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Shanghai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles: The world's largest container ports in 2021 - ranking

Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Amsterdam are among the largest ports in Europe. In comparison to container ports in Asia, however, they are above all - small. This is shown by statistics from the German traffic newspaper (DVZ), which specializes in logistics issues.

The 2020 figures were collected in March 2021. The handling volume of the respective container port in million TEU was used for the 2021 ranking. TEU stands for Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, a standard container with a size of 20 feet, which corresponds to a length of 6.058 meters in the metric system. It is noticeable that a very large number of large container ports from one country in particular appear in this ranking.

These are the eleven largest container ports in the world in 2021

11th place: Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam ranks 11th in the ranking of the largest container ports in the world. The port of Rotterdam is the only European freight port in this ranking. In 2020, a handling volume of 14.4 million TEU implemented. For the largest container port in Europe, this means a decrease of around 0.4 million TEU compared to 2019.

Rank 10: Los Angeles, USA

In tenth place in this ranking is the port of Los Angeles, which also includes the Long Beach Terminal. The adjacent US ports overtook the Rotterdam container port in 2020 and thus made it into the top ten. This makes L.A. the largest container port in North America. In 2020, the handling volume in Los Angeles / Long Beach was17.3 million TEU. The container port is the largest outside of Asia.

9th place: Hong Kong, Chinese Special Administrative Region

Hong Kong has been the center of attention lately mainly because of the protests by the democracy movement and the influence of the Chinese central government. Hong Kong has always been an important business location and also has a large port. 2020 were here 18 million TEU turned over. The handling volume fell by 300,000 TEU compared to 2019.

8th place: Tianjin, China

With an increased handling volume, the Tianjin container port is in 8th place in this ranking. 2020 18.3 million TEU turned over. That was a million TEU more than in 2019. Overall, however, the throughput rate in China is increasing. In this ranking alone, five other ports from mainland China are ahead of Tianjin.

7th place: Busan, South Korea

The container port in Busan, South Korea, is the seventh largest in the world. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and is the most important transshipment point for the country's international trade. In 2020, the volume of cargo handled in the port of Busan rose by almost three percent 21.8 million TEU. With this amount, Busan is just behind the sixth largest container port in the world.

6th place: Qingdao, China

In sixth place it goes back to China: The sixth largest container port in the world is located in Qingdao. The east Chinese metropolis was part of a colony of the German Empire until the end of the First World War. She is still known today for her Tsingtao beer. A century later, the port city is called Qingdao and has one of the largest container ports in the world. In 2020 the port posted a handling volume of 22 million TEU. That means an increase of almost one million TEU compared to 2019.

5th place: Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou in southern China is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Guangzhou is also among the world's best when it comes to the largest container ports. Guangzhou was one of the starting points of the historical "Silk Road on the Sea". 2020 were in the port there 23.2 million TEU turned over. The trading volume remained almost unchanged compared to 2019. Three Chinese container ports are even bigger than Guangzhou.

4th place: Shenzhen, China

The fourth largest container port in the world is also located in China in the city of Shenzhen. Shenzhen borders the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the south. Since 2014, the container port has been able to continuously increase its handling volume and thus overtake other ports such as Hong Kong. In 2020, the handling volume of the container port of Shenzhen was included 26.5 million TEU. Despite the corona pandemic, that was an increase of over 700,000 TEU compared to 2019.

3rd place: Ningbo-Zoushan, China

The port of Ningbo-Zhoushan was created through a merger of the cargo ports of Ningbo and Zhoushan in early 2006. It is the third largest container port in the world and is located in eastern China at the confluence of the Qiantang and Yong rivers. The Ningbo-Zhoushan port increased its handling volume last year by 1.25 million TEU to a total 28.7 million TEU. There is, however, a clear gap between the first two places in this ranking.

2nd place: Singapore, Singapore

The Singapore container port is the only one in the top five of this ranking that is not in China. The South Asian city-state of Singapore has a total of six seaports, the largest being the Port of Singapore. Last year, the throughput volume there fell by 400,000 TEU. Nevertheless, the Singapore freight port is in second place by a clear margin: Here, 2020 36.8 million TEU turned over.

1st place: Shanghai, China

By far the largest container port in the world is Shanghai on the east coast of China. The port there is operated by the Shanghai International Port Group and has a total size of more than 3,600 hectares. In the port facilities at the mouth of the Yangtze, around 43.5 million TEU handled, 200,000 TEU more than in the previous year.

The largest container ports in the world in 2020 in the table

placeportcountryHandling volume
1.ShanghaiPeople's Republic of China43.5 million TEU
2.SingaporeSingapore36.8 million TEU
3.Ningbo-ZhoushanPeople's Republic of China28.7 million TEU
4.ShenzhenPeople's Republic of China26.5 million TEU
5.GuangzhouPeople's Republic of China23.2 million TEU
6.QingdaoPeople's Republic of China22 million TEU
7.BusanSouth Korea21.8 million TEU
8.TianjinPeople's Republic of China18.3 million TEU
9.Hong KongChinese Special Administrative Region18 million TEU
10.Los Angeles / Long BeachUnited States of America17.3 million TEU
11.RotterdamNetherlands14.4 million TEU
Total handling volume:270.5 million TEU

Source: Statista

More:The largest container shipping companies in the world.