Hamburg is a major port city situated on the Elbe River in northern Germany.
1,740,000 inhabitants make it Germany's second-largest city. The Greater Hamburg Metropolitan Region has a population of four million. It is at the same time one of the 16 German Bundesländer (states).
Hamburg is a city-state. It values its status as a city, being as independent as possible of other states that have existed or currently exist in Germany. Nevertheless, over the centuries,
Hamburg has always been an international city. This is not only because of its position in international trade, but also in political dimensions. One of the most important harbors in Europe and the world, Hamburg takes great pride in its mercantile background, which built the city's wealth in the past centuries. From 1241 on, it was member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval trade monopoly over Northern Europe. In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, millions left Europe on their way to the new world through the Hamburg harbor.
Today, the harbor ranks second in Europe and sixth to seventh world-wide. Consequently, one of Hamburg's tag lines is "The Gate to the World" (derived from the city’s coat of arms, showing an argent city wall with a gate and crowned by three towers on a field of gules). Hamburg is known to be one of the richest metropolitan area in the European Union, like Brussels and London.
The harbor is the heart of the city, however, Hamburg is one of the most important media hubs in Germany, too. Half of the nation's newspapers and magazines have their roots in Hamburg. And unknown even to some locals is the fact that, with one of the Airbus aircraft assembly plants, Hamburg is a major location of the world's aerospace industry, right after Seattle (USA) and Toulouse (France).
The mercantile background reflects in the city's architecture. The only palace in Hamburg is the town hall, house of the citizen's parliament and the senate. Apart from that, the city still has large quarters with expensive houses and villas. These residences are home to merchants and captains, surrounded by lots of greenery. However, large parts of the city were destroyed during the devastating air raids of World War II, killing tens of thousands and leaving more than a million homeless.
Hamburg still keeps its tradition of being an open, yet discreet city. Citizens of Hamburg, just like most Northern Germans, sometimes appear to be quite reserved at first. Once they get to know with whom they are dealing, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish. The people of Hamburg are known as "Hamburger" (pronounce the a like you're saying "ah", and it won't sound as silly). The beef patties on a bun were named after this city, where presumably they were invented (although not popularized: you won't find any "traditional hamburgers" in Hamburg). The same with "frankfurter" (Frankfurt) and "wiener" (Wien, aka Vienna).