Unit 5 Suez Canal Established around 1869 C.E. Description The Suez Canal is an artificial sea level water way located in Egypt. It allows for a faster travel route between Europe and South Asia without the previous need of going all around Africa....

Unit 5

Suez Canal

Established around 1869 C.E.


The Suez Canal is an artificial sea level water way located in Egypt. It allows for a faster travel route between Europe and South Asia without the previous need of going all around Africa. Throughout history, there has always been a long history of interest in connecting the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The first construction of a canal to achieve this occurred during thirteenth century BCE between the Nile River Delta and the Red Sea. However after 1,000 years of its construction it started being neglected and the usage of it stopped during the 8th century. During the reign of Napoleon in Europe, Napoleon became interested in the creation of a canal to connect Europe and South Asia for the sake of tax revenues for the French as he knew how many European nations sought easier trade with South Asia. However miscalculation in measurements of the canal made Napoleon’s ideas impossible. Later in 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps of France secures an agreement with the Ottoman governor of Egypt to build a canal for easier and faster trade. This led to the creation of the Suez Canal Company in 1856, and the construction of the canal started in 1859 with forced laborers. The creation of the Suez Canal slowed 4 years behind because of labor disputes and cholera epidemic, however the construction of the Suez Canal finally finished in 1869.

In 1876, the Suez Canal saw major improvements for bigger ships to go through, and the Suez Canal immediately became an important figure in economics and politics all over the world and even played a major role in the Cold War Era. Because of Egyptian debts from the British, the British government purchased the share of the Suez Canal, however the French still played a major role in the canal. This changed in the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty which declared Egypt independent yet a protectorate of Britain, causing the Suez Canal to be dominated by the British. During World War 2, resentment over British power led to Egyptian movements of removing British influence. In 1956, the British finally pulls out from Egypt however later Israelites invade the Suez Canal, but is then pressurized to leave, which all results to Egypt finally controlling all of the Suez Canal. All of this happened during the Cold War which interested global interest especially from the United States, to the dismay of Eastern European countries who saw the rise of the Hungarian Uprising and the Prague Spring. Today, the Suez Canal is undergoing construction for a second canal (New Suez Canal) for half of its route to make the canal bigger.


The Suez Canal garnered the interest of many nations as it immediately became the shortest link between the east and west. As opposed to the previous route around Africa which took 16,000 kilometres, the Suez Canal allowed a much faster route which only takes around 10,000 kilometres. The unique geographical position of the Suez Canal makes it almost like the center of world trade which makes it really significant. The power of the Suez Canal generates numerous political disputes as seen by the British or the Israelis, which demonstrates the utmost importance of the Suez Canal. The creation of the Suez Canal led to the evolution of maritime trade in which the world became much more connected. Eight percent of global sea trade is from the Suez Canal and around fifty ships pass the Suez Canal daily carrying an average of 300 million tons of goods.

The world eventually became heavily dependent on the Suez Canal. This is seen by the setbacks caused by the eight year shut down of the Canal following the Arab-Israeli war which made a lot of countries participating in the canal suffer, especially those in Asia. Without the Suez Canal, global maritime trade would face higher costs, tight supplies and disruptions in trade. In addition, Egypt generated a tremendous amount of revenue from the canal, totalling up to $5 billion annually. The Suez Canal is so appealing because it saves distance, time, and operating costs. For traders, it reduced fuel payments for them, and increased their profits as their goods were transported in a short amount of time which led to growing economies.


Political: The appeal of the Suez Canal saw the interest of many countries trying to abrogate it, especially Britain. This led to a surge of nationalistic feelings which in turn led to revolution, all because foreign countries kept on intervening in Egypt because of the canal. Full independence for Egypt meant that they could have all the control over the Suez Canal without any political disputes over it. The Suez Canal played a major role in many political disputes, and played an ever major role in the Cold War all because of its function and location.

Economic: The creation of the Suez Canal was inspired by global trade. Once the construction of the Suez Canal was complete, many people saw the rise of global trade and immediately many traders joined in. Without the Suez Canal, the economies of the world would face devastating repercussions and/or a longer time span of world trade. In addition, the Suez Canal helped Egypt flourish economically, so the Suez Canal plays a pivotal role in the economies of the world.

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