HAMBURG 
General Information

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Hamburg is a major city port 120 km inland on the Elbe and germany's gateway to the world. It is Germany's principal seaport and largest overseas trade and transshipment centre as exemplified by the fact that some 130 Japanese and more than 20 Chinese trading companies are represented there. The port's industrial area encompasses shipyards, refineries and processing plant for raw materials from abroad. In addition to these port-related activities, the aerospace, electronics, precision engineering, optical and chemical industries play an increasingly important role in this city-state.

Within the city are innumerable trees, parks and lakes, giving it an open, green feel. The city's wealth is apparent in the smart houses and appartments, especially around the Alster lake, and in the smart shops in the Hanseviertel district. Hamburg's nightlife is world-famous, and the infamous Reeperbahn red light district is only a small part of this. Add to all this some superb architecture, excellent museums, and a quality cultural scene to suit every taste, and Hamburg is a city to spend some time in, armed with a good guide book. open, green feel. The city's wealth is apparent in the smart houses and appartments, especially around the Alster lake, and in the smart shops in the Hanseviertel district. Hamburg's nightlife is world-famous, and the infamous Reeperbahn red light district is only a small part of this. Add to all this some superb architecture, excellent museums, and a quality cultural scene to suit every taste, and Hamburg is a city to spend some time in, armed with a good guide book.

Hamburg began to flourish as a commercial town in 1189, when it was granted customs and commercial rights. One of the first members of the Hanseatic League, it soon became the main transshipment port between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. In 1460, and then finally in 1510, Hamburg was raised to the status of an imperial city - an autonomous status it has retained to this day. However, the devastating fire of 1842 and the Second World War spared but few of this commercial centre's medieval buildings.

A green industrial city. Hamburg is Germany's
second largest industrial centre with a population of 2.8 million. Nonetheless the spacious parks (e.g. 'Planten un Blomen') and gardens, woodlands, moors and heaths, have retained its character as one of Germany's 'greenest cities'. As a result of Germany's unification, the port of Hamburg, with its ramified links with the waterway network, has regained its old hinterland. This enhances the city-state's prospects of becoming the hub of trade, services and communications between east and west as in former times. Hamburg is also the banking and service centre for northern Germany. The fact that it is the world's principal consular city after New York underscores its international status. The Congress Centre, venue for many international exhibitions, is one of the most modern conference centres in Europe.

Hamburg's role as a
media city is uncontested. It is home to Germany's largest periodicals, the German Press Agency (dpa), and various television and radio networks and studios.

Civic pride and passion for art. Hamburg has always been an
attractive cultural city as well. It was here that Germany's first permanent opera house was established in 1678, where Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) staged his first opera ('Almira'). One of the city's famous sons was the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). In 1767 the Deutsches Nationaltheater was founded. It was linked with the name of Lessing and achieved fame chiefly on account of its performances of Shakespeare. At that time Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803) and Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) were Hamburg's 'literary institutions'.

In the present century Rolf Liebermann, director of Hamburg's opera house, and Gustaf Grundgens the actor, gave to opera and the theatre respectively a strong international flavour with their avant-garde productions.  Today the city is also host to musical productions, such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera', for which a new theatre 'Neue Flora' was specially built. Public generosity stemming from civic pride, and a far-sighted buying policy, have given Hamburg's
Kunsthalle, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe and Volkerkunde museum, to name only three, outstanding collections.

(information courtesy : europe-today: Germany )