Belawan is a major seaport located on the northeastern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The port is on Deli River and also serves as cruise port to Medan City, Belawan is Indonesia's busiest cargo port outside of Java.
A weekly ferry service (by Pelni) connects Medan with Batam, Riau Islands, Tanjung Balai Karimun, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta (Indonesia's capital). Regularly scheduled passenger ferries link Belawan to Penang (across Strait of Malacca). Ferry crossings also link to Phuket Thailand and Langkawi Malaysia.
Port Belawan was built in 1890, in order to provide a harbour waterway for tobacco to be directly transferred between rail lines (out of Sumatra's interior) and deep-draft cargo ships. In 1907, the harbor expanded due to the construction of a new section (intended for Indonesian and Chinese traders), thus reserving the rest of the port for European shipping. During the early 20th century, the port's business expanded via the growth of large palm oil and rubber plantations in northern Sumatra. During the 1920s, at the port were constructed several major berthing/docking facilities.
In 1938, Belawan was ranked Dutch East Indies's largest cargo port in terms of freight values. After the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (August 1945). cargo shipping trade volumes substantially dropped and didn't reach their pre-independence levels until the mid-1960s. Major 1985 port redevelopment and restructuring saw the building of a container terminal which almost immediately captured around 1/5 of Indonesia's containerized exports. Major products exported from Belawan include palm oil, rubber, coffee, and tea.
In 2013, Port Belawan served 1,2 million TEUs (containers) annually and is still gradually expanding to 2 million TEUs with around USD 89,7-million fund.