction – either
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
or 'Amr ibn al-'As, or
Umar ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb ( ar, عمر بن الخطاب; 3 November 644), also spelled Omar, was the second Rashidun caliph , image = تخطيط كلمة الخلفاء الراشدون.png , caption = Calligraphic Calligra ...

Umar
. This canal was reportedly linked to the River Nile at Old Cairo and ended near modern
Suez Suez ( ar, السويس '; ) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 ) in north-eastern Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries lo ...

Suez
. A geography treatise ''De Mensura Orbis Terrae'' written by the Irish monk
Dicuil Dicuilus (or the more vernacular version of the name Dícuil) was an Irish monk and geographer, born during the second half of the 8th century. Background The exact dates of Dicuil's birth and death are unknown. Of his life nothing is known excep ...
(born late 8th century) reports a conversation with another monk, Fidelis, who had sailed on the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the first half of the 8th century The
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
Caliph A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' ...
al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95 AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْ ...

al-Mansur
is said to have ordered this canal closed in 767 to prevent supplies from reaching
Arabian The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciati ...
detractors.


Repair by al-Ḥākim

Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah Abū ʿAlī Manṣūr (13 August 985 – 13 February 1021), better known by his regnal name al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh ( ar, الحاكم بأمر الله; literally "The Ruler by the Order of God"), was the sixth Fatimid The Fatimid C ...

Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah
is claimed to have repaired the Cairo to Red Sea passageway, but only briefly, circa 1000 CE, as it soon "became choked with sand". However, parts of this canal still continued to fill in during the Nile's annual inundations.


Conception by Venice

The successful 1488 navigation of southern Africa by
Bartolomeu Dias Bartolomeu Dias (; ; Anglicized: Bartholomew Diaz; c. 1450 – 29 May 1500), a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European to do so, s ...

Bartolomeu Dias
opened a direct maritime trading route to India and the Maluku Islands, Spice Islands, and forever changed the balance of Mediterranean trade. One of the most prominent losers in the new order, as former middlemen, was the former spice trading center of Venice. Despite entering negotiations with Egypt's ruling Mamelukes, the Republic of Venice, Venetian plan to build the canal was quickly put to rest by the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17), conquest of Egypt in 1517, led by Sultan Selim I.


Ottoman attempts

During the 16th century, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha attempted to construct a canal connecting the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
and the Mediterranean. This was motivated by a desire to connect Constantinople to the Hajj, pilgrimage and trade routes of the Indian Ocean, as well as by strategic concerns—as the European presence in the Indian Ocean was growing, Ottoman mercantile and strategic interests were Ottoman-Portuguese confrontations, increasingly challenged, and the Sublime Porte was increasingly pressed to Ottoman naval expeditions in the Indian Ocean, assert its position. A navigable canal would allow the Ottoman Navy to connect its
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
, Black Sea, and Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean fleets. However, this project was deemed too expensive, and was never completed.


Napoleon's discovery of an ancient canal

During the French campaign in Egypt and Syria in late 1798, Napoleon expressed interest in finding the remnants of an ancient waterway passage. This culminated in a cadre of archaeologists, scientists,
cartographer Cartography (; from Greek χάρτης ''chartēs'', "papyrus, sheet of paper, map"; and γράφειν ''graphein'', "write") is the study and practice of making and using maps. Combining science Science (from the Latin word ''scienti ...

cartographer
s and engineers scouring northern Egypt. Their findings, recorded in the ''Description de l'Égypte'', include detailed maps that depict the discovery of an ancient canal extending northward from the Red Sea and then westward toward the Nile. Later, Napoleon, who became the French Emperor in 1804, contemplated the construction of a north–south canal to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. But the plan was abandoned because it incorrectly concluded that the waterway would require locks to operate, the construction of which would be costly and time-consuming. The belief in the need for locks was based on the erroneous assumption that the Red Sea was higher than the Mediterranean. This estimate was the result of using fragmentary survey measurements taken in wartime during Napoleon's Egyptian Expedition. As late as 1861, the unnavigable ancient route discovered by Napoleon from
Bubastis Bubastis ( Bohairic Coptic: ''Poubasti''; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...
to the Red Sea still channeled water in spots as far east as Kassassin.


History of the Suez Canal


Interim period

Despite the construction challenges that could have been the result of the alleged difference in sea levels, the idea of finding a shorter route to the east remained alive. In 1830, General Francis Rawdon Chesney, Francis Chesney submitted a report to the United Kingdom, British government that stated that there was no difference in elevation and that the Suez Canal was feasible, but his report received no further attention. Thomas Fletcher Waghorn, Lieutenant Waghorn established his "Overland Route", which transported post and passengers to India via Egypt.Wison, page 31 https://archive.org/details/suezcanal032262mbp •Overland Route later known as the Steam ship route which was the connection from Suez to Cairo, then down the Nile to the Mahmoudieh Canal and to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. Superseded by the Suez canal, it operated from 1830 to 1869 and from 1837 with steam ships in the Red sea. •Between 1.36 and 2.49 deaths per thousand per year cited by the companies chief medical officer, page 31. Thus 34,258x2.49 deaths per thousand x 11 years=938 (highest reported working staff x highest reported deaths per thousand x number of years under construction) Louis Maurice Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds, Linant de Bellefonds, a French explorer of Egypt, became chief engineer of Egyptian Public Works, Egypt's Public Works. In addition to his normal duties, he surveyed the
Isthmus of Suez The Isthmus of Suez is the 75-mile-wide (125-km) strip of land
and made plans for the Suez Canal. French Saint-Simonianism, Saint-Simonianists showed an interest in the canal and in 1833, Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin tried to draw Muhammad Ali Pasha, Muhammad Ali's attention to the canal but was unsuccessful.
Alois Negrelli Image:Praha, Nové Město, Štvanice, Negrelliho viadukt.JPG, The Negrelli Viaduct in Prague, 1849 Nikolaus Alois Maria Vinzenz Negrelli, Ritter von Moldelbe (also: Luigi Negrelli) (23 January 1799 – 1 October 1858) was a County of Tyrol, Tyro ...

