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A container ship Airliners carry most of the world’s passengers, but when it comes to carrying cargo, transport by ship is still the most important link between countries. The biggest vessels are called bulk carriers. They include oil tankers, some of which are more than 450 metres (1475 feet) long. Container ships carry general cargo stored in large steel boxes stacked up like building blocks. These can be unloaded directly on to lorries.


A panorama of Singapore port, with thousands of containers ready for shipmentA container ship at the docks in Bremerhaven, GermanyModern cargo ships are much larger than vessels of the past, and big, efficient ports with docks (spaces where ships are moored) are needed so that their cargoes can be loaded and unloaded as quickly as possible. Some ships take cargoes inland along large rivers and man-made waterways called canals. Duisburg in Germany is the largest inland port in the world. Every day goods containers arriving by train from China are loaded on to trucks and ships and sent all over Europe.
An aerial view of Genoa (Genova) harbour in northern Italy, containing the portA "harbour" and a "port" are often confused with each other. A harbour is a body of water where ships and boats are sheltered from stormy seas. They may be natural—they are partly surrounded by land (as is, for example, Sydney, Australia)—or manmade, where the sheltering is achieved by the construction of breakwaters, sea walls or jetties. A port is a man-made site for loading and unloading ships' cargoes or passengers, and is usually located in a harbour. 

The port of Shanghai, in China, is the world’s busiest port when measured by the weight of cargo it handles. More than 32 million standard-size containers pass through every year.

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