Past Cities

Al-Isma'iliyah, Ismailia, Egypt

Al-Isma'iliyah, also known as Ismailia, is a historic city located in Egypt. Situated on the west bank of the Suez Canal, it holds significant strategic importance due to its proximity to the vital waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. Throughout its rich history, Al-Isma'iliyah has been shaped by various political and geographical factors, which have influenced its development, inhabitants, and historical events.

The city of Al-Isma'iliyah was established in 1863 during the construction of the Suez Canal, under the leadership of Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French diplomat and engineer. Its foundation was a result of the vision to create a centrally located town that could accommodate the canal's administration and provide essential services to the workers involved in its construction. Named after Khedive Ismail Pasha, the ruler of Egypt at the time, Ismailia quickly flourished into a vibrant urban center.

The population of Al-Isma'iliyah has experienced fluctuations over the years, largely influenced by political and economic factors. During the early years, as the Suez Canal was being constructed, the city saw an influx of laborers from various countries, including Egypt, Europe, and Asia. This diverse mix of people contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of Ismailia, with a rich cultural tapestry that blended Egyptian, European, and Eastern influences.

In terms of demographics, the city had a population of around 480,000 people as of 2021. However, it's important to note that this number may have changed since then due to various factors such as migration, urbanization, and natural population growth.

Throughout its history, Al-Isma'iliyah has been greatly affected by the political environment in Egypt. During the era of Khedive Ismail Pasha, the city prospered as a symbol of modernization and progress, benefiting from substantial investments in infrastructure and public services. However, with the economic decline that followed Ismail Pasha's extravagant rule, Ismailia faced challenges and witnessed a decline in prosperity.

Political events such as the nationalization of the Suez Canal by President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956 had a significant impact on Ismailia. The subsequent Suez Crisis, which involved military conflicts between Egypt, Israel, France, and the United Kingdom, caused widespread destruction and upheaval in the city. Ismailia, being in close proximity to the canal, became a battleground, resulting in the displacement of its inhabitants and the destruction of infrastructure.

Following the Suez Crisis, Ismailia experienced a period of reconstruction and recovery. The city's strategic location made it a crucial hub for trade and transportation, contributing to its revitalization. Additionally, the Egyptian government implemented various development projects aimed at improving the quality of life and attracting investment to Ismailia.

In recent years, Al-Isma'iliyah has witnessed further urban development and economic growth. The expansion of the Suez Canal, with the construction of the "New Suez Canal" inaugurated in 2015, has brought renewed attention to the city. Ismailia has become a key logistics and industrial center, with the establishment of new economic zones and the attraction of foreign investment. These developments have contributed to the city's growing population and its role as a vital link in Egypt's economic infrastructure.