The Port of Ningbo lies on the coastal plain of the Yong River about 15 nautical miles upstream from the Hangzhou Bay and about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the Port of Shanghai. The Port of Ningbo has a long tradition of waterborne trade and commerce. The Port of Ningbo has an outport on the western estuary bank that was a fishing port. It is south of the Bay and faces the East China Sea, separated from Zhoushan by a narrow water body.
Once famous for producing traditional Chinese furniture, the Port of Ningbo dates as far back as the Hemudu culture of 4800 BC. In 1986, China designated the Port of Ningbo one of its national historic and cultural cities. It contains the oldest library building in China with a collection of rare books dating to the 11th Century. In 2010, the metropolitan area was home to almost 5.7 million people.
The Port of Ningbo became an independent prefecture under the Ming Dynasty in 738. Under the Southern Song Dynasty, it was promoted to a superior prefecture in 1195 called Quangyuan. In 1381, it became the Ningbo superior prefecture, a status it maintained until 1912 when it was demoted to county status with the name of Yin Xian. In 1949, it was separated from the county to form the modern city of Ningbo.
The Port of Ningbo was a convenient port for Korean mariners in the late 5th Century, making it an important port for eastern China. Even when official relations with Korea collapsed in 838 AD, large-scale private trading continued.
The Port of Ningbo was a center for coastal trade in the early 11th Century, and its position became more pronounced in 1127 when the South Song capital was established at Hangzhou and overseas trade began to flow through Ningbo. The Port of Ningbo grew rapidly and became rich from the 10th to 13th Centuries.
The Port of Ningbo suffered a setback when the Ming Dynasty limited trade and forbade the construction of ocean-going vessels. Due to frequent attacks by Japanese pirates, the city became an important defensive base. Its growth slowed through the latter 15th Century.
Portuguese trading began in 1545 in the Port of Ningbo, and British and Dutch merchants soon followed. Port of Ningbo merchants were also trading with Manchuria in northeast China, Guangzhou (Canton), the Philippines, and Taiwan. Ningbo became an important commercial center for the coast and an outport for the Yangtze River Delta.
With the construction of the Zhedong Canal, the Port of Ningbo took on a role as an important economic and commercial center for China during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Although it was opened foreign trade to 1843, trade for the Port of Ningbo slowed as nearby Shanghai grew in importance.
Today, the Port of Ningbo is a local commercial center and a regional seaport that can accommodate three-thousand ton vessels. In 1979, a large passenger terminal was opened to serve the regular passenger service to Shanghai. In 1984, Ningbo became one of China’s open cities, inviting foreign investment.
In 1985, a new deep-water seaport, Beilun, with container facilities was opened as part of the Ningbo district. In 2008, the new Hangzhou Bay Bridge, one of the longest in the world, was opened to add a new direct link to the existing rail and road links to Shanghai.
Since World War II, the Port of Ningbo has seen the expansion of the textile industry with dyeing and textile plants, yarn-spinning mills, and knitting factories. Food processing is an important part of the city’s economy, and it has a major shipbuilding industry that builds fishing vessels.
Modern Port of Ningbo is a hub for transportation of junks, and it is a collection center for agricultural products from the region, local fisheries, and timber from inland. It is an important distribution point for coal, textiles, consumer goods, and oil. Factories make diesel engines, generators, machine tools, petrochemicals, and agricultural and other machinery. The Port of Ningbo’s thermal-power stations generate electricity for the whole region.