October 24, 2012 - Suez Day in Egypt

This holiday is celebrated by many in Egypt, but it is not an official national holiday, and governmental buildings remain open. It celebrates the resistance of Egyptian citizens during a 1973 war with Israel.

Of course...
I am not “in favor” of war, and of course war in the Middle East is particularly scary and upsetting. However, the next day (October 25, 1973) a ceasefire ended the war, and peace talks began halting process toward making things better (at least for a while).

Now, back to Suez...

Suez is the name of an Egyptian city near the southern end of the much more famous Suez Canal. This canal, completed in 1869, connects the Mediterranean Sea (and through that, the Atlantic Ocean) to the Red Sea (and through that, the Indian Ocean). This very important canal is sometimes called “The Highway to India,” because ships from Europe can use it to avoid having to travel aaaallllllllllllllllll the way around Africa, when traveling to India. The Suez Canal Authority, which is owned by Egypt and which runs the canal, is dedicated to the proposition that all ships from all nations can use the canal, whether during peaceful times or war. That includes even warships of warring nations!

The canal is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) long—just a single lane with two passing places. There are no locks and pumps, because there is no elevation change—the entire canal is at sea level, and the sea waters flow freely between the two connecting seas.

The Suez Canal Authority collects tolls from the ships that use the canal and make the Rules of Navigation. I thought I was interesting that the SCA owns and runs, not just the canal, but also:

  • emergency hospitals at each end of the canal
  • a full-service hospital at Ismailia, SCA headquarters
  • 14 ferry connections that cross the canal, along with 36 ferry boats,
  • a shipyard
  • roads alongside the canal
  • four schools
  • sports and recreation centers.
By the way, the triangular chunk of Egyptian land that lies between the Suez Canal and Israel is called the Sinai Peninsula.

Also on this date:

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