“Even in ancient times, people dreamed of a water passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.”
The Suez route was never more than an idea until the 19th century. Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in 1798 raised the possibility of a canal once again, since it would shorten the route to India, but his time in Egypt was short and nothing was done. Finally, a half century later, a workable plan was submitted.
The formal opening of the canal was in 1869 after 10 years of construction. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that altogether more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that thousands of labourers died on the project.
The first ship to pass through the canal was a French one, followed by a procession of 68 ships from many nations with much fanfare.
The canal was defended during both World Wars, but continued feuding over the canal company led to the Suez Crisis in 1956 when troops from Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt. The canal was closed between the two Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973. The channel was blocked by mines, trapped ships and artillery fire. It was not until Henry Kissinger worked out a truce that the canal was cleared and re-opened with help from the US.
As of 2010, the canal is 120 miles long, 79 feet deep, and 673 feet wide. It is a single lane with two passing places.
Here we are heading up to the Suez Canal.