Suez Canal

In which country is the Suez Canal located?

And the answer: Egypt.

Located in Egypt, the Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, and serves as a dividing line between Africa and Asia. Opening in 1869, the canal helped to boost international trade by dramatically reducing shipping times between Europe and Asia.

Image: Britannica.com.

The Suez Canal has a longstanding history of trade along the line which divides two vast regions of the world. Interestingly, its origins date back to ancient Egypt. The Egyptian Pharaoh Senusret III may have built an early canal connecting the Red Sea and the Nile River around 1850 BCE, and according to ancient sources, the Pharaoh Necho II and the Persian conqueror Darius both began and then abandoned work on a similar project. Evidently, domain for this waterway was in high demand throughout history, as Napoleon Bonaparte also considered constructing it centuries later. However, due to some faulty surveyor calculations, it wasn't until the 19th century that the canal became a feasible reality.

Photo credit: public domain. 

In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French former diplomat, negotiated an agreement to begin work on this link between the Eastern and Western world. However, since Lesseps’ proposed canal had the support of the French Emperor Napoleon III, many British statesmen considered its construction a political scheme designed to undermine their dominance of global shipping. It wasn't until the Egyptian government auctioned off their shares in 1875 that the Brits got on board with the idea (pun intended). After buying 44% stake in the waterway, the project's significance began to take hold in the United Kingdom.

Did you know?  

The Statue of Liberty was originally intended for the Suez Canal! French artist Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi tried to convince Ferdinand de Lesseps and the Egyptian government to let him build a sculpture titled Egypt Bringing Light to Asia at its Mediterranean entrance. However, the idea didn't stick until it was introduced to the United States some years later.


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