Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spotlight on Suez Canal

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is a 101 mile strip of water connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez  a northern branch of the Red Sea.  This canal was originally planned by Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 1700s.  He believed that a canal on the Isthmus of Suez would either cause the British to pay the French to use the canal or continue there slow methods of travel, such as going around Africa by sea or cross across the land.  However, calculations predicted the canal to be impossible to make and use.  Therefore the project was scrapped.  The Universal Suez Ship Canal Company brought back the idea of a canal connecting the two bodies of water and construction began on April 25, 1859.  The company would build and control the canal for 99 years after which time the canal would be given to the country of Egypt.  The canal opened on November 17, 1869 and immediately began moving goods in record time.  Over the next years the canal was be traded hands between Egypt and Great Britain causing serious turmoil, but in 1888 a treaty was enacted allowing all countries to use the canal. Interestingly, in 1948, Egypt prohibited the use of the Canal by the country of Israel.  Furthermore, Egypt nationalized control of the canal and attached a fee for all countries, and after facing opposition from countries who felt they were violating the 1888 treaty, the country sunk 40 ships in the canal to prevent the use of the canal all together.  This was known as the Suez Crisis, but in 1956 the United Nations interceded and help develop an agreement between the feuding countries, opening up the canal for trade once more.  However, in 1962 Egypt finished payments on the canal to the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company and the canal became the rightful property of the country of Egypt  who currently controls the canal today.  The Suez Canal Authority currently maintains the canal which takes between 11 and 16 hours to travel.  In modern day the canal is still significant as it provides passage for approximately 50 ships a day, supporting 8% of the worlds shipping traffic.  The Suez Canal opened for transport in 1869 and still remains one of the world's most significant water ways as the canal dramatically reduces shipping time across the world.     

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