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The Top 10 Busiest Seaports in the World

Ocean shipping is an essential component of the supply chain for many industries, making it the cornerstone of international trade. Currently, there are 835 main seaports across the globe, moving approximately 99% of the world’s traded goods. With so many seaports, you may be curious about the top port sites. Check it out – the main seaports of the world are the following:

10. Port of Rotterdam

This famous port is one of Europe’s largest (and oldest) ports. The Port of Rotterdam opened in the 14th century and is in the Netherlands. It was considered the world’s busiest port each year from 1962 through 2004. Its ability to connect to London, Paris, and Germany’s Ruhr district makes it one of the most important distribution centers on the continent.

  • 2021 container volume: 15.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units)
  • Covers 41 square miles
  • Committed to carbon-neutral operations

9. Port of Hong Kong

This major port is located near the Kowloon Peninsula and is a vital sea trading hub in Southeast Asia. The waters surrounding the Port of Hong Kong are very deep, making it ideal for accommodating all sizes of shipping vessels.

  • 2021 container volume: 18.0 million TEUs
  • Covers approximately 689 acres and has 24 berths
  • Handles around 450,000 vessels annually

8. Port of Tianjin

While this may not be the largest seaport in the world, it is the largest in Northern China. The Port of Tianjin has nine port areas, and three – Beijiang, Nanjiang, and Dongjiang – manage most of the trade operations. Being one of the top ports in the world, it trades with more than 180 countries and territories around the globe.

  • 2021 container volume: 20.2 million TEUs
  • Handles metals, oil, ores, petroleum, steel goods, vehicles, coal, grains, cereals, and more
  • Connected to 13 Chinese provinces

7. Port of Busan

This busy seaport is owned by the Busan Port Authority and is located at the Korean peninsula’s tip. International trade is carried out in the eastern part of the port, while the western part is reserved mainly for fisheries. More than 30% of Korea’s maritime cargo comes through the Port of Busan.

  • 2021 container volume: 22.7 million TEUs
  • 120+ cargo ships come through the port every day
  • Established in 1876

6. Port of Qingdao

The Port of Qingdao is near the Yellow Sea in the Shandong Province of China. It began operating in the 18th century and is essential to worldwide trade in the West Pacific. Being a top port in the world, it trades with over 450 other ports in approximately 130 countries.

  • 2021 container volume: 23.7 million TEUs
  • Has the ability to handle a net capacity of 400 million tonnes annually
  • The largest port in China for crude oil shipments

5. Port of Guangzhou

The Port of Guangzhou, controlled by the Guangzhou Port Authority, is the fifth busiest container facility globally. Historians believe that this port has been operational since 200 BC, acting as an essential link in the “Silk Road on the Sea.”

  • 2021 container volume: 24.2 million TEUs
  • Located where three main rivers meet
  • Trades with more than 300 ports in 100+ countries

4. Port of Shenzhen

The Port of Shenzhen is the fourth busiest seaport in the world. It is comprised of numerous ports that are located along the Shenzhen shoreline in Guangdong, China. This government-owned port contains 140 docks and handles cargo vessels of all different sizes.

  • 2021 container volume: 28.8 million TEUs
  • Home to 40+ shipping companies
  • 560 ships are on call at this port each month

3. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan

This vital port lies on the busiest coastline shipping route in China. It is the third busiest seaport in the world, with links to 600 other ports across 150 countries. The primary cargo handled at the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan includes bulk, breakbulk, product oil, crude oil, liquid chemicals, coal, machinery, grains, and more.

  • 2021 container volume: 30 million TEUs
  • Has 19 port regions
  • Many of the world’s top shipping companies have offices at this port

2. Port of Singapore

The second world’s busiest seaport is the Port of Singapore. Because of its strategic location, Singapore has been an important trading port for around two centuries. The port has 130,000 vessel calls annually and 84 berths across six main terminals.

  • 2021 container volume: 37.48 million TEUs
  • Connected to 600+ ports across 123 countries
  • Has an automated container terminal named Tuas Port under construction with a predicted completion date of 2040

1. Port of Shanghai

The Port of Shanghai is the largest seaport in the world AND the busiest port in the world. It spans 2,200 square miles and is located along the Yangtze River Delta. This massive port surpassed the Port of Singapore as the busiest in 2010 and is often referred to as the world’s most rapidly growing economy.

  • 2021 container volume: 47 million TEUs
  • Has 19 terminal facilities
  • More than 1/4 of China’s trade is handled here

The Top 5 Busiest Seaports in the United States

While the U.S. doesn’t have any of the world’s largest ports, the country’s seaports still handle millions of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) each year. Let’s look at some of the busiest seaports in the United States.

5. The Northwest Seaport Alliance (Washington)

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, the fifth busiest port in the U.S., is a partnership between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. This port offers quicker U.S.-to-Asia shipments and has a great connection with Alaska.

  • 2021 container volume: 3.73 million TEUs
  • Leading facilitator of cargo trade from Hawaii
  • International trading partners are located in China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

4. Port of Savannah (Georgia)

The Port of Savannah, Georgia, is one of the top port sites in the U.S., offering nearly 10,000 feet of adjoining berth space. This port is the fastest by rail to Birmingham, Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando, and Memphis.

  • 2021 container volume: 5.6 million TEUs
  • Handles retail shipments, cars and machinery, refrigerated cargo, bulk, and breakbulk cargo
  • Fastest-growing port in the U.S. from 2000-2005

3. Port of New York and New Jersey (New York)

This seaport is the largest port on the eastern seaboard and the third busiest port in the nation. The New York and New Jersey port district covers approximately 1,500 square miles and serves the world’s leading ocean carriers.

  • 2021 container volume: 8.98 million TEUs
  • Six container terminals with the ability to handle nine 14,000 TEU ships simultaneously
  • The primary location of embarkation for U.S. military troops and supplies sent to Europe in World War I

2. Port of Long Beach (California)

The Port of Long Beach, California, is the second-busiest seaport in the nation and the primary U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade. There are $2 billion in port improvements planned over the next decade, with more than $1 billion for rail upgrades and expansion.

  • 2021 container volume: 9.38 million TEUs
  • 80 berths and six container terminals
  • Supports around 2.6 million jobs across the country

1. Port of Los Angeles (California)

The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest seaport in the United States and has held this title for nearly two decades. The Los Angeles Harbor Department, a part of the City of Los Angeles, manages it. This impressive port has 25 cargo terminals, 82 container cranes, and eight terminals.

  • 2021 container volume: 10.7 million TEUs
  • occupies 7,500 acres of water and land
  • Approximately 20% of cargo coming into the U.S. comes through this port

Final Thoughts

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