The world is constantly moving. Not just us, who take short trips or long journeys to get to our destinations, but the goods we use every day as well. Even the goods we don’t usually see or use first-hard. Stuff like petroleum, metal ores, coal, fabrics, food, electronics, and everything that surrounds us, besides nature, takes a few trips before it reaches us.
90% of all the goods and commodities we need in life travel by sea. There are thousands of freight routes that cargo ships take to commute between all habitable continents which are home to roughly 800 ports. Of those, only about 50 main hubs are responsible for the majority of the global world trade that takes place over the waves.
In this article, we’ll go over the top 49 container ports in the world and elaborate on why they earn a spot on our list by exploring every key detail that’s specific for each port. You’ll also notice that we have two ports that are tied for place 17, so let’s get started.
Few Facts About the Top Container Ports
This article uses data from the World Shipping Council, a global organization headquartered in Washington, Brussels, and Singapore. The World Shipping Council comprises important members who are responsible for regulating the shipping industry regarding sustainability and ecological practices, security, safety, business, and trade governance.
On our list of the top 49 container ports that we’ve curated with the help of the World Shipping Council, you’ll realize that the main continent where most of the top shipping container ports are located in is Asia.
Of the top 49 container ports, 33 grace the East Asian Sea shoreline with half of those belonging exclusively to China.
So, East Asia’s trade market is predominant even though Europe and the Middle East are geographically and historically the most heavily traded routes. This comes as no surprise, as China has been an economic behemoth with the mightiest manufacturing power in the past decade.
Regarding volume, over 34 million containers of different sizes are transported through the container ports per year, carrying billions of tons of valuable cargo.
Ranking Ports Based on Volume of Transported Cargo
To assess volumes of shipped cargo, the usual approach is to count how many 20-foot containers have been counted during inflow and outflow of a given port. A 20-foot container (6.1 meters) represents a twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU). So, if a shipping container is of a 40-foot size (which most shipped containers are), it’s counted as two TEU (40/20).
In the following chart, we’ll list the top 50 ports ranked by the volume of container traffic represented in million TEU. The period of measuring dates from 2016 to 2020.
|#||Container Port||2020 volume||2019 volume||2018 volume||2017 volume||2016 volume|
|6||Busan, South Korea||21.6||22.0||21.7||20.5||19.9|
|10||Rotterdam, The Netherlands||14.4||14.8||14.5||13.7||12.4|
|11||Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE||13.5||14.1||15.0||15.4||14.8|
|12||Port Klang, Malaysia||13.2||13.6||12.3||12.0||13.2|
|17||Los Angeles, USA||9.2||9.3||9.5||9.3||8.9|
|19||Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia||9.9||9.1||9.0||8.3||8.3|
|20||Laem Chabang, Thailand||7.6||8.1||8.1||7.7||7.2|
|22||Long Beach, USA||8.1||7.6||8.1||7.7||6.8|
|23||Tanjung Priok, Indonesia||6.2||7.6||7.6||6.1||5.5|
|24||New York/New Jersey, USA||7.6||7.5||7.2||6.7||6.3|
|25||Colombo, Sri Lanka||6.9||7.2||7.1||6.2||5.7|
|33||Hai Phong, Vietnam||n/a||5.1||5.0||n/a||n/a|
|35||Nhava Sheva, India||4.7||5.1||5.1||4.8||4.4|
|37||Tanger Med, Morocco||5.8||4.8||3.5||3.3||3.0|
|44||Jeddah, Saudi Arabia||n/a||4.4||4.1||4.2||4.0|
|49||Beibu Gulf, China||n/a||3.8||n/a||n/a||n/a|
*numbers are rounded and represented in million TEUs
Key Characteristics of All Top Container Ports
The chart below will provide you with a better insight into what’s notable about each port: which country they belong to, their specific location, which region they’re most active in, and how much land/water area they cover.
|1||Shanghai||China||Delta of the Yangtze River||East Asia||3,619km²|
|2||Singapore||Singapore||Strait of Singapore||Southeast Asia||6.200km²|
|3||Ningbo-Zhoushan||China||Delta of the Yangtze River||East Asia||9.365km2|
|4||Shenzhen||China||Delta of the Pearl River||East Asia||3.730km2|
|5||Guangzhou||China||Delta of the Pearl River||East Asia||6.879km2|
|6||Busan||South Korea||Strait of Korea||East Asia||2.907km2|
|7||Qingdao||China||Yellow Sea||East Asia||6.133km2|
|8||Hong Kong||Hong Kong||Delta of the Pearl River||East Asia||2.790km2|
|9||Tianjin||China||Yellow Sea||East Asia||131.0km2|
|10||Rotterdam||The Netherlands||Delta of the Rhine River||Europe||127.1km2|
|11||Jebel Ali, Dubai||UAE||Gulf of Persia||West Asia||134.7km2|
|12||Port Klang||Malaysia||Strait of Malacca||Southeast Asia||9.639km2|
|13||Xiamen||China||Strait of Taiwan||East Asia||18.90km2|
|14||Antwerp||Belgium||Delta of the Scheldt River||Europe||120.7km2|
|15||Kaohsiung||Taiwan||Strait of Taiwan||East Asia||5.204km2|
|16||Dalian||China||Yellow Sea||East Asia||15.02km2|
|17||Los Angeles||USA||US West Coast||North America||30.00km2|
|19||Tanjung Pelepas||Malaysia||Strait of Johor||Southeast Asia||7.831km²|
|20||Laem Chabang||Thailand||Gulf of Thailand||Southeast Asia||10.41km²|
|21||Yokohama||Japan||Bay of Tokyo||East Asia||73.00km²|
|22||Long Beach||USA||US West Coast||North America||13.00km²|
|23||Tanjung Priok||Indonesia||Java Sea||Southeast Asia||10.28km²|
|24||New York/New Jersey||USA||US East Coast||North America||~40.00km²|
|25||Colombo||Sri Lanka||Laccadive Sea||South Asia||4.856km²|
|26||Saigon||Vietnam||South China Sea||Southeast Asia||2.630km²|
|27||Suzhou||China||Delta of the Yangtze River||East Asia||n/a|
|29||Yingkou||China||Liaodong Bay||East Asia||~15.00km²|
|30||Valencia||Spain||Western Mediterranean Sea||Europe||~6.00km²|
|31||Manila||Philippines||Manila Bay||Southeast Asia||1.375km²|
|32||Taicang||China||Delta of the Yangtze River||East Asia||~80.00km²|
|33||Hai Phong||Vietnam||Delta of the Red River||Southeast Asia||0.993km²|
|34||Algeciras||Spain||Strait of Gibraltar||Europe||1.032km²|
|35||Nhava Sheva||India||Arabian Sea||South Asia||2.770km²|
|37||Tanger Med||Morocco||Strait of Gibraltar||North Africa||3.650km²|
|38||Lianyungang||China||Yellow Sea||East Asia||n/a|
|39||Mundra||India||Gulf of Kutch||South Asia||5.400km²|
|40||Savannah||USA||Savannah River||North America||12.40km²|
|41||Tokyo||Japan||Bay of Tokyo||East Asia||63.25km²|
|42||Rizhao||China||Yellow Sea||East Asia||n/a|
|43||Foshan||China||Delta of the Pearl River||East Asia||0.313km²|
|44||Jeddah||Saudi Arabia||Red Sea||West Asia||12.00km²|
|45||Colón||Panama||Bay of Limon||Central America||2.690km²|
|46||Santos||Brazil||South Atlantic Ocean||South America||7.800km²|
|47||Salalah||Oman||Arabian Sea||West Asia||10.71km²|
|48||Dongguan||China||Delta of the Pearl River||East Asia||52.0km²|
|49||Beibu Gulf||China||Beibu Gulf||East Asia||n/a|
1. Port of Shanghai, China
- UN LOCODE: CNSHG
- Operator: Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG)
- Location: Delta of the Yangtze River
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 43.5 million TEUs
The Port of Shanghai is the world’s busiest and biggest port. It’s been in existence for 180 years (it was opened in 1842), but became the world’s leading port only about 12 years ago (in 2010) when it took over the Port of Singapore.
