The 10 Largest Ports in the World

Did you know that 90 percent of the goods you buy get to you thanks to transportation by sea? Have you ever wondered how maritime shipments work and how goods make it from one part of the world to another over water? 

Today, we will share 10 of the world’s largest and busiest sea container ports. These ports are responsible for transporting a significant chunk of global goods, ranging from crude oil and iron ore to agricultural products such as wheat and sugar. In addition, they play a crucial role in the supply chain and are a powerful driving force behind globalization.

Interesting facts about container ports

  • The median annual volume of the top 50 ports jumped from 5.49 to 5.86 million TEU in the last four years.
  • Of the top 10 ports in the world, only one is outside of East Asia.
  • Five of the ten largest ports by cargo volume are in China. 

Read on to discover the five non-Chinese ports and the one non-East Asian port.

What are TEUs?

A TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) is a volume measure in units of twenty-foot long containers. One 20-foot container equals one TEU. 

# 10 Port of Hong Kong 

Country: Hong Kong

Location: Hong Kong

Region: East Asia

Annual container volume: 17.79 million TEUs

It is one of several hub ports serving the South-East and East Asia region and part of the Maritime Silk Road that runs from the Chinese coast via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.

 It was the world’s busiest container port from 1987 to 1989, 1992 to 1997, and 1999 to 2004.

# 9: Port of Long Beach/Port of Los Angeles

Country:   United States

Location:  Long Beach, California

Region: West Coast

Land area:   3,200 acres (13 km2)

Annual container volume:  20.06 million TEU

Port of Los Angeles occupies 7,500 acres (3,000 ha) of land and water with 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront and adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach.

The cargo coming into the port represents approximately 20% of all freight coming into the United States.

# 8 Port of Tianjin

Country: China

Location: Tianjin

Region: East Asia

Land area: 121 km

Annual container volume: 20. 26 million TEU

Tianjin is the largest port in Northern China, the maritime gateway to Beijing, and the largest man-made port in mainland China.

Most of its land surface is storage and processing facilities, with several million km2 of storage yards, warehouses, and tank farms operated by dozens of enterprises.

# 7 Port of Busan

Country: South Korea

Location: Busan

Region: East Asia

Annual container volume: 22,706,130 million TEU

The Busan Port Authority, founded in 2004, operates the port. 

Today the Port of Busan consists of four ports- North Port, South Port, Gamcheon Port, and Dadaepo Port.

# 6 Port of Qingdao

Country:  China.

Location: Shandong Province Yellow Sea

Region: East Asia

Annual container volume: 23.7 million TEUs

It consists of four ports: Dagang port area, Qianwan port area, Guangdong oil port area, and Dongjiakou port area.

# 5: Port of Guangzhou 

Country: China

Location: Pearl River Delta

Region: East Asia

Annual container volume: 24.18 million TEUs

Guangzhou was an important port during ancient times, as far back as the Qin Dynasty, and is at the intersection of the three most important rivers of Dongjiang, Xijiang, and Beijiang in South China.

The port handles various activities, including loading and discharging, storage, bonded warehousing, and container cargo services.

# 4: Port of Shenzhen

Country: China

Location: Pearl River Delta

Region: East Asia

Annual container revenue: 28: 76 million TEUs

It is a collective name of several ports along the coastline of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China. 

Port of Shenzhen is home to 40 shipping companies that have launched 130 international container routes.

# 3: Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan

Country: China

Location: Yangtze Delta

Region: East Asia

Annual container revenue: 31.08 million TEUs

It consists of several ports: Beilun (seaport), Zhenhai (estuary port), and old Ningbo harbor (inland river port).

# 2 Port of Singapore

Country: Singapore

Location: Singapore Strait

Region: South East Asia

Annual container volume: 37.47 million TEUs

Port of Singapore is a collective of facilities and terminals that conduct maritime trade and handles Singapore’s harbors and shipping. 

It was the busiest port in total cargo tonnage handled until 2005 when it was overtaken by the number one port on our list.

# 1 Port of Shanghai

Country: China

Location Yangtze Delta

Region East Asia

Annual container volume: 47 million TEUs

Shanghai is one of only four port cities in the world to be categorized as a large-port Megacity due to its high volumes of port traffic and large urban population. 

The Port of Shanghai is a critically important transport hub for the Yangtze River region and the most crucial gateway for foreign trade. It is part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Final thoughts

The container ports we have listed above are essential to the movement of goods worldwide. We hope you found the information above helpful, whether you are trying to understand supply chains or are in the shipping world.