9 April 1957

The Suez Canal in Egypt is cleared and opens to shipping following the Suez Crisis.

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing ships to sail directly between Europe and Asia without having to navigate around the southern tip of Africa. The idea of a canal across the Isthmus of Suez dates back to ancient times, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the canal became a reality.

In 1854, a French diplomat named Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained a concession from the Egyptian government to build a canal across the isthmus. Construction of the canal began in 1859, and it was completed ten years later, in 1869. The canal was initially owned by a French company, but in 1875, the British government purchased a controlling stake in the canal to ensure its strategic importance to Britain.

The Suez Canal played a significant role in world trade, allowing for faster and more efficient transportation of goods between Europe and Asia. However, control of the canal was a source of tension between European powers, particularly Britain and France. In 1956, the Egyptian government nationalized the canal, prompting an invasion by Israel, Britain, and France. The Suez Crisis, as it became known, lasted for several months and ended with the withdrawal of the invading forces.

After the crisis, the canal was reopened to international traffic, and the Egyptian government retained control of the waterway. In the decades since, the canal has been widened and deepened to accommodate larger ships, and it remains an important conduit for global trade.