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Suez Canal

Suez Canal (Arabic: قناة السويس, Qanā al-Suways), located west of the Sinai Peninsula, has a length of 163 kilometers.

The canal is located in Egypt between Port Said (Būr Sa’īd) on the Mediterranean Sea and Suez (al-Suways) on the Red Sea.

On the east side of the canal opposite Port Said is Port Fuad (Bur Fuad), where the Suez Canal Administration is located. On the east side of the canal opposite Suez is Port Taufik (Bur Taufik).The canal (in the area of ​​Crocodile Lake (Timsah)) is the third largest city in Egypt and the largest industrial center – Ismailia. The canal allows water transport to pass in both directions between Europe and Asia without rounding Africa. Before the opening of the canal, transportation was carried out by unloading ships and land transportation between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas.

The canal consists of two parts – north and south of the Big Gorky Lake, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea.

Today it is the main budget-forming project of Egypt. According to some experts, the canal gives the country even more money than oil production, and much more than currently allows the rapidly developing tourism infrastructure in the country.
Perhaps even during the Twelfth Dynasty, Pharaoh Senusert III (1878 BC – 1839 BC) laid a canal from west to east, dug through the Wadi Tumilat, connecting the Nile to the Red Sea, for unhindered trade with Punt.

The canal was completed around 500 BC by King Darius the First, the Persian conqueror of Egypt. In memory of this event, Darius erected granite steles on the banks of the Nile, including one near Carbet, 130 kilometers from Pie.


More than a thousand years have passed before the next attempt to dig a channel. At the end of the 18th century, Napoleon Bonaparte, while in Egypt, was considering the possibility of building a canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
The project was closed after an erroneous conclusion by French researchers that the waters of the Red Sea were above the level of the Mediterranean Sea, which did not allow building a canal without locks.

In 1855, Ferdinand de Lesseps received concessions from Said Pasha, the Viceroy of Egypt, whom de Lesseps met as a French diplomat in the 1830s.
Said Pasha approved the creation of the company for the construction of the sea channel, open to ships of all countries, according to the plans of the Austrian engineer Alois Negrelli.

In the same 1855, Lesseps achieved the ratification of the firman by the Turkish Sultan, but only in 1859 was he able to establish a company in Paris. Its fixed capital amounted to 200 million francs. (Lesseps calculated all the costs of the enterprise), divided into 400 thousand shares of 500 francs. each; a significant part of them subscribed Said Pasha.
In the same year, work began. The English government, and led by Palmerston, fearing that the Suez Canal would lead to the liberation of Egypt from Turkish rule and to weakening or losing England’s dominance over India, put all kinds of obstacles in the way of the venture, but had to give way to Lesseps’ energy , especially since his enterprise was patronized by Napoleon III and Said Pasha, and then (since 1863) his heir, Ismail Pasha.

Technical difficulties were enormous. I had to work under the scorching sun, in a sandy desert, completely devoid of fresh water. At first, the company was supposed to use up to 1600 camels only to deliver water to workers; but by 1863 she had finished a small fresh-water canal from the Nile, going in approximately the same direction as the ancient canals (the remains of which were used in some places), and intended not for shipping, but only for delivering fresh water – first to the workers, then to the settlements that were to arise along the channel.

This freshwater canal goes from Zabazik under the Nile to the east to Ismailia, and from there to the southeast, along the sea channel, to Suez; channel width 17 m on the surface, 8 – on the bottom; its depth is on average only 2 ¼ m, sometimes even much less.
His discovery eased the work, but nevertheless the mortality rate among the workers was very high; they were delivered by the Egyptian government, but European workers also had to use it (all the workers were from 20 to 40 thousand). The 200 million francs identified in the initial project of Lesseps were soon in short supply, especially due to the enormous expenses for bribery at the Said and Ismail yards, for extensive advertising in Europe, for the costs of representing Lesseps himself and other company leaders.
I had to make another bonded loan of 166666500 francs, and then others, so that the total cost of the canal by 1872 reached 475 million (by 1892 – 576 million). In the six-year period in which Lesseps promised to finish the work, they could not be completed. Earthwork was carried out using forced labor of the poor in Egypt (in the early stages) and took 11 years.

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