Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and its principal port; it is also the second largest port city in Europe, ninth largest port in the world, and the largest city in the European Union which is not a national capital. The official name Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (German: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; Low German: Free un Hansestadt Hamborg) refers to Hamburg's membership in the medieval Hanseatic League and the fact that Hamburg is a city-state and one of the sixteen Federal States of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Hamburg is on the southern tip of the Jutland Peninsula, centered between Continental Europe to the south, Scandinavia to the north, the North Sea to the west, and the Baltic Sea to the east. The city of Hamburg lies at the junction of the River Elbe with the rivers Alster and Bille. The city center of Hamburg, with it's 1,852,478 inhabitants, is set around two lakes, the Binnenalster ("Inner Alster") and the Außenalster ("Outer Alster"). An international trade city, Hamburg is the commercial and cultural centre of Northern Germany.
The city takes its name from the first permanent building on the site, a castle ordered to be built by Roman-German Emperor Charlemagne in 808 AD. The castle was built on rocky ground in a marsh between the Alster and the Elbe as a defence against Slavic incursion. The castle was named Hammaburg, where "burg" means "castle". The "Hamma" element remains uncertain. Old High German includes both a hamma, "angle" and a hamme, "pastureland". The angle might refer to a spit of land or to the curvature of a river. However, the language spoken might not have been Old High German, as Low Saxon was spoken there later. Other theories hold that the castle was named for a surrounding Hamma forest, or for the village of Hamm, later incorporated into the city. Hamm as a place name occurs a number of times in Germany, but its meaning is equally uncertain. It could be related to "heim" and Hamburg could have been placed in the territory of the ancient Chamavi. However, a derivation of "home city" is perhaps too direct, as the city was named after the castle. Another theory is that Hamburg comes from ham which is Old Saxon for shore.
In 834 Hamburg was designated the seat of a bishopric, whose first bishop, Ansgar, became known as the Apostle of the North. In 845 a fleet of 600 Viking ships came up the River Elbe and destroyed Hamburg, at that time a town of around 500 inhabitants. Two years later, Hamburg was united with Bremen as the bishopric of Hamburg-Bremen.
In 983, the town was destroyed by King Mstivoj of the Obodrites. In 1030, the city was burned down by King Mieszko II Lambert of Poland. After further raids in 1066 and 1072 the bishop permanently moved to Bremen. Hamburg had several great fires, notably in 1284, 1842, and 1945.
The charter in 1189 by Frederick I "Barbarossa" granted Hamburg the status of an Imperial Free City and tax free access up the Lower Elbe into the North Sea. This charter, along with Hamburg's proximity to the main trade routes of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, quickly made it a major port in Northern Europe. Its trade alliance with Lübeck in 1241 marks the origin and core of the powerful Hanseatic League of trading cities.
In 1529 the city embraced Lutheranism, and Hamburg subsequently received Protestant refugees from the Netherlands and France. Hamburg was at times under Danish sovereignty while remaining part of the Holy Roman Empire as an Imperial Free City.
Briefly annexed by Napoleon I (1810-14), Hamburg suffered severely during his last campaign in Germany. The city was besieged for over a year by Allied forces (mostly Russian, Swedish and German). Russian forces under General Bennigsen finally freed the city in 1814. During the first half of the 19th century a patron goddess with Hamburg's Latin name Hammonia emerged, mostly in romantic and poetic references, and although she has no mythology to call her own, Hammonia became the symbol of the city's spirit during this time.
Hamburg experienced its fastest growth during the second half of the 19th century, when its population more than quadrupled to 800,000 as the growth of the city's Atlantic trade helped make it Europe's third-largest port.
Hamburg's central promenade Jungfernstieg on River Alster in 1900.With Albert Ballin as its director the Hamburg-America Line became the world's largest transatlantic shipping company at the turn of the century, and Hamburg was also home to shipping companies to South America, Africa, India and East Asia. Hamburg became a cosmopolitan metropolis based on worldwide trade. Hamburg was the port for most Germans and Eastern Europeans to leave for the New World and became home to trading communities from all over the world (like a small Chinatown in Altona, Hamburg).
After World War I Germany lost her colonies and Hamburg lost many of its trade routes. In 1938 the city boundaries were extended with the Groß-Hamburg-Gesetz (Greater Hamburg Act) to incorporate Wandsbek, Harburg, Wilhelmsburg and Altona. The city counts 1.7 million inhabitants.
During World War II Hamburg suffered a series of devastating air raids during Operation Gomorrah which killed at least 42,000 and up to 125,000 German civilians. Through this, and the new zoning guidelines of the 1960s, the inner city lost much of its architectural past.
The Iron Curtain — only 50 kilometres (30 mi) east of Hamburg — separated the city from most of its hinterland and further reduced Hamburg's global trade. On 16 February 1962 a severe storm caused the Elbe to rise to an all-time high, inundating one fifth of Hamburg and killing more than 300 people.
After German reunification in 1990, and the accession of some Eastern European and Baltic States into the EU in 2004, Hamburg Harbour and Hamburg have ambitions for regaining their positions as the region's largest deep-sea port for container shipping and its major commercial and trading centre.
After suffering at the brutality of foreign invasion in the 20th century that continues to this day, a new one has been occuring, of Mohammedans. In 2013, the invaders from Africa and Asia (Asylantenflut) not content to steal free housing, welfare, jobs, and women decided to riot and destroy the country as well. This has also been happening in Sweden.