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11 Busiest Ocean Trade Routes in the World

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Which ocean is the busiest ocean and why, and which are the busiest ocean trade routes in the world? Let’s find out.

You have probably guessed the answer to the first question here. It is, of course, the Atlantic. But why is the Atlantic Ocean the busiest ocean in the world? This ocean had established routes since the ancient times, connecting Europe, Africa, Asia and in newer times (historically speaking) the Americas. Some of the historically important routes since the “discovery” of Americas were in the Atlantic Ocean, for shipping goods but also for trading slaves from Africa as well. Nevertheless, taking in mind the amount of goods nowadays (for example oil) some of the routes with the most cargo transferred are actually in the Indian and Pacific oceans (also having in mind developing and leading economies such as Chinese and Japanese).

Busiest Ocean Trade Routes in the World

Oliver Hoffmann/Shutterstock.com

Surely where the busiest ocean trade routes in the world start and end are the ports, but that is now the whole new subject, which you can see in more detail in 11 Busiest Shipping Ports in the World. Canals are also important parts of ship routes, connecting oceans and seas and very often represent shortcuts, like Panama or Suez canals for example. Panama Canal is also the busiest ship canal in the world. And in the end, on the similar topic, as we have here today, you can check out our earlier article on the 10 busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Now, on the matter of the busiest ocean trade routes we have looked on places such as Quora, Geopolitical Futures, Geography and Maps blog, etc. From the World Shipping Council, we’ve gotten the insight in the amount of goods and services occurring on major ocean routes. We have tried to make our ratings according to the number of vessels operating daily on certain routes, as shown on this amazing visualization of shipping routes provided by the UCL Energy Institute.

There are many busy straits in the seas and rivers, for example, Strait of Dover being the busiest sea route in the world, but we here have focused on those taking place wholly or partly in oceans. So let’s see some of the major ocean routes of the world which are also among the busiest ocean trading routes:

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