The dream of a canal across the Isthmus of Suez had existed since the time 4,000 years ago when the pharaohs built Egypt's first canal. (It linked the Nile River with the Great Bitter Lake, which then opened onto the Gulf of Suez.) This canal, however, was filled in, and for centuries trade with the Far East was carried overland across Asia. Eventually ships began to sail around the southern tip of Africa to reach the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea..
SUEZ Canal Then in 1858 a French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps, acquired the rights from his friend, Said Pasha, viceroy of Egypt, to organize a company and build a canal. On November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was opened with great ceremony at the northern terminus, Port Said, which was named for Said Pasha. The 12,400-mile (19,950-kilometer) voyage from London around South Africa to Bombay, India, was shortened to 7,250 miles (11,670 kilometers).
The Suez Canal is 101 miles (163 kilometers) long, or about twice the length of the Panama Canal. The Suez was easier to construct because it crosses flat, sea-level terrain and requires no locks. About 24 miles (39 kilometers) of the canal are channels dredged through lakes. Most of the banks of the other 77 miles (123 kilometers) are reinforced with stone, cement, or steel to help prevent erosionPanama Canal
Panama Canal The Panama Canal extends across the Isthmus of Panama from Colon on the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea) side to Balboa and the Pacific Ocean. The canal was constructed in two stages. The first between 1881and 1888 by a French company, then followed by the Americans, with their construction completed in 1914.
Panama Canal In 1883 it was realized that the tide level at the Pacific side was almost 19 feet higher than the Atlantic side. Engineers concluded the difference in levels would be a danger to navigation. It was then proposed that a tidal lock should be constructed near Panama City to preserve the level from there to Colon.
Strait of Gibraltar This perspective view shows the, which is the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Europe (Spain) is on the left. Africa (Morocco) is on the right. The Rock of Gibraltar, administered by Great Britain, is the peninsula in the back left. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16350