Source of image: Museum Victoria.
Suez Canal, end of 19th Century
By 1874, British shipping dominated traffic through the Suez
Canal by four to one. Yet, it was owned solely by French shareholders
and the Egyptian ruler, Khedive Ismail Pasha. The two parties had came
together in 1869, to form the Suez Canal Company. At that time there
were several countries interested in buying the excess shares of the
canal. The French were the most serious contenders, but Great
Britain was able to secure the shares. This allowed
England to maintain the commercial integrity of its empire for many years to come,
particularly in South and Southeast Asia. Second, it established
a balance of power on the canal that probably could not have been created
if any other party would have bought it.