The World In Stamps

A journey in a stamps collection

100 years of the Suez Canal: 1969

The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869 after 10 years of work. To celebrate the 100 years of the Suez Canal, Egypt issued a poste stamp.

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that was dug in Egyptian territory, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The length of the canal is 193 km, starting from Port Said in the north and ending at Port Tawfiq in the south. The canal is considered the fastest sea passage between Asia and Europe, saving an average of about 15 days of travel time compared to travelling via the Cape of Good Hope route. 

100 years of the inauguration of the Canal
100 years of the inauguration of the Canal. The map shows the old and new sailing route.  

Construction of the Suez Canal

After several attempts, the French politician Ferdinand de Lesseps managed in 1854 to convince the Ottoman governor, Muhammad Said Pasha, to grant him a concession to dig the canal and exploit it for 99 years. The agreement was completely unjust, as the Egyptian government has committed itself to providing 80% of the workers needed to dig the canal and ceding all the land needed for this to the French company that got the concession. The digging of the canal lasted ten years from 1859 to 1869. Over the ten years,  nearly one million Egyptian workers participated in it. It is believed that 30 thousand workers were present at the worksite at any moment. Many of the workers were recruited by force by the government for a [period of 1 month. The work salaries were low and the work conditions very bad. Historians talk about tens of thousands of dead workers as a result of hunger, thirst, epidemics and ill-treatment.

In less than 10 years from the inauguration of the Canal, Egypt had to sell its shares to great Britain to reimburse depts. The Canal remained owned by France and GetS

In 1956, The Egyptian leader, the president Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced the nationalization of the Canal. The nationalization was followed by the tri-partite aggression of Great Britain, France and Israel. One of the stamps of the set  entitled ” Egypt the Cemetery Of the Aggressors” issued in 1957 commemorates the Egyptian victory.


Catalogue Reference: Yvert & Tellier 798


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