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The Suez Canal (Arabic: قناة السويس, Qanā al-Suways, French: Le Canal de Suez) is a canal in Egypt. It lies west of the Sinai Peninsula. The canal is 163 km long (101 miles) and, at its narrowest point, 300 m wide (984 ft). It runs between Port Said (Būr Sa'īd) on the Mediterranean Sea, and Suez (al-Suways) on the Red Sea. It was built by a French company. The canal was started in 1859 and finished in 1869.
In 1859, the Suez Canal was built by Ferdinand de Lesseps of the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company, and took 10 years to build. The first ship passed through the canal 17 November, 1869; Giuseppe Verdi wrote the famous opera Aida for this ceremony.
The canal made it possible to easily transport goods across the world. The canal also allowed Europeans to travel to East Africa, and this area was soon controlled by European powers. The British tried to stop it, fearing that it would increase French power in the Indian Ocean. Later, they bought shares in the company.
The success of the Suez Canal encouraged the French to try to build the Panama Canal. But they did not finish it. The Panama Canal was finished later.
About 15,000 ships pass through the canal each year, which is about 14% of world shipping. Each ship takes up to 16 hours to cross the canal. In 2015 a central part of the canal was expanded so more ships can go through and go faster.