Academic level – Undergraduate 1-2
Type of paper – Discussion essay
Topic Title – The impact of historical events on modern society
Many 19th-century writers developed ideas that still influence us today.
For example, in November 2018, one of the worst factory accidents in history happened in a chemical plant in China. At least 23 people were killed; harsh evidence that workers in China’s vast industrial sector are still prey to great dangers, even in relatively new plants.
19th Century German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx might have predicted this would happen.
Choose one 19th-century thinker or a 19th-century event and explain, in at least 550 words, how you see its continuing relevance. Note: the 19th century covers the years from 1800-1899.
The nineteenth century observed exceptional transformation and inventiveness, setting the stage for the modern world. Among the most prominent and enduring achievements of this era was the construction of the Suez Canal – an engineering marvel that revolutionized global trade and transportation and bore significant political and military implications. This monumental event still affects today’s world, profoundly shaping international relations and power dynamics.
The idea of connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea through a navigable waterway has a deep historical background, finally occurring in the nineteenth century. The Suez Canal project was commenced in 1859 under the supervision of French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps and was finalized by 1869. Spanning nearly 120 miles (193 kilometers) across Egypt’s Isthmus of Suez, the canal presents a direct sea route between Europe and Asia (Fisher & Smith, 2023). The fulfillment of this timeless aspiration showcases human ingenuity and determination.
Beyond being an engineering feat, the Suez Canal signified a critical turning point in world commerce and transportation history. Before its existence, ships had to navigate a lengthy, dangerous journey around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The canal’s construction significantly cut down travel durations and expenses, allowing vessels to avoid this risky course and use the efficient shortcut provided by the channel instead. This advancement deeply impacted international trade, making it swifter, more streamlined, and open to more extensive goods and markets.
The relevance of the Suez Canal to the global economy nowadays is vast. As a vital channel for international trade, it joins Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, optimizing the movement of products. The canal allows for the transit of massive container ships, bulk carriers, and oil tankers, proving to be a critical component in various industries’ supply chains. With around 12% of worldwide trade volume passing through the Suez Canal yearly, it showcases its enduring importance in our interconnected globe (Brigham, 2021). In a time when economies are highly interdependent, the Suez Canal stays an indispensable passage that epitomizes the intricate network of commerce and trade.
The Suez Canal bears economic implications and has consistently attracted political and military attention. Its strategic position has rendered it valuable for regional and global forces. In the nineteenth century, European colonial powers aimed to regulate access to the canal, recognizing its capacity to mold trade routes and exert influence in the Middle East and Asia. Its geopolitical thrust persisted into the following century, peaking with the Suez Crisis in 1956. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s endeavor to nationalize the canal met resistance from the British, French, and Israeli governments. This ensuing conflict emphasized the canal’s role as a geopolitical tinderbox while shedding light on the strains between national authority and universal interests.
In today’s world, the Suez Canal carries considerable geopolitical significance. Its strategic value is amplified due to its crucial function as a conduit for transporting energy resources like oil and natural gas. To ensure their economic stability and energy supplies remain secure, nations worldwide, spanning both major energy producers and consumers, acknowledge the need to maintain safe access to the canal. As such, matters of the canal’s security and governance affect regional stability and international power balances.
To summarize, since its construction in the nineteenth century, the Suez Canal has left a lasting impression on the contemporary world. Its influence in shaping the global economy, enabling international trade, and acting as a geopolitical hotspot emphasizes its persistent relevance. As we make our way through the intricacies of the twenty-first century, the Suez Canal stands as a reminder of human resourcefulness and collaboration, linking history with today’s era of globalization, trade, and diplomacy.
Brigham, L. (2021, May). The Suez Canal and Global Trade Routes. U.S. Naval Institute. https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2021/may/suez-canal-and-global-trade-routes
Fisher, W., & Smith, C. (2023, August 5). Suez Canal. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Suez-Canal