Port of Emden
Review and History

The Port of Emden lies near the North Sea coast of East Frisia near the Ems River estuary in northwestern Germany. In spite of serious damage to the city in World War II, the port facilities were undamaged, and it became one of the busiest ports in Germany. Important industries include shipping and shipbuilding, auto assembly, and construction product manufacturing. In 2003, the population of the Port of Emden was over 51 thousand.

Port History

People have lived in the area of the Port of Emden since the 8th Century. It has been known over the years as Amuthon, Embda, also Emda. The Port of Emden was granted city rights and a coat of arms in 1495 by Emperor Maximilian I.

During the 1600s, the Port of Emden was a rich city, primarily due to the many immigrants from the Netherlands when it was a center for reformed Protestantism. During the Napoleonic era, it was part of the Kingdom of Holland.

Industrialization began in the Port of Emden about 1870 when a paper mill and a shipyard were built. At the end of that century, the Dortmund-Ems Canal was built, connecting Emden and the Ruhr area and making Emden the region’s major seaport (until the 1970s). With coal shipped from the south, the Port of Emden shipped iron ore over the Canal to Rhine and Ruhr. The Port of Emden saw its last iron ore freighter in 1986.

The North Sea Works, a huge shipyard that still exists, was established there in 1903. Most of the city was destroyed during bombing raids during World War II. On September 6, 1944, about 80% of all the houses in the city center were destroyed. All that survived the bombing was the remains of 1616 ramparts and a 1648 Gothic Church. However, the shipyard went untouched because the British were targeting civilian districts. On the 18th anniversary of the bombing, the reconstructed town was re-opened.

Today, the Port of Emden’s main industries are production of automobiles and shipbuilding. The VW Passat is built at a big Volkswagen factory that employs about ten thousand people. Emden is one of Europe’s three major ports for the shipment of automobiles, and over 850 thousand cars moved through the port in 2005.

The Nordseewerke shipyard specializes in building conventional submarines and employs about 1400 workers. It also produces many types of cargo ships and specialized ships like ice-breakers and dredgers.

Tourism is another important part of the Port of Emden’s economy. Tourists stop there for day trips as they visit other areas on the coast of the North Sea.

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