The Suez Canal
The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said to the Red Sea at Suez Port. Although attempts to build a canal linking these two seas goes back to Ancient Egypt, the modern canal was constructed between 1859 and 1869. It was the brainchild of French developer Ferdinand de Lesseps and engineer Linant de Bellefonds. They the Suez Canal Company and gained the right to operate the canal on a ninety-nine-year lease from the Egyptian government. Nearly 30,000 Egyptians worked as laborers and it believed that thousands died in the harsh working conditions. The British had initially opposed the construction, fearing that it would threaten their connection to India. However, when the Egyptian government fell into financial difficulties in the 1870s, the British bought up their shares in the Company. Ultimately able to gain a protectorate over the Canal and eventually Egypt itself – one that lasted until the Egyptian government nationalized the Canal in the 1950s.
Unlike many other canals, the Suez Canal contains no locks. This was achieved because the elevation at Port Said and Suez are roughly equal. In 2015, the Canal was enhanced with the opening of the New Suez Canal, which two-way traffic cargo traffic to pass through the center of the Isthmus between Suez Canal Bridge and Small Bitter Lake. On average, some 1400 vessels pass through the Canal each month and roughly 45 each day.