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For other uses, see Harbor (disambiguation).

A harbor or harbour (see spelling differences), or haven, is a body of water where ships, boats, and barges can seek shelter from stormy weather, or else are stored for future use.

Harbors can be natural or artificial. An artificial harbor has deliberately constructed breakwaters, sea walls, or jettys, or otherwise, they could have been constructed by dredging, and these require maintenance by further periodic dredging. An example of the artificial harbor is Long Beach Harbor, California, which was an array of salt marshes and tidal flats too shallow for modern merchant ships before it was first dredged in the early 20th century.[1]

In contrast, a natural harbor is surrounded on several sides by prominences of land. Examples of natural harbors include Sydney Harbour, Australia and San Francisco Bay, California.

Harbors and ports are often confused with each other. A port is a facility for loading and unloading vessels; ports are usually located in harbors.

Artificial harbors[edit]

Artificial harbors are frequently built for use as ports. The oldest artificial harbor known is the Ancient Egyptian site at Wadi al-Jarf, on the Red Sea coast, which is at least 4500 years old (ca. 2600-2550 BC, reign of King Khufu). The largest artificially created harbor is Jebel Ali in Dubai.[2] Other large and busy artificial harbors are located at: Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Port of Houston, Texas; Port of Long Beach, California; and Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.

The Ancient Carthaginians constructed fortified, artificial harbors called cothons.

Natural harbors[edit]

A natural harbor is a landform where a part of a body of water is protected and deep enough to furnish anchorage. Many such harbors are rias. Natural harbors have long been of great strategic naval and economic importance, and many great cities of the world are located on them. Having a protected harbor reduces or eliminates the need for breakwaters as it will result in calmer waves inside the harbor. Some examples are New York Harbor in the United States; Poole Harbour in England; Kingston Harbour in Jamaica; Grand Harbour in Malta; Subic Bay in Zambales, the Philippines; Sydney Harbour in Australia; Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; Trincomalee Harbour in Sri Lanka; San Francisco Bay in California; Visakhapatnam Harbour in Andhra Pradesh, India; Killybegs in County Donegal Ireland; Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia, and Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, Canada, Cork Harbour, Ireland and Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ice-free harbors[edit]

For harbors near the North and South Poles, being ice-free is an important advantage, especially when it is year-round. Examples of these include Murmansk, Russia; Pechenga, Russia; Liinakhamari, Russia; Hammerfest, Norway; Vardø, Norway; Vostochny Port and Nakhodka in Nakhodka Bay, Russia, and Prince Rupert Harbour, Canada. The world's southmost harbor, located at Antarctica's Winter Quarters Bay (77° 50′ South), is potentially ice-free, depending on the summertime pack ice conditions.[3]

Important harbors[edit]

The tiny harbor at the village of Clovelly, Devon, England
File:Gorey Harbour at low tide.JPG
The harbor of Gorey, Jersey falls dry at low tide.

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.[7]

The following are large natural harbors:

Port of Portland, Casco Bay, Maine, United States

Other notable harbors include:

See also[edit]


  1. http://geology.campus.ad.csulb.edu/people/bperry/geology303/geol303chapter8.html
  2. Hattendorf, John B. (2007), The Oxford encyclopedia of maritime history, Oxford University Press, p. 590, ISBN 978-0-19-513075-1 
  3. U.S. Polar Programs National Science Foundation FY2000.
  4. "Circuit Guide | Punta del Este, Uruguay | FIA Formula E". FIA Formula E. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  5. "Formula E reveals circuit for Punta del Este ePrix". FIA Formula E. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  6. "Formula E unveils Punta del Este circuit in Uruguay". autosport.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  7. AAPA World Port Rankings 2006

External links[edit]