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A harbor or harbour (see spelling differences), or haven, is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbors can be man-made or natural. A man-made harbor will have sea walls or breakwaters and may require dredging. A natural harbor is surrounded on most sides by land.

Harbors and ports are often confused. A port is a man-made coastal or riverine facility where boats and ships can load and unload. It may consist of quays, wharfs, jetties, piers and slipways with cranes or ramps. A port may have magazine buildings or warehouses for storage of goods and a transport system, such as railway, road transport or pipeline transport facilities for relaying goods inland.

Artificial harbors

Artificial harbors are frequently built for use as ports. The largest artificially created harbor is in Rotterdammarker, The Netherlandsmarker.

Natural harbors

A natural harbor is a landform where a part of a body of water is protected and deep enough to furnish anchorage. Natural harbors have long been of great strategic and economic importance. Many of the great cities of the world are located on a natural harbor. Having a protected harbor reduces or eliminates the use of breakwaters as it will result in calmer waves inside the harbor.

Ice-free harbors

For harbors near the poles, being ice-free is an important advantage, ideally all-year round. Examples are Murmanskmarker (Russiamarker), Petsamo (Russia, formerly Finlandmarker), Hammerfestmarker, Vardømarker, and Prince Rupertmarker (Canadamarker). The southern-most harbor, at Antarctica's Winter Quarters Baymarker (77°50′S), presents a potentially ice-free harbor, dependent on summer pack ice conditions.

Tidal harbor

A tidal harbor is a type of harbor that can only be entered or exited at certain tidal levels.

Important harbors

Although the world's busiest port is a hotly contested title, in 2006 the world's busiest harbor by cargo tonnage was the Port of Shanghai.

The following are large natural harbors:

Other notable harbors include:

See also


  1. U.S. Polar Programs National Science Foundation FY2000.
  2. Port Cities - tide harbour
  3. AAPA World Port Rankings 2006

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