Suez Canal

Historical Notes

It is historically recorded that Egypt was the first country to dig a man-made canal across its lands to connect the Mediterranean sea to the Red sea via the River Nile and its branches, and the first who dug it was Senausert III, Pharaoh of Egypt (1874 B.C.). This canal was abandoned to silting and reopened several times as follows:

- The Canal of Sity I 1310 B.C.
- The Canal of Nkhaw 61 B.C.
- The Canal of Darius I 510 B.C.
- The Canal of Ptolemy III 285 B.C.
- The canal of the Romans (Emperor Trajan) 117 B.C.
- The canal of Amir El Moemeneen 640 A.D.


- The Suez Canal is actually the first canal directly linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It was opened for international navigation on 17 November 1869.
- Egypt nationalized its canal on 26 July 1956.
- The canal was closed five times, the last time was for 8 years (1967-1975) and was reopened in 1975

  • Advantages of the Suez Canal:
    - Longest canal in the world with no locks.
    - Compared with other waterways, the percentage of accidents is almost nil.
    - Navigation goes day and night.
    - Liable to be widened and deepened when required to cope with the expansion in ship sizes.
    • Trade route saving:
      The geographical position of the Suez Canal makes it the shortest route between East and West as compared to the "Cape of Good Hope". The Canal route achieves a saving in distance between the ports north and south the Canal, the matter that is translated into other savings in time, fuel consumption and ship operating costs as shown in the table below:

From To Distance (N. Miles) Saving%
S.C. Cape
Ras Tanura Constantza 4,144 12,094 66
Lavera 4,684 10,783 57
Rotterdam 6,436 11,169 42
New York 8,281 11,794 30
Jeddah Piraeus 1,320 11,207 88
Liverpool 3,902 10,702 63.5
Bombay Rotterdam 6,337 10,743 41
Marseille 4,558 10,362 56
Shanghahai Genoa 8,670 13,619 36.3
  • Saving In Distance (Suez Canal & Cape)
  • Characteristics of the current canal:
Overall Length 193 Km
From the fairway buoy to Port Said lighthouse 22.5 Km
From the waiting area to the southern entrance 15 Km
From Port Said to Ismailia 78.5 Km
From Ismailia to Port Tawfik 83.65 Km
The length of doubled parts 86 Km
Width at water level 300/365 m
Width between buoys 180/205 m
Maximum permissible draught for ships 68 ft.
The canal depth 21 m
Maximum permissible air draft 68 m
Cross sectional area 4500/4800 m2

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