How Deep Is the Suez Canal?

View on the containers loaded on deck of cargo ship. Vessel is transiting Suez Canal on her international trade route. Suez canal landscape.
© Mariusz Bugno/

Written by Eliana Riley

Updated: May 31, 2023

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The man-made Suez Canal has impacted important subjects such as trade, politics, and innovation across the globe. The canal has created opportunities for sharing cultures between continents that may not have influenced one another before its construction. While the exchange of goods and services by the Suez Canal has been a positive result of its creation, negative impacts have also occurred. Slavery, death, colonialism, and European control have all been consequences of the construction of the Suez Canal.

From the canal’s positive to the negative outcomes, it’s impossible to ignore its overall contribution to the world’s societies. Discover the Suez Canal’s depth and learn more about its global impacts.

Characteristics of the Suez Canal

View on the containers loaded on deck of cargo ship. Vessel is transiting Suez Canal on her international trade route. Suez canal landscape.

The Suez Canal opened on November 17, 1869.

©Mariusz Bugno/

The Suez Canal is located near Suez, Egypt and connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. By the Suez Canal, one can travel from the Mediterranean through the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean. The Suez Canal allows for an easier trade route between Asia and Europe. Rather than having to sail around the tip of Africa, boats can pass through the Suez Canal and arrive at their destinations more rapidly.

The Suez Canal also acts as a border between Africa and the Middle East. It stretches approximately 120 miles between Port Said and Suez. When the Suez Canal first opened, it received little traffic. Approximately two ships passed through its waters daily, with 486 transits per year. However, the number of transits grew consistently over the next 150 years. As of 2018, the Suez Canal sees 18,174 transits per year.

History of the Suez Canal

For thousands of years, people had proposed a connection between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It was not a new concept, as many small canals connecting the Nile River and the Red Sea were already in place. However, constructing a canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea proved difficult. The two bodies of water sat at different elevations, and people were unsure how to produce the desired result.

Rather than immediately creating the Suez Canal, Britain proposed the introduction of routes on land between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, hoping the routes would expedite trade between Britain, India, and Pakistan. On-land routes included the use of horses and trains. By the early 1800s, a new concept came onto the scene.

Explorer Linant de Bellefonds was an engineer from the country of France. While many had assumed the canal construction was impossible due to elevation differences, Bellefond proved this was untrue. The Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea sat at the same elevation level, meaning canal construction was possible. Following Bellefond, Ferdinand de Lesseps began work on the canal by creating the Suez Canal Company, now known as the Suez Canal Authority.

The Suez Canal Company first began with 13 members from seven countries. These members were highly skilled, and the company’s head engineer was named Alois Negrelli. Negrelli used Bellefond’s findings as an inspiration for constructing the canal. Six years after the company was formed, plans for the Suez Canal were introduced.

In 1859, people began work on the Suez Canal. Over the course of its construction, approximately 1.5 million people worked to create the canal. However, many of these workers were slaves, and many of them died during the construction process. Other complications, such as the political climate, revolt, and expense, impacted the canal in an unfavorable way.

The Suez Canal opened on November 17, 1869, nearly 20 years after its plans were drawn up. The imperial yacht L’Aigle was the first boat to pass through the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal improved trade relations and left a political impact. Europeans utilized the canal to colonize countries within the continent of Africa. Eventually, Britain and France were the countries that primarily controlled the Suez Canal.

How Deep is the Suez Canal?

The Suez Canal is a shipping canal in Egypt.A cargo ship drives the Suez Canal.

The Suez Canal measures 78.7 feet deep.


When the Suez Canal first opened in 1869, it was 26.2 feet deep. Several modifications ensued following the canal’s creation, though. For instance, Egypt supervised an $8 billion venture to widen the Suez Canal. After these adjustments, the depth of the Suez Canal tripled. Now, the Suez Canal measures 78.7 feet deep. It is also 672.6 feet wide and 120 miles long.

The canal receives around 51.5 ships daily, making it one of Earth’s most prominent and highly used shipping waterways. Over 300 million tons of cargo pass through the Suez Canal every year. Other major shipping waterways include the Panama Canal, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, and more.

Where to Find the Suez Canal on a Map

The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, running through Egypt. It spans approximately 120 miles and has drastically reduced travel time between Europe and Asia by allowing ships to bypass the long and dangerous voyage around Africa’s southern tip. On a map, you can find the Suez Canal located in northeastern Egypt, stretching from Port Said on the Mediterranean coast to Suez on the Red Sea coast. Its precise location can be identified by its distinct shape as it parallels the Sinai Peninsula.

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About the Author

Eliana Riley is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on geography, travel, and landmarks. Eliana is a second-year student at Miami University majoring in English Education and Spanish. A resident of Tennessee and Ohio, Eliana enjoys traveling to national and state parks, hiking, kayaking, and camping.

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