The Suez Canal

From 1800 BCE to the New Canal in 2015, discover the rich history of the Suez Canal!

The history of the Suez Canal, like that of Panama, is linked to the personality of Ferdinand de Lesseps. After spending many years in Egypt, as Vice-Consul of France in Alexandria, he had the idea of ​​piercing the Isthmus of Suez by digging a canal without locks between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

But the canal has a much more distant origin, some 1800 years before our era! The idea arose very early on to allow boats to pass from the Nile to the Red Sea and thus, in effect, link it to the Mediterranean. Many sovereigns attached their name to the project - Sesostris III, the first to order its digging, then Neko II, the great Darius, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Trajan...

The Société d'Etude pour le Canal de Suez was already created in 1846 by Arlès-Dufour. Ferdinand de Lesseps retrieves the technical file.

The Viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Saïd, agreed to help him carry out his project and granted him by deeds of November 30, 1854 and January 5, 1856 the concession for the construction of the canal. This is granted for 99 years from the completion of the work.

In 1858, Ferdinand de Lesseps succeeded in raising the capital and the Company was formed with a capital of 200 million francs divided into 400,000 shares of 500F including 177,642 subscribed by the Egyptian Treasury, 220,000 by French holders and only 40,000 by other countries. .

The Suez Canal was drilled between 1859 and 1869 under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps. It was inaugurated on November 17, 1869 in the presence of prominent figures from the Arab and European worlds, including Empress Eugenie and Emir Abdelkader.

On August 6, 2015, at the end of a year of titanic work, Egypt inaugurated a new Suez Canal: 37 km doubling the historic canal, itself also widened by 35 km.

Ferdinand de Lesseps


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