I. An Isthmus Separating The Mediterranean And Red Seas

An Isthmus Separating The Mediterranean And Red Seas, and connecting the continents of Asia and Africa. From the most northerly part of the gulf of Suez in the Red sea to the gulf of Pelusium or Tineh in the Mediterranean the distance is a little more than 72 m.; on the line of the Suez canal it is about 100 m. The surface has a general elevation of only 5 to 8 ft. above the adjoining seas, but there are several rideres of from 20 to 65 ft., and a few depressions, lakes, and salt marshes which have become lakes since the construction of the canal. With the exception of places that have been made fertile by irrigation, it is a barren, sandy desert, uninhabited. Fresh water is found in but a few places. The surface soil is generally sand and gravel, underlaid with sandstone and varieties of limestone and conglomerate containing fossil remains and shells. It is probable that the whole isthmus was once under water, and that the Mediterranean and the Red sea were connected. Since the opening of the canal the climate has undergone a considerable amelioration, the temperature having become lower in summer and higher in winter.

The change is attributed to the infiltration of water from the canal, and to the vegetation which has sprung up along its banks. (See Canal).

II. A Gulf Forming The N. W. Arm Of The Red Sea

A Gulf Forming The N. W. Arm Of The Red Sea, lying between Egypt and the Sinai peninsula. It is about 180 m. long, and has an average breadth of 20 m. In ancient times it was called the Heroopolite gulf. The Israelites are supposed to have crossed the Red sea on their exodus from Egypt a few miles below the head of the gulf. (See Exodus, and Red Sea).

III. A Town Of Egypt

A Town Of Egypt, at the head of the gulf of Suez, 77 m. E. of Cairo; lat. 29° 57' 30" N., Ion. 32° 35' E.; pop. in 1872, 13,500, of whom 2,400 were foreigners. The old town is walled on the three landward sides, but open toward the sea. It stands on the border of a sandy plain where rain seldom falls, and previous to the opening of the fresh-water canal from the Nile in 1863 it depended for water on supplies brought from a distance. Suez was a mere fishing village until the building of the railway from Cairo, when it began to increase in size and importance; and the construction of the Suez canal, with its quays, docks, and other works, soon made it a large and busy place. The new quays and harbors, with the railway station and dry dock, are about 2 m. S. of the town, with which they are connected by railway. Among the principal buildings at Suez are the storehouses of the Peninsula and Oriental steamship company and of the messageries maritimes, the water works which supply the town from the fresh-water canal, the English hospital, and the chalet of the khedive on the heights overlooking the town and harbor. Suez is connected by railway with Cairo and Alexandria, but derives its principal importance from the Suez canal, of which it is the southern terminus.

From the opening of the canal in November, 1869, to Dec. 31, 1874, 4,781 vessels, of 6,643,368 total tonnage, had passed through, of which 2,588 entered from the Mediterranean and 2,193 from the Red sea. Of the whole number, 3,286 were British, 394 French, 281 Austrian, 235 Italian, 121 Ottoman, 109 Dutch, 85 Egyptian, 83 German, 61 Spanish, and the remainder of other nationalities, only 8 being American. The number of passengers during the same period was 278,-231, including 34,197 Moslem pilgrims and many troops of various nations. The total amount of tolls received during this time was 77,728,838 francs. In 1874, 1,264 vessels, of 2,421,803 gross tonnage, passed through the canal, of which 679 entered from the Mediterranean and 585 from the Red sea. The total receipts for tolls in 1874 were 24,748,900 francs. In November, 1875, all the.shares of the Suez canal stock belonging to the khedive of Egypt, 177 out of 400, were purchased by the British government for £4,000,000. See Lettres et documents pour servir a l'hitetoire du canal de Suez, by Ferdinand de Lesseps (Paris, 1875). - Suez occupies probably the site of the ancient Clysma, the Kolzum of the Arabs. In the 8th century, after the destruction of the canal connecting with the Nile, it fell into decay.

In the beginning of the 16th century it became a naval depot for the Turkish fleet in the Red sea, but soon lost its importance again with the decline of navigation in that sea in consequence of the discovery of the route to India by the capo of Good Hope.