The construction of the Suez Canal connected the Mediterranean and Red Seas. This 101-mile waterway allowed ships to avoid traveling around the southern tip of Africa. The Suez Canal is the shortest route between Europe and the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Linking the Mediterranean Sea at Port and the Red Sea at Suez significantly reduces seaborne trade operating costs, with more than 80 percent of the world's trade transported via waterways. The Suez Canal also reduces transportation time and how long ships must travel between ports.
Construction indirectly led to the industrialization of Egypt when the Suez Canal Company replaced peasants digging with picks and shovels with steam- and coal-powered shovels and dredgers. This machinery was responsible for moving about 75 percent of the 75 million cubic meters displaced during the project. Construction also brought in fresh water, which supported growth around the canal.
The Suez Canal played a role during the Cold War Era when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it. British, French and Israeli forced worked together to regain access to and control of the canal, but they retreated after the U.S. denounced the efforts and the Soviet Union threatened to launch nuclear weapons in retaliation. The canal remains under Egyptian control, which earns around $5 billion each year in shipping tolls.