Alois Negrelli
, the Italians, Italian-Austrian Empire, Austrian railroad pioneer, became interested in the idea in 1836. In 1846, Prosper Enfantin's Société d'Études du Canal de Suez invited a number of experts, among them Robert Stephenson, Negrelli and Paul-Adrien Bourdaloue to study the feasibility of the Suez Canal (with the assistance of Linant de Bellefonds). Bourdaloue's survey of the isthmus was the first generally accepted evidence that there was no practical difference in altitude between the two seas. Britain, however, feared that a canal open to everyone might interfere with its British Raj, India trade and therefore preferred a connection by train from Alexandria via Cairo to Suez, which Stephenson eventually built.


Construction by the Suez Canal Company


Preparations (1854–1858)

In 1854 and 1856,
Ferdinand de Lesseps Ferdinand Marie, vicomte de Lesseps (; 19 November 1805 – 7 December 1894) was a France, French diplomat and later developer of the Suez Canal, which in 1869 joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas, substantially reducing sailing distances an ...

Ferdinand de Lesseps
obtained a concession from Sa'id of Egypt, Sa'id Pasha, the Khedive of Khedivate of Egypt, Egypt and Sudan, to create a company to construct a canal open to ships of all nations. The company was to operate the canal for 99 years from its opening. De Lesseps had used his friendly relationship with Sa'id, which he had developed while he was a French diplomat in the 1830s. As stipulated in the concessions, de Lesseps convened the International Commission for the piercing of the isthmus of Suez (''Commission Internationale pour le percement de l'isthme de Suez'') consisting of 13 experts from seven countries, among them John Robinson McClean, later President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, and again Negrelli, to examine the plans developed by Louis Maurice Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds, Linant de Bellefonds, and to advise on the feasibility of and the best route for the canal. After surveys and analyses in Egypt and discussions in Paris on various aspects of the canal, where many of Negrelli's ideas prevailed, the commission produced a unanimous report in December 1856 containing a detailed description of the canal complete with plans and profiles. The Suez Canal Company (''Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez'') came into being on 15 December 1858. The British government had opposed the project from the outset to its completion. The British, who controlled both the Cape route and the Overland route to India and the Far East, favored the ''status quo'', given that a canal might disrupt their commercial and maritime supremacy. Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Lord Palmerston, the project's most unwavering foe, confessed in the mid-1850s the real motive behind his opposition: that Britain's commercial and maritime relations would be overthrown by the opening of a new route, open to all nations, and thus deprive his country of its present exclusive advantages. As one of the diplomatic moves against the project when it nevertheless went ahead, it disapproved of the use of "forced labour" for construction of the canal. Involuntary labour on the project ceased, and the viceroy condemned the corvée, halting the project. Initially international opinion was skeptical and Suez Canal Company shares did not sell well overseas. Britain, Austrian Empire, Austria, and Russian Empire, Russia did not buy a significant number of shares. However, with assistance from the Cattaui banking family, and their relationship with James Mayer de Rothschild, James de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking family of France, French House of Rothschild bonds and shares were successfully promoted in France and other parts of Europe. All French shares were quickly sold in France. A contemporary British skeptic claimed "One thing is sure... our local merchant community doesn't pay practical attention at all to this grand work, and it is legitimate to doubt that the canal's receipts... could ever be sufficient to recover its maintenance fee. It will never become a large ship's accessible way in any case."


Construction (1859–1869)

Work started on the shore of the future Port Said on 25 April 1859. The excavation took some 10 years, with forced labour (corvée) being employed until 1864 to dig out the canal. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that tens of thousands of labourers died, many of them from cholera and similar epidemics. Estimates of the number of deaths vary widely with
Gamal Abdel Nasser Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, ( ɡəˈmɑːl æbdɛl ˈnɑːsər; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East Th ...

Gamal Abdel Nasser
famously citing 120,000 deaths upon nationalization of the canal in a 26 July 1956 speech and the company's chief medical officer reporting no higher than 2.49 deaths per thousand in 1866. Doubling these estimates with a generous assumption of 50,000 working staff per year over 11 years would put a conservative estimate at fewer than 3,000 deaths. More closely relying on the limited reported data of the time, the number would be fewer than 1,000.