Serving the economic might of China because of its strategic position where the country’s main river and the Yellow and the East China Sea coastline meet, this deep-sea port is responsible for about 26% of China’s foreign trade. The three main areas handled by the port infrastructure are Yangshan, Waigaoqiao, and Wusongkou.
The Shanghai port’s entire area amounts to a staggering 3,619km² while its quay length is more than 20km long. In possession of 125 wharves spanning over 19 terminals, the port is able to serve about 2,000 container vessels on a monthly level.
In late 2017, the Port of Shanghai became home to the Shanghai Yangshan Deep Water Port – the world’s largest freight terminal with an automated shipping load/unload system.
There’s also a terminal for cruise ships where about 1 million people per year arrive to visit the city of Shanghai.
2. Port of Singapore, Singapore
- UN LOCODE: SGSIN
- Operator: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
- Location: Strait of Singapore, in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 36.6 million TEUs
The second-busiest container port in the world held the top spot for a while (from 2005 to 2010) before it was dethroned by the Port of Shanghai. The Port of Singapore is publicly owned, making it the world’s biggest and busiest of its kind.
The Port of Singapore is crucial for the country’s supply of materials, ore, food, etc. since Singapore is a small island with limited domestic resources. However, the port also serves as the world’s top transshipping port, meaning 80% of the ships that pass through it, only do so to load and reload.
This port is connected to over 600 other ports in the world from more than 120 countries. That makes the port responsible for a fifth of the global freight trade.
Another key attribute of the Singapore Port is the fact that it has the biggest capacity for refrigerator containers in the world – about 6% of the port’s cargo throughput is in refrigerated containers.
Its six main terminals located at Jurong, Keppel, Tanjong Pagar, Brani, Sembawang, and Pasir Panjang are equipped with over 200 cranes that are capable of reaching an extended distance of 22 container rows.
3. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, China
- UN LOCODE: CNNBG/CNZOS
- Operator: Ningbo Zhoushan Port Co Ltd.
- Location: Delta of the Yangtze River in the Hangzhou Bay
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 28.7 million TEUs
From the top Port of Shanghai, across the Hangzhou Bay, lie the cities of Ningbo and Zhoushan which share the world’s third-largest container port – the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan.
Famous for being the world’s busiest container port regarding cargo tonnage (over 1 billion tons in 2018), the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan is also the oldest seaport in China (dating from the 5th century AD).
The usual cargo that is processed through this port includes manufactured commodities and raw load (such as coal, crude oil and petroleum products, liquid chemicals, machinery, and grains) carried over routes that mainly involve Australia, Oceania, and North and South America.
The port is connected to more than 590 other ports from about 100 countries on all 6 continents. It possesses 191 berths (39 of which are deep-water berths) packed with 204 quay cranes, thus capable of receiving maritime traffic of more than 160,000 container vessels annually.
The Ningbo-Zhoushan Port is nonetheless an important link in China’s economic chain, however, the heavy scale of maritime traffic causes intense water pollution in the East China Sea.
4. Port of Shenzhen, China
- UN LOCODE: CNSZX
- Operator: The local government of Shenzhen
- Location: Chinese Guangdong Province, southeast of the Pearl River Delta
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 26.6 million TEUs
The Port of Shenzhen is the third busiest port in China, covering a vast area made up of smaller neighboring ports on the coastline of the city of Shenzhen. The Port of Shenzhen consists of the ports of Shekou, Chiwan, Yantian, Mawan, Shayuchong, Da Chan Bay, Dongjiaotou, Fuyong, Neihe, and Xiadong.
The entire port spans a coastline of over 240 kilometers and operates on an infrastructure comprised of 140 berths.
Even though this port is prominent in transshipment services by connecting over 100 countries through more than 300 shipping routes, its main trade throughput and ferry services come from the neighboring cities in the Pearl River Delta (Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macao).
The international trade sector has shown great interest in the Port of Shenzhen and companies like UPS, DHL, Kerry Logistics, and Nippon Express have established their own warehouses there.
The Shenzhen region is famous for its technological development (dubbed the Chinese Silicon Valley), therefore, besides the many shipping companies (more than 40), tech giants such as Tencent, Huawei, and SenseTime have headquartered their offices there.
5. Port of Guangzhou, China
- UN LOCODE: CNGZG
- Operator: Guangzhou Port Group Co Ltd. (state owned)
- Location: Delta of the Pearl River, in between the Dongjiang, Xijiang, and Beijiang rivers
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 23.2 million TEUs
Similarly to the Port of Shenzhen, the Port of Guangzhou incorporates several smaller ports into its infrastructure. The three main ports are Nansha, Xinsha, and Huangpu, and there’s also the Downtown Port area consisting of three terminals for handling commercial cargo.
Like the Shenzhen port, this major facility processes trade within the province of Guangdong and its services as a vital instrument for the trade of the industries from several neighboring provinces including Hubei, Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Guizhou, and Jiangxi.
Nansha is the biggest port area of the Guangzhou port, responsible for handling over 70% of the maritime traffic that passes through the entire port area.
Its berths feature advanced quay cranes that can reach up to 65 meters in distance in order to be able to serve the largest container ships in the world.
The port’s terminals engage in shipping services such as loading and unloading, container cargo services, bonded warehousing, storage, and more. The type of cargo processed through these terminals is of industrial and agricultural nature such as ore, steel, coal, oil, automobiles, chemical fertilizers, grains, and more.
6. Port of Busan, South Korea
- UN LOCODE: KRPUS
- Operator: The Busan Port Authority (BPA)
- Location: 320 kilometers south of Seoul, where the Naktong River meets the Korean Strait
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 21.6 million TEUs
The biggest and the only port on this list that comes from the East Asian nation of South Korea is the Port of Busan.
Also known as the Busan Harbor, the port was opened in 1876 as a small facility with the purpose of handling trade between Korea, China, and Japan. Undergoing a growth, today, the Port of Busan is often a part of the top ten busiest ports in the world each year.
Comprised of four smaller ports (the South Port, the North Port, the Dadaepo Port, and the Gamcheon Port) and two terminals (the Gamman Container Terminal and the International Passenger Terminal), the Port of Busan’s main trade partners are Japan, the United States, China, Vietnam, Germany, and Hong Kong.
Everything from cars, vehicle parts, ships, fertilizers, coal, iron ore, crude petroleum, scrap metal, leather, rough wood, fats and oils, meats, sugar, natural sand, and much more is traded through the Port of Busan.
This port may be sixth on our list, but is, in fact, third in the world when it comes to transshipment trade. The South Korean government makes huge investments to further expand these operations and push the Port of Busan to the second spot in the transshipment industry.
7. Port of Qingdao, China
- UN LOCODE: CNQDG
- Operator: Qingdao City Port Group
- Location: Southern part of the Shandong Peninsula, below the Jiaozhou Bay and overlooking the Yellow Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 22.0 million TEUs
The Port of Qingdao is the key factor in the development of the city of Qingdao and the province of Shandong. Situated between both the Shanghai and the Beijing metropolitan areas, this port is a major trade hub and a crucial link in the West Pacific ocean trade.
The city itself is an important center for marine scientists and technology innovators, so its port supports and reinforces the local economy that benefits from foreign trade and international investments.
Some of the strongest assets of this port include its recognition as China’s most important port for transportation of crude oil and iron ore, namely because of its capability to serve the largest vessels and tankers in the world.
Its four major terminals include the Dagang, the Qianwan, the Dongjiakou, and the Huangdao port areas. Together, they’re capable of handling more than 500 million tons.
With its 96 operational berths, the Port of Qingdao is also famous for being partially automated and appropriately equipped for ample, heavy-lifting cranes.
Besides oil and iron, other bulk and solid cargo like steel, petroleum, aluminum, grains, and other conventional items are stored and transported at this port.
