The Suez Canal was the first canal to separate two major land masses and allow boats and ships to pass inbetween. The Panama Canal was created soon after the Suez, as the Suez Canal proved that a canal could be built that would separate two continents. Without the Suez, the Panama Canal may have never been funded and made. ~Ares
The Suez Canal is and was used to for transportation of goods/supplies and people. When the Suez Canal was built, it was meant for transporting goods from South Asia to Europe. The Suez Canal was originally built by the French, but Great Britain bought it from them when it was completed and the canal became an important foothold in WWI and WWII.