Inauguration (17 November 1869)

The canal opened under French control in November 1869. The opening ceremonies began at Port Said on the evening of 15 November, with illuminations, fireworks, and a banquet on the yacht of the Khedive Isma'il Pasha of Khedivate of Egypt, Egypt and Sudan. The royal guests arrived the following morning: the Franz Joseph I of Austria, Emperor Franz Joseph I, the Eugénie de Montijo, French Empress Eugenie in the Imperial yacht ''L'Aigle'', the Frederick III, German Emperor, Crown Prince of Prussia, and Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse, Prince Louis of Hesse. Other international guests included the American natural historian H. W. Harkness. In the afternoon there were blessings of the canal with both Muslim and Christian ceremonies, a temporary mosque and church having been built side by side on the beach. In the evening there were more illuminations and fireworks. On the morning of 17 November, a procession of ships entered the canal, headed by the ''L'Aigle''. Among the ships following was HMS Newport (1867), HMS ''Newport'', captained by George Nares, which surveyed the canal on behalf of the British Admiralty, Admiralty a few months later. The ''Newport'' was involved in an incident that demonstrated some of the problems with the canal. There were suggestions that the depth of parts of the canal at the time of the inauguration were not as great as promised, and that the deepest part of the channel was not always clear, leading to a risk of grounding. The first day of the passage ended at
Lake Timsah Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake, is a lake in Egypt on the Nile delta. It lies in a basin developed along a Fault (geology), fault extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez through the Bitter Lakes region. In 1800, a flood ...
, south of Port Said. The French ship ''Péluse'' anchored close to the entrance, then swung around and grounded, the ship and its hawser blocking the way into the lake. The following ships had to anchor in the canal itself until the ''Péluse'' was hauled clear the next morning, making it difficult for them to join that night's celebration in Ismailia. Except for the ''Newport'': Nares sent out a boat to carry out soundings, and was able to manoeuver around the ''Péluse'' to enter the lake and anchor there for the night. Ismailia was the scene of more celebrations the following day, including a military "march past", illuminations and fireworks, and a ball at the Governor's Palace. The convoy set off again on the morning of 19 November, for the remainder of the trip to Suez. After Suez, many of the participants headed for Cairo, and then to the Pyramids, where a new road had been built for the occasion. An Anchor Line (steamship company), Anchor Line ship, the S.S. ''Dido'', became the first to pass through the Canal from South to North.


Initial difficulties (1869–1871)

Although numerous technical, political, and financial problems had been overcome, the Cost overrun, final cost was more than double the original estimate. The Khedive, in particular, was able to overcome initial reservations held by both British and French creditors by enlisting the help of the Sursock family, whose deep connections proved invaluable in securing much international support for the project. After the opening, the Suez Canal Company was in financial difficulties. The remaining works were completed only in 1871, and traffic was below expectations in the first two years. De Lesseps therefore tried to increase revenues by interpreting the kind of net ton referred to in the second concession (''tonneau de capacité'') as meaning a ship's cargo capacity and not only the theoretical net tonnage of the "Moorsom System" introduced in Britain by the Merchant Shipping Act in 1854. The ensuing commercial and diplomatic activities resulted in the International Commission of Constantinople establishing a specific kind of net tonnage and settling the question of tariffs in its protocol of 18 December 1873. This was the origin of the Suez Canal Net Tonnage and the Suez Canal Special Tonnage Certificate, both of which are still in use today.


Growth and reorganisation

The canal had an immediate and dramatic effect on Global trade, world trade. Combined with the First Transcontinental Railroad, American transcontinental railroad completed six months earlier, it allowed the world to be circled in record time. It played an important role in increasing European colonization of Africa. The construction of the canal was one of the reasons for the Panic of 1873 in Great Britain, because goods from the Far East had, until then, been carried in sailing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope and stored in British warehouses. An inability to pay his bank debts led Said Pasha's successor, Isma'il Pasha, in 1875 to sell his 44% share in the canal for £4,000,000 ($19.2 million), equivalent to £432 million to £456 million ($540 million to $570 million) in 2019, to the government of the United Kingdom. French shareholders still held the majority. Local unrest caused the British to invade in 1882 and take full control, although nominally Egypt remained part of the Ottoman Empire. The British representative from 1883 to 1907 was Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer, who reorganized and modernized the government and suppressed rebellions and corruption, thereby facilitating increased traffic on the canal. The European Mediterranean region, Mediterranean countries in particular benefited economically from the Suez Canal, as they now had much faster connections to Asia and East Africa than the North and West European maritime trading nations such as Great Britain, the Netherlands or Germany. The biggest beneficiary in the Mediterranean was Austria-Hungary, which had participated in the planning and construction of the canal. The largest Austrian maritime trading company, Österreichischer Lloyd, experienced rapid expansion after the canal was completed, as did the port city of Trieste, then an Austrian possession. The company was a partner in the Compagnie Universelle du Canal de Suez, whose vice-president was the Lloyd co-founder Pasquale Revoltella.Mary Pelletier "A brief history of the Suez Canal" In: Apollo 3.7.2018. The
Convention of Constantinople The Convention of Constantinople, a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include ...
in 1888 declared the canal a neutral zone under the protection of the British, who had occupied Egypt and Sudan at the request of Khedive Tewfik Pasha, Tewfiq to suppress the Urabi Revolt against his rule. The revolt went on from 1879 to 1882. The British defended the strategically important passage against a major Ottoman Empire, Ottoman First Suez Offensive, attack in 1915, during the First World War.''First World War'' – Willmott, H.P. Dorling Kindersley, 2003, p.87 Under the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, the UK retained control over the canal. The canal was again strategically important in the 1939–1945 Second World War, and Italo-German attempts to capture it were repulsed during the North Africa Campaign, during which the canal was closed to Axis powers, Axis shipping. In 1951 Egypt repudiated the treaty and in October 1954 the UK agreed to remove its troops. Withdrawal was completed on 18 July 1956.