8. Port of Hong Kong
- UN LOCODE: HKHKG
- Operator: Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board
- Location: The Basin of Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi, on the Kowloon Peninsula
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 20.1 million TEUs
The Hong Kong ultra-modern Port is packed with nine container terminals overlooking the South China Sea. Situated at the entrance of the Pearl River Delta, the Port of Hong Kong is the first connection of international shipments with the region.
Even though the Port of Hong Kong has one of the smallest areas for shipment processing and storage (2.790 square kilometers), it is still very capable of supplying the entire administrative region of Hong Kong with the necessary demand and connecting its harbor with more than 470 other ports in the world.
Being an island nation, this port is responsible for supplying about 90% of the country’s total cargo.
In fact, the Port of Hong Kong has been the busiest port in the world several times in the period between 1987 to 2004. It still often makes the list of the world’s top ten busiest ports. Its 24 berths spanning almost an 8-kilometer-long coastline were able to process 20.1 million TEUs in 2020.
This world-class port features incredible shipyard facilities where vessels are not only maintained and repaired but also leisure boats and patrol vessels are produced and offered on the international market.
9. Port of Tianjin, China
- UN LOCODE: CNTXG
- Operator: Tianjin Port Group Ltd.
- Location: 150 kilometers south of Beijing, west of the Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 18.4 million TEUs
The biggest and busiest port in Northern China and the main connection for the Chinese capital Beijing to the Yellow Sea is the Port of Tianjin.
Known as Tanggu Port as well, this port is also one of the oldest in the region, dating back to the first century BC. Today, the port connects to more than 600 other ports from over 150 countries making it a vital shipping and logistics center of the East Asian region.
Being a thoroughly man-made port, this artificial port establishment is the biggest in China by spanning over 131 square kilometers and having a 34-kilometer-long quay.
The Port of Tianjin boasts 170 cargo berths which in 2020 were able to handle about 18.4 million TEUs. Ships of various sizes can be docked at its 6 anchorages and have their cargo processed at nine container terminals. There are also two terminals for passengers who arrive or depart the port.
The port’s progress was delayed for a while in 2015 after a series of explosions caused by chemical compounds stored at the port caught fire and killed 173 people and injured more than 800 others.
10. Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- UN LOCODE: NLRTM
- Operator: The Port of Rotterdam Authority (state owned)
- Location: On the Delta of the Rhine River, 20 kilometers south of the Hague
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 14.4 million TEUs
The Port of Rotterdam is the biggest, busiest, and most important port in Europe. Also, the only European port that made the top ten of the busiest ports list.
This port is renowned for its transshipment capabilities, the petrochemical industry, and its commitment to operate by eco-friendly standards and reduce the carbon footprint of its activities at a minimum.
The city of Rotterdam is also connected to a top-quality highway and railroad infrastructure, thus supplying the countries of the European continent with all kinds of conventional goods and industrial materials. It is estimated that more than 50 million people in the EU depend on this port for having their consumer needs constantly met.
The Rotterdam Port is one of the most modern ports in the world as well. The port’s terminals feature berths that are largely computerized and employ robotic cranes and autonomous chariots. There are all kinds of sensors throughout the port for identification, sorting, and storing containers, whose data is collected and processed by a cloud-based platform.
11. Port of Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- UN LOCODE: AEJEA
- Operator: Dubai Ports World
- Location: In the Gulf of Persia, 35 kilometers south of Dubai
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 13.5 million TEUs
The Port of Jebel Ali is the largest man-made port in the world and the second largest after the Port of Shanghai. It is also the largest port in the Middle East.
Considering that it was opened only recently, in 1979, this port has seen incredible growth and became a part of the Maritime Silk Road that stretches from Shanghai in East Asia, through East Africa and the Suez Canal, up to the Port of Trieste in Italy, Europe.
Covering a vast land area of over 134 square kilometers, the port features a village consisting of a population of 300 – mainly employees of the port.
Packed with 67 technologically-advanced berths, the Port of Jebel Ali is capable of handling over 15 million TEUs annually. Its deep-water anchorages and spacious piers are suitable for accommodating even military navy fleets consisting of aircraft carriers and their accompanying battleships. For that reason, this port is the top destination of the US Navy.
The port, dubbed Mina Jebel Ali, owns a few free trade zones which are an attractive reason for over 5,000 foreign companies from about 120 different countries to dock their enterprises there.
12. Port of Port Klang, Malaysia
- UN LOCODE: MYPKG
- Operator: Port Klang Authority (PKA)
- Location: In the Strait of Malacca, about 40 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 13.2 million TEUs
Formerly known as the Swettenham Port, the Port of Klang got its current name in 1971 after Malaysia broke free from British rule.
The Port of Klang is economically significant to the country of Malaysia as it contributes greatly to its export of herbicides, fertilizers, pineapple, and footwear.
Its four container terminals are equipped with 53 cargo berths. Of those, containers are handled by 24 berths, heavy shipments are handled by 11 berths, liquid cargo by 9 berths, and dry cargo by 7 operational berths. There are two additional terminals serving passenger ships – one for cruise ships and the other one for ferries.
An average of 13 million TEUs per year are stored in an open container yard the size of 220 thousand square meters.
The Port of Klang consists of three port areas: West Port, Northport, and Southpoint. All three port areas are operated by the Port Klang Authority but the latter two are privately owned while West Port is state-owned.
13. Port of Xiamen, China
- UN LOCODE: CNXMG
- Operator: Xiamen Port Authority Group
- Location: In the Strait of Taiwan on the Xiamen Island, Fujian Province
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 11.4 million TEUs
The Port of Xiamen is one of the most promising ports in China as it’s currently under further development in order to expand its annual tonnage capacity.
The port can currently handle about 11 million TEUs per year, serving container ships with up to 13,000 TEUs, but strives to expand its capacity and accommodate heavier vessels of up to 20,000 TEUs.
Being the closest port to the Port of Taiwan, the Port of Xiamen benefits greatly from importing and exporting directly to this neighboring port.
In 2010, the Port of Xiamen merged with the Port of Zhangzhou thus becoming the largest deep-water seaport in Southeast China.
The entire port area consists of 12 zones situated on the island of Xiamen and both shores of the Jiulongjiang river. Among those zones are Heping, Shihushan, Dongdu, Gaoqi, Haitian, and Liuwudian.
Xiamen is another Chinese region where technology is heavily manufactured and that contributes to the port’s development. Being situated between the metropolitan areas of Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, the Port of Xiamen benefits greatly from ferry services that connect the cities of Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wenzhou, and others.
14. Port of Antwerp, Belgium
- UN LOCODE: BEANR
- Operator: Antwerp Port Authority
- Location: Flanders region of Belgium, on the mouth of the Scheldt River
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 12.0 million TEUs
Coming right after the Port of Rotterdam, the Port of Antwerp is the second busiest port in Europe.
With access to Western and Northern Europe to the North Sea and Central Europe through the Scheldt River and the modern rail infrastructure, the Port of Antwerp is crucial to the economy of Belgium and the supply to the EU.
Besides its very convenient location, the Port of Antwerp has undergone massive reconstruction and investments that are promising for its stable future as a leading European port. The nearby Port of Zeebrugge is in talks to merge with the Port of Antwerp which will indeed reinforce its position on the world map.
Both the Right and the Left Bank of the Antwerp Port feature container terminals (North Sea Terminal and Europa Terminal on the Left Banks and Deurganck Dock on the Right Bank).
The Port of Antwerp features the biggest port locks in the world – the Kieldrecht Lock, the Berendrecht Lock, and the Zandvliet Lock.
15. Port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- UN LOCODE: TWKHH
- Operator: Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd.
- Location: On the west side of the island of Taiwan, in the Strait of Taiwan
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 9.6 million TEUs
The largest sea harbor of Taiwan is the Port of Kaohsiung. Surrounded by the municipalities of Lingya, Gushan, Cianjhen, Yancheng, Cijin, and Siaogang, this port is one of the closely situated deep-water ports to inhabited neighborhoods.
Being expanded in 2017, the port’s container and passenger capabilities are numerous – its 121 berths can handle container vessels of up to 22,000 TEUs. Storage capacities include seven open yards with a capacity of 120 thousand TEUs at a single time and about 70 sheds and warehouses that can store about a million tons worth of cargo.
