and the Red Sea
. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation
between Europe and Asia without navigation around Africa
. The northern terminus is Port Said
and the southern terminus is Port Tawfik at the city of Suez
lies on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the half-way point.
When first built, the canal was 164 km (101.9 mi) long and 8 m (26.2 ft) deep.
1854 In Egypt, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is given the necessary royal concession.
1859 British and French engineers break ground for the Suez Canal.
1867 The first ship passes through the Suez Canal.
1869 In Egypt, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is inaugurated.
1888 The Convention of Constantinople is signed, guaranteeing free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace.
1956 Following the World Bank's refusal to fund building the Aswan High Dam, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal sparking international condemnation.
1956 Suez Crisis begins: Israeli forces invade the Sinai Peninsula and push Egyptian forces back toward the Suez Canal.
1956 Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France begin bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.
1957 Egypt re-opens the Suez Canal after the Suez Crisis.
1957 The Suez Canal in Egypt is cleared and opens to shipping.
and the Red Sea
. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation
between Europe and Asia without navigation around Africa
. The northern terminus is Port Said
and the southern terminus is Port Tawfik at the city of Suez
lies on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the half-way point.
When first built, the canal was 164 km (101.9 mi) long and 8 m (26.2 ft) deep. After multiple enlargements, the canal is 193.3 km (120.1 mi) long, 24 m (78.7 ft) deep and 205 metres (672.6 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel
of 22 km (13.7 mi), the canal itself of 162.25 km (100.8 mi) and the southern access channel of 9 km (5.6 mi).
The canal is single-lane with passing places in Ballah By-Pass and in the Great Bitter Lake
. It contains no locks
; seawater flows freely through the canal. In general, the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.
The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority
(SCA) of the Arab Republic of Egypt
. Under international treaty, 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."
Nile-Red Sea Canal(s)Ancient west-east canals have facilitated travel from the Nile
to the Red Sea. One smaller canal is believed to have been constructed under the auspices of either Senusret II
or Ramesses II
. Another canal probably incorporating a portion of the first was constructed under the reign of Necho II
and completed by Darius
2nd millennium BCThe legendary Sesostris
(likely either Pharaoh
Senusret II or Senusret III
of the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt
) is suggested to have perhaps started work on an ancient canal joining the River Nile with the Red Sea (1897 BC–1839 BC). (It is said that in ancient times
the Red Sea reached northward to the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah
In his Meteorology
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 navigatable; 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 afterwards, stopped making the canal, lest the sea should mix with the river water and spoil it.
also wrote that Sesostris started to build a canal, and Pliny the Elder
165. Next comes the TyroTyroIn Greek mythology, Tyro was the daughter of Salmoneus and married Cretheus, but loved Enipeus. She gave birth to Pelias and Neleus, the twin sons of Poseidon. With Cretheus she had Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon....
tribe and, on the Red Sea, the harbour of the Daneoi, 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 60 miles. Later the Persian king Darius had the same idea, and yet again Ptolemy II, who made a trench 100 feet wide, 30 feet deep and about 35 miles long, as far as the Bitter Lakes.
French cartographers discovered the remnants of an ancient north-south canal running past the east side of Lake Timsah and ending near the north end of the Great Bitter Lake in the second half of the 19th century. (This ancient, second, canal may have followed a course along the shoreline of the Red Sea when it once extended north to Lake Timsah.) In the 20th century the northward extension of this ancient canal was discovered, extending from Lake Timsah to the Ballah Lakes, which was subsequently dated to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt
by extrapolating the dates of ancient sites erected along its course. However it remains unknown whether or not this is the same as Sesostris' ancient canal and whether it was used as a waterway or as a defence against the east.
The reliefs of the Punt
expedition under Hatshepsut
1470 BC depict seagoing vessels carrying the expeditionary force returning from Punt. This has given rise to the suggestion that, at the time, a navigable link existed between the Red Sea and the Nile. Evidence seems to indicate its existence by the 13th century BC during the time of Ramesses II
Canals dug by Necho, Darius I and PtolemyRemnants of an ancient west-east canal, running through the ancient Egypt
ian cities of Bubastis
, and Pithom
were discovered by Napoleon Bonaparte and his cadre of engineers and cartographers in 1799.
