The Suez Canal opened to shipping on 17 November 1869.
Excavation of the Canal had taken ten years, using forced labor and rudimentary mechanical equipment.
Construction had been opposed by British interests, who feared competition in trade with India. Once the Canal opened and proved successful, British interests acquired a majority ownership.
The Canal was closed to shipping during the Suez Crises of 1956-57 and during the Arab-Israeli Wars of 1967 and 1973. In 2008, over 21,000 ships transited the Canal, earning the Government of Egypt over $5 billion in tolls.
Recently, a second lane to the Canal has been completed and placed into service.