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Smaller canals connecting the Nile River with the Red Sea had been started as early as 1800 B.C., and the ancient remnants of canals were found by Napoleon in 1798 and, again, in the 19th century. But the finalization of a canal that connected the Mediterranean and Red Seas via Egypt was not realized until Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps proposed the formation of a company to build a canal. The Suez Canal Company was formed in 1858, and construction began the following year. It took 10 years to complete the canal, which formally opened in 1869. More than 1.5 million workers took part in the project, and thousands of lives were lost during its completion. Workers of many nations took part in the project, including thousands of Egyptian forced laborers. The canal is now run by Egypt's Suez Canal Authority.
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