Suez Crisis

Because of Egyptian overtures towards the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States withdrew their pledge to support the construction of the Aswan Dam. Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel Nasser Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, ( ɡəˈmɑːl æbdɛl ˈnɑːsər; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East Th ...

Gamal Abdel Nasser
responded by nationalizing the canal on 26 July 1956 and transferring it to the
Suez Canal Authority Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is a state-owned authority which owns, operates and maintains the Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ السُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranea ...
, intending to finance the dam project using revenue from the canal. On the same day that the canal was nationalized Nasser also closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli ships. This led to the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War; ...
in which the UK, France, and Israel invaded Egypt. According to the pre-agreed war plans under the Protocol of Sèvres, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula on 29 October, forcing Egypt to engage them militarily, and allowing the Operation Musketeer (1956), Anglo-French partnership to declare the resultant fighting a threat to stability in the Middle East and enter the war – officially to separate the two forces but in reality to regain the Canal and bring down the Nasser government. To save the British from what he thought was a disastrous action and to stop the war from a possible escalation, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson proposed the creation of the first United Nations peacekeeping force to ensure access to the canal for all and an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. On 4 November 1956, a majority at the United Nations voted for Pearson's peacekeeping resolution, which Mandate (international law), mandated the UN peacekeepers to stay in Sinai unless both Egypt and Israel agreed to their withdrawal. The United States backed this proposal by putting pressure on the British government through the selling of Pound sterling, sterling, which would cause it to depreciate. Britain then called a ceasefire, and later agreed to withdraw its troops by the end of the year. Pearson was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As a result of damage and ships sunk under orders from Nasser the canal was closed until April 1957, when it was cleared with UN assistance. A UN force (United Nations Emergency Force, UNEF) was established to maintain the free navigability of the canal, and peace in the Sinai Peninsula.


Arab–Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973

In May 1967, Nasser ordered the UN peacekeeping forces out of Sinai, including the Suez Canal area. Israel objected to the closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. The canal had been closed to Israeli shipping since 1949, except for a short period in 1951–1952. After the 1967
Six-Day War The Six-Day War (; ar, النكسة, translit=an-Naksah, lit=The Setback or ), also known as the June War, the 1967 Arab–Israeli War or the Third Arab–Israeli War, was an armed conflict fought from 5 to 10 June 1967 between Israel ...
, Israeli forces occupied the Sinai peninsula, including the entire east bank of the Suez Canal. Unwilling to allow the Israelis to use the canal, Egypt immediately imposed a blockade which closed the canal to all shipping. Fifteen cargo ships, known as the "Yellow Fleet", were trapped in the canal, and remained there until 1975. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, the canal was the scene of Operation Badr (1973), a major crossing by the Egyptian army into Israeli-occupied Sinai and a counter-crossing by the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli army to Egypt. Much wreckage from this conflict remains visible along the canal's edges.


Mine clearing operations (1974–75)

After the Yom Kippur War, the United States initiated Operation Nimbus Moon. The amphibious assault ship USS Inchon (LPH-12), USS ''Inchon (LPH-12)'' was sent to the Canal, carrying 12 CH-53 Sea Stallion, RH-53D minesweeping helicopters of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 12. These partly cleared the canal between May and December 1974. She was relieved by the LST USS Barnstable County, USS ''Barnstable County'' (LST1197). The British Royal Navy initiated Operation Rheostat and Task Group 65.2 provided for Operation Rheostat One (six months in 1974), the minehunters HMS ''Maxton'', HMS ''Bossington'', and HMS Wilton (M1116), HMS ''Wilton'', the Fleet Clearance Diving Team (FCDT) and HMS Abdiel (N21), HMS ''Abdiel'', a practice minelayer/MCMV support ship; and for Operation Rheostat Two (six months in 1975) the minehunters HMS ''Hubberston'' and HMS ''Sheraton'', and HMS ''Abdiel''. When the Canal Clearance Operations were completed, the canal and its lakes were considered 99% clear of mines. The canal was then reopened by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat aboard an Egyptian destroyer, which led the first convoy northbound to Port Said in 1975. At his side stood the Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, delegated to represent his father, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. The cruiser USS Little Rock (CL-92), USS ''Little Rock'' was the only American naval ship in the convoy.


UN presence

The United Nations Emergency Force, UNEF mandate expired in 1979. Despite the efforts of the United States, Israel, Egypt, and others to obtain an extension of the UN role in observing the peace between Israel and Egypt, as called for under the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979, the mandate could not be extended because of the veto by the Soviet Union in the UN Security Council, at the request of Syria. Accordingly, negotiations for a new observer force in the Sinai produced the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), stationed in Sinai in 1981 in coordination with a phased Israeli withdrawal. The MFO remains active under agreements between the United States, Israel, Egypt, and other nations.


Bypass expansion

In the summer of 2014, months after taking office as President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered the expansion of the Ballah Bypass from wide to wide for . The project was called the
New Suez Canal The Suez Canal Corridor Area Project ( ar, مشروع تطوير محور قناة السويس) is a megaproject A megaproject is an extremely large-scale investment project. According to the ''Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management'', ...
, as it allows ships to transit the canal in both directions simultaneously. The project cost more than E£59.4 billion (US$bn) and was completed within one year. Sisi declared the expanded channel open for business in a ceremony on 6 August 2015.


