From time immemorial Egypt, in virtue of her geographical situation, has commanded one of the most important trade routes of the world. The gateway between Africa, Asia and Europe, her internal communications have much more than a purelydomestic or internal importance while her home waters are, now as in past ages, ocean highway to and from all nations.

The earliest and most natural method of transport in Ancient Egypt must have been on the waters of the River Nile. The Egyptians were skilled boatmen as many documents and pictures testify But there were many roads in Ancient Egypt. One ran through marshes to what is now the Sudan. There was a road through the Arabian mountains to the Red Sea whence ships sailed to the East.

Many records tell of voyages to the land of Puoni (on the Somali coast of Africa) in search of incense, gold and ivory. This route through the mountains is that of the Exodus but there was another road to Syria which, skirting the east border of the Delta, followed the coast from Pelusium, El Arish and Gaza. On the Libyan side there was a coast route to Cyrenaica and a road from Lake Moeris to the oasis of Siwa. The Egyptians were great sailors. From very remote times their ships sailed the Mediterranean and, curiously enough, one of the chief reasons for sending their ships abroad was in order to obtain wood with which and sailed again from Suez from which port a regular service to India was established in the early forties of last century.

The Suez Canal, one of the great monuments of the modern world, is however not a modern conception nor indeed was it the first realisation of an ancient idea. From an inscription on the temple of Karnak it would appear that such a canal existed in the time of Seti (1380 B.C.) While Aristotle, Strabo and Pliny attribute to Sesostris the distinction of being the first of the pharaohs to build a canal joining the Nile and the Red Sea. Seti's canal diverged from the Nile near Bubastis and was carried along the Wadi Tumilat to the Bitter Lakes. This canal, too small for later requirements, fell into disuse and another canal was built by Necho (609 B.C.) Herorotus records that 120,000 men lost their lives in the execution of this great but never completed work. Ptolemy Philadelphus (285 B.C.) took the work up again and connected the canal with the sea. His canal, navigable for  two thirds of the year, was large enough for two triremes to sail abreast. But the dwindling of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile caused the decay of Ptolemy's canal. It was no longer in use when Rome became mistress of the Nile Valley.

Another canal (attributed tol  Amr, the Arab conqueror of Egypt in the 7fh century) was in use during the early years of Moslem rule. It is said to have been closed in 770 by the Caliph Abu Ja'far who wished to prevent supplies reaching his enemies in Arabia, and to have been reopened by Sultan Hakim (A.D. 1000).

All these canals, although they certainly joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas,  were maritime canals to a limited extent only. The waters of the Nile constituted the greater part of the undertaking. The first project of uniting the two seas by piercing the isthmus of Suez stands to the credit of Harun el Rashid in the 8th century. Harun however gave up the idea fearing that its execution might lay open his sea-coast to attacks by the Byzantine Navy. From then onwards it may be said that the Suez Canal project was "in the air".

Eleven centuries were to elapse before Harun el Rashid's dream became reality. Said Pasha, third monarch of the Dynasty of Mohammed Aly, ascended the Egyptian throne in 1854. For many years he had been on the friendliest terms with a French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps and to him, in November 1854, he granted a concession authorizing him to construct a ship canal through the isthmus of Suez.

It would be tedious to enumerate the diffculties, the obstructions, the anxieties of the great undertaking which, started in 1859, was completed ten years later under the reign of Ismail the Magnificent. The inaugural ceremony took place at Port Said on November 16th, 1869. and next day 68 vessels of various nationalities, headed by the  "Aigle" with the Khedive Ismail and Empress Eugenie of France on board, began the first passage through the great Canal.

The stark eloquence of figures shows the magnitude of the achievement. In 1870, the first full working year, less than 500 ships went through the Suez Canal. In 1936 the figure  was 5,887 with a net tonnage of 32,378,883.

The total length of the Suez Canal is 101 miles with a minimum width of 60 metres. The maximum draught of water allowed for vessels using the canal is 10.36 metres and the average time for the transit of vessels is 11 hours 14 minutes.

Egypt's first railway, from Alexandria to Cairo, was begun in 1852 by order of Abbas I. A network of railroads was to follow. In addition to the main lines which serve the Delta and Upper Egypt, there is a considerable mileage of Light railways.

Railways in Egypt are State-owned and are a source of considerable revenue. They are unanimously admitted to be both fast, efficient and confortable. The modern outlook of the Egyptian State Railways may perhaps be illustrated by the fact that Egypt, with her   "Antiquities Trains" was one of the first countries to take up "train-cruising." These well-known ,. "Antiquity Trains" not only carry the passenger to the world-famed sites of Luxor but also, drawn up on a siding, serve him as a home during his stay in the ancient city.  The inclusive charge is almost ludicrously small. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the Egyptian State Railways have a most enviable record of safety, major railway accidents being so rare as to be almost unknown. Road transport in Egypt is developing at an amazing pace. Autostrades now connect Cairo and Alexandria, Cairo and Suez and Suez with Port Said. Motor-bus services exist in most cities. The ubiquitous motor-car is everywhere to be seen and it is significant that, of the thousands of tourists who visit Egypt annually, an ever-increasing number are bringing their own cars with them.

As air-junction Egypt is one of the most important countries of the world. Just as, from time immemorial, Egypt has been the necessary, inevitable halting-place on the way to the East, she is now the essential link in the chain of air communications. Air routes to Europe, India, Australia and South Africa all converge at Egyptian aerodromes and, as a result, there is no country more favoured than Egypt for postal communications with the rest of the world. Moreover the clear skies of Egypt are an ideal field for private Hying. Egypt has taken up Hying with enthusiasm and
it may be confidently predicted that in the air-minded world of the future Egyptian aviation will be a potent factor of world progress and world peace.

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