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Top 15 ports in Europe: How much do you know about them?

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Updated on 09 Jan 2024
2 min read
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Top 15 ports in Europe


With Rotterdam leading the pack, the top 15 ports in Europe handled an astounding 68.7 million containers last year. Belgium’s Port of Antwerp experienced the largest growth. It recorded a 7.5% increase in traffic to leapfrog rival Hamburg Port into second place.


A number of main Spanish ports, including Valencia and Barcelona, experienced a healthy annual growth rate. Handling 4.6 million TEUs, the Port of Valencia went one spot up into 5th place. That’s at the expense of Algeciras, which fell to 6th with 4.5 million TEUs. The Port of Barcelona saw 1.9 million TEUs, moving it up to 14th place.


Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg way ahead


These may be good news for Spanish ports, but they’re still quite a distance away from the European heavyweight ports in the north. In 2015, the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg handled 30.7 million TEUs. That’s equivalent to 44.6% of the total container traffic managed by the top 15 ports in Europe.


Let’s take a look at these top 15 ports in Europe and their figures.


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Europe’s global position


On a global level, only three of these top 15 ports in Europe feature in the list of top 20 ports in the world in terms of container traffic. These are evidently the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg, who sit at 11th, 14th, and 18th place respectively. The US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach take 19th and 20th positions on the list, and the rest are made up of Asian ports.


According to Port Economics’, European container traffic has grown a considerable 12.1% since the pre-economic crisis in 2007. This growth is evident in 10 out of the 15 ports. Within these growths, we see remarkable differences. The top 3 ports (Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg) grew 6.4%. On the other hand, we see more notable growths in Port Piraeus (Greece) and Port Marsaxlokk (Malta) with a 139.4% and 63.2% growth respectively. In Spain, Valencia and Algeciras also witnessed an increase in activity, recording 51.7% and 31.9% growths respectively.


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