National Geographic : 1958 Nov
SUEZ: WORLD CROSSROADS Bullet scarred windows in a Port Said lighthouse-mementos of aerial strafing-look out on a tanker steaming out of the northern end of the Suez Canal after the fighting in 1956. Battle damage, ship, and canal exemplify the strategic importance of this waterway, which links the Mediterranean and Red Seas and carries more than two and a half times as much tonnage as the Panama Canal. Upon the canal rests Egypt's power among nations; administering it increases her leadership in the Arab world. Her control dates from July, 1956, when she expropriated the canal from the corporation that dug and operated it. To protect the canal, Great Britain and France intervened during the struggle between Egypt and Israel, but called off their expeditionary forces in deference to world pressures. Today the canal's lucrative tolls go to Egypt. Cairo, the Arab world's largest city, succeeded Baghdad as the center of Arabic culture. Cairo's newspapers, magazines, and motion pictures circulate among Arabs everywhere, and its powerful radio stations bombard the Arab world with music and news often laced with nationalist propaganda. Moslem theologians have lectured at Cairo's Al-Azhar University since 972, but Egypt's first secular university, Cairo University, was founded as recently as 1908. Bales of cotton awaiting shipment on the piers of Alexandria come from the Nile's fertile valley and delta. This narrow strip, less than 4 percent of Egypt's area, produces two-fifths of the world's long-staple cotton, the nation's only sub stantial export. Beyond the valley, Egypt presents barren desert, save at a few oases green with grass and date palms. The country's 17 million farmers, called fellahin, endure an exceptionally low standard of living. 719 BLACKSTAR (OPPOSITE) AND NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERJ BAYLORROBERTS M i' m . . . ;...