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Top 10 busiest seaports in the world

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Seaports have made a significant contribution to the growth of economies of countries across the world for centuries. Before we had automobiles and airports, seaports have been in existence, although in an informal set-up style. Most global trade still relies on seaports today. So, what are the busiest seaports in the world?

You will get the answer when you read this article. But keep in mind that a country’s economic strength relies heavily on its seaports. Without seaports, importation and exportation will be seriously affected, which can boomerang on an economy. The busiest seaports in the world are determined by the container traffic passing through them.

Therefore, below is a list of the top 10 busiest seaports in the world.

Top 10 busiest seaports in the world

10. Port of Rotterdam—The Netherlands

Port of Rotterdam—The Netherlands

The port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe. Located near the city of Rotterdam, in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands, it was the world’s busiest port by annual cargo tonnage from 1962 until 2004. The port consists of five distinct port areas and three distribution parks. Also, container traffic through the Netherlands port mostly consists of petrochemicals, biofuels and vegetable oils. Hence, about  15.3 million TEU containers pass through the Rotterdam port.

In 2018, the Port Authority CEO launched a €5 million incentive scheme for climate-friendly shipping. The port also aims to be emissions-free by the year 2050.

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9. Port of Tianjin—China

Port of Tianjin—China

Formerly known as the Port of Tanggu, the Port of Tianjin is the largest port in Northern China. It is also the main maritime gateway to Beijing. Located on the shore of Bohai Bay, the port is the largest man-made port in mainland China.

The Port of Tianjin was established in 1860 and reopened in 1952. It has a size of 49,421.07 acres, with about 20.27 million TEUs and 231 million tons of freight. In addition, the Port of Tianjin trades with more than 600 ports in 180 countries and territories worldwide.

8. Port of Hong Kong – Hong Kong

Port of Hong Kong - Hong Kong

The Port of Hong Kong is located by the South China Sea. It was built in 1970 and has a container throughput of 17.8 million TEU and 249.3 million tons of freight. However, it mostly handles manufactured goods but occasionally deals with raw materials and passengers. The Port of Hong Kong consists of three categories of shipping movements, cargo handled and passengers carried.

Furthermore, the natural shelter and deep waters of Victoria Harbour provide ideal conditions for berthing and the handling of all types of vessels. This is one of the key factors of the economic development in Hong Kong. In 2004, the Port of Hong Kong was ranked the busiest seaport in the world. But it has since been outranked.

7. Port of Busan—South Korea

Port of Busan—South Korea

The Port of Busan, located in the city of Busan, is the largest in South Korea. It was established in 1876 as a small port with strict trading between Korea, China and Japan. After the war with North Korea, the port was re-established in 2004 as a public company and is currently being operated by the Busan Port Authority.

The Port of Busan is located in a strategic position, which enables trade in 100 countries and 500 ports. The TEU is 22.71 million while it also has 91 million tons of freight.

6. Port of Qingdao—China

Port of Qingdao—China

The Port of Qingdao is located on the Yellow Sea in the vicinity of Qingdao (Tsingtao), Shandong Province, China. Founded in 1892, the consists of four areas, which are often referred to as ports due to their size: Dagang port area, Qianwan port area, Huangdong oil port area (for oil tankers), and Dongjiakou port area.

The Port of Qingdao had 23.71 million TEU in 2021 and 630.3 million tons of freight. Meanwhile, the world’s first suspended monorail capable of carrying fully loaded 20′ and 40′ containers began in this port, with the first phase of operation commencing in 2021 after construction began in 2020.

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5. Port of Guangzhou—China

Port of Guangzhou—China

Port of Guangzhou is the main seaport of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, China. It is operated by the state-owned company, Guangzhou Port Group Co. Ltd. The port was established in 1978 and currently trades with over 300 ports in more than 80 countries and districts worldwide.

The Port of Guangzhou also serves as a vital transport hub for industries located in neighbouring provinces such as Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi. With 24.18 million TEU and 544 million tons of freight on 1,700 acres, this port is one of the busiest seaports in the world.

4. Port of Shenzhen—China

Port of Shenzhen—China

The Port of Shenzhen is the collective name of some ports on the coastline of Shenzhen. The port is the home of about 40 shipping companies that have launched around 130 international container routes. Established in 1980, the Port of Shenzhen boasts 30,036,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), 194.9 million tons of freight on  3,953 acres of land and 26,193 acres of water area.

This port has 560 ships on call monthly. It also has 21 feeder routes to other ports in the Pearl River Delta region. Shenzhen is also known as China’s Silicon Valley. So, it makes sense that the city has a vibrant seaport which has access to other cities like Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau.

3. Port of Ningbo/Ningbo-Zhoushan—China

Port of Ningbo/Ningbo-Zhoushan—China

The Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan is the busiest in the world in terms of cargo tonnage. It handled 888.96 million tons of cargo in 2015 alone. Located in Ningbo and Zhoushan, on the coast of the East China Sea, the port consists of several ports which are Beilun (seaport),  Zhenhai (estuary port) and old Ningbo Harbour (inland river port).

The Port of Ningbo was established in 1738 but is currently operated by state-owned Ningbo Zhoushan Port Group Co. Ltd, which has 76.31 per cent shares. It also imports and exports raw materials sections such as iron ore, crude oil, and coal. With 31.07 million TEU, the port has received many awards and recognitions such as Top 500 Chinese Enterprises and China’s Top Ten Influential Brands in the Port Industry.

2. Port of Singapore—Singapore

Port of Singapore—Singapore

The Port of Singapore is one of the world’s largest refrigerated container ports, hosting over 12,000 reefers a year. It has also been ranked as the top maritime capital of the world, since 2015. This port handled 37.49 million TEUs, though it has a yearly capacity of nearly 50 million TEUs with its 53 berths. Its terminals are located in Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani, Sembawang, Jurong and Pasir Panjang, with its global PSA International port group having access to numerous countries and transportation networks across Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The Port of Singapore was established in 1819 on 1,482.63 acres. Half of the world’s annual supply of crude oil passes through this port. It was also the busiest seaport in the world in terms of total cargo tonnage handled, until 2010 when it was surpassed by the Port of Shanghai.

 1. Port of Shanghai—China

Port of Shanghai—China

The Port of Shanghai ranks as the busiest seaport in the world. Located in the vicinity of Shanghai, it comprises a deep-sea port and a river port. This port is also one of only four port cities in the world to be categorised as a large-port megacity due to its high volumes of port traffic and large urban population.

The Port of Shanghai was founded in 1842 and has the greatest cargo volume, handling about 47.03 million TEU and 514 million tons of freight. It is also the first of its kind to go public in China, officially entering the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2006.

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