The Suez Canal - A vital shortcut for global trade
The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction, it allows ships to travel between Europe and eastern Asia without navigating around Africa thereby reducing the sea voyage distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi). The northern terminus is Port Said; the southern terminus is Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Ismailiais on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) from the half-way point.
When built, the canal was 164 km (102 mi) long and 8 m (26 ft) deep. After several enlargements, it is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep and 205 metres (673 ft) wide. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km (14 mi), the canal itself of 162.25 km (100.82 mi) and the southern access channel of 9 km (5.6 mi).
The canal is single lane with passing places in the "Ballah By-Pass" and the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through it. In general, the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.
The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of Egypt. Under international treaty, it may be used "in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag."
In August 2014, construction was launched to construct a second canal for half of the route of the canal, costing $8.4 billion, to increase the canal's capacity. Funding was arranged by issuing interest bearing investment certificates exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals and the target amount was collected over only six working days. The expansion is expected to double the capacity of the Suez Canal from 49 to 97 ships a day. Construction of the project is expected to take a year.