Suez Canal, Egypt
An idea born of the British Empire’s colonial interests, the 100-mile-long (160-kilometer-long) Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Thousands of men labored ten years (1859-69) to build this shortcut from the Mediterranean to the vast waters of Asia, and vice versa. Without it, a cargo ship sailing from Italy to Singapore had to go around the southern tip of Africa, doubling the time and distance. Today, an endless parade of supertankers, along this blue ribbon that cuts through barren desert. If you stand back far enough from the canal banks, it appears as though the giant ships are gliding through dry desert sands in the middle of nowhere.