10 Largest Ports in North America (USA)

10 Largest Ports in North America (USA)

Ports are more than just transit points for goods; they’re dynamic engines of growth. They not only handle essentials like food and fuel but also create vast employment opportunities and significantly contribute to local and national tax revenues across North America.

The economic influence of a port is closely tied to its size and cargo volume. Here’s a snapshot of the top ten North American ports that are pivotal centers of trade and economic activity in the United States and Canada.

Port of Los Angeles

Referred to as America’s Port, the Port of Los Angeles is the heavyweight champion of North American ports. This colossal hub, sprawling across 7,500 acres, manages a fifth of the imports entering the United States. In 2021, it saw a container volume of 10.7 million TEUs, up by 16.30% from the previous year. The Port of Los Angeles is a hive of activity, bustling with terminals dedicated to various types of cargo and ample warehousing. It’s a key player in the trade with Asia and a major employer across the US, with 1.6 million jobs linked to its operations.


  • Total size: 7,500 acres
  • Cargo terminals: 25
  • Vessels handled: 1,867
  • Annual cargo tonnage: 222 million metric revenue tons
  • Annual cargo value: $294 billion
  • Primary trade partners: China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea

Port of Long Beach

Just a short distance from its Los Angeles counterpart, the Port of Long Beach stands tall as the second-largest port. Established in 1911, it’s a critical gateway for trans-Pacific trade. The port is not only a bustling entry point for imports but also sends a significant volume of exports across the globe.  Pioneering in environmental stewardship, the Port of Long Beach has embraced initiatives like the Green Port Policy to minimize ecological impact.


  • Total size: 3,200 acres
  • Cargo berths: 80
  • Annual cargo tonnage: 78.2 million metric revenue tons
  • Annual container value: $180 billion
  • Employment impact: 370,000 jobs
  • Notable for: Green initiatives, including the Clean Air Action Plan

Port Of Oakland

This pioneer of container terminals on the West Coast, the Port of Oakland, is a top-tier west coast gateway. Handling 99% of Northern California’s containerized goods, it’s crucialIt seems like there was a cut-off in the information provided. If you have any more details you would like to include about the Port of Oakland or other ports in North America, please let me know, and I will gladly continue the list or provide additional insights and data.

Port of South Carolina Ports (Charleston and Georgetown) 

The ports of Georgetown and Charleston together form the South Carolina ports. 

  • Container volume: 1.29 million TEUs
  • Annual cargo tonnage: Data not specified
  • Economic impact: $63.4 billion on the state’s economy
  • Notable for: A significant contributor to the state’s employment, with high-wage jobs and a strong focus on the automotive industry and bulk commodities.

Port Of New York and New Jersey

Dominating the East Coast, the Port of New York and New Jersey captures 72% of the region’s first port of call traffic. With a staggering 7.4 million TEUs handled annually, it’s a hub across three main facilities, including the Port Authority Marine Terminal and others within the New York-New Jersey Estuary.

  • Container volume: 7.4 million TEUs
  • Annual cargo tonnage: 74 million metric revenue tons
  • Annual container value: $205 billion
  • Leading trade partners: China, India, Germany

Port Of Georgia Ports (Savannah and Brunswick)

Georgia’s ports, particularly Savannah and Brunswick, claim the fourth spot on our list. They’re known for their expansive services, such as the largest single-terminal container facility at Savannah and Brunswick’s fame as an auto import hub for over twelve manufacturers. Managed by the Georgia Ports Authority, they’re vital to the region’s industry.

  • Container volume: 4.35 million TEU at Savannah
  • Key facilities: Garden City and Ocean terminals
  • Primary goods: Autos, machinery, agricultural products

Port of Seattle-TacomaSeattle-Tacoma

The bustling Port of Seattle-Tacoma, a fusion of two major Washington ports since 2014, is pivotal for Asia-U.S. trade. It’s a cornerstone of the regional economy, with a business value of $9.7 billion reported in 2017 and significant investments like the $500 million for Terminal 5 modernization.

  • Container volume: 3.7 million TEUs
  • Key exports: Oilseeds, grains, machinery

Port of Houston

Leading in foreign waterborne tonnage, the Port of Houston is America’s busiest and spans 50 miles with over 200 terminals. It’s a powerhouse in the Gulf Coast region, especially for project cargo, and is moving forward with expansions like the NeoPanamax project.

  • Vessel calls: 8,200
  • Barges: 215,000
  • Annual cargo tonnage: 247 million metric revenue tons
  • Container volume: 1.6 million TEUs
  • Key products: Petroleum
  • State economic impact: $339 billion

Port Metro Vancouver

The Port of Vancouver is the largest and busiest in Canada, handling over 135 million tonnes of cargo each year. Located in British Columbia on the country’s west coast, the port is a gateway for trade Port of Vancouver

  • Major terminals: 25
  • Vessels handled: 2,677
  • Annual cargo tonnage: 147 million metric revenue tons
  • Container volume: 3.4 million TEUs
  • Annual cargo value: $240 billion CAD
  • Impact on GDP: $11.9 billion
  • Notable for: Being the largest port in Canada with significant growth potential, serving as a primary gateway for Asia-Pacific trade.Port Of Virginia

Port Of Virginia

Its strategic location on the East Coast and the recent Georgia-Virginia agreement, which is expected to bring about economies of scale and enhanced efficiency. 

  • Major terminals: 5 (Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport, Virginia International, and Virginia Inland)
  • Container volume: 3.7 million TEUs
  • Annual cargo tonnage: Data not specified
  • Economic impact on the state: $92 billion
  • Direct and indirect employment: 397,000 jobs


Understanding the Role of Key Ports in Your Supply Chain

The ports listed above are not just static infrastructure; they are continually evolving to meet the demands of global trade. For businesses involved in international trade, understanding the capacity, efficiency, and services offered by these ports can be a significant factor in supply chain strategy. 

Each port has its unique strengths, whether it’s the Port of Charleston’s focus on the automotive sector, Port Metro Vancouver’s expansive size and growth rate, or the strategic location of the Port of Virginia. By leveraging these strengths and understanding the economic impacts of these ports, businesses can make informed decisions about shipping routes, logistics partnerships, and investment opportunities.

For those engaged in ocean freight, staying informed about developments and trends in these ports is crucial. Infrastructure upgrades, environmental initiatives, and changes in trade agreements can all impact the flow of goods and the cost of shipping. 

In conclusion, these top North American ports are more than transit hubs; they are integral to the economic fabric of their respective states and countries. They provide critical infrastructure for trade, support a vast number of jobs, and contribute significantly to the GDP, making them indispensable to both local economies and the global supply chain.



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