Difference Between Harbour and Port

Main Difference – Harbour vs Port

Though Harbour and Port are two words we often use interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between them. A harbour is a place on the coast where ships, boats and barges can seek shelter from a stormy weather whereas a port is a location on the coast that can be used to load and unload vessels. A port can be found inside a harbour. In this article, we’ll be discussing the difference between harbour and port in more detail.

What is a Harbour

A harbour is a place that is situated on the coast where ships, boats, barges, etc. can be moored safely. The word harbour is derived from the Old English word “herebeorg” meaning shelter or refuge. In American English, this is spelt as ‘harbor.’

A harbour can be natural or artificial. A natural harbour is a place where a part of a body of water is protected and deep enough to furnish anchorage. Some examples of natural harbours in the world are Pearl harbour in Hawaii, Sydney harbour in Australia, Trincomalee harbour in Sri Lanka, New York harbour and San Francisco in the United States. An artificial harbour is a port built by men. Wadi al-Jarf, on the Red Sea coast built during (2600-2550 BC),  is considered to be the oldest artificial harbour in the world. Debel Ali harbour in Dubai is the largest artificial harbour in the world. Harbours have played a role in the strategic naval and economic importance, throughout the history.

difference between harbour and port

Sydney Harbour

What is a Port

A port is a place on the coast that facilitates loading and unloading cargo. A port is usually located inside a harbour. There are different types of ports based on the facilities provided. Some of them are explained below.

Inland Port: a port located on a navigable lake, river or canal with access to a sea or ocean

Dry Port: an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road or railway to a seaport and operating as a centre for the transhipment of sea cargo to inland destinations.

Fishing Port:  A port that is used to land and distribute fish.

Warm-water Port: A port where the water does not freeze during the winter.

Ports play a very important role in the economy of a country.harbour vs port

Difference Between Harbour and Port

Definition of Harbour and Port

Harbour: Harbour is a place on the coast where ships, boats and barges can seek shelter from a stormy weather.

Port: Port is a location on the coast that can be used to load and unload cargo.


Port: A port is located inside a harbour.

Harbour: A harbour cannot be located inside a port.


Harbour: The purpose of a harbour is to provide shelter from the weather conditions.

Port: The purpose of a port is to load and unload cargo.


Harbour: A harbour is usually a natural structure.

Port: Ports are generally artificially created.


Port: Ports are commercial entities and often have many facilities like warehouses to store cargo and well-built transportation systems.

Harbour: Harbours do not provide as many facilities as ports.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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