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Rotterdam, the largest sea port and industrial complex in Europe

The port of Rotterdam is the largest port and industrial complex in Europe, with a total cargo traffic of 430 million tonnes in 2010. It comprises several harbour basins and distribution parks that service the supply and transport of goods to and from the nearby (petro)chemical and other industries. This is also where third party goods handling takes place prior to further transport.


Most important port in terms of container handling and bulk goods

In terms of handling cargo transshipments (the offloading of seagoing vessels after which smaller vessels arrive to transport those loads in smaller volumes), the port of Rotterdam is by far the largest port in Europe. With a cargo handling of up to 435 million tonnes in 2011, the port of Rotterdam took care of more than a third of the cargo handling of Hamburg-Le Havre. Rotterdam is the tenth largest port in the world, following Shanghai, Ningbo and Singapore, among others. The port of Rotterdam is an important transit point for the handling of containers and mass goods, also known as bulk transshipment, such as crude oil, chemicals, coals and ore. Wet bulk comprised half of these volumes, with dry bulk making up a sixth. Container handling, provided by companies such as Europe Container Terminals, makes up almost a third of the total volume. The port provides direct employment to approximately 86,000 people in Rotterdam, and another 200,000 beyond it.

The total port area of the port of Rotterdam consists of approximately 12,000 ha over a length of 42 km. The port is one of the busiest in the world. Due to the large hinterland, the port is accessible via inland waterways (Rhine, Meuse), road and rail. Apart from the transshipment of goods via containers, other important areas include bulk transport and oil tank handling. The scale benefits of a port this size mean Rotterdam has for many years been the port of choice for the purchase of fuel.


History of Rotterdam

The Hoogstraat, part of Schielands Hoge Zeedijk, divided Rotterdam into a land city and a water city. In the water city the first ports were established, including the Oude Haven, the Haringvliet and the Leuvenhaven.

During the 19th century, sand build-up in the mouth of the Brielse Maas caused accessibility problems for Rotterdam. King William I and Johannes Goldberg provided a stimulant of industry and infrastructure. The canal through Voorne was built, but quickly turned out to be too small as vessel sizes started to grow. As a result, the Nieuwe Waterweg (new waterway) was constructed between 1866 and 1872, providing Rotterdam with a direct connection to the sea.