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The Suez Canal | Travel News

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There are artificial canals that human beings have built all over the world which are world famous. One of them is the Suez Canal. In today’s article we will focus on the second, the african channel which revolutionized the commercial history of the region and the world.

the suez canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and is often seen as the border between Asia and Africa. The story of how it was imagined and built is not without controversy and political strife, but human ingenuity ended in success.

the suez canal

This artificial channel, a channel at sea levelwas built in the middle of the 19th century open a direct route between the North Atlantic and the Indian Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Red Seaavoiding bypassing the Atlantic and the southern part of the Indian Ocean, thus reducing travel time by thousands of kilometres.

The canal it starts in Port Said and ends in Port Tewfik in the city of Suez. Walk a little more 193 thousand kilometers and it has access channels to the north and south. The original route consisted of a single waterway, without locks, with sea water and crossing points at Ballah and Grand Bittler Lake.

In the 19th century, the great European empires still held power in Africa, so the United Kingdom and France hadthey were for many years, until after the Second World War, in the midst of the decolonization process, the president of Egypt at that time, Nasser, decided to nationalize it. Obviously, he couldn’t do it without conflict, but it was finally done.

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From then on, and with the signing of a treaty, it was decided that the canal would always be used, in times of peace and war, by any ship, of any type, without distinction of flag. If you see a map of Africa, you surely understand how important the canal is for the conflicts in the region.

Few years ago, in 2014, Egypt began the task of expanding the Ballah pass of 35 kilometers to make traffic faster and perhaps even double the capacity of the canal in terms of the number of ships that can pass per day. It was completed and the works were inaugurated a year later. In addition, in 2016 a new side channel was opened.

But is this the first time humans have built something similar? No. It seems that already in the time of ancient Egypt there was an intention to facilitate the journey from the Nile to the Red Sea. Thus, it is believed that they built a small canal, possibly at the time of Ramses II and later by Darius, the Persian king.

The Ottomans also considered it, as early as the 16th century, already wanting to connect the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, with the desire to connect Constantinople to trade and pilgrimage routes.

However, it was very expensive, so not much came out of the papers. During the French campaign in Egypt in Napoleon He became interested in the remains of an ancient canal, then French cartographers and archaeologists wandered throughout the region. to be emperor showed more interest in building a canal but building doors made the work more expensive and also added a lot of time, so the idea was eventually dropped.

Sure, the idea came and went in the minds of many people over time until it came to fruition. Eventually things got serious and it was decided to build it. East was financed by the Suez Canal Company, union of several companies based in Paris. At first, 52% of the shares were in the hands of France and 44% in the hands of Egypt, but later this country sold them to the United Kingdom.

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The canal It was built on the Isthmus of Suez, a geologically fairly recent land bridge between Africa and Asia. We know that before the two continents were only one mass and that between 66 and 2.6 million years ago a huge fault developed separating them. It is not a uniform isthmushas three water-filled depressions which are the Lake Manzalathe Lake Timsah and the Bitter lakes.

The isthmus is made up of marine sediments, sand and gravel that were deposited during periods of heavy rain or arrived by the Nile or brought by the flying sands of the desert. Here the construction of the canal was decided, works that took place between 1859 and 1869. Ten years of excavations with workers who worked hardmany of whom ended up dying.

It was not a project that aroused much hope at the start and which complicated the sale of the shares. But in the hands of the Rothchild family, famous bankers, the shares, at least in France, ended up selling like hotcakes. Meanwhile, the UK was skeptical and critical of the use of near-slave labour.

Ultimately, the Suez Canal opened in November 1869 with a ceremony in Port Said that included fireworks, a banquet and aristocrats. as expected At first, the channel experienced technical but also financial difficulties. since the costs had exploded a little. Also, traffic didn’t really start to grow until two years later, so at that time, uncertainty persisted.

But beyond all the problems and speculations, the truth is that the Suez Canal was extremely important in the contact between nations. At this time the channel was a single lane approximately 8 meters deep and 22 meters wide at the bottom and between 61 and 912 meters wide at the surface. To allow the passage of ships on either side, passage bays were built every eight or ten kilometers.

It was small very quickly so around 1876 they started new work to make it wider and deeper. In the 1960s, the channel had a minimum width of 55 meters at the bottom and 10 meters on the banks, and a depth of 12 meters at low tide. Passage bays were also enlarged and more were built in the lakes, with concrete and steel structures to prevent erosion.

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Later plans were complicated by the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, days when the canal was blocked despite the agreement signed long ago. the suez canal remained inactive until 1975 and as we have already said, in 2015, Egypt completed new remains to increase capacity: 29 kilometers more than its original 164.

Finally, I leave you some information:

  • In 1870, 486 ships passed through it, less than two a day.
  • In 1966, an average of 21,250 ships transited there, or about 58 per day.
  • In 2018, 18,174 boats passed through it.
  • The original channel was not a two-way channel, so ships had to stop and go, go and stop. They then took around 40 hours to pass, but by 1939 that time had been reduced to 13 hours. At the end of the 1940s the convoys were set up and in the 1970s the time was already between 11 and 16 hours,
  • The nature of the loads has changed a lot and especially in the 20th century, oil and crude oil are kings. Coal, metals, wood, seeds and grains, cement, fertilizers are added.
  • Although passenger ships have still passed since the 1940s, their numbers are much lower due to competition from aircraft.
  • Today, you can make excursions from Cairo or Port Said, by cruise ship.

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