Did you know that about 90% of the world trade depends on maritime shipping? With the e-commerce industry expanding and the world becoming more interconnected shipping ports will continue to grow. The majority of the busiest ports are located in Asia, but, there are still noteworthy ports worldwide. No matter where you venture around the world, there’s always a busy port ready to ship goods. When it comes to volume of trade in millions of TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent units) East Asia is the leader. However, United States, Europe and Middle East ports play a quite significant role in the global trade volumes and traffic.  

Top Ports Selection

Here are some of the top shipping ports around the world.

Port of Shanghai (China): In 2016, this port moved 37.13 million TEUs of containers; this tops every port in the world (according to the Top 50 World Container Ports). There are 125 berths in the harbor and collectively they can handle 2,000 ships every month. Placed at the mouth of the Yangtze River Shanghai handles about one-quarter of all of China’s Shipments.  

Port of Singapore (Singapore): Even though this port has seen some decline in volume because of competition with Chinese ports, it’s still one of the busiest in the entire world. They’ve handled 30.90 million TEUs and have 200 cranes to help move the high volume of containers.

Jebel Ali (United Arab Emirates): This port handles ships that come through the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Jebel Ali is well known as the main port for everything oil related and is located southwest of Dubai. In 2016 it has handled 15.73 million TEUs and is also the largest man-made port in the Middle East.  

Port of Los Angeles (United States): This port has 270 deepwater births with 133 miles of rail and handles the majority of ships coming from many Asian Ports. It’s the largest port in North and South America handling about 9.5 million TEUs annually (2018 historical record-high). The port of LA is spread over 7,500 acres with 43 miles of waterfront.

Port of Long Beach (United States): This is the second-busiest container port in the United States, after the Port of Los Angeles, which it adjoins. Acting as a major gateway for US–Asian trade, the port occupies 3,200 acres (13 km2) of land with 25 miles (40 km) of waterfront in the city of Long Beach, California. The Port of Long Beach is located less than two miles (3 km) southwest of downtown Long Beach and approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of downtown Los Angeles. The seaport generates approximately US$100 billion in trade and employs more than 316,000 people in Southern California. Its annual container volume in 2016 according to the World Port Rankings, was 6.80 million TEUs.

Port of Busan (South Korea): Known as the largest port in South Korea Busan is responsible for at least 19.85 million TEUs a year. The port offers two different uses; one side deals with fishing while the other focuses on trade. It’s located at the southeast end of South Korea where the Sea of Japan and Sea of China intersect.  

Port of Hong Kong SAR, China: Hong Kong sits in the midst of one of the busiest trade routes in the world. The port of Hong Kong handled a volume of 19.81 million TEUs in 2016, down from 23.12 million TEUs in 2012. Its volume has been decreasing in recent years due to fierce competition among the mainland Chinese ports. The Hong Kong port connects with more than 470 locations around the world and it has nine container terminals.

Port of Rotterdam (Netherlands): The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe in terms of cargo—(over 12 million TEUs in 2016, 12th position worldwide), located in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. Covering 105 square kilometers (41 sq. mi). With a continued capacity growth, the port of Rotterdam covers a distance of 40 kilometers (25 mi). From 1962 until 2004 it was the world’s busiest port, now overtaken by Shanghai and Singapore. In 2011, Rotterdam was the world’s eleventh-largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled. In 2012 Rotterdam was the world’s sixth-largest port in terms of total annual cargo tonnage. One of the deepest ports in Europe, the port of Rotterdam has continued to host growing ship sizes and its increased ability to transfer containers marks it as a main launching point for products in and out of Europe.

Port of Antwerp (Belgium): The Port of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium, is a port in the heart of Europe accessible to Capesize ships. It is Europe’s second-largest seaport, after Rotterdam. The Port of Antwerp’s inland location provides a more central location in Europe than the majority of North Sea ports. Antwerp’s docks are connected to the inland by rail, road and river-canal waterways. As a result, the port of Antwerp is one of Europe’s largest seaports, ranking second behind Rotterdam by total freight shipped. Over the years, its international rankings may vary from 11th to 20th. According to the world container traffic rankings of 2016 provided by the world shipping council, on the list of top 50 world container ports, it had a ranking of 14 out 50 with an annual volume of more than 10 million TEUs.

Port of Hamburg (Germany): A sea port on the river Elbe in Hamburg, Germany, is Germany’s largest port and is named the country’s “Gateway to the World”. In terms of TEU throughput, Hamburg is the third-busiest port in Europe after Rotterdam and Antwerp and 17th-largest worldwide. In 2016, 8.91 million TEUs (20-foot standard container equivalents) were handled in Hamburg. The port covers an area of 73.99 km² (64.80 km² usable), of which 43.31 km² (34.12 km²) are land areas. The location is naturally advantaged making it an ideal place for a port complex with warehousing and transshipment facilities.

Port Kelang (Malaysia): Port Kelang, formerly Port Swettenham, the leading port of Malaysia with an annual container traffic volume of 13.20 million TEUs, is located on the Strait of Malacca midway between the major ports of Pinang and Singapore. It is the port of Kuala Lumpur, the federal capital, 23 miles (37 km) east-northeast, with which it is connected by road and rail. At the mouth of the Sungai (River) Kelang, it is accessible to oceangoing vessels via the Selat Kelang Utara (North Kelang Strait). Sheltered by two long mangrove islands (Kelang and Lumut), its hinterland contains the rich rubber and tin areas of Kuala Lumpur and Seremban. Port Kelang was the 11th busiest container port (2016) in the world. It was also the 15th busiest port in by total cargo tonnage handled in 2015.