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Dates That Matter

November 17, 1869

The Suez Canal opens for travel.

 Why does it matter?

The idea of a canal between the Nile River or the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea have been around for thousands of years. It was Napoleon, however, who set into motion plans for the modern Suez Canal between the Mediterranean and Red Seas, thereby creating a "short cut" between Europe and Asia. Under the supervision of Frenchman Ferdinand Marie, vicomte de Lesseps, Egyptian workers laboring in terrible conditions began construction in 1859, and it took 8 years to complete. Over the years, the Suez has been the center of political conflict because of its strategic importance to trade and shipping. The canal is 100 miles long and connects Europe and Asia in a shipping trade route that does not require travel around Africa. Today the canal is run by the Suez Canal Authority, a multi-national group.

For more information...

Suez Canal Authority
Official site of the Suez Canal.

The Modern Wonder of the Suez Canal
From an Egyptian tourist site, an overview of Suez Canal history.

Suez Canal Crisis
Brief outline of one of the most serious political conflicts centered on the Suez Canal.