Situated in a region known for its rich agricultural industry, the Port of Kaohsiung is famous for exporting large volumes of pineapples, sugar, rice, peanuts, and citrus fruits.
There are also two passenger terminals that see over 200,000 visitors come and go from the port.
One of the strongest assets of the Port of Kaohsiung is its IRS system. This image recognition system is implemented with the purpose of identifying and registering containers that enter and exit the port. This feature enables the port to reduce shipping and customs costs and reduce delivery times.
16. Port of Dalian, China
- UN LOCODE: CNDLC
- Operator: Dalian Port Corporation Limited
- Location: At the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, overlooking the Yellow Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 6.6 million TEUs
The Port of Dalian is the most northern deep-water port in China whose waters don’t freeze during the winter months.
Consisting of the Xianglujiao, Daliangang, Nianyuwan, Dalianwan, Heizuizi, Ganjinzi, Dayaowan, and Si’ergou port areas, the Pot of Dalian is the second-largest trade hub for transshipment in China.
Even though this port has been in existence since 1899, it received its first container shipments in 1972. That marked the start of the first freight container trade from and to China.
The average water depth of this port is about 16 meters and there are over 80 berths that handle domestic and international shipments of minerals and precious cargo.
The Liaoning province where this port is situated is less developed than other southern provinces in China and therefore it notices a decline in GDP. Therefore, the Port of Dalian is also facing an annual throughput decline.
Other factors that reduce freight shipments to the Port of Dalian are its neighboring Port of Yingkou and the reinforced land transport of shipments throughout China and the East Asian region.
17. Port of Los Angeles, USA
- UN LOCODE: USLAX
- Operator: Los Angeles Harbor Department
- Location: About 32 kilometers south of Los Angeles’ downtown, on the Pacific coast
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 9.2 million TEUs
The first port from the Americas that enters this list is the Port of Los Angeles otherwise known as America’s Port.
This port was officially opened in December 1907, but it was after World War II that it really got to flourish. Situated right next to the Port of Long Beach, it’s one of the crucial shipping points of international trade for the United States.
Today, the Port of Los Angeles is an example of sustainable, responsible, and environmentally-conscious shipping practices.
It is also a very profitable and socially important facility, creating over 16 thousand jobs and bringing in more than $40 billion to the Californian treasury each year.
The Port of Los Angeles is self-governed and doesn’t depend on taxpayers’ financing. In its property, it holds facilities that it rents to tenants and gathers fees and royalties. Other services performed at this port include dockage, wharfage, dockage, storage, and pilotage.
The port’s most prominent partner is China. It is well known for its exports of paper and paper products, and its biggest imports are furniture items.
17. Port of Hamburg, Germany
- UN LOCODE: DEHAM
- Operator: Port Authority of Hamburg
- Location: On the mouth of the river Elbe, about 80km southeast of the North Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 8.7 million TEUs
Germany enters our list of the 49 top container ports on the 17th spot with its Port of Hamburg which shares the same spot with the Port of Los Angeles. By handling 8.7 million TEUs of cargo in 2020, this port came behind only the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp in Europe.
The natural flow of the Elbe River makes the Port of Hamburg suitable for the expansion of deep-water docks and anchorages, warehouses, and various transshipment facilities.
This port is also one of the oldest in the world being put into full functioning in 1189. With its convenient location near the center of Europe, the Port of Hamburg developed the city of Hamburg to such an extent that today, Hamburg is one of the richest cities in the world.
There are a total of about 300 berths spanned onto 17 terminals. Four terminals are dedicated to handling containers, another four handle bulk cargo, three terminals process only liquid cargo, and three other terminals have multiple purposes.
There are also three other terminals for cruise ships and ferries that bring thousands of passengers each year. These terminals are capable of accommodating the biggest cruise ships in the world.
19. Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia
- UN LOCODE: MYTPP
- Operator: Johor Port Authority
- Location: In the Strait of Johor, right across the island of Singapore.
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 9.9 million TEUs
The second-busiest port in Malaysia is the Port of Tanjung Pelepas located in the city of Johor which borders the state of Singapore. Opened quite recently (in October 1999), this port is one of the newest ports in the world that experience fast development and often makes the lists of the top 25 worldwide ports.
Sheltered by the island of Singapore and situated in the narrow Strait of Johor, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas provides convenient docking and anchoring of vessels in a fast manner.
Its close proximity to the Port of Singapore makes it a tough competition for this port. Therefore, its main cargo is of a transshipment nature (about 90%).
The port’s 14 berths feature almost 70 quay cranes of the Super Post-Panamax type which are able to service some of the largest ocean vessels out there.
Currently, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas has a capacity of servicing about 10 million TEUs a year, but the Malaysian develops an ambitious plan to increase this capacity to up to 30 million TEUs per year by the end of this decade.
20. Port of Laem Chabang, Thailand
- UN LOCODE: THLCH
- Operator: Port Authority of Thailand
- Location: Gulf of Thailand in the province of Chonburi
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 7.6 million TEUs
The Port of Laem Chabang might be the third biggest port in Thailand, but it’s actually the busiest one. Bangkok possesses the largest port in the country, but due to the more suitable position and natural settings, the government of Thailand invested in a new port and opened the Port of Laem Chabang in 1991.
Of the total of eleven port terminals, seven are container terminals, one is a multipurpose terminal, one is a ro-ro terminal, one terminal handles general cargo, and one terminal represents a shipyard.
There’s also the passenger ro-ro terminal that has a capacity of accommodating about 60 passenger liners. Thailand is a popular tourist destination and cruise liners such as Star Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Princess Cruises are a frequent sight in the Port of Laem Chabang.
Since 2007, a modern railway connection has been implemented to link the Port of Laem Chabang to important cities around the country.
With about 8 million TEUs of cargo handled by this port each year, the capacity of the annual tonnage of cargo is about 80 million tons.
21. Port of Yokohama, Japan
- UN LOCODE: JPYOK
- Operator: Port and Harbor Bureau of the City of Yokohama
- Location: On the Japanese coast of the Pacific, in the Bay of Tokyo
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 8.0 million TEUs
Opened a century and a half ago, the Port of Yokohama rose to be the biggest and busiest port in Japan.
Spanning over a land area of over 73 square kilometers, this port is one of the biggest in the world. Its premises also envelop a waterfront area of about 28 square kilometers, 17 square kilometers of a highly-developed industrial zone, more than 4 hectares of marina docks, and about 1 square kilometer of recreational areas.
This port reached its height due to its high import of technology and the export of raw silk. Today, the port’s largest trade portions comprise machinery, automobile parts, metals, chemical products, and industrial products.
Boasts an impressive infrastructure, the Port of Yokohama consists of 10 piers including Osanbashi Pier, Honmoku Pier, Detamachi Pier, Daikoku Pier, Mizuho Pier, etc. The most productive container terminal in the world that averages over 170 crane moves an hour is located on the Minami Honmoku Pier.
The Port of Yokohama is one of the most scenic ports in the world as it includes parks, restaurants, shopping areas, and a promenade along the shore of its marina.
22. Port of Long Beach, USA
- UN LOCODE: USLGB
- Operator: Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners
- Location: On the US West Coast, adjoining the Port of Los Angeles
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 8.1 million TEUs
Located in San Pedro’s Bay, right next to the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach is situated. It’s the second port in the United States according to size and cargo volume throughput.
The Port of Long Beach is connected to 217 other seaports in the world through 175 shipping lines. The port’s major trading partners include Australia, China, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Iraq, Hong Kong, Ecuador, and Indonesia. Its capacity measures a cargo volume of more than 8 million TEUs per year.
The major imports of this port include furniture, crude oil, plastic, electronics, and clothing, while the largest exports consist of petroleum products, foods and beverages, chemicals, and paper products.
This port is also famous for generating thousands of jobs. Its newest capital improvement investment of $4 billion has a goal to transform the port into one of the most modern, sustainable, and efficient trade facilities in the world.
