When the first trade started its way through Europe during the 15th Century, no one expected that it will emerge into a billion-dollar industry that will serve as the backbone of the world economy.
The Portuguese expeditions of the 15th century were the first to bring European ships into regular contact with sub-Saharan Africa. The first steps were taken by Portugal and Spain whose seamen, sponsored, and controlled by their governments, began a great era of geographical discoveries. Ever since that, trade exploited and today Europe comes under one of the major hubs for trade, importing and exporting goods to and from countries across the world.
Ever since the advent of trade in Europe, several seaports have been made until now to exploit the international trade. The international shipping industry alone contributes to movement of 90% of the world trade. This is majorly because of the affordability, efficiency, and the ease in carrying thousands of shipping containers at a time. Even with the drawback of longer transit time, ocean shipping is still the most preferable and least expensive mode of transportation for the movement of high-volume goods and heavy cargoes such as machinery, crude oil, ores, construction material, etc.
In the article below we are presenting the largest ports in Europe facilitating international trade-
Port of Rotterdam
The port of Rotterdam located in the city of Rotterdam; Netherlands is the largest seaports in Europe. It lies along the North Sea in the Rhine-Meuse Delta. Besides its largeness, it’s the most significant harbour in Europe. What set apart this port from other ports in North Sea is its accessibility to even big ships due to the possible draught of 24 meters. Until 2004, it used to be the world’s busiest port which was then overtaken by Singapore and then by Shanghai. In 2017, Rotterdam was the world’s tenth-largest port in terms of annual cargo tonnage & eleventh largest in terms of 20 ft equivalent containers handling. It encompasses the area of 105km.
Port of Antwerp
The port of Antwerp is in the heart of Europe in Flanders (Belgium). It is at one of the best locations in the centre of Europe, which makes it easily accessible from all other ports. It is one of the largest seaports in Europe after Rotterdam and the fastest growing harbour in North-Western Europe. It encompasses an area of 13,000 hectares. In 2012, it handled 14,220 vessels, 57,044 inland barges. While in 2016, it handled 10 million twenty-foot equivalent cargo containers. This port employs more than 100,00 people.
Port of Hamburg
Port of Hamburg, often referred to as Gateway to the world, is the largest port in Germany. It was established in the year 1189. It is known to handle 12 million twenty- foot equivalent containers every year. In 2014, it handled around 9.73 million twenty- foot equivalent containers. It encompasses an area of 73.99 km2. The terminals are equipped with integrated railway terminals which gives a way to intermodal transportation of containers after being unloaded from the vessels.
Port of Bremerhaven
The port of Bremerhaven located in Germany is the sixteenth largest port in the world and stands at fourth position in entire Europe. The data says that it handled 4.9 million TEU in 2007 and 5.5 million TEU in 2015. It is located on the banks of Weser River which opens to the North Sea. It is one of the leading trans-shipment centres for intermodal traffic in German imports and exports. Due to its exotic location and area being accessible to various countries, the city has become one of the largest tourists and commercial hub.
Port of Algeciras
It is the largest port in Spain and the 7th busiest container port in Europe and one of the largest harbours in Europe. It is also known as one of the largest hubs for car transport in the world. It encompasses 68 hectares of area and has 10 km of quays in different basins. In 2010, it exceeds 70 million tons in total traffic handling more than 2.8 million containers. In 2016, it handled around 5.5. million twenty-foot equivalent containers overtaking the Port of Valencia.
Port of Valencia
It is one of the largest Mediterranean seaports and the fifth busiest seaport in Europe. It is located in Spain and has a total storage area of 1.2 km2. It handled 4.2 million TEU in 2010 and 5.4 million TEU in 2019 carrying around 81 million tonnes of cargoes. With such large volume, it ranked second in Spain in annual cargo traffic, after the port of Algeciras. It is also famous for its sound employing capacity. It employs more than 15,000 employees providing services to more than 7,500 ships every year.
Port of Havre
The port of Havre is the second largest port in the French city of Le Havre. Construction of port was started in 1517 when the city of Le Havre was found. Today it gained second rank because of its overall annual tonnage. It was built for cargo handling and today it is the largest container seaport with three sets of terminals- the Terminal de France, the Terminal Porte Ocean (TPO), as well as the TNMSC Terminal. It is designed to give space to all sizes of cruise liners. Le Havre marina accepts boats 24/7 without any tidal stress. In 2018, it handled 3 million TEUs.
Port of Trieste
The port of Trieste, a port in the Adriatic Sea in Italy is an international hub offering a way to both sea and land routes. It is subdivided into five different areas- three of which are allotted to commercial activities and two are used for industrial activities. The port is mainly used by the eastern and central European markets. It also has a railway network that connects it to the national and international network routes. It handled nearly 1 million TEU cargo containers in 2017. It has been given the status of a free port.
Port of Gioia Tauro
The port of Gioia Tauro is the largest container port in Italy and stands at the ninth position in Europe. It is located near the northern city of Reggio Calabria, south of Italy. Its located on one of the busiest sea corridors in the world (route connecting Suez and Gibraltar). It benefits from its 18 meters’ deep water and offers one of the longest quays, stretching to 3.4 kilometres in the Mediterranean Sea. It handled around 3 million twenty-foot equivalent containers in the year 2008.
So far, we have discussed the top ten largest seaports in Europe. In our previous article, we had discussed about the top 10 busiest seaports around the world. Hope the above-given information was helpful. The data may change from time to time as the ranking & position of ports keeps on changing but we will try to keep the article updated every time.