According to the Histories of the Greek
, about 600 BC, Necho II
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 doubtlessly exaggerated. According to Pliny the Elder
, Necho's extension to the canal was approximately 57 English miles, equal to the total distance between Bubastis and the Great Bitter Lake, allowing for winding through valley
s that it had to pass through. The length that Herodotus tells us, of over 1000 stadia (i.e., over 114 miles), 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 us that the reason the project was abandoned was because of a warning received from an oracle
that others would benefit by its successful completion. In fact, Necho's war with Nebuchadnezzar II most probably prevented the canal's continuation.
Necho's project was finally completed by Darius I of Persia
, who conquered Ancient Egypt
. We are told that by Darius's time a natural waterway passage which had existed between the Heroopolite Gulf and the Red Sea 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
that Darius needed to clear it out so as to allow navigation
once again. According to Herodotus, Darius's canal was wide enough that two trireme
s could pass each other with oars extended, and required four days to traverse. Darius commemorated his achievement with a number of granite
stelae that he set up on the Nile bank, including one near Kabret, and a further one a few miles north of Suez
. The Darius Inscriptions
The canal left the Nile at Bubastis. An inscription on a pillar at Pithom
records that in 270 or 269 BC it was again reopened, by Ptolemy II Philadelphus
. In Arsinoe
, Ptolemy constructed a navigable lock
, with 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.
Receding Red Sea and the dwindling NileThe Red Sea is believed by some historians to have gradually receded over the centuries, its coastline slowly moving farther and farther southward away from Lake Timsah
and the Great Bitter Lake to its present coastline today. Coupled with persistent accumulations of Nile silt
, 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 seems to have had no west-east waterway passage, because the Pelusiac branch of the Nile River, which had fed Ptolemy's west-east canal, had by that time dwindled, being choked with silt.
Old Cairo to the Red SeaBy the 8th century, a navigable canal existed between Old Cairo
and the Red Sea, but accounts vary as to who ordered its construction—either Trajan
or 'Amr ibn al-'As
, or Omar the Great
. This canal reportedly linked to the River Nile at Old Cairo and ended near modern Suez
. A geography treatise by Dicuil reports a conversation with an English 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
is said to have ordered this canal closed in 767 to prevent supplies from reaching Arabian
Repair by Tāriqu l-ḤākimAl-Hakim bi-Amr Allah
is claimed to have repaired the Old Cairo to Red Sea passageway, but only briefly, circa 1000 AD, as it soon "became choked with sand." However, we are told that parts of this canal still continued to fill in during the Nile's annual inundations.
Napoleon discovers an ancient canalNapoleon Bonaparte's interest in finding the remnants of an ancient waterway passage culminated in a cadre of archaeologists, scientist
s, cartographers and engineer
s scouring the area beginning in the latter months of 1798. 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.
had contemplated the construction of another, modern, north-south canal to join the Mediterranean and Red Sea. But his project was abandoned after the preliminary survey erroneously concluded that the Red Sea was 10 metres (32.8 ft) higher than the Mediterranean, making a locks-based canal too expensive and very long to construct. The Napoleonic survey commission's error came from fragmented readings mostly done during wartime, which resulted in imprecise calculations.
Though by this time unnavigable, the ancient route from Bubastis
to the Red Sea still channeled water in spots as late as 1861 and as far east as Kassassin
submitted a report to the British government, which stated that there was no difference in altitude, and that the Suez Canal was feasible, but his report received no further attention. Lieutenant Waghorn
established his Overland Route, which transported post and passengers to India via Egypt. Linant de Bellefonds
, a French explorer of Egypt, became chief engineer of Egypt's Public Works
. In addition to his normal duties, he surveyed the Isthmus of Suez
and made plans for the Suez Canal. French Saint-Simonianists
showed an interest in the canal and in 1833, Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin
tried to draw Muhammad Ali's attention to the canal but was unsuccessful. Alois Negrelli
, the 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 India trade and, therefore, preferred a connection by train from Alexandria via Cairo to Suez, which eventually was built by Stephenson.
