The Suez Canal is a 193-km artificial sea-level water passage, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
The canal is divided lengthwise into two divisions north and south of the Great Bitter Lake, with two horizontal lanes connecting Europe and Asia.
It offered the quickest shipping route between Asia and Europe and saving an estimated 15 days of journey time on average if it passes via Cape of Good Hope.
With the coming of the French invasion in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte expressed desire for digging the canal, but his wishes have been aborted at that time.
In 1854, Khedive Said ordered the digging, which took 10 years. 120,000 Egyptians from the one million workers have been killed during the digging.
The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869.
The pan-Arabist president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal in 1956, which was until then run by the British and French-owned Suez Canal Company, sparking the Suez crisis in which Britain, France and Israel invaded parts of Egypt.
The 1967 Egypt-Israel war has caused the closure of the Suez Canal for more than eight years, and then President Anwar al-Sadat reopened it in 1975.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered in August 2014 the new passageway be completed within a year, instead of the original three-year projection.
The new parallel waterway is 35 km long. That, in addition to 37 km of the existing canal that has been deepened and widened, which brings the project to 72 km in total.
The government said the new Suez Canal will allow two-directional traffic and cut the crossing time from 18 to 11 hours.