Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps
GCSI; 19 November 1805 to 7 December
1894) was a French diplomat and
later developer of the Suez Canal,
which in 1869 joined the
Mediterranean and Red Seas,
substantially reducing sailing
distances and times between Europe
and East Asia.
He attempted to repeat this success with an effort to build a Panama Canal at sea-level during the 1880s, but the project was devastated by epidemics of malaria and yellow fever in the area, as well as beset by financial problems, and the planned de Lesseps Panama Canal was never completed. Eventually, the project was bought out by the United States who changed the design to a non-sea-level canal with locks, which was completed in 1914.