The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, located in the city of Rotterdam, South Holland, the Netherlands. From 1962 until 2002 it was the world's busiest port, now overtaken by Asian ports like Singapore and Shanghai. In 2006, Rotterdam was world's seventh-largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled.
Covering , the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of . It consists of the city center's historic harbor area, including Delfshaven; the Maashaven/Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbours around Nieuw-Mathenesse; Waalhaven; Vondelingenplaat; Eemhaven; Botlek; Europoort, situated along the Calandkanaal, Nieuwe Waterweg and Scheur (the latter two being continuations of the Nieuwe Maas); and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea.
In the first half of the twentieth century the port activities moved from the centre westward towards the North Sea. The Nieuwe Waterweg was dug from Rotterdam to the North Sea, a canal to disembogue the shallow Rhine and Meuse. The Nieuwe Waterweg was ready in 1872 and all sorts of industrial activity formed on the banks of this canal.
Rotterdam's harbour territory has been enlarged by the construction of the Europoort (gate to Europe) complex along the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg, and by the Maasvlakte in the North Sea near Hoek van Holland. The construction of a second Maasvlakte received initial political approval in 2004, but was stopped by the Raad van State (the Dutch Council of State, which advises the government and parliament on legislation and governance) in 2005, because the plans did not take enough account of environmental issues. On October 10, 2006, however, approval was acquired to start construction in 2008, aiming for the first ship to anchor in 2013.
Most important for the port of Rotterdam are the petrochemical industry and general cargo transshipment handlings. The harbour functions as an important transit point for transport of bulk and other goods between the European continent and other parts of the world. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. Since 2000 the Betuweroute, a fast cargo railway from Rotterdam to Germany, has been under construction. The Dutch part of this railway has been opened in 2007. Large oil refineries are located west of the city. The river Meuse and Rhine also provide excellent access to the hinterland.
The EECV-quay of the port has a draft of 24 meters (78 feet), making it, along with Terminal Marítimo de Ponta da Madeira in Brazil, one of only two available mooring locations for the largest bulk cargo ship in the world, the iron ore bulk carrier Berge Stahl. The ship's draft of 23 meters (75 feet) leaves only 1 meter (3 feet) of under keel clearance, therefore it can only dock in a restricted tidal-window.