chapter  42
3 Pages

Suez and Indian Ocean

The Suez Canal was built in the 1860s by a French-based international company, by agreement with the rulers of Egypt and of the Turkish empire. In 1882 the British occupied Egypt, completing a strategic chain in which the main links were Gibraltar, Malta, the Suez Canal and Aden. The Suez route became Britain’s imperial lifeline to its possessions in the east, which at one time included India, Burma, Malaya, Australia, New Zealand, much of East Africa and many of the Indian Ocean islands. Later, Britain became dependent for three-quarters of its oil supplies on tankers from the Middle East passing through the canal (41); its own North Sea oilfields were not fully developed until the end of the 1970s.