Shipping in the Mediterranean Sea: an overview

Published on: 30 April 2021
Category: About shipping

The Mediterranean Sea has been the heart of commerce since time immemorial. The ancient Romans referred to it as Mare Nostrum, ‘our sea’; to this day, it is a busy crossroads of shipping and trading whose reach goes far beyond the cities facing the sea itself.

But things have changed drastically compared to ancient times, and it is in this new and thriving world – thriving despite the current health crisis taking its toll, we might add – that Global Shipping plays its part and keep it up in this scenario.

Short sea shipping and beyond

As a company based in Italy, we at Global Shipping are ideally placed to fit in with Mediterranean traffic: according to EU data, Italy’s primary focus, just like in ancient times, is on the Mediterranean Sea. However, short routes within the sea itself are only a starting point: now that movement and communication are so much faster, Italian ports also have noteworthy connections to the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Breaking records

The top 20 ports in the EU accounted for over 40% of the short sea shipped goods handled in 2019, and while the most active port by far is Rotterdam (Netherlands), Italy stands out for appearing four times in the top 20 with Trieste, Genoa, Leghorn and Ravenna, more than any other country featured on the list. The most frequent destinations may be different from those of the age of Mare Nostrum, but it appears that not much has changed after all: even now that modern ships are crossing the oceans with ease and delivering goods all over the world, Italy remains a major hub of shipping activity.

A closer look at the cargo

Official EU data further divides the information about shipped goods by type: liquid bulk, by far the prevalent kind; dry bulk; containers; roll-on and roll-off units, known in the business by the friendlier name of Ro-Ro. Once again, the Netherlands takes the lead in all categories, but Italy can proudly represent southern Europe by appearing in the top 5 ports for every type of cargo except containers.

A cautiously optimistic outlook

The official data from which these numbers and rankings were extrapolated only go up to 2019, so it is too early to predict how the overall situation will change in the wake of the pandemic, but we at Global Shipping are proud to be part of such a prosperous sea region and hope to continue being your number one choice for when you need an expert in shipping in the Mediterranean and beyond.

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