The Busiest Ports in the World

Posted on November 24, 2022
Categorised as Freight industry news

Over the past few decades, sea freight shipping has seen huge developments. This has meant sea ports have had to also grow and develop, to be able to match and facilitate the growing demand.

Major sea ports all over the world have had to adapt to cater to the needs of industry operators. But not all ports are equal. Some ports, especially those located at the intersection of popular shipping routes or in industry hubs, are busier than others. These are the ports that have had to improve their output at higher speeds than others, to keep up with requirements.

According to the World Shipping Council, these are the top 10 busiest ports in the world, handling more containers than any others.

Shanghai, China

The Port of Shanghai is the busiest port in the world, with a traffic volume of 43.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). It has been the busiest port in the world since 2010 when it overtook Singapore.

The Port of Shanghai includes a deep sea port and a river port. It’s situated on the East China Sea and includes the confluences of the Yangtze River, the Huangpu River and the Qiantang River, connecting the port to multiple Provinces across China. It’s managed by Shanghai International Port and handles mainly coal, metal-ore, petroleum, steel, and machinery.


The Port of Singapore is the second busiest container port in the world, with a traffic volume of 36.6 million TEUs. It tranships a third of the world’s shipping containers and half the world’s annual supply of crude oil. It includes multiple terminals, including Keppel, Branu, Pasir Panjang, Jurong, and Sembawang.

Singapore is currently constructing the Tuas Mega Port which will replace the port at Keppel. Construction started in 2021 and is expected to finish around 2025 to 2027. The new port will be the largest container terminal in the world when it is complete and will be capable of handling 65 million TEUs every year. Whilst construction continues, the port officially opened in September 2022, with three berths in operation.

Ningbo-Zhoushan, China

The Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan is the third busiest in terms of TEU volume, handling 28.72 million TEUs. However, it is the busiest in terms of tonnage, with 1.12 million kilotons handled at the port in 2019 (the most recent data available). It’s located in the Zhejiang Province on the East China sea and faces Shanghai across the Hangzhou Bay.

It’s a multipurpose deep water port, with 191 berths of which 39 are deep water berths. It handles raw material and manufactured goods shipments, trading with over 560 ports in more than 90 countries across the globe.

Shenzhen, China

The Port of Shenzhen is the fourth busiest port in the world, handling 26.55 million TEUs. It includes a number of ports along the Shenzhen coastline in the Guangdong Province of China. It consists of 140 berths spread along 260 km of coastline.

Around 40 shipping companies operate from the Port of Shenzhen, which is connected to over 300 ports in 100 countries across the world. The port also includes passenger berths, with ferry services running across the Pear River Delta to Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai.

Guangzhou Harbour, China

The Port of Guangzhou is the fifth busiest in the world, handling 23.19 million TEUs. It’s located in the Guangdong Province in South China and also incorporates the former Huangpu Port. It’s situated at the intersection of the Dong, Xi and Bei rivers, which include a waterway, railway and expressway, and airlines, creating an important transportation hub.

The Guangzhou port has 4,600 berths and handles a range of activities, including storage and container cargo services. The port handles a lot of agricultural and industrial products, including oil, coal, gran, and steel, as well as automobiles.

Busan, South Korea

The Port of Busan is the sixth busiest port in the world, handling 21.59 million TEUs. It’s the largest port in South Korea and is divided into two parts. The eastern port mainly deals with international trade and the western side mainly deals with fisheries. Over 50% of the country’s fishing production comes from Busan Port.

It’s estimated that around 120 cargo ships visit the Port of Busan every hour. The port mainly handles shipments containing fertilisers, meat, petroleum, coal, sugars, and metal. It’s often used to link trade to the Pacific and other major Asian ports.

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