The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. It enables a more direct route for shipping between Europe and Asia, effectively allowing for passage from the North Atlantic to the Indian Ocean without having to circumnavigate the African continent. The waterway is vital for international trade and, as a result, has been at the center of conflict since it opened in 1869.
Where Is the Suez Canal?
The Suez Canal stretches 120 miles from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt southward to the city of Suez (located on the northern shores of the Gulf of Suez). The canal separates the bulk of Egypt from the Sinai Peninsula. It took 10 years to build, and was officially opened on November 17, 1869.
Suez Canal Today
Today, an average of 50 ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods per year.
In 2014, the Egyptian government oversaw at $8 billion expansion project that widened the Suez from 61 meters to 312 meters for a 21-mile distance. The project took one year to complete and, as a result, the canal can accommodate ships to pass both directions simultaneously.
Despite the widened route, in March 2021, an enormous container ship heading from China became stuck in the canal and blocked more than 100 ships at each end of the vital shipping artery. The incident disrupted global trade for nearly a week.