Red Sea

Red Sea

The Red Sea is a narrow sea located between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan, Jordan and Israel to the north, and Djibouti, Eritrea, Yemen and Somalia. It is connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal in the north.

The Red Sea is rich in biodiversity and its coral reefs are among the most beautiful and diverse in the world. The sea is also strategically important for international trade because of the Suez Canal, which provides a short route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.


Modern scientists believe that the Red Sea is still quite young it is only about 30 to 40 million years old. Its appearance is attributed to the processes of displacement of the African continental and Arabian tectonic plates and the subsequent formation of a fault between them: gradually the resulting space was filled with water.

There is evidence that in ancient times the Red Sea was actively used by the Phoenicians, known as skillful navigators and enterprising traders. The Red Sea waters opened the way for merchant ships to the Indian Ocean, from where they traveled to the shores of India, one of Phoenicia’s many trading partners.

But everything changed with the discovery of the Portuguese navigator Bartalameu Dias, whose expedition was to find a convenient route for a new trade route to India. Then, in 1488, it became known about the existence of a cape in southern Africa, later called the Cape of Good Hope, which became the guiding star of European merchant ships: by rounding the Cape Peninsula, travelers got from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. At that time there was no waterway from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and therefore it was much more profitable to make a route through the Atlantic Ocean. As the traditional route from Europe to India shifted, the Red Sea became much less likely to receive merchant ships. Eventually it came to serve mainly for inland transportation between the western and eastern Red Sea coasts.

However, engineering helped save the reputation of the Red Sea, undeservedly forgotten by European travelers. For a long time, experts tried to develop a plan to build a canal that could connect the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, but only in the middle of the XIX century. light saw a bold project of the Suez Canal, the idea of which belonged to the French diplomat and engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894). Thanks to his diplomatic connections, he managed in 1854 to obtain permission from the ruler of Egypt for the construction and started it in 1859. On November 17, 1869, the new access to the Indian Ocean was finally opened to European navigators. According to the original plan, the Suez Canal was to serve the optimization of Franco-Egyptian relations, but in the XX century the most important strategic object became a real apple of discord in the relations between the countries of Europe and the Red Sea basin. The canal opened up new opportunities, and there were too many who wanted to keep control over it in their hands. The result was the so-called Suez Crisis of 1956-1957, which never led to radical changes in the spheres of influence over the region on the part of Great Britain, France, Egypt and Israel, whose armies took part in the hostilities.

The Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 (June 5-10, the so-called Six-Day War) and 1973 put a long “veto” on the exploitation of the Suez Canal. And only after the demining of its banks in 1975 the canal started working again.

Today, the depth of this sluice-free structure is more than 20 m, which allows ships of up to 240,000 tons displacement to pass through it.


The Red Sea is rightly considered one of the most picturesque places on the planet. No movies and none of the spectacular photos can absolutely not accurately convey the variety of colors and life forms that adorn the underwater world of this sea: there are more than a thousand species of fish, and about 30% of them are endemics (distributed only in local waters). A special attraction of the Red Sea give extensive coral “gardens”, which can be seen, even without sailing far from the shore. Not far from Sharm el-Sheikh in 1989 was opened the National Reserve Ras Mohammed, where those wishing in the appropriate equipment can see with their own eyes the unique world of the Red Sea.



The natural beauty of the Red Sea became an excellent stimulus for the intensive development of the resort business. Resorts of the Red Sea coast of Egypt are especially loved by fans of diving due to the crystal clear waters. The transparency of the water surface, which is rare for natural water bodies, is explained by the fact that there are no rivers flowing into the Red Sea, which usually bring sand particles and cloud the water.

At the very bottom of the reservoir, a real museum collection has gathered over the long history of the Red Sea exploration. Adventure hunters can see here the remains of sunken ships (among the most famous “exhibits” is the British cargo ship “Thistlegorm”, sunk in 1941 as a result of a German air raid).