2021 obstruction by ''Ever Given''

On 23 March 2021, at around 05:40 UTC (07:40 local time), the Suez Canal was blocked in both directions by the ultra-large Evergreen G-class container ship ''Ever Given''. The ship, operated by Evergreen Marine, was en route from Malaysia to the Netherlands when it ran aground after strong winds allegedly blew the ship off course. Upon running aground, ''Ever Given'' turned sideways, completely blocking the canal. Although part of the length of the canal is paralleled by an older narrower channel which can be used to bypass obstructions, this particular incident occurred south of that area, in a section of the canal where there is only one channel. The site was located at . When the incident began, many economists and trade experts commented on the effects of the obstruction if not resolved quickly, citing how important the Suez was to global trade; the incident was likely to drastically affect the global economy because of the trapped goods scheduled to go through the canal. Among those goods, oil shipments were the most affected in the immediate aftermath, due to a significant number still blocked with no other way to reach their destination. Referring to the European and American market, a few maritime experts have disputed the prediction of a drastic effect on trade, saying this "really isn’t a substantial transit route for crude" according to Marshall Steeves, energy markets analyst at IHS Markit, and "there are existing stocks" according to Camille Egloff of Boston Consulting Group and alternative sources of supply, noting that traffic only slowed down and that it might only have impacted sectors with existing shortages (such as the semiconductor industry). The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) estimates that up to $3 billion worth of cargo passes through the Suez Canal every day. It was said the blockage would have an impact on cargo schedules around the world. Shipping companies were also considering whether to divert their ships along the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope. The first container ship to do so was ''Ever Given''s sister ship, ''Ever Greet''. The ship was re-floated on 29 March. Within a few hours, cargo traffic resumed, slowly resolving the backlog of around 450 ships. The first ship to successfully pass through the canal after the ''Ever Given'''s recovery was the ''YM Wish'', a Hong Kong-based cargo ship. On 2 April 2021, Usama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority of Egypt, said that the damage caused by the blockage of the canal could reach about $1 billion. Rabie also revealed that after the Suez Canal resumed navigation, as of noon on 31 March, 285 cargo ships had passed through the canal smoothly. He said that the remaining 175 freighters waiting to pass through the canal would all pass by 2 April. After the incident, the Egyptian government announced that they would be widening the narrower parts of the canal. On 9 September 2021, the canal was briefly blocked again by the MV Coral Crystal. However, this ship was freed within 15 minutes, presenting minimal disruption to other convoys.


Timeline

* 1799: Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Egypt and ordered a feasibility analysis. This incorrectly reported a supposed difference in sea levels and a high cost, so the project was put on hold. * 1847: A second survey including Robert Stephenson found the first analysis incorrect. A direct link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea is possible and not as expensive as previously estimated. * 30 November 1854: The former French consul in Cairo, Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, obtained the first licence for construction. * 15 December 1858: de Lesseps established the "Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez", with Said of Egypt, Said Pasha acquiring 22% of the Suez Canal Company; the majority was controlled by French private holders. * 25 April 1859: construction officially started. * 15 to 17 November 1869: An opening ceremony and celebrations were held; Empress Eugénie of France officially opened the canal. * 17 November 1869: The canal was opened, operated by the Suez Canal Company, the concessionary company that built the canal. * 18 December 1873: The International Commission of Constantinople established the Suez Canal Net Ton and the Suez Canal Special Tonnage Certificate (as known today) * 25 November 1875: The United Kingdom became a minority share holder in the company, acquiring 44%, with the remainder being controlled by French business syndicates. * 20 May 1882: The United Kingdom Battle of Tel el-Kebir, invaded Egypt, with French assistance, and began its occupation of Egypt. * 25 August 1882: The United Kingdom occupied Egypt. The canal remained under the control of the privately owned Suez Canal Company. * 2 March 1888: The
Convention of Constantinople The Convention of Constantinople, a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include ...
renewed the guaranteed right of passage of all ships through the canal during war and peace; these rights were already part of the licences awarded to de Lesseps, but became recognised as international law. * 14 November 1936: Following a Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, new treaty, Britain pulled out of Egypt, but established the 'Suez Canal Zone' under its control. * 13 June 1956: Suez Canal Zone was restored to Egyptian sovereignty, following British withdrawal and years of negotiations. * 26 July 1956: Egypt nationalizes the company; its Egyptian assets, rights and obligations were transferred to the Suez Canal Authority, which compensates the previous owners at the established pre-nationalization price. Egypt closed the canal to Israeli shipping as part of a broader blockade involving the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. * 31 October 1956 to 24 April 1957: the canal was blocked to shipping following the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War; ...
, a conflict that lead to an Israeli, French, and British occupation of the canal zone. * 22 December 1956: The canal zone was restored to Egyptian control, following French and British withdrawal, and the landing of United Nations Emergency Force, UNEF troops. * 5 June 1967 to 10 June 1975: The canal was blocked by Egypt, following the Six-Day War, war with Israel; it became the front line during the ensuing War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, 1973 war, remaining closed to international shipping, until Sinai Interim Agreement, general agreement was near. * 2004: The canal was closed for three days when the oil tanker ''Tropic Brilliance'' became stuck. * 1 January 2008: New rules of navigation passed by the Suez Canal Authority came into force. * 6 August 2015: The new canal extensions were opened. * 19 October 2017: ''OOCL Japan'' ran aground causing an obstruction which blocked the canal for a few hours. * 23 to 29 March 2021: ''Ever Given'', a Panama-flagged container ship, ran aground and became stuck across the southern section of the canal. The blockage prevented movement through the canal, caused nearly $10 billion worth of disruptions in shipping traffic each day, and created a large traffic jam of ships on both sides. File:Mittelholzer-suezkanal.jpg, Suez Canal in February 1934. Air photograph taken by Swiss pilot and photographer Walter Mittelholzer. File:USS America (CV-66) in the Suez canal 1981.jpg, , an American aircraft carrier in the Suez Canal File:SuezCanal4 byDanielCsorfoly.JPG, Container ship ''Hanjin Kaohsiung'' transiting the Suez Canal