Construction by Suez Canal Company
obtained a concession from Sa'id Pasha
, the Khedive
of 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 during 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 des Suez) consisting of thirteen experts from seven countries, among them McClean, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, and again Negrelli, to examine the plans of Linant de Bellefonds and to advise on the feasibility of and on 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 final 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 and work started on the shore of the future Port Said on 25 April 1859.
The excavation took some 10 years using forced labour (corvée
) of Egyptian workers during a certain period. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that altogether more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that thousands of laborers died on the project.
government had opposed the project of the canal from the outset to its completion. As one of the diplomatic moves against the canal, it disapproved the use of slave labor of forced workers on the canal. The British Empire
was the major global naval force and officially condemned the forced work and sent armed Bedouin
s to start a revolt among workers. Involuntary labour on the project ceased, and the viceroy condemned the corvée, halting the project.
Angered by the British opportunism, de Lesseps sent a letter to the British government remarking on the British lack of remorse a few years earlier when forced workers died in similar conditions building the British railway in Egypt.
Initially international opinion was skeptical and Suez Canal Company shares did not sell well overseas. Britain, the United States
, and Russia
did not buy any significant number of shares. All French
shares were quickly sold in France. A contemporary British sceptic claimed:
was more than double the original estimate. The opening was performed by Khedive Ismail of Egypt and Sudan, and at Ismail's invitation French Empress Eugenie in the Imperial yacht Aigle, piloted by Napolean Coste who was bestowed by the Khedive the Order of the Medjidie (Blue Flame of Service c1955). The first ship to follow the yacht Aigle through the canal was the British P&O liner Delta.
After the opening of the canal, 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 real freight 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 their protocol of 18 December 1873. This was the origin of the Suez Canal Net Tonnage
and the Suez Canal Special Tonnage Certificate
still used today.
The canal had an immediate and dramatic effect on world trade. Combined with the American transcontinental railroad
completed six months earlier, it allowed the entire world to be circled in record time. It played an important role in increasing Europe
an colonisation of Africa
. The construction of the Suez Canal was one of the reasons of the Panic of 1873
, because the goods from the Far East
were carried in sailing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope
and were stored in British warehouses, but sailing vessels were not adaptable for use through the Suez Canal, because the prevailing winds of the Mediterranean Sea blow from west to east. External debts forced Said Pasha's successor, Isma'il Pasha
, to sell his country's share in the canal for £4,000,000 to the United Kingdom in 1875, but French shareholders still held the majority. Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraeli was accused by William Ewart Gladstone
of undermining Britain's constitutional system, due to his lack of reference or consent from Parliament
when purchasing the shares with funding from the Rothschilds.
The Convention of Constantinople
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 Tewfiq to suppress the Urabi Revolt
against his rule. They were later to defend the strategically important passage against a major Ottoman
attack in 1915, during the First World War. Under the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936
, the United Kingdom insisted on retaining control over the canal. In 1951 Egypt repudiated the treaty, and in 1954 the UK agreed to remove its troops. Withdrawal was completed on 18 July 1956.
Suez CrisisAfter the United Kingdom and the United States
withdrew their pledge to support the construction of the Aswan Dam
due to Egyptian overtures towards the Soviet Union
, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser
nationalized the canal in 1956 and transferred it to the Suez Canal Authority, intending to finance the dam project using revenue from the canal. This led up to the Suez Crisis
, known in the Arab World
as the 'Tripartite Aggression', in which the UK, France
invaded Egypt. According to the pre-agreed war plans under the Protocol of Sèvres
, the Israelis invaded Egypt's Sinai Peninsula
, forcing Egypt to engage them militarily, and allowing the Anglo-French partnership to declare the resultant fighting a threat to the canal and enter the war on Israel's side.
