5 Fascinating Facts About Egypt’s Suez Canal

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:

Suez Canal facts

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.

Suez Canal facts 2

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.

Suez Statue of liberty

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.

Suez crises

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!

Facts about Suez Canal

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FAQs About Suez Canal

What is the history of the Suez Canal?

The origins of the Suez Canal date back to ancient Egypt, with mentions of early canals built by Pharaohs, including Senusret III around 1850 B.C.

Did Napoleon Bonaparte consider building the Suez Canal?

Yes, after conquering Egypt in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte explored the idea of building the Suez Canal, but the project was abandoned due to incorrect survey calculations.

Why was the British government opposed to the construction of the Suez Canal?

The British government opposed the canal’s construction as they saw it as a threat to their dominance in global shipping routes and economic interests.

How was the Suez Canal constructed?

The construction involved a combination of forced peasant labor and state-of-the-art machinery. Initially, peasants worked manually, but machinery, including steam- and coal-powered shovels, was later employed for faster progress.

Was the Statue of Liberty originally intended for the Suez Canal?

Yes, French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi proposed building a statue, “Egypt Bringing Light to Asia,” at the Mediterranean entrance of the Suez Canal. The idea didn’t materialize, and the statue became the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Did Ferdinand de Lesseps attempt to build the Panama Canal after the Suez Canal?

Yes, Ferdinand de Lesseps attempted to build the Panama Canal, but the project faced numerous challenges, leading to its failure, scandal, and legal convictions for fraud.

What role did the Suez Canal play in the Cold War-era crisis?

In 1956, the Suez Canal was at the center of the Suez Crisis, a conflict between Egypt and the combined forces of Britain, France, and Israel. The crisis resulted in the canal coming under Egyptian control.

Were ships stranded in the Suez Canal during the Six Day War?

During the Six Day War in 1967, the Suez Canal was closed, and 15 international shipping vessels, known as the “Yellow Fleet,” remained stranded in the canal for over eight years.

When did the Suez Canal undergo a major overhaul?

The Suez Canal underwent a major overhaul in 2015, with the construction of a new parallel canal to accommodate two-way traffic and modern tanker ships.

What major incident caused disruptions in the Suez Canal in 2021?

In March 2021, the container ship Ever Given ran aground, blocking the Suez Canal and causing significant disruptions to global commerce for nearly a

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