Ports and Maritime Trade

Jean-Paul Rodrigue

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Ports and Maritime Trade

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Maritime transportation is the main support of global trade, with its ability to move large quantities of cargo over long distances. The notion of maritime transportation rests on two major elements: ports and shipping networks. Ports are locations where cargo and passengers can be transshipped to and from maritime modes. Shipping networks are regular itineraries that draw arcs on the Earth’s water surface as intercontinental maritime transportation tries to follow the great circle distance. There is a long history of the use of the oceans for commercial navigation, a process linked to the establishment of global trade, particularly with the founding and expansion of civilizations and empires. Maritime transportation is a commercial activity requiring an extensive array of modes and infrastructures and is shaped by the maritime geography of the world, mainly the configuration of oceans, coasts, seas, lakes, and rivers. Where possible, dredging and the construction of canals such as Panama and Suez, channels, and locks have been attempted to shorten distances, to facilitate maritime circulation, and to improve access to ports. This has reduced the discontinuity imposed by geography on global trade. Maritime shipping is one of the most globalized industries in terms of ownership and operations. It operates within its own space, which is at the same time geographical by its physical attributes, strategic by its control, and commercial by its usage. The relationships between human activities in terms of their use of the oceans are thus complex and multidimensional because they relate to a unique geography.

Article.  4109 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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