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Suez Canal-2 Starts Functioning
Aug 08, 2015

Egypt has opened a major expansion of the Suez Canal on 6th August, which deepens the main waterway and provides ships with a 45 mile channel parallel to it. The expansion aims to increase the traffic handled by the canal.

Salient Features

  • The expansion will allow for two-way traffic along part of the route, as well as for larger vessels overall.

  • The original canal currently handles 7 per cent of global sea-borne trade. 

  • The waterway connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, providing the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. 

  • Its nationalisation led to a brief war in 1956, pitting Egypt against the UK, France and Israel.

  • The new 45-mile section is running alongside the existing Suez Canal.

  • 101-mile-long Suez is the fastest shipping link between Europe and Asia 

  • New waterway allows ships to travel in both directions for half that length.

  • The 45-mile corridor will expand what is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

  • The initial time frame for completion was five years, but it was finished in just 12 months.


Egypt is the gatekeeper of the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest water corridors and the strategic link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

  • The current Suez Canal brings in around $5 billion of revenues per year, a vital source of hard currency for Egypt which has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since its 2011 uprising. 

  • Suez Canal Authority has reportedly said the new canal will boost annual revenues to $13.5 billion by 2023.

Background: 

  • French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps and Egyptian Viceroy Said Pasha developed the current Suez Canal in the mid-19th century. 

  • French and Egyptian private interests controlled the company entrusted with building and running the canal, though Britain later acquired Egypt's share.

  • Completion of the 101 mile waterway took 10 years of intense work by Egyptians.

  • The canal, which was opened for navigation on November 17, 1869, cut weeks off journeys between Europe and Asia that otherwise necessitated a trip around Africa. 

  • In 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the canal, leading to a failed invasion by Britain, which controlled the channel, as well as France and Israel.

  • The waterway was closed briefly until 1957 and the again for eight years following the 1967 war with Israel.


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