The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. Ground was broken for the canal by British and French engineers on this day in 1859. The canal was deemed necessary to provide transportation between Europe and Asia without having to go around Africa. Over the years, the canal has been lengthened and widened so it now sits at 120 miles long and 673 feet wide. Under international treaty, the canal may be used at anytime during war or peace. The canal helped to dramatically increase trade around the world and is partially responsible for the colonization of Africa; however, anytime you mess with mother nature, there are consequences. Species native to the Red Sea (which has a higher salt content than the Mediterranean) have started to invade the eastern Mediterranean and displace many of its native species. Marine biologists continually object to Egypt’s plans to possibly widen the canal.
Fun Fact: The Suez canal can hold larger ships and more traffic than that other famous canal in Panama.