Just like the Port of Yokohama in Japan, the Port of Long Beach is a fun place to visit. With organized tours, the port offers various ways to learn about its history, the ships that visit it, and the ways of the ocean shipping industry.
23. Port of Tanjung Priok, Indonesia
- UN LOCODE: IDJKT
- Operator: Indonesia Port Corp
- Location: On the island of Java – the northern coast of the city of Jakarta
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 6.2 million TEUs
Indonesia’s largest and busiest seaport is the Port of Tanjung Priok. Gracing the city of Jakarta, the Port of Tanjung Priok sees approximately half of the foreign cargo that arrives in Indonesia.
Its maximum TEU capacity is about 8 million per year, and its total area size crosses the 10 square kilometers mark.
This port’s major success is due to its participation on the Maritime Silk Road that stretches from East Asia all the way to Central Europe.
76 berths are distributed among the port’s 20 terminals which handle all types of cargo. Among them are three container terminals, a terminal for general cargo, liquid bulk terminal, dry bulk terminal, oil terminal, scraps terminal, multipurpose terminal, chemicals terminal, and a passenger terminal.
Bad customs organization at the Port of Tanjung Priok has prompted an innovative project that aims to enlarge and modernize the port. The “New Priok Port” project will triple the cargo volume capacity of the port.
One part of the New Priok port was completed in 2016 and reduced the waiting time of customs processing from seven to three days. The rest of the project development is expected to finalize in 2023.
24. Port of New York/New Jersey, USA
- UN LOCODE: USNYC
- Operator: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Location: In the Hudson-Raritan Estuary around New York City
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 7.6 million TEUs
The busiest and largest container port on the East Coast of the United States is the Port of New York and New Jersey.
This bi-state seaport is spread over the various districts and boroughs of the coastal region of New York City that are part of the states of New York and New Jersey. These districts and counties include Essex, Queens, Bronx, Hudson, Union, Bergen, Kings, Richmond, Passaic, Monmouth, Nassau, Middlesex, Westchester, and others.
The Port of New York and New Jersey has been the pioneer in modern container shipping with the first ship that carried cargo containers sailed from the port in the year of 1956.
There are four large container terminals that operate most of the foreign cargo that arrives in the port, namely, the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, the Red Hook Marine Terminal, the Port Jersey Marine Terminal, and the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal – America’s first container terminal.
The city of New York is famous for tourism and lots of cruise and ferry traffic is active through its ports. There are three passenger terminals (Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and New York Passenger Ship Terminal) that see hundreds of thousands of passengers come and go through the port.
25. Port of Colombo, Sri Lanka
- UN LOCODE: LKCMB
- Operator: Sri Lanka Ports Authority
- Location: Sri Lanka’s capital, on the river of Kelani
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 6.9 million TEUs
Sri Lanka’s most prominent port is a piece of ancient history. Two millennia ago, advanced civilizations such as the Roman, the Chinese, and the Arab civilization were familiar with the Port of Colombo and frequently used it.
Today, the port is modernized and consists of mostly artificial facilities. There are currently 5 terminals and two more are planned to expand the current harbor (one of which is already under construction).
The Jaya Container Terminal features 4 container berths and 2 feeder berths, the Unity Container Terminal offers 2 container berths, the South Asia Gateway Terminal has 3 container berths, and the Colombo International Container Terminal features 4 container berths.
These 15 massive berths are packed with 26 quay cranes, 14 Super-Post Panamax cranes (two of which are twin-lift), 78 rubber-tired gantries, 4 wall-mounted gantries, and approximately 300 terminal trailers and tractors.
The Port of Colombo also offers a bonded warehouse of over 6 thousand square meters which comes with a storage room of 125 square meters for refrigerated goods. The entire facility provides 24/7 security service all year round.
26. Port of Saigon, Vietnam
- UN LOCODE: VNSGN
- Operator: Saigon Newport Company
- Location: Vietnam’s capital, along the Saigon River
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 7.2 million TEUs
The Port of Saigon graces Vietnam’s capital Ho Chi Minh City. The city was formerly known as Saigon (before the Vietnam war), but even after its renaming, the port retained its former name.
First developed during the French colonization era, the Port of Saigon was crucial for importing and exporting goods and commodities from the French colony. After Vietnam’s independence, the port has remained the main trade hub for the country and accounts for about two-thirds of the economy of the country’s southern part.
The Port of Saigon consists of a network of several smaller ports located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. Some of the most prominent container terminals of this port are the Cai Mep terminal which is a deep-water terminal suitable for American and Australian freight ships and the Cat Lai container terminal which handles only freight liners that use low-depth channels like many Asian liners.
Vietnam’s developed industry which includes agriculture, processed seafood, chemical products, construction materials, and mining makes the most of the exports that are handled by the Port of Saigon.
27. Port of Suzhou, China
- UN LOCODE: CNSZG
- Operator: Suzhou Harbor Administration Department
- Location: Along the Delta of the Yangtze River, in the Jiangsu province, China
- Container traffic volume in 2018: 6.3 million TEUs
The Port of Suzhou is the governing name of, in fact, three other ports situated near the city of Suzhou, China. These ports are the Port of Zhangjiagang, the Port of Changshu, and the Port of Taicang.
The port aids the massive Chinese shipping industry that’s situated along the Yangtze River Delta by having a multi-functional purpose. It’s a comprehensive port that mainly deals with international shipping and export of raw materials, iron ore, petroleum products, and more.
The Port of Suzhou’s total quay length is about 140 kilometers. Its smooth and deep waters make it accessible for large freight liners. The city of Suzhou is connected to its hinterland, which is economically highly developed, with impressive highways and a road system that aids the trade volume of the port.
To handle the cargo consisting mainly of coal, construction materials, and steel, the port administers 224 berths boosted with powerful crane systems.
Its main international partners are South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and all other Southeast Asian countries which the port has direct routes to.
28. Port of Piraeus, Greece
- UN LOCODE: GRPIR
- Operator: Piraeus Port Authority
- Location: Greek capital, in the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea,
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 5.4 million TEUs
The Port of Piraeus is located in Athens, Greece – on the crossroad between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Therefore, the port is of crucial importance to the trade sector of the region, especially for Greece and the Balkan countries.
As one of the oldest ports in the world, the region is well known and often visited by sailors and traders, thus becoming a part of the Maritime Silk Road.
Today, the Port of Piraeus is one of the busiest in the world. The Greek economic crisis prompted the country to sell the majority of the port in order to finance debt, so COSCO, a Chinese container company, bought 67% of the port’s shares.
With Chinese investments, the port expanded to include cruise and passenger additions, dredging, and improving the existing car terminal.
The port features three container terminals, a cargo terminal, two car terminals, and three cruise and passenger terminals that can handle approximately 3500 passengers per hour.
With Greece being a major tourist destination, the Port of Piraeus is Europe’s busiest passenger port. On average, about 20 million passengers go through the port every year.
29. Port of Yingkou, China
- UN LOCODE: CNYIK
- Operator: Yingkou Harbor Administration
- Location: Liaoning province, on the Daliao River and the Liaodong Bay
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 5.7 million TEUs
Located in the northeastern parts of China, the Port of Yingkou is the country’s tenth busiest seaport. Opened for international shipping in 1858, the port consists of two harbors – the original port that is situated on several sites on the mouth of the Daliao River and the newly constructed port that lays on the coastline of the Bohai Sea.
The Port of Yingkou is of great importance for the economy of Northern China and even Mongolia since it’s the main gate that connects these regions with other parts of the world.
The area around the city of Yingkou is rich with minerals and fertile lands that produce a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cereals. The city is also famous for its fishing industry and as an industrial center for factories such as canneries, paper mills, cotton mills, oil-extraction plants, food processing plants, knitting facilities, and more.
The major sea trade activities revolving around the Port of Yingkou include minerals and ore, steel, coal, sugar, grain, oil tar, timber, and wheeled imports.
