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Canal & The Society

The Suez Canal ’s role is not confined to servicing the world trade. It goes beyond that to serve the Canal Zone community ...

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Canal Characteristics

Stages of developing the Suez Canal :

The dredging of the canal took almost 10 years using Egyptian labor, and it was opened for navigation for the first time in 17 November 1869. Its depth was about 8 meters, its water are was 304 m 2 and the largest ship load that can pass through was 5000 tons, which was typical for ships sizes in these days. As the ships developed and increased its sizes, the canal needed to be developed, which happened when it was still a foreign joint venture before being publicized to take ships with depth of 35 feet and its water area to be 1200 m 2 by the end of 1956 and when the canal was publicized by the Egyptian government on the 26th of July 1956. The Egyptian administration was keen to develop the Navigation canal even more on different stages.

In May 1962, the water area of the canal was to reach 1800 m 2 and the allowed depth to 38 feet. In June 1966, a development was to be executed on 2 stages as it was announced the depth would reach 48 and 58 feet consecutively. This program was started, but was soon halted due to the war that erupted on the 5th of June, 1967. It was reopened for international; navigation in June 1975 after purifying it from the ships that sank in its bottom during in the 1967 and 1973 wars,The canal still with the same water area and depth as before it was closed.

The development projects then started by the Egyptian administration and received to ships of a 210,000 tons load, specially after increasing the water area to 4800 m 2 and a ship draft of 62 feet , with a length of 191.80 km, in addition to the redesign of the canal's turns so that each one has a radius of at least 5000 m and also dredging a new bypass starting from the 17th km south of port said heading directly to the Mediterranean east of port Fouad to allow the loaded ships going north to go to the sea without passing through port said port.

The ship draft reached 66 feet by 2010,this stage taking all container vessels; about 17,000 container vessels; as well as taking all bulk vessels world wide. The Canal will be able to take in about 99 % of all methods used in world maritime transport after reaching a depth of 72 feet (Target stage,Under Study), as well as taking about 96.2% of the dead weight tons for the bulk vessels 80.3% of the petroleum tanks and a 100% of all the remaining types of ships used in maritime transport; specially container vessels with all its future generations; in addition to empty vessels reaching up to 440 thousand tons.

1- Navigational Channel:

Item Unit 1869 1956 1962 1980 1994 1996 2001 2010 2015
Overall Length Km 164 175 175 189.80 189.80 189.80 191.80 193.30 193.30
Double paths Length Km -- 27.7 27.7 77 77 77 79 80.5 113.3
Width at 11 m depth m -- 60 89 160/175 170/190 180/200 195/215 205/225 205/225
Water depth m 8 14 15.5 19.5 20.5 21 22.5 24 24
Max. Draft of ship Feet 22 35 38 53 56 58 62 66 66
Cross Sectional Area m 2 304 1200 1800 3250/3600 3600/4000 3850/4300 4350/4800 4800/5200 4800/5200
Max. Loaded ship DWT 5000 30000 60000 150000 170000 185000 210000 240000 240000

Note : Bypasses length is calculated according to the kilometric numbering of buoys at the beginning and end of each bypass 

2- Cross Sectional Area:

Cross Sectional Area
Click image to enlarge


Canal History
13th century BCE

13th century BCE, A canal is constructed between the Nile Delta and the Red Sea. For the following centuries, the canal was only partially maintained...


1854, By a French initiative, the viceroy of Egypt, Said Pasha, decides for a project to build a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea...


1858, La Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez is formed to construct the canal.

17 Nov 1869

17 Nov 1869, With great splendour, the canal is opened for navigation. Dimensions were 22 metre in bottom width, 58 metre in surface width, and a depth of 8 metres...

2 Mar 1888

2 Mar 1888, The Convention of Constantinople guaranteed right of passage of all ships through the Suez Canal during war and peace...

13 Jun 1956

13 Jun 1956, Suez Canal Zone restored to Egypt.
26 Jul 1956, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal.

5 Jun 1975

5 Jun 1975, Suez Canal reopened...

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Egypt Gate

Egyptian Official Sites

Tourism Information

Places, directions, travel co. and more.

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