The Suez Canal, sometimes called the Highway to India, is the link between Europe, Africa, and Asia, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. A man-made waterway, the Suez Canal is a work of impressive engineering that has facilitated international commerce since its opening in 1869. A sum of $100 million was spent in the construction of the canal. This single-lane canal features two passing areas viz. the Ballah by-pass and the Great Bitter Lake.
Before the canal was constructed, cargo ships had to travel around the southern tip of Africa to make the journey from Europe to Asia, or goods had to be transported overland. The waterway is controlled by Egypt, but is under an international treaty so that its usage is shared. The Suez Canal takes on more traffic and larger ships than the Panama Canal. It also dramatically reduces the transit time by being the shortest route between Europe and Asia.
The Suez Canal is called Qanat as-Suways in Arabic. Being one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, the canal has become one of the most essential waterways in the world. The sea-water flows freely from this lock-free passage. The Suez Canal Authority of Egypt owns and maintains the canal.
To make the canal safe, the banks of the canal are supported with barriers to protect the canal against the wash and waves due to frequent ship transit. The ships move slowly in the canal to prevent soil erosion. The perfect way to see the canal is by boat or cruise.
Waterfront Quarter, Military Museum, De Lesseps’ House, Ismailia Museum, Suez Canal House, Lake Timsah and Garden of the Stelae are some interesting places at the canal.
Update: The investment minister recently declared that Egypt will nail down a tender for the development of the Suez Canal by the end of November 2013.
Suez Canal Map
Facts about Suez Canal
- The Suez Canal was opened in November 1869.
- Today (after expansion projects), the Suez Canal measures 193.3 kilometers (120.11 miles) long and 205 meters (674 feet) wide, and about 24 meters (79 feet) deep.
Where is Suez Canal?
The Suez Canal is located in Egypt, stretching from Port Said to Port Tawfiq in Suez. As the canal is close to 200 kilometers long, it is not often traveled by tourists and can be seen at various points along the way. Alternatively, cruises do travel down the Suez Canal for a more complete experience. Otherwise, a good place to view the canal is at the Friendship Bridge, where it can be crossed near Port Said or Ismalia.
Best time to visit Suez Canal
Egypt’s high season is during winter, from December to February, when the temperatures are cool, though near the waters of the Suez Canal the temperatures are mild.
More on Suez Canal
Nearby attractions:Cairo, Great Pyramids of Giza, and Alexandria.