The 30 Busiest Ports of Call in the World

The most common method of transporting goods globally is to ship them across the ocean on container ships. This technique of using cargo ships that carry truck-sized containers around the globe is referred to as containerization, around 90% of traded goods are transported via ocean shipping. As consumerism has risen over time, so has the need for containerization. Container port traffic around the world has increased fourfold since the turn of the millennium, reaching a high of 840.6 million TEUs in 2021. What is a TEU? It stands for Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit in regards to the twenty-foot cargo containers that are used to ship goods. A TEU is the standard unit of measurement used to determine a container ship's capacity.

With so many goods traveling the globe on cargo ships, what are the busiest shipping ports in the world? The team at Staten Island Yachts put together a chart highlighting the thirty busiest ports in the world based on their container traffic numbers for 2022. A comparison to their 2017 container traffic numbers was included to see how much traffic has changed over the past five years. While there were several ports with negative growth, we were surprised to see how much container traffic has increased for some of the world's busiest ports. The team added an interesting twist to their list of the busiest and largest ports in the world by including each of the thirty ports' ranking from The World Bank's Container Port Performance Index 2022: Global Ranking of Container Ports. The World Bank analyzed and ranked 348 ports around the world on how well they performed. Dive into the list of container ports below to see which are the busiest, and which earned the highest marks for performance.

The 30 Busiest Ports of Call in the World - - Infographic

What is the Busiest Port of Call in the World?

The busiest port in the world is the Port of Shanghai in China. The port's container traffic reached a high of 47.3 million TEUs in 2022, an 18% increase in cargo container traffic since 2017. The Shanghai Port is comprised of a deep-sea port and a river port as it connects to both the East China Sea and is the meeting point for three rivers: Yangtze River, Huangpu River, and Quiantang River. In 2010, the Port of Shanghai overtook the Port of Singapore to become the busiest container port in the world.

What is the busiest seaport in the United States? The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are located next to one another so their cargo numbers were combined for a high of 19 million TEUs, earning them the distinction of being America's busiest port.

The Top 10 Busiest Ports in the World (based on TEUs, in thousands)

  • 1. Port of Shanghai (China): 47,303
  • 2. Port of Singapore (Singapore): 37,289
  • 3. Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan (China): 33,351
  • 4. Port of Shenzhen (China): 30,036
  • 5. Qingdao Port (China): 25,670
  • 6. Port of Guangzhou (China): 24,857
  • 7. Port of Busan (South Korea): 22,078
  • 8. Port of Tianjin (China): 21,021
  • 9. Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach (United States): 19,044
  • 10. Port of Hong Kong (Hong Kong): 16,685

Which Container Port Had the Largest Change in Container Traffic?

The Port of Tanger-Med in Morocco had the largest increase in container traffic over the past 5 years. The Moroccan port saw a 129% increase in container traffic between 2017 and 2022 when the annual number of containers increased from 3.3 million TEUs to 7.6 million TEUs. Even with such a large increase in container traffic during this time, the Port of Tanger-Med was still able to earn the fourth-highest score on the Container Port Performance Index 2022. The Port of Hong Kong had the largest decrease in container traffic, the port's container traffic dropped 20% from 2017's 20.8 million containers to just 16.7 million containers in 2022.

What is the Best Performing Port?

Out of the thirty busiest ports of call in the world, the best-performing port is the Tanger-Mediterranean port located in northern Morocco. It performed well enough in 2022 to earn a spot in fourth place, out of a total of 348 ports across the world. The number one port overall is Yangshan, followed by the Port of Salalah and Khalifa Port in second and third.

What is the Worst Performing Port?

The worst-performing port in the world is also one of the busiest ports in the US. The Port of Savannah, located in the United States, ranked at the very bottom of the list in 348th place. The two other American ports on our list of the busiest also performed well below average on the Container Port Performance Index. The Port of New York and New Jersey ranked 306th, while the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach were ranked 336th and 346th out of the 348 total ports included in the report.

The Complete List of the 30 Busiest Ports of Call in the World

# Port Country 2022 Container Traffic (in thousands of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs)) Percent Change in Container Traffic Since 2017 2022 Container Port Performance Index Ranking (out of 348 ports)
1 Port of Shanghai China 47,303 18% 215
2 Port of Singapore Singapore 37,289 11% 18
3 Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan China 33,351 36% 7(Ningbo), 65(Zhoushan)
4 Port of Shenzhen China 30,036 19% 24
5 Qingdao Port China 25,670 41% 171
6 Port of Guangzhou China 24,857 22% 9
7 Port of Busan South Korea 22,078 8% 22
8 Port of Tianjin China 21,021 40% 20
9 Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach United States 19,044 12% 336 (Los Angeles), 346 (Long Beach)
10 Port of Hong Kong Hong Kong 16,685 -20% 11
11 Port of Rotterdam Netherlands 14,455 5% 265
12 Port of Jebel Ali United Arab Emirates 13,970 -9% 38
13 Port of Antwerp Belgium 13,500 29% 66
14 Port Klang Malaysia 13,220 10% 36
15 Port of Xiamen China 12,434 20% 33
16 Port of Tanjung Pelepas Malaysia 10,512 27% 6
17 Port of New York and New Jersey United States 9,493 41% 306
18 Port of Kaohsiung Taiwan 9,491 -8% 25
19 Laem Chabang Port Thailand 8,741 14% 27
20 Port of Hamburg Germany 8,261 -7% 328
21 Port of Suzhou China 8,025 78% N/A
22 Saigon Port Vietnam 7,905 28% 124
23 Port of Tanger-Med Morocco 7,596 129% 4
24 Port of Colombo Sri Lanka 6,860 10% 28
25 Port of Tanjung Priok Indonesia 6,849 24% 281
26 Mundra Port India 6,503 46% 48
27 Nhava Sheva Port (aka (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) India 5,959 23% 86
28 Port of Savannah United States 5,892 46% 348
29 Port of Rizhao China 5,804 79% N/A
30 Hai Phong Port Vietnam 5,629 14%* 140

Please Note:

The rankings from the Container Port Performance Index 2022: Global Ranking of Container Ports were included to determine how well the busiest ports in the world are performing. These rankings are based on various factors, such as the quality of the port's infrastructure and container ship in port times. The index employs both an administrative approach and a statistical approach to determine each port's performance; the results are then combined to create one aggregate ranking. The 348 ports included in the study earned a ranking between 1 and 348 for how well they perform, with 1 being the best-performing port and 348 being the worst-performing port.

Several ports on the list are adjoined with a nearby port, therefore their container traffic numbers have been combined. In some cases, the adjoining ports are managed by separate entities, leading each port to earn its own performance ranking.

* Hai Phong Port did not have 2017 data available, the change in container traffic is based on 2018's numbers.

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