30. Port of Valencia, Spain
- UN LOCODE: ESVLC
- Operator: Port Authority of Valencia (PAV)
- Location: Eastern Spanish coast, overlooking the Balearic Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 5.4 million TEUs
Servicing more than 7,500 ships per year, the Port of Valencia is the second-busiest port in the Mediterranean Sea and fifth-busiest in Europe.
Besides the major Port of Valencia, the Port Authority of Valencia that manages and operates the port, also envelops two other satellite ports – the Port of Sagunto and the Port of Gandía that are responsible for about 12% of the entire annual traffic of the port.
Being a mix of a natural and an artificial harbor, this port consists of 40 berths and over 70 wharves stretching along an 80-kilometer shoreline of the Spanish eastern coast. Its major exports include furniture, foods, fertilizers, ceramic tiles, construction materials, textiles and fabrics, timber, iron products, and even perishable products.
With plans to construct a new container terminal by 2030, the Port of Valencia will increase the number of people who are employed in relation to the port’s operations. That number currently sits around 15,000 people.
Valencia’s port has an annual cargo volume capacity of roughly 6 million TEUs and in 2019, its annual cargo tonnage breached the 80 million tons mark.
31. Port of Manila, Philippines
- UN LOCODE: PHMNL
- Operator: Philippine Ports Authority
- Location: Philippines’ capital, overlooking the Manila Bay
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 4.4 million TEUs
The Port of Manila consists of all the harbors, terminals, storage areas, and other facilities that handle maritime trade in the metropolitan region of Manila, the Philippines.
Satiated on an important location in the Maritime Silk Road, the Port of Manila is placed conveniently between the two busiest container ports in the world – the Port of Shanghai and the Port of Singapore.
Opened in the 12th century, the Port of Manila is spread over three major areas that span a land area of almost 140 hectares – the Manila South Harbor, the Manila North Harbor, and the Manila International Container Terminal.
Consisting of 12 piers and 22 berths, this port oversees about 25,000 shipping vessels each year. Its annual cargo volume capacity is about 5.5 million TEUs with an annual cargo tonnage of approximately 80 million tons.
Over the years, the port has been modernized and reinforced with solid road infrastructure that connects the port with the surrounding municipalities and the rest of the archipelago. On a yearly level, over 3 million passengers use the Port of Manilla, especially its ferry services, to commute within the archipelago and to surrounding countries.
32. Port of Taicang, China
- UN LOCODE: CNTAG
- Operator: Taicang Port Authority
- Location: On the southern shores of the lower Delta of the Yangtze River
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 5.6 million TEUs
Located on the crossroads in the heart of the Yangtze economic belt, the Port of Taicang isn’t only a shadow of the majestic Port of Shanghai (located right across the Yangtze River) but a major establishment on its own.
Its origins are closely tied with the city’s history of farming, agriculture, and fishing. Today, these economical practices are in decline in the region, but the port maintains a strong relationship with the trade of electronics, machinery, and automobile parts.
The Port of Taicang is famous for being the only freshwater port in the region, with a straight coastline and a broad, deep-water channel. It’s important to note that it stays ice-free and silt-free all year round.
There are two container terminal zones, a zone for handling petrochemical products, and a dry bulk cargo section.
The port’s berths are able to receive container ships of the third and fourth generation. The biggest percentage of the cargo handled through this post consists of gas, oil, steel billet and steel coil, chemical products, tapioca products, timber, roll paper, and wood pulp.
33. Port of Hai Phong, Vietnam
- UN LOCODE: VNHPH
- Operator: Haiphong Port Authority
- Location: Delta of the Red River, 90 kilometers east of Hanoi
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 5.1 million TEUs
The Port of Hai Phong is the busiest and largest container port in northern Vietnam. Built with high safety standards in mind, the port features modern equipment making it suitable for both domestic and international trade and cargo transport.
Most of the port’s facilities are situated on the right bank of the Song Cam River, right where the Beibu Gulf opens to the city of Haiphong.
The Port of Hai Phong consists of three major terminals: Chua Ve Terminal (area of 0.205 square kilometers), Tan Vu Terminal (area of 0.51 square kilometers), and Hoang Dieu Terminal (area of 0.139 square kilometers).
The infrastructure of this port includes 21 berths, 39 portal cranes, 8 gantry cranes, 33 wheel gantry cranes, 10 rubber-tired gantries, and about 140 container tractors and forklifts.
The number of services provided within the Port of Hai Phong is indeed a large one. Starting from the cargo handling, warehousing and storage of goods, and road and rail transport, to continuing with container repairment, cleaning services, towage and ship assistance, and other logistic services.
34. Port of Algeciras, Spain
- UN LOCODE: ESALG
- Operator: Port of Algeciras Bay Authority
- Location: In the south of the Iberian Peninsula, within the Strait of Gibraltar
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 5.1 million TEUs
The second busiest port in Spain (and third busiest in the Mediterranean Sea) is the Port of Algeciras. Situated strategically in the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean, this port serves as the main commercial, passenger, and fishing hub of the region.
When it comes to annual cargo tonnage, the Port of Algeciras holds the top spot of all ports in the Mediterranean Sea, even though it’s one of the newest ports in this part of the world (about 100 years old). There are two container terminals that handle cargo – the APM Terminals Algeciras and the Total Terminal International Algeciras.
In 2020, a strategic plan was conceived to enhance and promote the relationship of the Port of Algeciras Bay Authority and the Algeciras community in order to contribute to the general socio-economic welfare by maximizing profits and increasing jobs in southern Spain.
The Port of Algeciras Bay Authority also pledges to implement and maintain ecological practices of the port’s operations by preventing hazardous environmental impacts and reducing the depletion of natural resources.
35. Port of Nhava Sheva, India
- UN LOCODE: INNSA
- Operator: Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust
- Location: Across the Thane Creek from Mumbai, on the coast of Navi Mumbai
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 4.7 million TEUs
With a vision to become the leading container port in all of South Asia, the Port of Nhava Sheva (also known as the Jawaharlal Nehru Port) is the busiest port in India.
Accounting for about 50% of the country’s total container cargo trade, this port is one of the youngest container ports in the world. It opened only recently, in 1989, primarily as a bulk-cargo terminal, but soon managed to expand its services to a multipurpose cargo-handling port.
Connected globally, to over 200 other seaports, the Port of Nhava Sheva encapsulates five container terminals: the Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT), the Nhava Sheva International Gateway Terminal (NSIGT), the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT), the Bharat Mumbai Container Terminal (BMCT), and the Gateway Terminals India Pvt. Ltd. (GTIPL).
There is also a terminal for handling liquid cargo and a water berth for handling general cargo. Another terminal is in development; it’s already in its final phase and expected to open by 2023. Closeby, in Mumbai’s hinterland, a satellite port is developed to promote and improve the industrialization of the region and aid the trade process.
36. Port of Bremen/Bremerhaven, Germany
- UN LOCODE: DEBRV
- Operator: bremenports GmbH & Co. KG
- Location: In the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, on the Weser River banks
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.9 million TEUs
After barely surviving World War II, when it was bombed and largely destroyed, the Port of Bremerhaven was quickly restored and has seen continuous expansion and enhancements that last to present day.
With its fourth container terminal completed in 2008, the Port of Bremerhaven is the second busiest port in Germany. It encloses both major ports situated in the near proximity of the cities of Bremerhaven and Bremen.
Today, this port is the world’s leading container port regarding automobile transportation where several millions of cars are transported each year.
The ports’ land premises include everything from vehicle storage areas, container-handling facilities, and cold storage container facilities to dedicated facilities for bananas, grains, animal fodder, petroleum products, chemical products, and many more.
The Neustadt Harbor is one of the busiest logistics centers in Europe with an abundant rail network that operates on-site and connects the ports with every corner of the country through fast, modern intermodal trains.
The Port of Bremen/Bremerhaven is also a popular cruise destination given the rich history of both areas. It is estimated that about 100 thousand passengers arrived at the port’s Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven passenger terminal.
