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Ports and Maritime Trade

  • By: Jean-Paul Rodrigue
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The enduring characteristic of maritime transportation is its ability to move large quantities of cargo over long distances. This activity is shaped by the maritime geography of the world, mainly the configuration of oceans, coasts, seas, lakes, and rivers. Where possible, the construction of canals, channels, locks, and dredging have facilitated maritime circulation and reduced the discontinuity imposed by geography.

A Fundamental Role in Global Trade

Maritime transportation is as old as global trade, and historically, the scope and extent of longdistance trade were determined by developments in maritime transportation technology. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the galleon was the linchpin of long-distance colonial trade, and the refinement of sailing technology led to fast clipper ships in the mid 19th century, which essentially reflected the optimal ...

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