Let’s first discuss what a canal is.
A canal is “an artificial waterway constructed to allow the passage of boats or ships inland or to convey water for irrigation”.
And Suez and Panama are two such canals, which hold immense importance in maritime trade.
This canal connects Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean via Red Sea. Why is canal is important is, because it eliminates the need of circumnavigating Africa while travelling from Europe to Asia through waters. Hence, Suez Canal makes the passage from Atlantic Ocean to Indian Ocean more effective and easy.
The Suez Canal is located over 120 miles of Port Said of the Mediterranean Sea in the South of Egypt. The canal was officially opened on November 17, 1869.
Since its opening, this important waterway has been an object of conflict between many European and Asian countries, particularly the USA, Britain, and Egypt. When opened, the Suez Canal was a neutral zone, and was controlled by the British government under the Anglo-Egyptian treaty.
The British authority over the canal proved really unfortunate for the Axis in the two World Wars.
Later on however, Egypt drew back from the treaty and Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956.
After that, the two major events followed –the Suez crisis and the Arab-Israeli war. Egypt was threatened by Britain, France and Israel for the authority and usage of the Suez Canal during the Suez crisis.
Today, the Suez Canal is used by several countries use the canal, after the six-day Arab-Israeli war ended with a peace treaty. An average of 50 ships pass through this canal daily, carrying almost 300 tons of goods.
While the Suez Canal connects the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal is controlled by the Republic of Panama.
It was completed in August 1914, and is regarded, along with Suez Canal, “one of the two most strategic artificial waterways of the world”.
The Panama Canal shortens the way of the to a considerable number of nautical miles from the ports of North America to the ports on the other side of South America, and from Europe to East Asia and Australia.
The canal was built by the United States and hence was controlled solely by it. In 1979 however, the control passed on to the Panama Canal Commission –a joined venture of the USA and the Republic of Panama. The control was shifted completely to Panama in December 31, 1999.