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. On 4 November 1956, a majority of nations at the United Nations voted for Pearson's peacekeeping resolution, which mandate
d 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 by selling sterling
, which would cause it to depreciate. Britain then agreed to withdraw its troops. Pearson was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
. As a result of damage and ships intentionally sunk under orders from Nasser the canal was closed until April 1957, when it was cleared with UN assistance. A UN force (UNEF
) was established to maintain the free navigability of the canal, and peace in the Sinai Peninsula.
Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973In May 1967 President 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 itself had been closed to Israeli shipping since 1949, except for a short period in 1951–1952.
After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, called the Six Day War, the canal was closed by an Egyptian blockade until 5 June 1975. As a result, fourteen cargo ships known as "The Yellow Fleet" remained trapped in the canal for over eight years. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War
, the canal was the scene of a major crossing by the Egyptian army into Israeli-occupied Sinai, and in the later stage of the war, a crossing by the Israeli army
to African Egypt. Much wreckage from this conflict remains visible along the canal's edges.
In reaction to the Yom Kippur War the United States initiated Operation Nimbus Moon
. The helicopter carrier USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2)
was sent to the Canal, carrying twelve RH-53D
minesweeping helicopters of HM-12. These partly cleared the Suez Canal between May and December 1974. She was relieved by the LST USS Barnstable County (LST1197). The British Royal Navy initiated ( Operation Rheostat) and Task Group 65.2 provided the RN Minehunters, HMS Maxton, HMS Bossington & HMS Wilton and HMS Abdiel a Practice Minelayer / MCMV Support Ship which spent two periods of 6 months in 1974 and in 1975 based at Ismailia. When the Canal Clearance Operations were completed, the Suez Canal and its lakes were considered 99% clear of mines. The Canal was then reopened by President Sadat aboard an Egyptian destroyer which led the first convoy Northbound to Port Said in 1975.
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 USSR in the 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. It is there under agreements between the United States, Israel, Egypt, and other nations.
The canal allows passage of ships up to 20 m (65.6 ft) draft or 240,000 deadweight tons and up to a maximum height of 68 m (223.1 ft) above water level and a maximum beam of 77.5 m (254.3 ft) under certain conditions.
Some supertankers are too large to traverse the canal. Others can offload part of their cargo onto a canal-owned boat to reduce their draft, transit, and reload at the other end of the canal.
AlternativesThe main alternative is travelling around the Cape of Good Hope
at the south of the African continent. This was the only route before the canal was constructed, and—more recently—when the canal was closed. It is still the only route for ships which are too large
for the canal. In the early 21st century the long route has enjoyed increased popularity because of increasing piracy in Somalia
. Between 2008 and 2010, it is estimated that the canal has lost 10% of traffic due to the threat of piracy, and another 10% due to the financial crisis. An oil tanker going from Saudi Arabia to the United States has 2,700 miles longer to go when taking the route south of Africa rather than the canal.
Before the canal's opening in 1869 goods were sometimes offloaded from ships and carried overland between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
In recent years, the shrinking Arctic
has also made the Northern Sea Route
viable for commercial cargo ships plying between Europe and East Asia
during a six-to-eight week window in the summer months, shaving off thousands of miles from the voyage compared to 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 icebreaker
s for a greater period each summer.
-based Beluga Group claimed in 2009 to be the first Western company to attempt crossing the Northern Sea Route for shipping without assistance from icebreakers, cutting 4000 nautical miles off the journey between Ulsan
, the Netherlands
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 first southbound convoy enters the canal in the early morning hours and proceeds to the Great Bitter Lake, where the ships anchor out of the fairway, awaiting passage of the northbound convoy. The northbound convoy passes the second southbound convoy, which moors in Ballah-Bypass. The passage takes between 11 and 16 hours at a speed of around 8 kn (16 km/h; 10 mph). The low speed helps prevent erosion of the canal banks by ships' wakes.
