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5 Largest Ports in the World

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Posted on December 7, 2021

International ports are critical to importing and exporting goods such as raw materials, food, consumer products, and more worldwide. There are over 360 commercial ports in the U.S. alone, and more than 800 ports across the globe. But of the hundreds that distribute goods each day, there are five that top the charts as the biggest ports in the world, according to data from the World Shipping Council.

1. Port of Shanghai, China

In 2020, the Port of Shanghai ranked number one in having the greatest cargo volume, handling about 43.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers.

Located on the East coast of China, its transportation network includes the Yangtze River and other coastal transport channels and it has access to inland rivers and nearby lake basins.

Being the largest port in the world, it’s no surprise the Port of Shanghai was also one of the first in the industry to go public in China, officially entering the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2006.

2. Port of Singapore, Singapore

The Port of Singapore ranks at number two, having handled 36.6 million TEUs in 2020 — though it has a yearly capacity of nearly 50 million TEUs with its 53 berths.

The organization has terminals in Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani, Sembawang, Jurong, and Pasir Panjang, though its global PSA International port group has access to numerous countries and transportation networks across Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The Port of Singapore’s real claim to fame, though, is being one of the world’s largest refrigerated container ports, hosting over 12,000 reefers a year.

3. Port of Ningbo / Ningbo-Zhoushan, China

The Port of Ningbo, now known as the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan after its merger, had a cargo volume of 28.72 million TEUs in 2020. Located in the middle of China’s mainland coastline, it has access to the Silk Road Economic Belt and waterways including the Yangtze River Delta, and connects to over 600 ports in 100 countries and regions worldwide.

The port is known to import and export raw materials such as iron ore, crude oil, and coal.

The Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan is well-renowned in China and has received a plethora of awards and honorable mentions for its success, including listings as one of the Top 500 Chinese Enterprises and China’s Top Ten Influential Brands in the Port Industry.

4. Port of Shenzhen, China

Comprised of multiple ports and growing, the Port of Shenzhen group had a cargo volume of 26.55 million TEUs in 2020. The organization is based in Shenzhen, China, in the east Guangdong Province, and has access to cities such as Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macau.

Although the main port is primarily a container terminal, it also supports bulk cargo and oil and gas distribution.

5. Port of Guangzhou, China

At number five is the Port of Guangzhou in China with a cargo volume of 23.19 million TEUs.

Located at the beginning of the Millennium Maritime Silk Road and having access to the Pearl River and Pan-Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, the port is known to have the largest distribution range along the coast of southern China. This alone has marked the Port of Guangzhou as one of the country’s most important ports in trade.

But perhaps what’s even more impressive is the port’s influence on other industries in the area, including real estate, aquatic products, business travel, and finance.

Honorable Mentions

While the majority of the largest ports in the world are located in China, there are a few other notable ports:

  • Port of Busan, South Korea (21.59 TEUs)
  • Port of Qingdao, China (22 TEUs)
  • Port of Hong Kong, S.A.R., China (20.07 TEUs)
  • Port of Tianjin, China (18.35 TEUs)
  • Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands (14.35 TEUs)
  • Port of Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE (13.5 TEUs)
  • Port Klang, Malaysia (13.24 TEUs)


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