37. Port of Tanger Med, Morocco
- UN LOCODE: MAPTM
- Operator: Tanger Med Port Authority SA (TMPA)
- Location: Across the Port of Algeciras in the Strait of Gibraltar
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 5.8 million TEUs
In great proximity to Europe, the Port of Tanger Med is Morocco’s biggest and busiest container port. It happens to be Africa’s top container port as well, namely, because of its convenient location in the Strait of Gibraltar where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean.
The port complex is capable of handling 9 million containers per year along with a million vehicles and about 700,000 trucks. Its capacities for passengers round up to 7 million per year.
As a pillar of Morocco’s economy, the Port of Tanger Med includes an industrial zone where more than 1100 companies operate in sectors such as food processing, automotive, textile, aeronautics, logistics, and more. In 2020, the export-driven business volume of these industries was estimated at 8 billion euros.
The free trade policy that was set in place with the European Union in 2012, enables this port to support Morocco’s economic and social development.
Consisting of four container terminals, one ro-ro terminal, one hydrocarbon terminal, two automobile terminals, and one bulk terminal, the Port of Tanger Med sees its trade turnover increasing year by year. In 2021, its cargo tonnage volume was 101 million tons which is a good indicator that the port is on a path of becoming the busiest port in the Mediterranean in the years to come.
38. Port of Lianyungang, China
- UN LOCODE: CNLYG
- Operator: Lianyungang Port Affairs
- Location: Chinese province of Jiangsu, on the mouth of the Qiangwei River
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.8 million TEUs
As a growing center for trade, industry, and tourism, Lianyungang is one of the first Chinese cities to become open to international investments.
Hence, the Port of Lianyungang is one of the country’s prominent container ports. Located on a network of canals constructed on the Yunyan River, the port dates back to the 6th century AD. But, it wasn’t until the Japanese occupied the region in 1938 that the port saw significant growth.
Today, the port boasts a diverse infrastructure and is oriented mostly to international trade. Handling a great variety of cargo, the Port of Lianyungang is connected to over 160 countries from all continents.
This port is the most eastern point of the New Silk Road and the Eurasian Continental Railway, and as such, it largely contributed to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
Operating on over 50 berths, the Port of Lianyungang features terminals for containerized cargo, a ro-ro terminal, a breakbulk cargo terminal, passenger terminals, etc. The major import and export that makes the most of the port’s annual cargo volume throughput consist of coal, aluminum, liquid chemicals, ore, grains, and more.
39. Port of Mundra, India
- UN LOCODE: INMUN
- Operator: Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ)
- Location: Indian state of Gujarat, on the coast of the Gulf of Kutch
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.7 million TEUs
Acting as India’s biggest private port and a special economic zone, the Port of Mundra takes the second place in India after the Port of Nhava Sheva.
Dealing with trade of both intangible and tangible products, the Port of Mundra strives to operate with a low environmental impact while still promoting constant innovation in its commercial, technological, and business functions.
Its terminals are largely multi-purpose and its 9 berths are capable of accommodating container ships of up to 2500 DWT. The port also owns 21 covered warehouses where a variety of cargo can be stored, including rice, wheat, fertilizer, sugar, deoiled cakes, raw materials, and much more. Its open storage is suitable for preserving steel sheets, clinker, salt, coils, bentonite, scrap, plate, coal, and coke.
The Port of Mundra is currently undergoing major improvements and additions. Two new terminals are planned with deep-water berths for coal, craft, ro-ro, and other facilities. Its road infrastructure is also expanding with new lanes, and two thermal power plants are under construction as well.
40. Port of Savannah, USA
- UN LOCODE: USSAV
- Operator: Georgia Ports Authority
- Location: US state of Georgia, where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic Ocean
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 4.7 million TEUs
The Port of Savannah is the busiest port in the southeast USA and the fourth busiest port in North America.
This port, alongside its neighboring Port of Charleston, has seen constant growth in maritime traffic since the early 2000s. Therefore, a major project for a new port is planned to be erected 10 miles north of the Port of Savannah, on the Savannah River. The new Jasper Ocean Terminal will be the biggest port in the country when it’s ready to operate by 2035.
The port features two major terminals – one for containerized cargo and the other one for breakbulk cargo. There’s also an industrial terminal complex that serves as a private berth to the industries situated in this port.
Other major facilities that are in place as warehouses or distribution centers for major corporations like Heineken, IKEA, and Target, are also present at the Port of Savannah.
The passenger capacities of this port are notable as well, as more than 6 million tourists visit Savannah each year and contribute to its economy with about $2 billion annually.
41. Port of Tokyo, Japan
- UN LOCODE: JPTYO
- Operator: Tokyo Port Authority
- Location: In Tokyo Bay, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.5 million TEUs
The second-largest port in Japan is right next to the largest port – the Port of Yokohama. The Port of Tokyo is crucial for the city’s economy and development as it trades over 100 million tons of cargo each year.
With a capacity of about 5 million TEUs on an annual level, the Port of Tokyo is responsible for the employment of over 30,000 people. The employees that work for this port are reported to have the highest median salary among the world’s port employees.
Its terminals serve over 32,000 vessels each year that transport cargo worth over $150 billion. Three of those terminals are dedicated to handling container ships and boast 16 berths, two are foodstuffs terminals with 5 berths, five terminals handle general cargo, and two ro-ro terminals transport over 5 million vehicles each year.
When it comes to its passenger capacities, the Port of Tokyo hosts the Harumi Passenger terminal which handles international passengers, the Takeshiba Passenger terminal for domestic passengers, and the Tokyo Port Ferry terminal which handles ferry traffic.
42. Port of Rizhao, China
- UN LOCODE: CNRZH
- Operator: Rizhao Port Authority
- Location: Chinese province of Shandong, on the coast of the Shandong Peninsula
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 4.9 million TEUs
The Port of Rizhao is an important link in the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese government. It opens up to the Yellow Sea and is situated in the center of all the important Chinese ports.
Comprised of two port areas – the Shijiu Port Area and the Lanshan Port Area, the entire establishment features 82 berths which contribute to its average cargo throughput capacity of about 350 million tons.
Connected with important rail and road systems, the Port of Rizhao is not only easily available to all places in China but it can be connected by rail even with European trade hubs such as the Port of Rotterdam in The Netherlands.
This port provides jobs for over 10,000 employees and it has about 50 subsidiaries in business sectors such as logistics, commercial trade, manufacturing, construction, and finance. Its total worth in assets is estimated at about 60 million yuan.
Some of the major partners of the Port of Rizhao include the Port of Portland, USA, the Port of Busan, South Korea, the Port of Hong Kong, and the Australian ports of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Newcastle.
43. Port of Foshan, China
- UN LOCODE: CNFOS
- Operator: Foshan Harbor Administration Department
- Location: Chinese province of Guangdong, on the delta of the Pearl River
- Container traffic volume in 2018: 4.4 million TEUs
The Port of Foshan is described as one of the smaller coastal container ports in China covering an area of only about half a square kilometer, although it’s quite busy with a capacity of handling about 5 million TEUs per year.
The city of Foshan is prominent for its industries for manufacture of furniture, communication devices, porcelain, textile, electronics, electrical appliances for the household, and paper products. It is the third-largest industrial zone in the Pearl River Delta megalopolis.
Being in such close proximity to the other ports in the Pearl River Delta, the port has direct shipping routes with 10 other ports.
Its three main areas are Nandi, Jiebian, and Xinshi. They comprise a total of 15 terminals of which 11 are capable of processing containerized cargo and four are passenger terminals.
The biggest percentage of cargo that goes through the Port of Foshan consists mainly of timber, petroleum products, grain, conventional goods, coal, chemical fertilizer, and different kinds of ore.
44. Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- UN LOCODE: SAJED
- Operator: Saudi Ports Authority
- Location: In Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah, on the Red Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.4 million TEUs
Also known as the Jeddah Islamic Port, the Port of Jeddah is the busiest port in Saudi Arabia. The country is known for being a leader in oil and petroleum extraction and this port is vital for its economic sustainability and growth.
Situated on the Red Sea, the Port of Jeddah is an important link on the Maritime Silk Road, connecting it to many Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and European countries.
