5 things you didn’t know about the Suez Canal
By Nina Awad, 2015
On Nov. 17, 1869, the historic Suez Canal officially started operating and forever changed international shipping by allowing vessels to sail through 101 mile long waterway. The Suez Canal took a little more than 15 years to be planned and built. The construction was repeatedly interrupted by political disputes, shortages in laborers and a cholera outbreak.
Check out these fascinating facts about the Suez Canal.
1. The idea of a canal originated from ancient Egypt
According to History In The Headlines, the Suez Canal is one of the most recent of multiple man-made waterways in Egypt. Senusret III, an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, reportedly built a canal to connect the Red Sea and the Nile River in 1850 B.C. Another Egyptian Pharaoh, Necho II, and the Persian conqueror Darius began and later abandoned work on a similar project.
2. The British were against constructing the Suez Canal
The planning for the Suez Canal started in 1854 when Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French diplomat, was in talks of an agreement with Egyptian viceroy to create the Suez Canal Company. With the proposal backed and supported by French Emperor Napoleon III, British politicians thought of it as a political scheme created to undermine their dominance of global shipping.Throughout the construction of the Suez Canal, the British government continued to publicly scrutinize the project. However, it later bought a 44 percent stake in the waterway in 1875 after the Egyptian government auctioned its shares.
3. The Suez crisis
In the 1950s, the Egyptian government was trying to establish a way to finance the Aswan High Dam. Both the U.S. and the U.K. initially gave their support. However, in July 1956, both countries withdrew their support leaving the Egyptian government no option but to seize and nationalize the Suez Canal. On October 29th, 1956, Israel invaded Egypt followed by Britain and France on ground. As a response, Egypt shut down the canal by intentionally sinking 40 vessels.
The Suez Crisis came to an end in November 1956 when the UN negotiated a truce between the four countries and the Suez Canal reopened in March 1957.
4. Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to consider constructing it
During his conquest of Egypt in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a team of researchers to estimate the feasibility of cutting the Isthmus of Suez and building a canal that ran from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. After four excursions in the region, the team of surveyors made miscalculations and explained that the Red Sea was 30 feet higher than the Mediterranean. Meaning, any attempt to create a canal in that area would result in horrific flooding across the Nile Delta. Following these miscalculations, Napoleon dismissed the project.
5. New York’s Statue of Liberty was initially created for the Suez Canal
French sculptor, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, attempted to convince Ferdinand de Lesseps and the Egyptian government to allow him to a build a 90 ft statue of woman dressed in Egyptian peasant clothes while holding a massive torch. The sculpture, which was called “Egypt Bringing Light To Asia,” was also going to serve as a lighthouse as means to guide ships and vessels into the canal. However, this massive project never materialized but Bartholdi never gave up on his idea and thus in 1886, he unveiled the massive sculpture in New York and called it “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
Source: https://stepfeed. com/5-things-you-didn-t-know-about-the-suez-canal-1087