Connecting Countries: Suez Canal
Officially opened in November 1869, the Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, the Suez Canal separates the African continent from Asia. Since it is the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands across the Indian and Pacific oceans, thereby making it one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes, supporting 8% of the world’s shipping traffic. However, ships have to travel at a low speed to prevent erosion of the canal’s banks by the ships’ waves.
The construction of Suez Canal costed around $100 million and had a significant impact on world trade. However, soon after its construction, conflicts began to arise over use and control of the Suez Canal, involving Egyptian, British and later the newly created Israeli government, resulting in tussles and controversies. Particularly, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Suez Canal was closed several more times because of conflicts between Egypt and Israel. In 1962, Egypt took full control of the Suez Canal.
In order to explore Suez Canal, the best and most viable option is to opt for a cruise or ferry ride. As you embark on the journey, on the east side it’s endless miles of hot sand of Sinai Desert, with the occasional building or army barracks along the bank of the canal. In stark contrast, the west side has cities with palm trees and forests. Egyptian soldiers keep watch on both sides of the canal for its entire length. It is highly recommended that you take the ferry at afternoon close to sunset time as the view is fantastic.
While on your ferry ride/cruise ensure that you keep an eye out for the following:
• Friendship Bridge: The Suez Canal Bridge, Mubarak Peace Bridge, or the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, which is a cable-stayed road bridge crossing the Suez Canal at El Qantara. The bridge opened in October 2001 and has been designed in the shape of Pharaonic obelisks.
• El-Ferdan Railway Bridge: Constructed in 2001, it is the longest span bridge in the world, consisting of a 400-metre cable stayed main span. The El-Ferdan Railway Bridge was part of a major drive to develop the areas surrounding the Suez Canal.
The Great Bitter Lake, the Suez Canal Defense Monument Bailey bridges are some of the other interesting spots you should keep an eye out for when touring Suez Canal.
For the tourists looking for out of the box tourist destinations to explore, Suez Canal is an interesting option for them!