The History of Suez Canal - Biggest Man-Made Canal


The Suez Canal has become one of the major paths that connect Egypt with the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Red Sea. This canal is also the one that separates Africa and Asia. 

The Suez Canal has provided a direct path for many ships to move, especially from the North Atlantic going through to the Red Sea without going to the South Atlantic Ocean and South India. This will provide a much shorter distance from the Arabic Ocean to Europe by 8900km or 8 - 10 days. 

This specific canal is crucial to the economies of many countries due to this role. Not just that but there have also been many conflicts that arise ever since it was open back in 1869. 

One thing that you all will remember is the ship owned by a Japanese company or some might call it "Evergreen" was stuck here before and caused a blockage that prevents hundreds of ships to pass through. This particular canal is the longest canal in the world without locks.

Who Built the Suez Canal?

In the early stages, this canal was owned by the French investors who is in control of Egypt at the time under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The construction started at the Said Port in early 1859 and digging took place for 10 years. 
This project requires an estimate of 1.5 million workers for it to be completed. According to recorded history, 20000 new workers were taken every 10 months towards building this canal. Due to harsh working environments, a lot of the workers ended up dead due to various diseases including Cholera. 

The instability of the politics in Egypt fighting with the British colonials and the French have slowed down the process of building this canal, not to mention increasing the cost over time. The cost of this project is almost double than the initial expectation which was only $50 million. 

Conflicts Arise in Suez Canal

Despite this canal being owned by the Egyptian government, many European stakeholders consisting of the French and English owned the company's concession that operated until 1956 during the nationalization of President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

This has resulted in the Suez crisis during October - November 1956.  After a few negotiations with Egypt for a few years, finally the British agreed to move their colonization and let go of their power to the country in the year 1956. 

The power was then given back to the rightful ruler of Egypt, President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egypt has once closed this canal a decade ago during the Israel-Arab War 1967 since the water was the front line between Israel's and Egypt's army. 

Fourteen cargo ships which were known as the "Yellow Armada" got caught in this canal until it was reopened in 1975 by Anwar el-Sadat who replaced the previous ruler.

Ship Breaking Down and Became Dormant
Ever since it was reopened, there have been many accidents that have occurred on Suez Canal which includes ships breaking down to the extent that it causes problems for other cargo ships to pass by.

In 2004, the Suez Canal has been closed for 4 days due to a problem with one of the Russian oil ships. However, in the beginning, this canal was built mainly for smaller ships until it was further expanded by the Egyptian government in 2014 so that the canal can fit much bigger ships. 

The project of expansion started to make the Ballah Bypass bigger for as far as 35km to expedite the transit time in this canal. By doing this, it has increased the capacity of the Suez Canal to fit 49 to 97 ships in one day. 

This definitely did not come cheap as the cost was $9 billion.

Evergreen Stranded on the Suez Canal
The Evergreen ship that got stuck in the canal has caused a sensation worldwide and since it is the biggest cargo ship in the world and it has a length similar to that of the Empire State Building.

Bad weather has caused poor vision, as well as the strong wind, which had made the ship move sideways taking the ship out of its course. The ship then got stranded there simply as the end of the ship was stuck on the edge of the canal which has a shallow depth.

The rescuers have taken many attempts to move the ship by pulling it using a tugboat, digging underneath the ship, and some other methods. But due to how heavy the ship was this effort seems meaningless and pointless.

Some experts believed that they may have to hope for the rise of tides to make the ship float higher so that it will be easier to move the Evergreen ship. 

If this was not handled as soon as possible other ship owners might take drastic action by changing their course going through Africa which will take a much longer time due to the distance and consequently increasing the price of the goods being carried.

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