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World

The World’s Top Container Ports

Container ports are critical to global trade. And seven out of the ten largest container ports are in China.

Why Ports Matter

Seaports are critical parts of the circulatory system of international commerce.

Approximately 90 percent of global trade is conducted by sea, according to the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations. Around 60 percent of sea trade is through container ships, which carry the durable, reusable, and versatile metal shipping containers that can also be transported by rail and truck.

A single container can be loaded onto a truck at a factory, transferred by rail or ship across long distances, and make its way to the end customer by truck again. In other words, they are conducive to multimodal shipping. Containers also protect goods from hazards and are economically efficient.

Most shipping containers are either twenty feet or forty feet in length. As a result, the volume of containers handled by ports is measured in TEUs or twenty-foot equivalent units.

Most of the world’s top container ports are in China—a clear indicator of the country’s domination of the global merchandise trade.

Here are the world’s top ten container ports in 2015 by volume handled (in TEUs), according to the World Shipping Council:

10. Tianjin, China — Volume: 14.11 million TEUs

9. Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE — Volume: 15.60 million TEUs

The port of Jebel Ali in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Image Credit: Imre Solt/Wikimedia Commons)
The port of Jebel Ali in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Image Credit: Imre Solt/Wikimedia Commons)

8. Guangzhou, China — Volume: 17.22 million TEUs

A panoramic image of the city of Guangzhou at dusk. (Image Credit: chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons)
A panoramic image of the city of Guangzhou at dusk. (Image Credit: chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons)

7. Qingdao, China — Volume: 17.47 million TEUs

The port of Qingdao in China's Shandong province. (Image Credit: scebn/Wikimedia Commons)
The port of Qingdao in China’s Shandong province. (Image Credit: scebn/Wikimedia Commons)

6. Busan, South Korea — Volume: 19.45 million TEUs

The Port of Busan in South Korea. (Image Credit: Busan Metropolitan City)
The Port of Busan in South Korea. (Image Credit: Busan Metropolitan City)

5. Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China — Volume: 20.07 million TEUs

4. Ningbo-Zhoushan, China — Volume: 20.63 million TEUs

3. Shenzhen, China — Volume: 24.20 million TEUs

The Shenzhen Port photographed in 2008. (Image Credit: 岭南浪人)
The Shenzhen Port photographed in 2008. (Image Credit: 岭南浪人)

2. Singapore — Volume: 30.92 million TEUs

A container terminal at the Port of Singapore. (Image Credit: Port of Singapore)
A container terminal at the Port of Singapore. (Image Credit: Port of Singapore)

1. Shanghai, China — Volume: 36.54 million TEUs

The Yangshan Deepwater Harbor Zone at the Port of Shanghai on February 25, 2008. (Image Credit: Alex Needham)
The Yangshan Deepwater Harbor Zone at the Port of Shanghai on February 25, 2008.
(Image Credit: Alex Needham)

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