(Skip right to the maps of the 20 busiest ports or 20 busiest airports)

I recently stumbled across the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)’s website on the United States’ Department of Transportation website. They have uploaded their “Pocket Guide to Transportation 2014“, which includes some mind-boggling information like this gem:

In 2011, all road vehicles combined drove almost 3 trillion miles (2 trillion, 946 billion, 131 million miles)

Which is pretty impressive. Moving closer to the international supply chain and United States’ imports, maritime shipments soar above road imports by a factor of almost two. Road imports along the Canadian and Mexican border still work pretty hard. These were the top five truck port crossings in 2012:

  1. Laredo, Texas (Mexico): 1.8 million trucks
  2. Detroit, MI (Canada): 1.5 million trucks
  3. Buffalo-Niagra Falls, NY (Canasa): .9 million trucks
  4. Otay Mesa, CA (Mexico): .8 million trucks
  5. El Paso, Texas (Mexico): .7 million trucks.

When it comes to TEU containers moving around, the numbers in 2010 spread from around 6 million TEU (Los Angeles, CA) to just about one million TEU (Charleston, SC). These were the top five US ports as measured by TEU in 2010:

  1. Los Angeles, CA: 5.9 million TEUs
  2. Long Beach, CA: 4.7 million TEUs
  3. New York/New Jersey: 4.4 million TEUs
  4. Savannah, GA: 2.3 million TEUs
  5. Oakland, CA: 1.7 million TEUs

These numbers may seem large to the uninitiated but in an era when container ships can hold 19,000 TEUs (expected delivery to CSCL by November, dethroning the Emma Maersk’s 18,270 TEU), the numbers don’t really compare on a global level. The United States does not even rank in the top ten (or fifteen) ports around the world. Which got me thinking…
What are the 20 busiest ports in the world?

Map the world with the largest and busiest ports in the world

The Twenty Largest Ports in the World (TEU)

In a word: China.

In 2012, Asia, and particularly China, dominated the list of the 20 busiest ports in the world. Eight of the top 20 were in China. 14 of the top ports were located in Asia. It is even more incredible when you compare the top 20 largest ports, which moved 280 million TEU in 2012, to the following 30 largest ports, which together moved only 124 million TEU. Much like the freight forwarding world, competition is rough and the industry is dominated by some global leaders.
We’ve also compiled a map of the 20 busiest cargo airports in the world:

The 20 largest airports in the world

The 20 largest airports in the world