Every day, thousands of ships, planes, and trucks crisscross the globe, moving cargo to the people who need it to do business, build empires, or just store their stuff. Global trade and smooth transport were two of the primary factors that pushed the global economy and standard of living forward so quickly during the twentieth century.

The BBC followed a shipping container’s path around the world to demonstrate the reality of globalization. The box began its travels empty and was filled with different types of cargo throughout the course of its journey. The container was loaded, unloaded, and reloaded with new contents when it reached different destinations. The box traveled more than 50,000 miles in its year-long journey before reaching its final destination. We’re going to take you on a trip around the globe to see exactly where BBC’s shipping container traveled. The container’s trip lasted just over a year and traveled on the road, by train, and across the ocean. Follow along with us! The journey begins now.



Container terminal cranes line a deepwater berth at DPWorld Southampton Port UK

Shipping containers at the Port of Southampton

The empty shipping container is ready to depart in BBC’s home country, the United Kingdom. It passes through most of the United Kingdom and briefly visits eastern Ireland. The container spends about a month winding through the British Isles, on ships and transporters, before it is ready to depart into the Atlantic Ocean – now holding cargo like aged Scotch whisky exports – and move past the Bay of Biscay. The shipping container is ready to say farewell to Europe after curving around the western coast of continental Europe, passing Spain and Portugal.


Suez Canal from BBC

Shipping containers pass through the Suez Canal. Image courtesy of BBC.

The steel box sails through the straits of Gibraltar, past Southern Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia, and there are no further reports or updates until the container arrives in Egypt. The ship passes through the Suez Canal, a key point in global transportation which has become an ocean highway for transportation, according to BBC.

The container travels south through the Red Sea, passing Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Yemen. It continues to float on across the northern Indian Ocean,  until it arrives in Singapore.




Shipping containers float through the Port of Singapore.

The shipping container passes by Sri Lanka and then arrives in Singapore. BBC reports this location as a loading and unloading zone for other containers. The container then moves to travel through the South China Sea, passing the Philippines and Taiwan, and surviving typhoons. It is ready to be unloaded when it reaches Shanghai, with more than 10,000 miles traveled by sea so far. Apparel replaces the whisky that ‘s now being distributed to bars in Shanghai and the container is ready to explore the Pacific Ocean. After two brief stops on Japan’s west coast and a day in Tokyo, the ship sets sail for the United States!


North America


Shipping containers at a busy Port of Long Beach.

Twelve days later, the BBC container arrived in Los Angeles, greeted by economic hardship. The box travels out of California, across the western United States following I-40 through Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Texas. It continues its trip through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, before arriving in Chicago, Illinois. Over the next two days, the box traveled through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania before arriving in New York and being loaded onto a new cargo ship.


South America

Cargo ships docked at the Port of Santos, Brazil

The Port of Santos in Brazil is the busiest port in Latin America for containers.

The container heads out of U.S. territory, making a weeklong journey south through the Atlantic Ocean to make its way to the Caribbean Sea, before porting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and moving on to South America. The BBC box voyaged to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela and then hugged the eastern coast of the continent before porting in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. The container spends nearly two months in Sao Paulo before departing once more across the Atlantic to return to the South China Sea trade zone.


The journey ends here

BBC Box from BBC

The BBC Box. Image courtesy of BBC.

The container traveled through the Indian Ocean once more, making a short stop in Hong Kong and a longer stop – four months long! – in Tokyo. After departing Tokyo, the container made a stop in Thailand en route to Singapore (again) to deliver its final shipment. After leaving Singapore, the container made its way back to the BBC Television Centre in London, England.

In total, the container traveled about 50,000 miles and visited 25 ports over the course of 14 months. In some cases, it traveled a thousand miles in a few days. In other cases, the box sat idle for months at a time. Once the shipping container’s travels came to an end, it was sent to Africa to be converted into a soup kitchen.

We hope you enjoyed our journey following a shipping container’s path around the world! Contact us to house your cargo as it travels across the map – we have a variety of sizes and grades available to fit your cargo needs.