Did you know Egypt is responsible for one of the world’s most prosperous marine routes? Linking the East to the West, the man-made Suez Canal persists as a staple construct in international trade. Stretching 120 miles from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea down to the city of Suez, the canal took ten years to build and officially opened on the 19th of November, 1869.
This extraordinary achievement thus revolutionised trade, connecting the North Atlantic directly to the Indian Ocean. To learn more about this wonder of a waterway, here are five facts about the Suez Canal:
1. The Suez Canal dates back to ancient Egypt
Coined as the “Canal of the Pharaohs”, it was thought that the ancient waterway wound through the desert to the Nile River, and from there to the Mediterranean Sea. Aristotle depicted Pharaoh Senusret III as officiator of a canal that connected the Red Sea and the Nile River around 1850 B.C. A range of sources also illustrates Pharaoh Necho II and Persian conqueror Darius the Great having worked on the same route. Nonetheless, the Canal of the Pharaohs is often credited as the forerunner of the Suez Canal.
2. The Statue of Liberty was meant for the Suez Canal
Yes, you read that right. Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi intended New York’s Statue of Liberty to guard the Suez Canal. The sculpture would have taken the form of an Egyptian woman who embodied “Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia”. However, the statue was too expensive to erect leading, Bartholdi to America.
3. Napoleon Bonaparte contemplated building the Suez Canal
Napoleon and his team of engineers were actually the first to discover evidence of the ancient canal in Egypt. However, incorrect measurements meant that his idea of reconstruction never came to fruition.
4. The Suez Canal triggered a global crisis
In March 2021, Ever Given, a huge container ship, became wedged across the Suez Canal in the midst of strong winds. As it blocked over 300 hundred ships along with it, Ever Given disrupted global trade, costing nearly $400 million in cargo every hour! The blockage lasted a total of 6 days.
5. Today, the Suez Canal makes more than $15 million a day (2020)
In the first quarter of 2022, Egypt reported an astounding revenue of $1.69 billion. This is higher than the revenue recorded in 2021 for the same period. The Suez Canal’s future looks promising as it aims to break previous records, targeting a total revenue of $7 billion by the end of 2022!
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