By 1955 approximately two-thirds of Europe's oil passed through the canal. About 7.5% of world sea trade is carried via the canal today. In 2008, a total of 21,415 vessels passed through the canal and the receipts from the canal totaled $5.381 billion, with the average cost per-ship at roughly $251,000.
New Rules of Navigation that constitute an improvement over the older ones were passed by the board of directors of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) to organise vessels’ and tankers’ transit that came into force as of 1 January 2008.
The most important amendments to the Rules include allowing vessels with 62 feet (18.9 m) draught to transit and increasing the allowed breadth from 32 metres (105 ft) up to 40 metres (131.2 ft) following improvement operations, as well as imposing a fine on vessels using divers without permission from outside the SCA inside the canal boundaries.
The amendments also allow vessels loaded with dangerous cargo, such as radioactive or inflammable materials, to transit, if they conform with the latest amendments provided by international conventions.
The SCA also has the right to determine the number of tugs required to assist warships transiting the canal to achieve the highest degree of safety during transit.
The Suez Canal can handle more ship traffic and larger ships than the Panama Canal
Connections between the shoresFrom north to south, the connections are:
- The Suez Canal BridgeSuez Canal BridgeThe Suez Canal Bridge, also known as the Shohada 25 January Bridge or the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, is a road bridge crossing the Suez Canal at El Qantara. The Arabic "al qantara" means "the bridge". The bridge links the continents of Africa and Asia.-Design and construction:The bridge...
(30.828248°N 32.317572°E), also called the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, is a high-level road bridge at El Qantara. In Arabic, al qantara means "the bridge". It has a 70 metres (229.7 ft) clearance over the canal and was built with assistance from the JapanJapanJapan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
ese government and by PentaOceanPentaOceanis a major Japanese construction firm. It specializes in marine works and land reclamation. It is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Osaka Stock Exchange, and Nagoya Stock Exchange as ticker 1893.It originated from Mizuno Gumi in 1896 in Hiroshima Prefecture, and later renamed to the current...
- El Ferdan Railway BridgeEl Ferdan Railway BridgeThe El Ferdan Railway Bridge is a swing bridge that spans the Suez Canal near Ismailia, Egypt. It is the longest swing bridge in the world, with a span of 1100 ft...
(30.657°N 32.334°E) 20 km (12.4 mi) north of IsmailiaIsmaïlia-Notable natives:*Osman Ahmed Osman, a famous and influential Egyptian engineer, contractor, entrepreneur, and politician, was born in this town on 6 April 1917....
(30°35′N 32°16′E) was completed in 2001 and is the longest swing span bridgeSwing bridgeA swing bridge is a movable bridge that has as its primary structural support a vertical locating pin and support ring, usually at or near to its centre of gravity, about which the turning span can then pivot horizontally as shown in the animated illustration to the right...
in the world, with a span of 340 m (1100 ft). The previous bridge was destroyed in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Pipelines taking fresh water under the canal to SinaiSinai PeninsulaThe Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...
, about 57 km (35.4 mi) north of Suez, at 30°27.3′N 32°21.0′E.
- Ahmed Hamdi TunnelAhmed Hamdi TunnelThe Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel is an automobile tunnel under the Suez Canal. It has two lanes of traffic, one in each direction, and connects the Asian Sinai Peninsula to the town of Suez on the African mainland. It was originally constructed as a shield tunnel by the British government in 1983. Shortly...
(30°5′9"N 32°34′32"E) south of the Great Bitter Lake (30°20′N 32°23′E) was built in 1983. Because of leakage problems, a new water-tight tunnel was built inside the old one, from 1992 to 1995.
- The Suez Canal overhead line crossingSuez Canal overhead line crossingThe Suez Canal overhead line crossing is an important electrical power line built across the Suez Canal in 1998, located in the city of Suez, Suez Governorate, Egypt...
(29.996°N 32.583°E) powerline was built in 1999.
A railway on the west bank runs parallel to the canal for its entire length.
. 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 originated from the Red Sea and introduced
into the Mediterranean by the construction of the canal have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem, and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local and endemic Mediterranean species. Currently about 300 species from the Red Sea have been identified in the Mediterranean Sea, and there are probably others yet unidentified. The Egyptian government's intent to enlarge the canal has raised concerns from marine biologists, fearing that this will worsen the invasion of Red Sea species in the Mediterranean.
Construction of the Suez Canal was preceded by cutting a small fresh-water canal from the Nile delta
along Wadi Tumilat 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.
- Circa 1799 — Napoleon Bonaparte conquers Egypt and orders a feasibility analysis. This reports a supposed 10 metres (32.8 ft) difference in sea levels and a high cost, so the project is put on hold.
- Circa 1840 — A second survey finds 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, obtains the first license for construction and subsequent operation from the Viceroy for a period of 99 years.
- 6 January 1856 — Lesseps is provided with a second, more detailed license.
- 15 December 1858 — Lesseps establishes the "Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez", with Said PashaSa'id of EgyptMuhammad Sa'id Pasha was the Wāli self-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1854 until 1863, officially owing fealty to the Ottoman Sultan but in practice exercising virtual independence. He was the fourth son of Muhammad Ali Pasha. Sa'id was a Francophone, educated in Paris.Under Sa'id's rule...
acquiring 22% of the Suez Canal Company; the majority is still controlled by French private holders.
- 25 April 1859 — The Suez Canal construction officially starts.
- 16 November 1869 — The Suez Canal is opened, being owned and operated by Suez Canal Company.
- 18 December 1873 — The International Commission of Constantinople establishes the Suez Canal Net Ton and the Suez Canal Special Tonnage Certificate (as known today)
- 25 November 1875 — Britain becomes a minority share holder in the Suez Company, acquiring 44% of the Suez Canal Company, with the remainder being controlled by French business syndicates.
- 20 May 1882 — Britain invades Egypt, with French assistance, and begins its occupation of Egypt.
- 25 August 1882 — Britain takes control of the canal.
- 2 March 1888 — The Convention of ConstantinopleConvention of ConstantinopleThe Convention of Constantinople was a treaty signed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia and the Ottoman Empire on October 29, 1888. In the 1880s Britain had recently acquired physical control over the Suez Canal and Egypt...
renews the guaranteed right of passage of all ships through the Suez Canal during war and peace; these rights were already part of the licenses awarded to Lesseps, but are recognized as international law.
- 14 November 1936 — Following a new treatyAnglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Egypt; it is officially known as The Treaty of Alliance Between His Majesty, in Respect of the United Kingdom, and His Majesty, the King of Egypt...
, Britain theoretically pulls out of Egypt, but establishes the 'Suez Canal Zone', under its control.
- 13 June 1956 — Suez Canal Zone is restored to Egyptian sovereignty, following final British withdrawal and years of negotiations.
- 26 July 1956 — Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal Company; all its Egyptian assets, rights and obligations are transferred to the Suez Canal Authority, which compensates the previous owners at the established pre-nationalization price.
- 31 October 1956 to 24 April 1957 — Suez Canal is blocked to shipping following the planned invasionProtocol of SèvresThe Protocol of Sèvres was a secret agreement reached between the governments of Israel, France and the United Kingdom during discussions held between 22 and 24 October 1956 at Sèvres, France...
of the eastern Sinai by Israel, and later French and British, occupation of the Suez Canal Zone.
- 22 December 1956 — The canal zone is restored to Egyptian control, following French and British withdrawal, and the landing of UNEFUnited Nations Emergency ForceThe first United Nations Emergency Force was established by United Nations General Assembly to secure an end to the 1956 Suez Crisis with resolution 1001 on November 7, 1956. The force was developed in large measure as a result of efforts by UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and a proposal...
- 5 June 1967 to 10 June 1975 — Suez Canal is blocked by Egypt, following a war with IsraelSix-Day WarThe Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...
; it becomes the front line during the ensuing War of AttritionWar of AttritionThe international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...
and the 1973 war, remaining closed to international shipping, until general agreementSinai Interim AgreementThe Sinai Interim Agreement, also known as the Sinai II Agreement, was a diplomatic agreement signed by Egypt and Israel on September 4, 1975...
- 1 January 2008 — New rules of navigation passed on by the Suez Canal Authority come into force.
Presidents of the Suez Canal Company (1858–1956)Before nationalisation:
- Ferdinand de LessepsFerdinand de LessepsFerdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps, GCSI was the French developer of the Suez Canal, which joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas in 1869, and substantially reduced sailing distances and times between the West and the East.He attempted to repeat this success with an effort to build a sea-level...
(15 December 1858 – 7 December 1894)
- Jules Guichard (17 December 1892 – 17 July 1896) (acting for de Lesseps to 7 December 1894)
- Auguste-Louis-Albéric, prince d'ArenbergAuguste-Louis-Albéric, prince d'ArenbergAuguste-Louis-Albéric, prince d'Arenberg was a French noble and monarchist politician, born in Paris. Third son of Pierre d'Alcantara Charles Marie, duc d'Arenberg and Alix de Talleyrand-Périgord, he inherited his father's title because of his older brothers' premature deaths.He was noted for his...
(3 August 1896–1913)
- Charles JonnartCharles JonnartCharles Célestin Auguste Jonnart was a French politician.Born into a bourgeois family in Fléchin, Pas-de-Calais, Charles Jonnart was educated at Saint-Omer, then in Paris. Interested in the Algeria that he had visited as a young man, he was appointed in 1881 by Léon Gambetta to the office of...
(19 May 1913–1927)
- Louis de Vogüé (4 April 1927 – 1 March 1948)
- François Charles-Roux (4 April 1948 – 26 July 1956)
Chairmen of the Suez Canal Authority (1956–present)Since nationalisation:
- DoctorDoctor (title)Doctor, as a title, originates from the Latin word of the same spelling and meaning. The word is originally an agentive noun of the Latin verb docēre . It has been used as an honored academic title for over a millennium in Europe, where it dates back to the rise of the university. This use spread...
Mohamed Helmy Bahgat Badawy (26 July 1956 – 9 July 1957)
- EngineerEngineerAn engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...
Mahmoud Younis (10 July 1957 – 10 October 1965)
- Engineer Mashhour Ahmed MashhourMashhour Ahmed MashhourEngineer Mashhour Ahmed Mashhour was the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority - Birth :...
(14 October 1965 – 31 December 1983)
- Engineer Mohamed Ezzat Adel (1 January 1984 – December 1995)
- AdmiralAdmiralAdmiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...
Ahmed Ali Fadel (22 January 1996 – present)
- SuezSuez (film)Suez is a 1938 film account of the building of the Suez Canal by Ferdinand de Lesseps, played by Tyrone Power. It was so highly fictionalized that de Lesseps' descendants sued for libel....
, a film made in 1938, starred Tyrone PowerTyrone PowerTyrone Edmund Power, Jr. , usually credited as Tyrone Power and known sometimes as Ty Power, was an American film and stage actor who appeared in dozens of films from the 1930s to the 1950s, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads such as in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan,...
as de Lesseps and Loretta YoungLoretta YoungLoretta Young was an American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953...
as a love interest. An epic, it is very loosely based on history.
- The Suez Canal appears in the 1962 film Lawrence of ArabiaLawrence of Arabia (film)Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely...
, where it marks the end of T. E. LawrenceT. E. LawrenceLieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...
's march across the Sinai PeninsulaSinai PeninsulaThe Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...
to report to his superiors in CairoCairoCairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...
- The Suez CrisisSuez CrisisThe Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...
is mentioned in the 1989 hit song "We Didn't Start the FireWe Didn't Start the Fire"We Didn't Start the Fire" is a song by Billy Joel. Its lyrics are made up from rapid-fire brief allusions to over a hundred headline events between March 1949 and 1989, when the song was released on his album Storm Front...
" by Billy JoelBilly JoelWilliam Martin "Billy" Joel is an American musician and pianist, singer-songwriter, and classical composer. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man", in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States, according to...
- Michael PalinMichael PalinMichael Edward Palin, CBE FRGS is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries....
visited the Suez Canal in 1988 as part of his TV adventure series, Around the World in 80 DaysMichael Palin: Around the World in 80 DaysAround the World in 80 Days is a BBC television travel series first broadcast in 1989. It was presented by comedian and actor Michael Palin. The show was inspired by Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days, in which a character named Phileas Fogg accepts a wager to...
- The Suez Canal is also a map in the game Battlefield 2142Battlefield 2142Battlefield 2142 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Digital Illusions CE and produced by Electronic Arts . It is the fourth game in the Battlefield series...
- The idea of the Suez Canal is mentioned in the Asterix comic book series, Asterix and CleopatraAsterix and CleopatraAsterix and Cleopatra is the sixth book in the Asterix comic book series by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. It was first published in serial form in Pilote magazine, issues 215-257, in 1963.-Synopsis:...
by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. It was first published in serial form in Pilote magazine, issues 215–257, in 1963. On page 47, Asterix offers the future assistance of the Gaulish people should Egypt consider a passage linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. This offer is taken up 1,900 years later.
- In Jules Verne's novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus travels through an underwater passage beneath the Suez Canal.
- On an episode of the TV series GleeGlee (TV series)Glee is an American musical comedy-drama television series that airs on Fox in the United States, and on GlobalTV in Canada. It focuses on the high school glee club New Directions competing on the show choir competition circuit, while its members deal with relationships, sexuality and social issues...
, Sue SylvesterSue SylvesterSusan "Sue" Sylvester is a fictional character of the Fox musical comedy-drama series, Glee. The character is portrayed by actress Jane Lynch, and has appeared in Glee from its pilot episode, first broadcast on May 19, 2009. Sue was developed by Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian...
(Jane LynchJane LynchJane Marie Lynch is an American comedian, actress and singer. She gained fame in Christopher Guest's improv mockumentary pictures such as Best in Show and is currently best known for playing the role of Sue Sylvester in the television series Glee...
) claims she was a sniper and an aid to the storming of the Suez Canal.
- Sailors that are aboard a U.S. Navy ship while it transits the full length of the Suez canal are deemed part of the "Safari to SuezLine-crossing ceremonyThe ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. Originally, the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates...
- Panama CanalPanama CanalThe Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...
- Pharaoh (historical novelHistorical novelAccording to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...
by Bolesław Prus, incorporating motifs of an ancient Suez Canal)
- Britannica (2007) "Suez Canal", in: The new Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th ed., 28, Chicago, Ill. ; London : Encyclopædia Britannica, ISBN 1-59339-292-3
- 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, ISBN 1-4020-0837-6, p. 325–336
- Garrison, Ervan G. (1999) A history of engineering and technology : artful methods, 2nd ed., Boca Raton, Fla. ; London : CRC Press, ISBN 0-8493-9810-X
- Oster, Uwe (2006) Le fabuleux destin des inventions : le canal de Suez, TV documentary produced by ZDFZDFZweites Deutsches Fernsehen , ZDF, is a public-service German television broadcaster based in Mainz . It is run as an independent non-profit institution, which was founded by the German federal states . The ZDF is financed by television licence fees called GEZ and advertising revenues...
and directed by Axel Engstfeld (Germany)
- Sanford, Eva Matthews (1938) The Mediterranean world in ancient times, Ronald series in history, New York : The Ronald Press Company, 618 p.
- The suez canal official government website
- Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions
- Constantinople Convention of the Suez Canal, 1888
- Encyclopedia of the Orient: Suez Canal
- Entrance of the Suez Canal – 1882
- Plan of the Suez Canal – 1882
- Suez Canal Container Terminal at Port Said
- Suez Canal Photos
- Opening of the Suez Canal, 1869
- Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law Peace Palace Library
- Suez Canal article on Howstuffworks