As for the impressions that can be obtained by driving away from the coast towards Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and the Nile, their importance cannot be overestimated. In the Sinai Peninsula, the most significant targets for travel are Mount Moses and at its foot the Greek monastery of St. Catherine with a collection of ancient Orthodox icons and unique manuscripts. Eilat in Israel has the richest Maritime Museum with large aquariums, including a deep-sea aquarium. Like Eilat, neighboring Jordanian Aqaba duty-free zone, there is also an aquarium, but more modest. And the most curious thing here is the Mamluk fortress of the XVI century and Pharaoh’s Island with the fortress of Saladdin. On the coast flutters the world’s largest flag – the symbol of the Jordanian Revolution measuring 60 by 30 meters, on a flagpole 134 meters high.


In the 21st century, the Red Sea’s unique biosphere is under threat. It is increasingly polluted. It is not a question of harmful chemical runoff, but of household plastic garbage, which is dumped in huge quantities from passing ships. As a result, the shores are often littered with waste that poses a serious threat to most of the Red Sea’s inhabitants.

Tourism is also causing severe damage to the balance of the underwater world. This is especially true of coral reefs. The fact is that even one touch to the protective shell of coral can lead to its death. Usually guides instruct tourists, but it is impossible to keep track of everyone, and the coral “gardens” of the Red Sea, enchanting with their beauty, may one day disappear. Coral reefs are subject to heavy fines for damage. But the main protection for them civilized behavior of everyone who comes here to relax and gain impressions.

General information

  • Inland sea of the Indian Ocean.
  • Countries of the basin: Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Djibouti.
  • Islands and archipelagos: Kamaran, Tiran, Harmil, Dahlak, Farsan, Hanish.
  • Important ports: Aqaba (Jordan), Eilat (Israel), Massawa (Eritrea), Port Sudan (Sudan), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Suez (Egypt).
  • Surface area: 438,000 km2.
  • Maximum length: 2250 km.
  • Maximum width: 335 km.
  • Volume: 233,000 km3.
  • Depth: up to 2,211 meters.
  • Average depth: 490 meters.
  • Salinity: 40-60%.
  • Climate and weather
  • One of the warmest seas on the planet (all year round the water temperature is above +20ºC).
  • Average winter temperature: +22.5ºC.
  • Summer temperature: up to +40ºC.


  • Among the main sea arteries of international transportation in the world.
  • Fishing.
  • Services: tourism (resorts, diving).


  • Sinai peninsula (Egypt);
  • Eilat (Israel): Maritime museum;
  • Aqaba (Jordan): Marine Aquarium, Mamluk Fortress, Pharaoh’s Island with Saladzin Fortress;
  • Ras Mohammed National Marine Reserve (Egypt);
  • Coral Reefs.

Fun Facts

  • There is a huge number of versions about the origin of the name of the Red Sea. One of the main ones explains the appearance of such a name quite simply: on the seabed there are blue algae, which when fading acquire a reddish hue.
  • It is believed that under the legendary biblical sea, whose waves parted before Moses, and then clashed again, ruining the pursuing Jewish people of the Egyptians, meant the Red Sea.
  • The Red Sea is subject to great evaporation. There are no rivers flowing into it, but the small number of water sources does not lead to the drying up of the sea: the volume of water coming from the Gulf of Aden is quite enough to replenish the lost water reserves.
  • The first attempts to create an additional outlet from the Red Sea were made by the Egyptians in the II millennium BC. Then a structure was built to connect the Red Sea with the Nile River. This canal served for quite a long time, but in 776, during the period when Egypt succumbed to the onslaught of the Arabs, it was razed to the ground, as it interfered with the trade policy of the Arab domains. Although there were later plans to bring the canal back to life, the plan never materialized.
  • Against the background of the threat of pollution of the Red Sea, the Egyptian government has decided to take measures to protect the unique natural object, on which the economic well-being of the country largely depends. In particular, it is planned to hold regular actions to collect garbage from the seabed (for this purpose, volunteers with diving experience are invited).
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