Hamburg (officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg; Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; Low German/Low Saxon: Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg) is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.
One of Germany's 16 federal states, it is surrounded by Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south. The city's metropolitan region is home to more than five million people. Hamburg lies on the River Elbe and two of its tributaries, the River Alster and the River Bille.
The official name reflects Hamburg's history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League and a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Before the 1871 Unification of Germany, it was a fully sovereign city state, and before 1919 formed a civic republic headed constitutionally by a class of hereditary grand burghers or Hanseaten. Beset by disasters such as the Great Fire of Hamburg, north Sea flood of 1962 and military conflicts including World War II bombing raids, the city has managed to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe.
Hamburg is Europe's third-largest port. Major regional broadcasting firm NDR, the printing and publishing firm Gruner + Jahr and the newspapers Der Spiegel and Die Zeit are based in the city. Hamburg is the seat of Germany's oldest stock exchange and the world's oldest merchant bank, Berenberg Bank. Media, commercial, logistical, and industrial firms with significant locations in the city include multinationals Airbus, Blohm + Voss, Aurubis, Beiersdorf, and Unilever.
The city hosts specialists in world economics and international law, including consular and diplomatic missions as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the EU-LAC Foundation, and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, multipartite international political conferences and summits such as Europe and China and the G20. Both the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Angela Merkel, German chancellor since 2005, come from Hamburg.
The city is a major international and domestic tourist destination. It ranked 18th in the world for livability in 2016. The Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2015.
Hamburg is a major European science, research, and education hub, with several universities and institutions. Among its most notable cultural venues are the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle concert halls. It gave birth to movements like Hamburger Schule and paved the way for bands including The Beatles. Hamburg is also known for several theatres and a variety of musical shows. St. Pauli's Reeperbahn is among the best-known European entertainment districts.
Hamburg is at a sheltered natural harbour on the southern fanning-out of the Jutland Peninsula, between Continental Europe to the south and Scandinavia to the north, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the northeast. It is on the River Elbe at its confluence with the Alster and Bille. The city centre is around the Binnenalster ("Inner Alster") and Außenalster ("Outer Alster"), both formed by damming the River Alster to create lakes. The islands of Neuwerk, Scharhörn, and Nigehörn, 100 km away in the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park, are also part of the city of Hamburg.
The neighborhoods of Neuenfelde, Cranz, Francop and Finkenwerder are part of the Altes Land (old land) region, the largest contiguous fruit-producing region in Central Europe. Neugraben-Fischbek has Hamburg's highest elevation, the Hasselbrack at 116.2 m AMSL. Hamburg borders the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony.