DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On this day...On November 17, 1869 at a cost of $100 million the Suez Canal opened. The construction officially began ten years earlier on April 25, 1859.
In an effort to dramatically reduce transit time for trade worldwide the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was formed in 1858. They were given the right to begin construction of the canal and operate it for 99 years, after which time, the Egyptian government would take over control of the canal. At it’s founding, the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was owned by French and Egyptian interests. In 1962, Egypt made its final payments for the canal to its original owners and thereafter took full control of the Suez Canal.
The canal itself is 101 miles (163 km) long and 984 feet (300 m) wide. It begins at the Mediterranean Sea at Point Said flows through Ismailia in Egypt, and ends at Suez on the Gulf of Suez. It also has a railroad running its entire length parallel to its west bank. The Suez Canal can accommodate ships with a vertical height (draft) of 62 feet (19 m) or 210,000 deadweight tons. Most of the Suez Canal is not wide enough for two ships to pass side by side. To accommodate this, there is one shipping lane and several passing bays where ships can wait for others to pass.
The canal is considered a significant geographic chokepoint because it could easily be blocked and disrupt the flow of trade. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it was closed several times because of conflicts between Egypt and Israel.
Because it supports 8% of the world's shipping traffic, the Suez Canal is considered one of the world's most significant waterways. Approximately 50 ships pass through the canal daily. Future plans for the Suez Canal include a project to widen and deepen the canal to accommodate the passage of more ships and larger ships at the same time.