Layout and operation

When built, the canal was long and deep. After several enlargements, it is long, deep and wide. It consists of the northern access channel (geography), channel of , the canal itself of and the southern access channel of . The so-called
New Suez Canal The Suez Canal Corridor Area Project ( ar, مشروع تطوير محور قناة السويس) is a megaproject A megaproject is an extremely large-scale investment project. According to the ''Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management'', ...
, functional since 6 August 2015, currently has a new parallel canal in the middle part, with its length over . The current parameters of the Suez Canal, including both individual canals of the parallel section are: depth and width at least (that width measured at of depth).


Capacity

The canal allows passage of ships up to draft (hull), draft or 240,000 deadweight tons and up to a height of above water level and a maximum beam (nautical), beam of under certain conditions.Suez Canal Authority http://www.suezcanal.gov.eg The canal can handle more traffic and larger ships than the Panama Canal, as Suezmax dimensions are greater than both Panamax and New Panamax. Some supertankers are too large to traverse the canal. Others can offload part of their cargo onto a canal-owned ship to reduce their draft, transit, and reload at the other end of the canal. On 15 April 2021 Egyptian authorities announced that they would widen the southern section of the Suez Canal to improve the efficiency of the canal. The plan mainly covers about from Suez to the Great Bitter Lake. It will be widened by 40 meters and the maximum depth will be increased from about to about .


Navigation

Ships approaching the canal from the sea are expected to radio the harbor when they are within of the Safe water mark, Fairway Buoy near Port Said. The canal has no canal lock, locks because of the flat terrain, and the minor sea level difference between each end is inconsequential for shipping. As the canal has no sea surge gates, the ports at the ends would be subject to the sudden impact of tsunamis from the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, according to a 2012 article in the ''Journal of Coastal Research''. There is one shipping lane with passing areas in Ballah-Bypass near El Qantara and in the Great Bitter Lake. On a typical day, three convoys transit the canal, two southbound and one northbound. The passage takes between 11 and 16 hours at a speed of around . The low speed helps prevent erosion of the banks by ships' Wake (physics), wakes. By 1955, about two-thirds of Europe's oil passed through the canal. Around 8% of world sea trade is carried via the canal. In 2008, 21,415 vessels passed through the canal and the receipts totaled $5.381 billion, with an average cost per ship of $251,000. New Rules of Navigation came into force on 1 January 2008, passed by the board of directors of the
Suez Canal Authority Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is a state-owned authority which owns, operates and maintains the Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ السُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranea ...
(SCA) to organise vessels' transit. The most important amendments include allowing vessels with draught to pass, increasing the allowed breadth from (following improvement operations), and imposing a fine on vessels using pilots from outside the SCA inside the canal boundaries without permission. The amendments allow vessels loaded with dangerous cargo (such as radioactive or flammable materials) to pass if they conform with the latest amendments provided by international conventions. The SCA has the right to determine the number of Tugboat, tugs required to assist warships traversing the canal, to achieve the highest degree of safety during transit. File:SuezCanal ElBallah.JPG, Ships moored at El Ballah during transit File:MEDCURR.GIF, Predominant currents in the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
for June


Operation

Before August 2015, the canal was too narrow for free two-way traffic, so ships had to pass in convoys and use bypasses. The bypasses were out of (40%). From north to south, they are Port Said bypass (entrances) , Ballah bypass & anchorage , Timsah bypass , and the Deversoir bypass (northern end of the Great Bitter Lake) . The bypasses were completed in 1980. Typically, it would take a ship 12 to 16 hours to transit the canal. The canal's 24-hour capacity was about 76 standard ships. In August 2014, Egypt chose a consortium that includes the Egyptian army and global engineering firm Dar Al-Handasah to develop an international industrial and logistics hub in the Suez Canal area, and began the construction of a new canal section from combined with expansion and deep digging of the other of the canal. This will allow navigation in both directions simultaneously in the central section of the canal. These extensions were formally opened on 6 August 2015 by President Al-Sisi. File:Capesize bulk carrier at Suez Canal Bridge.JPG, Post-deepening, a capesize bulk carrier approaches the Suez Canal Bridge, Friendship Bridge File:Bittersee Suezkanal.jpg, Northbound convoy waits in the
Great Bitter Lake The Great Bitter Lake ( ar, البحيرة المرة الكبرى; transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ...
as southbound convoy passes, October 2014


Convoy sailing

Since the canal does not cater to unregulated two-way traffic, all ships transit in convoys on regular times, scheduled on a 24-hour basis. Each day, a single northbound convoy starts at 04:00 from Suez. At dual lane sections, the convoy uses the eastern route. Synchronised with this convoy's passage is the southbound convoy. It starts at 03:30 from Port Said and so passes the Northbound convoy in the two-lane section.


