12 Countries With The Worst Access To Quality Shipping Ports

Many of Chad's exports and imports must pass through the port of Douala, Cameroon (pictured) hundreds of miles away.
Many of Chad's exports and imports must pass through the port of Douala, Cameroon (pictured) hundreds of miles away.

For most countries, ports play an important role in facilitating trade both domestically between local regions as well as internationally with other countries across the globe. Quality shipping ports are vital because they facilitate the large scale import and export of goods. The inaccessibility or complete lack of such an important resource along with its associated transportation infrastructure presents a significant problem in relation to the economies of a variety of landlocked and underdeveloped countries. A number of the nations with the worst access to harbor and port facilities are located in developing regions of the Asian, African, and South American continents. Conversely, key international ports can be found in such cities as Shanghai in China, Hamburg in Germany, Los Angeles in the U.S. state of California, and Vancouver in Canada.

Countries With Poor Port Accessibility


According to the World Economic Forum the country with the worst port infrastructure is the landlocked African nation of Chad. Other factors such as widespread poverty, civil unrest, and political corruption have all contributed to Chad being named the seventh poorest country in the world according to the United Nations' Human Development Index. The nation's economy is further hampered by the lack of access to a domestic port. Industries in Chad must instead rely on the neighboring Cameroon port of Douala in order to facilitate the import and export of goods.


Zambia is another African country with poor access to a quality shipping port. Bordered by Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, and Namibia, this landlocked country is known for its rich copper reserves but faces challenges based on the growing costs of transporting the material without access to a cargo port. Alternative transportation methods are available but have proven to be costly.

Central and South Asia

Due to geographical restrictions a number of Asian countries have also been forced to confront a wide array of obstacles associated with the absence of quality ports. The economies of Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and Bhutan have all been negatively affected due to large scale problems associated with transportation and shipping. The economy of Mongolia, for example, relies heavily on mineral exports which are most often transported out of the country by way of its national railway system. Although the country has several waterways travel on them is limited and during the winter season lakes and rivers freeze over thus preventing passage.


Nepal is located in the southern portion of Asia and is bordered by the huge economic powers of India and China. The country is well known for being home to some of the highest mountains in the world including Mount Everest. Domestic products such as sugar cane, rice, corn, and wheat all play major roles in fueling the nation’s economy. Trading in Nepal is further complicated by the country's hazardous mountainous terrain which makes transportation both challenging and expensive.


Bolivia is another country with poor access to an effective shipping port infrastructure. The landlocked nation is located in the central region of South America and shares borders with Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, and Argentina. Bolivia is rich in natural resources such as tin and natural gas. Because it lacks access to a quality port the national railway plays a major role in terms of the country’s transportation system.

Ports and Their Vital Role in Trade

Landlocked countries and others with limited or poor access to quality ports are at a definite disadvantage in regards to both the importation and exporting of goods. Shipping ports are an important part of a nation’s ability to trade with countries around the globe. Without this valuable resource the nation's economy is prone to suffer as transportation of goods becomes restrictive and costly.

12 Countries With The Worst Access To Quality Ports For Shipping

RankCountry WEF-GCR Port Infrastructure Score, 1=Worst, 7=Best
1Chad 1.4
2Mongolia 1.4
3Kyrgyzstan 1.5
4Nepal 1.6
5Bhutan 1.8
6Bosnia and Herzegovina 2.0
7Bolivia 2.1
8Tajikistan 2.1
9Armenia 2.1
10Zambia 2.2
11Laos 2.2
12Moldova 2.2

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