The importance of the Suez area was recognized thousands of years ago when Egypt attempted the first canal in 1874 B.C. The first canal utilized branches off of the Nile river in attempts to make a waterway across the isthmus of Suez. The first canal proved unsuccessful, however because of its importance to the region, efforts were never halted and parts of the Suez Canal were rebuilt over and over again by ancient rulers of Egypt. In total there were seven unsuccessful attempts made ending with the failed Canal of Amir El-Moemeneen in 640 AD. As European sea travel became more prevalent, so did the need to shorten the trip to Asia.
The French were the next to begin plans for a canal. In 1854 Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French diplomat, convinced the Viceroy of Egypt, Mohamed Said, to allow the construction of a shipping canal through the 100 miles of desert between Africa and Asia, known as the Isthmus of Suez. Five years later construction began on 25 April 1859. The project took more than ten years to complete, and on November 17 1869 the first vessel traversed the completed canal. Due to its location, The Suez Canal is the shortest link between the east and the west. The canal bisects the isthmus of Suez linking the Mediterranean Sea at Port Said to the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea. The major importance of the location of the canal is that it shortened the sailing distance between Europe and the Far East , for example London to Bombay around the Cape of Good Hope is about 12,400 miles but is only 7,270 miles via the Canal. In todays shipping times it reduces this trip from twenty four days to fourteen days. The Suez Canal had an immediate and significant impact on trade as it greatly reduced the time and the risk of transporting goods. The impact became most notable at the dawn of the twentieth century. The twentieth century brought an increased oil consumption and the canal shortened the distance that Europe had to travel to the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.
Currently the Suez Canal is operated by the Suez Canal Authority. It is still at its original length of 163 km and is 300 meters in width, however, there are future plans to make the Suez Canal wider and deeper, in order for it to support larger ships. The Canal is as important today as it was in the 19th and 20th Century. It is one of the world's