Canal crossings

From north to south, the crossings are: * The El Nasr pontoon bridge (), connecting Port Said to Port Fuad. Opened in 2016, length. * The Abanoub Gerges pontoon bridge (), north of the Suez Canal Bridge * The Suez Canal Bridge (), also called the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, a high-level road bridge at El Qantara. In Arabic, ''al qantara'' means "arch". Opened in 2001, it has a clearance over the canal and was built with assistance from the Japanese government and by Kajima. * El Ferdan Railway Bridge () north of Ismailia () was completed in 2001 and is the longest swing bridge, swing-span bridge in the world, with a span of 340 m (1100 ft). The previous bridge was destroyed in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli conflict. The current bridge is no longer functional due to the expansion of the Suez Canal, as the parallel shipping lane completed in 2015 just east of the bridge lacks a structure spanning it. * The Ahmed Mansi, Ahmed el-Mansy pontoon bridge (), a pair of pontoons bridging both channels * The Taha Zaki Abdullah pontoon bridge (), a pair of pontoons bridging both channels * Pipelines taking fresh water under the canal to Sinai Peninsula, Sinai, about north of Suez, at . * Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel () south of the Great Bitter Lake () was built in 1983. Because of leakage problems, a new water-tight tunnel was built inside the old one from 1992 to 1995. * The Ahmed Omar Shabrawy pontoon bridge () * The Suez Canal overhead powerline crossing () was built in 1999. A railway on the west bank runs parallel to the canal for its entire length. The five pontoon bridges were opened between 2016 and 2019. They are designed to be movable, and can be completely rotated against the banks of the canal to allow shipping through, or else individual sections can be moved to create a narrower channel. Six new tunnels for cars and trains are also planned across the canal. Currently the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel, Ahmed Hamdi is the only tunnel connecting
Suez Suez ( ar, السويس '; ) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 ) in north-eastern Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries lo ...

Suez
to the Sinai.


Economic impact

Economically, after its completion, the Suez Canal benefited primarily the sea trading powers of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean countries, which now had much faster connections to the Near and Far East than the North and West European sea trading nations such as Great Britain or Germany. The main Habsburg trading port of Trieste with its direct connections to Central Europe experienced a meteoric rise at that time. The time saved in the 19th century for an assumed steamship trip to Bombay from Brindisi and Trieste was 37 days, from Genoa 32, from Marseille 31, from Bordeaux, Liverpool, London, Amsterdam and Hamburg 24 days. At that time, it was also necessary to consider whether the goods to be transported could bear the costly canal tariff. This led to a rapid growth of Mediterranean ports with their land routes to Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe. According to today's information from the shipping companies, the route from Singapore to Rotterdam through the Suez Canal will be shortened by and thus by nine days compared to the route around Africa. As a result, liner services between Asia and Europe save 44 percent CO2 (carbon dioxide) thanks to this shorter route. The Suez Canal has a correspondingly important role in the connection between East Africa and the Mediterranean region.Harry de Wilt: Is One Belt, One Road a China crisis for North Sea main ports? in World Cargo News, 17. December 2019. In the 20th century, trade through the Suez Canal came to a standstill several times, due to the two world wars and the Suez Canal crisis. Many trade flows were also shifted away from the Mediterranean ports towards Northern European terminals, such as Hamburg and Rotterdam. Only after the end of the Cold War, the growth in European economic integration, the consideration of CO2 emission and the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese Silk Road Initiative, are Mediterranean ports such as Piraeus and Trieste again at the focus of growth and investment.


Alternative routes

Before the canal's opening in 1869, goods were sometimes offloaded from ships and carried overland between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.


Cape Agulhas

The main alternative is around Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa, commonly referred to as the Cape of Good Hope route. This was the only sea route before the canal was constructed, and when the canal was closed. It is still the only route for ships that are Capesize, too large for the canal. In the early 21st century, the Suez Canal has suffered from diminished traffic due to piracy in Somalia, with many shipping companies choosing to take the long route instead. Between 2008 and 2010, it is estimated that the canal lost 10% of traffic due to the threat of piracy, and another 10% due to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008, financial crisis. An oil tanker going from Saudi Arabia to the United States has farther to go when taking the route south of Africa rather than the canal.


Northern Sea Route

In recent years, the Climate change in the Arctic, shrinking Arctic sea ice has made the Northern Sea Route feasible for commercial cargo ships between Europe and East Asia during a six-to-eight-week window in the summer months, shortening the voyage by thousands of kilometres compared to that through the Suez Canal. According to polar climate researchers, as the extent of the Arctic summer ice pack recedes the route will become passable without the help of icebreakers for a greater period each summer. The Bremen-based Beluga Group claimed in 2009 to be the first Western company to attempt using the Northern Sea Route without assistance from icebreakers, cutting off the journey between Ulsan, Korea and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


Cape Horn

Sailing ships, such as the windjammers in the heyday of the Grain race, Great Grain Race between Australia and Europe during the 1930s, often preferred the Cape Horn route when going to Europe, due to prevalent wind directions, even though it is slightly longer from Sydney to Europe this way than past Cape Agulhas.


Negev desert railway

In February 2012, Israel announced its intention to construct a High-speed railway to Eilat, railway between the Mediterranean and Eilat through the Negev desert to compete with the canal. By 2019, the project had been indefinitely frozen.


