Anzali was founded in the early 19th Century. Today, it surrounds the Mordāb Lagoon. In 1920, the Russians occupied the Port of Anzali, but their control collapsed in 1921. The port lines a channel between sandy peninsulas, and the channel has irregular depths. Twp breakwaters protect the entrance to the channel, and it must be dredged to keep it open.
Most of the port facilities are on the eastern side of the channel, including a wharf, oil depot, and fishery station. Modernization of port facilities was accomplished during World War II, greatly increasing traffic. In 2003, the government of Gillan Province created a free trade industrial zone at the Port of Anzali, attracting many local and foreign investors.
The Port of Anzali covers 71 hectares and contains 22.7 thousand square meters of covered warehouse space, 50 hectares of uncovered warehouses, and a 1215 square meter hangar. The Port of Anzali contains 11 berths with total length of 1.7 thousand meters with alongside depth of 5.5 meters. All eleven berths can accommodate ships to five thousand tons.
In the 2007-2008 shipping season, 1385 vessels anchored at the Port of Anzali, including 1313 non-oil commercial ships and 72 oil tankers. The port handled over 4.2 million tons of cargo. Four million tons of imports included 3.7 million tons of non-oil imported cargoes and 297 thousand tons of transit oil materials. Exports of 204.8 thousand tons included 130.4 thousand tons of non-oil cargoes.
During the shipping season, the Port of Anzali stored 637.5 thousand tons of imported and exported goods. Exported goods included 8.6 thousand tons of dried fruits, 7.3 thousand tons of full containers, and 3.7 thousand tons of construction materials. Other exports included chemical materials, home appliances, fresh fruits and vegetables, heavy vehicles, minerals, and machinery, among others.
Imported goods stored totaled 554 thousand tons, including 482.4 thousand tons of iron ware, 29.8 thousand tons of wood and board, 7.8 thousand tons of non-iron metals, 7.7 thousand tons of full containers, 5.5 thousand tons of machinery, 4.4 thousand tons of spare parts, and 3.8 thousand tons of chemical materials. Other imports included rubber and plastic, home appliances, heavy vehicles, barley, wheat, cloth and fiber, and vehicles, among others.