Views of the Suez Canal, Egypt, 1867.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from 'L'Exposition Universelle' (France, 1867), showing a series of drawings by M Lancelot after paintings by M M Rube and Chaperon. The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea. Built by the French engineer Ferdinand de Leseps, the canal was completed in 1869, dramatically reducing the length of voyages to Australia and the Far East, which previously involved sailing around the southern tip of Africa. The Suez Canal is 163 km long and has a minimum width of 60 metres. In 1956 an international crisis broke out when the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Naser nationalised the canal.