The Suez Canal in Egypt was opened in 1869. The shipping canal is 171 km (106 miles) long and connects the Mediterranean at Port Said with the Red Sea. A substantial shareholding (172,602 shares) was purchased by the British government in 1875.
In 1882 the British Army occupied Egypt in order to protect the Suez Canal. They remained in Egypt and the British government installed a Counsul-General to rule the country. On the outbreak of the Second World War the British had 36,000 troops guarding the canal and the Arabian oil fields.