Dating back to the 7th century, the port underwent substantial growth as Saudi Arabia entered the oil market. Today, it covers about 12 square kilometers, stretching over 11 kilometers on the Red Sea coastline.
Its terminals contain 62 berths which are deep-water and wide enough to not cause any ship congestion. There are also 58 warehouses used for storing foodstuffs, livestock, construction materials, vehicles, consumer goods, and more.
Being within a short range of the two holy cities of Medina and Mecca, many Muslims use this port to travel to and from the cities on their Hajj pilgrimage. Annually, about 300,000 passengers used the port’s services.
45. Port of Colón, Panama
- UN LOCODE: PAONX
- Operator: Colon Container Terminal SA
- Location: Panama’s city of Colón, on the northern mouth of the Panama Canal
- Container traffic volume in 2020: 4.4 million TEUs
The Port of Colón is one of the most strategically well-placed ports in the world. It is also Panama’s busiest container port.
The Panama Canal represents an important waterway that connects the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean and is of great significance for the world’s maritime trade. The Port of Colón is situated on the northern opening of this canal.
It is comprised of three main areas – the Colón Container Terminal, the Port of Cristobal, and the Manzanillo International Terminal. All three areas integrate state-of-the-art infrastructure and incorporate modern technology practices in handling cargo and transshipment services.
The Colón Container Terminal is responsible for processing containerized cargo, rolling stock, and general cargo.
The Port of Cristobal offers a variety of services ranging from handling of cargo to hosting cruise ships.
The Manzanillo International Terminal specializes in transshipment services and has highly-efficient capacities for cargo sorting, storage, transit, assembly, grading, labeling, and packing of goods.
The Panama Ports Company (PPC) invests in the development of these port areas and plans to enhance their annual cargo volume capacity to 6.5 million TEUs.
46. Port of Santos, Brazil
- UN LOCODE: BRSSZ
- Operator: Santos Port Authority (SPA)
- Location: Brazilian state of São Paulo, on the island of Sao Vicente
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.2 million TEUs
Brazil is the home of the largest and busiest port in South America – the Port of Santos, São Paulo.
Reinforced with modern structures and facilities, the Port of Santos offers all available types of cargo handling services.
Brazil is well known for its coffee production, thus, the main export from this port was indeed coffee, but only until World War II. After the war, other commodities such as orange juice, machinery, soybeans, and cars have overtaken the amount of coffee that’s exported from the port.
Over the years, the port of Santos has noticed a significant increase in maritime traffic. Therefore, the shipping and transport lanes of the port have become heavily congested.
To deal with this inconvenience, the Santos Port Authority aspires to enhance the port’s infrastructure by widening and deepening its canals, enlarging the storing facilities, and implementing automation for the cargo-handling machinery.
With these improvements in place, it is expected that the port triples its annual cargo tonnage capacities by 2024.
47. Port of Salalah, Oman
- UN LOCODE: OMSLL
- Operator: Salalah Port Services Company
- Location: Southern Oman, on the coast of the Arabian Sea
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.1 million TEUs
Considered as a “bridge” between Asia and Europe, the Port of Salalah is Oman’s largest and busiest container port.
Just like the Port of Jeddah, this important trading hub is within the center of the Maritime Silk Road and it provides for the needs of those inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and the Middle East.
The Port of Salalah has been known under other names in the past such as Raysut Harbor (the Port of Raysut) and Mina’ Raysut.
With a quay that reaches a total length of over 2.5 kilometers, the port’s two terminals are highly-optimized for handling containerized cargo and general cargo. The container terminal consists of 7 berths that benefit an 18-meter draft and the general cargo terminal boasts a draft of up to 16 meters and 12 berths.
Its storage areas are well-suited for storing containers, warehouses, and bulk cargo. The port is also suitable for bunkering.
Undergoing serious improvements, this port has seen up to a 665% increase in its annual cargo volume throughput since its opening in 1998.
48. Port of Dongguan, China
- UN LOCODE: CNDGG
- Operator: Guangzhou Port Authority
- Location: North of Shenzhen in the Chinese province of Guangdong
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 4.0 million TEUs
The river Port of Dongguan has been known as the Port of Humen before being renamed in 2016 by the Chinese Ministry of Communications.
Neighboring the massive ports of Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, the Port of Dongguan is situated within the core of the estuary of the Pearl River Delta, on the banks of the Dongjiang River.
Opened in 1953, this port grew to become a first-class port on a national level.
The five major areas that comprise the Port of Dongguan are the Neihe Terminal, Shajiao, Mayong, Chang’an, and Sha Tin.
All of those feature a total of over 200 production berths that are capable of processing above 110 million tons annually.
The port’s passenger capacities exceed 700,000 travelers each year who mostly use the port’s ferry services to travel within the Shenzhen metro area.
Even though this port is one of the smaller and less busy ones in China, it contributes largely to the city of Dongguan to reach the fourth place in the country (after Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Suzhou) in exports which are valued at around $65 billion.
49. Port of Beibu Gulf, China
- UN LOCODE: CNQZH
- Operator: Guangxi Beibu Bay International Port Group
- Location: Chinese Province of Guangxi, on the coast of the Beibu Gulf
- Container traffic volume in 2019: 3.8 million TEUs
We started this list with a Chinese port, and it seems that’s the way we’re finishing it too. Last on our list of the top 49 container ports in the world is the Port of Beibu Gulf, China.
This port is usually referred to as the Port of Guangxi Beibu, mainly as a common name for the three ports from the same province under its jurisdiction.
With that said, the three ports that constitute the Port of Beibu Gulf are the Port of Fangcheng, the Port of Beihai, and the Port of Qinzhou.
All three ports have been opened to the world relatively in the same timeframe period (from 1950 to 1980).
The main import cargo consists of crude oil, vegetable oils, bitumen, bulk ore, fish and seafood products, LPG, and more. The cargo that’s exported from these ports is mainly made up of coal, phosphoric acid, fertilizers, ore, tar, etc.
The Port of Beibu Gulf aspires to extend its capacities and reach a cargo volume throughput of 10 million TEUs in order to become a both international and a regional trading center.
Before wrapping things up, let’s summarize what we’ve covered in this article.
Our list of the top 49 container ports in the world goes into great detail about each port and provides a brief overview of the most important takeaways that are characteristic for each port.
As a leading port, the Port of Shanghai tops our list by exceeding its cargo volume capacities by more than 40 million container units per year. Even our runner-up, the Port of Singapore, manages to handle 20% less of what the superpower of Shanghai’s port does.
For comparison purposes, the leading port of North America, the Port of Los Angeles, attains a throughput capacity of almost 80% less than that of the Port of Shanghai.
The charts at the beginning of our article give a great insight into how much in cargo volume each port has processed in a 5-year span, how large of an area they stretch onto, and where their exact location is.
MoverDB does a deep dive into the world’s top container ports. Visit our blog to learn more.
I’ve learned that the Port of Shanghai is the busiest port on Earth. But, what’s the largest one regarding area size?
While being the busiest container port in the world, the Port of Shanghai is also the largest deep-water seaport out there. Its total area size amounts to 3,619 square kilometers.
Historically speaking, has the Port of Shanghai always been the world’s busiest container port?
With the history of container ports being relatively short, the Port of Shanghai has been holding the top spot regarding cargo volume throughput only for the past decade, since 2010.
Previously, the Port of Singapore, which is now the second-busiest port in the world, used to be the leader from 1986 to 2010. This port dethroned the European Port of Rotterdam which held the first place from 1962 to 1986 but has since fallen to the 10th spot on the list of the world’s busiest ports.
Which port is considered to be the pioneer among the container ports in the world?
The Port of New York and New Jersey was the first port to start trading with containerized cargo in the world. It was the year of 1956 that the first container vessels sailed from the Port of New Jersey.
What’s the oldest seaport in history?
The Port of Byblos in Lebanon is considered to be the oldest seaport in the world. Situated on the Eastern Mediterranean shores, this port was the first to start shipping timber in the region.