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Ships Ahoy: The 10 Busiest Shipping Ports in the World

Would you like to know which are the busiest shipping ports in the world? Located all around the world, these harbors must be able to manage not only the incoming traffic of ships, but also the vast amounts of containers they bring along for the watery ride. This involves a great deal of organization, competent port authorities, extensive regulations and controls, as well as a solid infrastructure that can deal with the heavy traffic. Thus, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that the busiest shipping ports in the world are also some of the best, since they are bound to unite several important characteristics. After all, one wouldn’t picture old and run-down harbors as the backbone of global trade.

MSC Container Ship

As you might have seen in one of our previous posts regarding the ocean’s 10 biggest shipping companies, the transportation of goods is a major part of our world economy. This comes as little surprise, considering globalization has led to a sharp increase in foreign trade over the past few decades. Hence, making it onto the list of the busiest shipping ports in the world is no easy task, especially since so many different factors are at play. Certain harbors can have a great infrastructure, yet if the country it is located in is suffering economically, there is nothing a port can do to increase traffic. Hence, a stable local economy with ties to international trade is a must if a port wishes to grow in size and see its business increase regularly.

So how does one measure how busy a shipping port is? Well, there are actually many methods that can be applied, such the gross weight of goods processed or the square footage of the harbor. For our list, we decided to look at the total amount of merchandise that goes through each port, using twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) as our tool of measurement.

Considering all the facts mentioned above, one can almost guess where the busiest shipping ports in the world are broadly located. Where exactly one can find them and the amount of traffic they see every year however is our specific task, which we hope you will find of interest. So without any further ado, here is the list you have been waiting for.

10. Port of Tianjin – 13 million TEUs

When goods are headed to Beijing by water, they most likely go through the Port of Tianjin, the largest of its kind in Northern China. Despite being a relatively new harbor, Tianjin has expanded at an insane pace.

The first of the ten busiest shipping ports in the world has been revealed, and there are nine left to go. Check them out on the next pages.

9. Port of Jebel Ali – 13.3 million TEUs

Located in Dubai, the port of Jebel Ali has been on a constant growth trajectory since construction was completed in the late 70’s. It is the largest man-made harbor in the world and is the point of entry for goods heading in and out of the United Arab Emirates.

8. Port of Qingdao – 14.5 million TEUs

Another important Chinese harbor has made it onto our list, thanks to the sharp economic growth of this country and its major contribution to world trade.

7. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan – 16.8 million TEUs

Located along the East China Sea, the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan is highly important for trade, since it is a main point of entry to the interior of China. Ships can continue their journey on the Yangtze River, reaching the northern parts of the country.

6. Port of Busan – 17 million TEUs

As the largest harbor in South Korea, the port of Busan is crucial for trade and employment. It is located in the city of Busan, which is the country’s second largest city, housing over 3.6 million people.

5. Port of Guangzhou – 17.7 million TEUs

The goods that go through the Port of Guangzhou reach more than 300 harbors all around the world. It is especially important for industries located in the interior of China, since it serves as the nearest gateway to the rest of world.

4. Port of Shenzhen – 22.9 million TEUs

This is one of the largest and most rapidly growing container ports in China, with more than 39 shipping firms conducting their international trade through its waters.

3. Port of Hong Kong – 23.1 million TEUs

A vibrant and economically powerful city like Hong Kong would be nowhere without its harbor, which is considered one of the key elements of international trade. Thanks to ideal conditions, such as deep waters, the Port of Hong Kong is one of the busiest in the world.

2. Port of Singapore – 31.6 million TEUs

The Port of Singapore actually comprises several facilities and terminals, making it the main hub for the nation’s maritime trade. It was the busiest shipping port in the world, until it was surpassed by our number one some years ago.
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1. Port of Shanghai – 32.5 million TEUs

We have finally arrived at the number one position and are by no means surprised to see the Port of Shanghai claiming the spot. Thanks to its ideal location, ships can continue on their route to the interior of China, or drop off their load in Shanghai. Either way, it is the nation’s most important harbor for a reason, and thanks to economic growth, it is now the world’s largest.