Technically speaking, the Suez Canal is the artificial waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The Canal separates the African continent from Asia, while providing the shortest sea route between Europe and the Indian and western Pacific oceans.
In 1858, Ferdinand de Lesseps formed the Suez Canal Company for the express purpose of building the canal. Construction of the canal lasted from 1859 to 1869 and took place under the regional authority of the Ottoman Empire. The canal officially opened on 17 November 1869.
It offers vessels a direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London by approximately 8,900 kilometres (5,500 mi), or 10 days at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) to 8 days at 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph).
The canal extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) including its northern and southern access-channels. In 2020, more than 18,500 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 51.5 per day).