The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, located in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. From 1962 until 2004 it was the world’s busiest port, now overtaken first by Singapore and then Shanghai. In 2011, Rotterdam was the world’s eleventh-largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled (2009: tenth; 2008: ninth, 2006: sixth). In 2012 Rotterdam was the world’s sixth-largest port in terms of annual cargo tonnage.
Covering 105 square kilometres (41 sq mi), the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi). It consists of the city centre’s historic harbour 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. Rotterdam consists of five distinct port areas and three distribution parks that facilitate the needs of a hinterland with 40,000,000 consumers.
The port of Rotterdam and its surrounding area is susceptible to a storm surge from the North Sea. In the Delta Works flood protection plan various options have been considered for protecting Rotterdam. Finally a unique design was built, the Maeslantkering. This flood barrier consists of two huge doors that normally rest in a dry dock besides the Nieuwe Waterweg. When a flood of 3 metres (9.8 ft) above NAP (mean sea level) is predicted the gates are floated into position, like caissons, and sunk in place. When the water level recedes enough to open the gates, they are floated back into their docks. Another barrier, the Hartelkering, is situated in the Hartelkanaal.