Environmental impact

The opening of the canal created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Although the Red Sea is about higher than the eastern Mediterranean, the current between the Mediterranean and the middle of the canal at the
Bitter Lakes The Great Bitter Lake ( ar, البحيرة المرة الكبرى; Arabic transliteration, transliterated: ''al-Buḥayrah al-Murra al-Kubrā'') is a large saltwater lake in Egypt that is part of the Suez Canal. Before the canal was built in 1 ...
flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the Bitter Lakes is tidal, varying with the tide at Suez. The Bitter Lakes, which were hypersaline natural lakes, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea the barrier to migration was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the eastern Mediterranean. The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poor than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the less salty and nutrient-rich eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, most Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and only few do the opposite. This migratory phenomenon is called Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps) or "Erythrean invasion". Also impacting the eastern Mediterranean, starting in 1968, was the operation of Aswan High Dam across the Nile. While providing for increased human development, the project reduced the inflow of freshwater and ended all natural nutrient-rich silt entering the eastern Mediterranean at the Nile Delta. This provided less natural dilution of Mediterranean salinity and ended the higher levels of natural turbidity, additionally making conditions more like those in the Red Sea. Invasive species originating from the Red Sea and introduced species, introduced into the Mediterranean by the canal have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the ecology, endangering many local and endemism, endemic species. About 300 species from the Red Sea have been identified in the Mediterranean, and there are probably others yet unidentified. The Egyptian government's intent to enlarge the canal raised concerns from marine biologists, who feared that it would enhance the invasion of Red Sea species. Construction of the canal was preceded by cutting a small fresh-water canal called Sweet Water Canal from Nile Delta, the Nile delta along
Wadi Tumilat Wadi Tumilat (Old Egyptian The Egyptian language (Egyptian: ''r n km.t'', , Coptic: ) is an Afro-Asiatic language Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A l ...
to the future canal, with a southern branch to Suez and a northern branch to Port Said. Completed in 1863, these brought fresh water to a previously arid area, initially for canal construction, and subsequently facilitating growth of agriculture and settlements along the canal.


Suez Canal Economic Zone

The Suez Canal Economic Zone, sometimes shortened to the Suez Canal Zone, describes the set of locations neighbouring the canal where customs rates have been reduced to zero in order to attract investment. The zone comprises over within the governorates of Port Said Governorate, Port Said, Ismailia Governorate, Ismailia and Suez Governorate, Suez. Projects in the zone are collectively described as the Suez Canal Area Development Project (SCADP). The plan focuses on development of East Port Said Industrial Zone, East Port Said and the port of Ain Sokhna, and hopes to extend to four more ports at West Port Said, El-Adabiya, Arish and El Tor, Egypt, El Tor. The zone incorporates the three "Qualifying Industrial Zones" at Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, a 1996 American initiative to encourage economic ties between Israel and its neighbors.


See also

* Belt and Road Initiative * Canal des Deux Mers * Container transport * Corinth Canal * Istanbul Canal * Maritime Silk Road * Mediterranean–Dead Sea Canal * New Imperialism *
New Suez Canal The Suez Canal Corridor Area Project ( ar, مشروع تطوير محور قناة السويس) is a megaproject A megaproject is an extremely large-scale investment project. According to the ''Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management'', ...
* Panama Canal * Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance * 21st Century Maritime Silk Road * Yellow Fleet


Notes


References

* Britannica (2007) "Suez Canal", in: ''The new Encyclopædia Britannica'', 15th ed., 28, Chicago, Ill. ; London : Encyclopædia Britannica, * Farnie, D.A. ''East and West of Suez: Suez Canal in History, 1854–1956'', a stanmdard scholarly history; 870 pp * Galil, B.S. and Zenetos, A. (2002). "A sea change: exotics in the eastern Mediterranean Sea", in: Leppäkoski, E., Gollasch, S. and Olenin, S. (eds), ''Invasive aquatic species of Europe : distribution, impacts, and management'', Dordrecht ; Boston : Kluwer Academic, , pp. 325–336 * Garrison, Ervan G. (1999) ''A history of engineering and technology : artful methods'', 2nd ed., Boca Raton, Fla. ; London : CRC Press, * Hallberg, Charles W. ''The Suez Canal: Its History and Diplomatic Importance'' (1931), a standard scholarly history; 440 pp
online
* Karabell, Zachary (2003) ''Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal'', Knopf, * Oster, Uwe (2006

TV documentary produced by ZDF and directed by Axel Engstfeld (Germany) * * Eva Matthews Sanford, Sanford, Eva Matthews (1938) ''The Mediterranean world in ancient times'', Ronald series in history, New York : The Ronald Press Company, 618 p. * Pudney, John. Suez; De Lesseps' Canal. New York: Praeger, 1969. *


External links


Suez Canal Authority

Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions

Suez Canal
on OpenStreetMap
Encyclopedia of the Orient: ''Suez Canal''



Suez Canal Container Terminal at Port Said

Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law
Peace Palace Library * , including the new section
American Society of Civil Engineers – Suez Canal


Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel


Images of container ship Ever Given aground in Suez Canal
BBC News
Explained: The Whole Scenario Of Suez Canal. How Would It Have Impacted The Trade If It Persisted Longer? - Inventiva
{{Authority control Suez Canal, Canals in Egypt Ship canals 1860s in Egypt Canals opened in 1869 Cuts (earthmoving) Macro-engineering Economy of Egypt Egypt–United Kingdom relations Geography of Egypt Red Sea 1869 establishments in Egypt N M Rothschild & Sons Wadi Tumilat