- from Age of Imperialism
The Suez Canal changed travel and shipping among countries. The canal stretches across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt. It is 100 miles long. Planning and building it took over 15 years.
The canal officially opened on November 17, 1869. At that time, it was the first direct water route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Before then, ships had to sail all the way around the bottom of Africa. The canal shortened the trip between Europe and Asia. It cut travel time between Britain and India in half.
The Suez Canal soon became something to battle over in the European “Scramble for Africa.” It was so important, Britain took over Egypt in 1882. Why? So it could control the canal. Egypt did not gain control of the canal again until 1956.
Today, the Suez Canal is still one of the world’s most important trade routes. About 300 ships cross it weekly. In 2015, a second lane was added. That way ships could cross in both directions at once.