The 163km long Suez Canal, the world’s third longest, generally handles up to fifty ships a day (though its full capacity is 75) with an average transit time of fifteen hours. During its closure in the early 1970s, supertankers were built to travel around Africa – and proved too large to pass through Suez once it reopened. The Canal was subsequently widened in places, but is still not wide enough for continuous two-way traffic. In 2008–2009, the canal earned a record $5.11 billion, but the subsequent fall in global trade means this may not be matched for some time to come. For more information, visit w suezcanal.gov.eg.

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