Today in World History: November 17th

If you wanted to travel by boat from the western Mediterranean to the Gulf of Suez or to India before 1869, you would have to travel around the entirety of Africa. But after November 1869, your travel time was drastically reduced. This was due to the opening of the Suez Canal, an international venture to build a canal that bridged the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Suez. Although control of the canal has been changed over the years, it is now in the control of the Suez Canal Authority. Plans for a second canal, which are expected to increase the daily capacity from forty-nine to ninety-seven boats are now under way.

“Since 1849 I have studied incessantly, under all its aspects, a question which was already in my mind since 1832. I confess that my scheme is still a mere dream, and I do not shut my eyes to the fact that so long as I alone believe it to be possible, it is virtually impossible. … The scheme in question is the cutting of a canal through the Isthmus of Suez. This has been thought of from the earliest historical times, and for that very reason is looked upon as impracticable. Geographical dictionaries inform us indeed that the project would have been executed long ago but for insurmountable obstacles. [On his inspiration for the Suez Canal.]”
― Ferdinand de Lesseps



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