Rotterdam Harbor: the largest in the world
I arrived here in Rotterdam one month ago, I have been curious to know its
harbor, which is the largest in the world. Thus, some days ago I decided to take
a riverboat tour. It seemed to be the only way to get there because the
enterprise is really quite huge. The boat was very nice and it crowded with
foreigners, mainly from Germany and Japan. The day was sunny and I could get a
tour lasted one and a half hour, but the time was not enough to know everything.
The harbor is really enormous. One of the things that drew my attention was that
we don’t see workers moving around: everything is mechanized. The containers
are carried by automated trucks. The ships are big and come from everywhere in
the world. I managed to see Aurora, a ship from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Due to
the colors of the containers the harbor looks fantastic, very different from the
gray and dark containers of our “City of Containers”, exhibited next to Guaíba
shore during the last Mercosur Biennial.
harbor is the largest in the world and also the most important in Europe. It was
inaugurated during the 14th century (more specifically in 1328), as a
small fishing harbor at Rotte riverside. It was from the XIX century on, when a
connection to the North Sea named Nieuwe Waterweg was opened that it started to
terrifically grow, since it established a communication way with the powerful
and progressive German industry.
year, around 300 million tons are conveyed there. The harbor and industrial area
has around 10,500 hectares. An average of 30, 000 ships/year (82.2/day) leave
the harbor and 130,000 (356/day) have it as a destination. Rotterdam is one of
the 500 ship routes that connect one thousand different harbors. It is also the
main spot for oil, chemicals, containers, steel, carbon, food and metal
transportation in Europe.
load-displacement allows carrying up to 350 thousand tons. The largest
containers weigh around seven thousand tons and sometimes more. Due to this
intensive trade of goods from and to many parts of the world, many
representatives from the most important shipping companies are located there.
There is a big sector for the importation of citric fruits in Europe and several
sections of Asian products distribution. But the largest area is reserved for
the industry, mainly chemical and petrochemical. Some multinationals have
important industrial complexes there, producing goods for Europe and, in some
cases, for the whole world. Oil products and chemicals represent almost the half
of the goods transported via this harbor. Five
refineries and several chemical industries are located around it; the German
steel industry also uses it to flow off its immense production. These companies
use and operate their own terminals. The harbor is also very used for the trade
of agricultural products, as grains, animal foodstuff, fertilizers and food as
meat, fish, grains, fruit, vegetables and juices.
After knowing the harbor I could
better assess the importance of Rotterdam for the Dutch and European economies.
It is impossible to imagine the amount of goods and money that circulates there
every day. I got also impressed by the technology that supports all, the huge
ships, containers, harbor automation. I’ve heard that the relation between
Rotterdam and Amsterdam may be compared to the one existing between São Paulo
and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Actually, Rotterdam seems to be the place where
the wealth is produced; Amsterdam, where it is spent.
After this tour, I’ve been
considering... when we buy an orange juice in the supermarket we can’t figure
how many places it has gone through, and the whole process it was required to
bring it to the final consumer as well as the amount of money and people
involved in this process. Thinking about this, I’ve remembered the gaúcho
movie picture “Ilha das Flores”. The story follows the path of a tomato that
ends in a garbage deposit and becomes food for the pigs and the poor people of
The tangle of ships, containers and
hoists at the harbor, moving around hundreds of goods, made me figure out how
complex our economy is; we are not able to realize it in our everyday shopping
at supermarkets, which need to be supplied with thousands of products that come
from the industries, which, on their turn search for their raw-material in near
sites and also in the farthest places of the planet, involving thousands of
transportation routes and ships in an organization that we have never imagined.
Images of the Harbor:
Translated by Traduzca