Visualizing the World’s Busiest Ports

by visualcapitalist

The World's Busiest Ports

An estimated 90% of world trade is facilitated by maritime shipping, and as trade volumes continue to increase, the world’s busiest ports continue to grow larger and more efficient to meet demand.

In fact, in just the last four years, the median annual volume of the top 50 ports jumped from 5.49 to 5.86 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Here are the world’s 20 largest ports, using the most recent data from the World Shipping Council:

Rank Port Name Country 2016 Volume 2012 Volume 4-Year Change
1 Shanghai 🇨🇳 China 37.1 32.5 +14%
2 Singapore 🇸🇬 Singapore 30.9 31.7 -2%
3 Shenzhen 🇨🇳 China 24.0 22.9 +5%
4 Ningbo-Zhoushan 🇨🇳 China 21.6 16.8 +28%
5 Busan 🇰🇷 S. Korea 19.9 17.0 +17%
6 Hong Kong 🇭🇰 China 19.8 23.1 -14%
7 Guangzhou Harbor 🇨🇳 China 18.9 14.7 +28%
8 Qingdao 🇨🇳 China 18.0 14.5 +24%
9 Jebel Ali 🇦🇪 U.A.E. 15.7 13.3 +18%
10 Tianjin 🇨🇳 China 14.5 12.3 +18%
11 Port Klang 🇲🇾 Malaysia 13.2 10.0 +32%
12 Rotterdam 🇳🇱 Netherlands 12.4 11.9 +4%
13 Kaohsiung 🇹🇼 Taiwan 10.5 9.8 +7%
14 Antwerp 🇧🇪 Belgium 10.0 8.6 +16%
15 Dalian 🇨🇳 China 9.6 8.9 +8%
16 Xiamen 🇨🇳 China 9.6 7.2 +34%
17 Hamburg 🇩🇪 Germany 8.91 8.89 0%
18 Los Angeles 🇺🇸 U.S.A. 8.9 8.1 +10%
19 Tanjung Pelepas 🇲🇾 Malaysia 8.3 7.7 +8%
20 Keihin 🇯🇵 Japan 7.6 7.9 -3%

Volume is measured in millions of TEUs

Only five of the top 20 ports in the world are now located outside of East Asia. The Port of Los Angeles is the only U.S. entrant in the top 20, and only three European ports made the cut.

Today, trade is more likely than ever to flow through the South China Sea.

RULING THE HIGH SEAS

From dollar store knick-knacks to nuclear reactor components, China’s manufacturing output is a critical link in the global supply chain. Getting all those products to consumers and companies around the world is big business, and over the past decade, China has emerged as the heavyweight champion of world shipping.

While Danish company, Maersk, is still the largest shipping line, an ever increasing share of the world’s container traffic is moving through Chinese controlled ports. An estimated two-thirds of container traffic now passes through Chinese ports or ports that have received Chinese investment.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

While shipping volumes on a global basis continue to rise, not all of that growth has been spread around equally. This is particularly true for established titans of the South China Sea.

At the outset of this millennium, Hong Kong and Singapore were home to the busiest ports in the world. Today, both are facing increased competition from neighboring ports, as well as declining volumes:

south china sea ports

In contrast, the massive Port of Shanghai saw a 71% increase over the last decade, and many other Chinese ports has seen significant growth in volume in recent years.

If China’s One Belt One Road initiatives and investments in global port facilities are any indication, the country’s domination of maritime shipping will only continue to strengthen in the near term.

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