Suez Canal

Suez canal
   The Suez Canal is a canal 103 miles long (in­cluding 4 miles of approach channels), which crosses the Isthmus of Suez and connects Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea with Suez on the Red Sea. The Egyptian king, Rameses II, seems to have been the first to excavate a canal between the Nile delta and the Red Sea. This, having been allowed to fill up and become disused, was reopened by Darius I of Persia. It was once more cleared and made serviceable for the passage of boats by the Arab conquerors of Egypt. The French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps set himself, in 1849, to study the isthmus thoroughly, and in 1854 he managed to enlist the interest of Said Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, in his scheme for connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Two years later the Porte granted its permission and the Universal Company of the Maritime Suez Canal was formed, receiving important concessions from the ruler of Egypt.
   The work was begun on April 25, 1859, and on November 17, 1869, the canal was duly opened for vessels. Between 1885 and 1889 the canal was enlarged and improved, and altogether over $100,000,000 were spent in its construction. The width of the water surface was at first 150 to 300 ft., the width at the bottom 72 ft., and the minimum depth 26 ft. At Port Said two strong breakwaters, 6940 and 6020 ft. long respectively, were run out into the Mediterranean; at Suez another substantial mole was constructed. The making of the canal was facilitated by the existence of three or four valleys or depressions (formerly lakes), which, when the water reached them, became converted into lakes.