Globalization and The Suez Crisis

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened, linking the Mediterranean Sea with which other body of water?

And the answer is: the Red Sea.

Often considered as the unofficial border between Africa and Asia, the Suez Canal runs through Egypt and took ten years to build. The United Kingdom and France owned the canal until July 1956, when the President of Egypt nationalized it, leading to the Suez Crisis of 1956.

Interestingly, work on connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean began far before the 20th century. It is said that several ancient pharaohs actually attempted to dig a series of canals to connect the two waterways, but altitude and practicality rendered the attempts unsuccessful. It wasn't until 19th century technology cleared the way for construction that creation of canal was actually fruitful. It opened officially in 1869 and quickly became a monumental improvement to shipping between Europe and Asia, as circumnavigating the continent of Africa no longer became necessary.

The site has since been the subject of several intense clashes of world power. In 1888, the Convention of Constantinople declared the Suez Canal a neutral zone under the protection of the British, who were occupying Egypt and nearby Sudan. It wasn't until 1956 that British influence over the Canal began to waver. After relinquishing control to the Egyptian Government, the British and other major European powers such as France and Israel were outraged when Egyptian President Nasser moved to nationalize the canal and close another major waterway. As the likelihood of conflict escalated, the U.N. dispatched peacekeeping troops into the area and controlled the situation for a decade to come. This Suez Crisis was a culmination of decades of rising tension between a colonized nation and the desire for ultimate economic profit.

Today, the Suez Canal remains a necessary pathway of trade and shipping. More than 300 million tons of goods are moved through the area each year.


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