Top 10 Busiest Ports in The World

Seaports are the temporary homes to shipping containers, gateways to the imported cargoes and exit gates to facilitate export. They play a vital role in facilitating a smooth trade between the countries and continents. From ensuring safety for the entering, operations and departure of the seagoing vessels in the seaport to providing equipment to anchor, load, and unload cargoes, they have remarkable importance.

With around 17 million shipping containers across the globe, they make around 200 million trips annually crossing every big and small seaport. Industrialists, businesses, shippers from across the world rely on containers shipping services for a smooth and timely flow of raw material and finished products to and from the country.

Seaports are compacted with millions of cargo containers, some waiting to be loaded on board vessels, some waiting to be released to free space for new containers. Not every seaport experience huge container traffic. Out of 835 seaports currently active in the world, we are going to talk about the top 10 busiest seaports.

What determines the busyness?

More the container traffic, busier is the port. With the businesses growing and the trade booming, the container traffic and cargo volume has tremendously skyrocketed over the past few years.

Here is the list of the top 10 busiest seaports in the world.

10. Port of Tianjin, China

Listed on the tenth position from the top, the port of Tianjin formerly known as Tanggu is the largest port in Northern China and the main gateway to Beijing. Situated on the western shore of the Bohai Bay, 170 Km south of Beijing and 60 km east to Tianjin City, it covers 121 square kms of the land surface. It trades with more than 600 other ports connecting 180 countries and territories.

The data of 2013 says that the Tianjin port alone handled 500 million tons of cargo and 13 million TEUs or 20ft shipping containers making it rank fourth by throughout tonnage and ninth in container circulation in the world. Its average daily cargo value is noted to be $477 million. Being at the core of the BMA’s ambitious development program, it aims to become the primary logistics and shipping hub of North China.

9. Jebel Ali, UAE

Situated in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Jebel Ali with 15.6 million TEU in 2016, ranked ninth among the top ten busiest seaports of the world. It is operated by DP world UAE and it is the largest man-made harbour and the biggest port in the Middle East.

Constructed in 1970, the Jebel Ali connects with more than 140 other ports worldwide. It spreads over 134 square kms of land and encompasses over one million square meters of container yard. Besides, it provides 960 thousand square meters of open storage space. Jebel Ali received the Golden Award in 2011 for Best Seaport Overall from the Higher Committee for UAE Civil Seaports and Airport Security.

8. Qingdao

Situated beside the Yellow Sea in the vicinity of Qingdao, Shandong Province, people’s Republic of China, the Qingdao ranks eighth in the list. The Qingdao is well known for handling bulk carrier vessels, with its handling figure crossing 18 million TEU in 2016. Like many of China’s famous seaports, Qingdao has a rich history. In 2011, it signed a strategic alliance with the largest port of the Republic of Korea aiming to build a shipping and logistics centre in Northeast Asia. Currently, it includes the Qingdao Old port, the Huangdao Oil Port, and the Qianwan New Port.

7. Guangzhou

Also known as ‘the Silk Road on the Sea’, covering nearly 250 miles of coastline in Southern China, Guangzhou is currently the largest comprehensive port in South China. Located in the Pearl River Delta, it connects with more than 100 other ports in China and 300 ports in the world. It comprises four main areas including port of Downtown, Huangpu, Xinsha, and Nansha.

The Guangzhou is operated by a state-owned company named Guanzhou Port Group Co. Ltd. In 1999, it surpassed its annual cargo volume of 100 million tons and ranked second in Mainland China with such record volume. The cargo traffic has increased significantly since then. It surpassed 300 million tons and 665 million TEUs in 2006 and 460 million tons of cargo in 2012. It is currently the largest loading and discharging seaport for coal in China.

6. Port of Busan

With a rank holding of six, Busan is known to be the largest port in South Korea, located in the southern end of the Korean Peninsula. It is situated at the mouth of the Nakdong river facing the Tsushima Island of Japan. It was established in 1876 as a small port to trade with China and Japan. Ever since its establishment, the port continues to grow and by 2003, it ranked at fourth position among the top largest container port in the world. A smooth connection between Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong contributes to its vast growth. In 2015, the port handled over 10 million trans-shipment containers and it surpassed its container traffic by handling more than 20 million TEUs in 2017.

5. Port of Hong Kong

The port of Hong Kong is a deep-water seaport located by the South China Sea. It is one of the key contributors in the economic development of Hong Kong. Although the port mainly deals with manufactured products and also raw materials, the natural shelters and deep water of Victoria Harbour provide ideal conditions of berthing and facilitating all types of vessels. The port set a record in its container traffic in 2007 by handling 23.9 million TEUs, maintaining its status as the largest container port serving Southern China. The year recorded 456,00 vessels carrying 243 million tons of cargoes. Handling over 330 container liner services per week, the port connects the region to over 470 locations around the world. It has been one of the busiest seaports in the world in terms of cargo shipment, container handling, and passenger movement.

4. Ningbo

Ningbo-Zhoushan is located on the coast of the East China Sea, in Zhejiang province south of Hangzhou Bay. It is known as China’s third busiest seaport officially formed after the merger of Ningbo and Zhoushan ports in 2006. Ningbo has its existence since 738 during China’s ancient history and it was one of the major seaports for foreign trade. In 2006, Ningbo merged with its neighbouring port Zhoushan for a combined container handling. Being centrally located, it connects with 600 other ports across 100 countries. It handled a total cargo volume of 744,000,000 metric tons in 2012, making it the largest port in the world in terms of cargo tonnage, leaving behind the port of shanghai for the first time. In 2016 again, it handled 23.3 million TEUs. In 2016, it became the first seaport to handle 900 million tons of cargo.

3. Shenzhen

The Port of Shenzhen is formed by a combination of several smaller ports along parts of the 260 km long coastline of Shenzhen, China. It is located on the Kowloon peninsula, along 162 miles of Guangdong province coastline serving businesses around the Peral River Delta. The combination of ports as a whole makes it one of the busiest and fastest developing ports in terms of container handling and cargo tonnage. It hosts 39 shipping companies with 131 international container routes. It has a total of 140 berths, 560 ships on call, 21 feeder routes. The year 2016 witnessed a total of 23.98 million TEUs of container handling.

2. Port of Singapore

Till 2010, the port of Singapore cherished being at the top on the list but now it ranks second in terms of total shipping tonnage. It accounts for one-seventh of the world’s container shipment, trans-ships one-fifth of the world’s shipping containers, half of the world’s annual crude oil. It is the largest port giving space to refrigerated shipping containers/reefers and was busiest in terms of total cargo tonnage handling until the Port of Shanghai surpassed it in 2005. It is also the world’s biggest bunkering hub, with 25 million tons sold in the same year.

Singapore port connects to 600 other ports in 123 countries. In terms of cargo handling, Singapore is behind Shanghai with 423 million freight tons handled. In 2016, it handled 30.9 million TEUs carrying 593 million tons of cargo. The port also witnessed handling 1.8 million refrigerated TEUs in 2016.

1. Port of Shanghai

The port of Shanghai is not only the busiest but also the largest port in the world. In 2010, it overtook the Port of Singapore and acquired the top rank in the list. With a central location along the Chinese coastline and the Yangtze River Delta, it encompasses 2,200 square miles of land and handles approximately 25.7% of China’s international trade volume. Shanghai port plays a major role in making China the world’s largest trading nation. It handled 36.5 million TEUs in 2015 and it set a historic record by handling over 37 million TEUs carrying 514 million tons of cargo in 2016.

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