The "Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg" with its population of 1,8 million and its metropolitan region with 3,5 million people is situated between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

The Lake Alster, together with the Elbe river and the numerous canals and parks adjoining them have given Hamburg the fine image of a "green" metropolis at the water`s edge. A total of 2321 bridges cross these canals.

The city began to rise as a trading power in the 12 th century. During the Middle Ages Hamburg became one of the leading cities of the Hanse. The Hamburg harbour with its huge overseas ships is the second largest sea-harbour in Europe and ranks seventh in the world. Today Hamburg is also a leading centre of media and sports: in 2006 Hamburg will be one of the German cities hosting the FIFA Worldcup.

Hamburg is one of the most culturally multifaceted cities in Germany. Besides 50 museums  a wide range of theatres, concert halls, music halls and cabaret venues attract audiences with a colourful range of cultural events. Hamburg is known to be one of Europe`s capitals for musicals.

The cosmopolitan character of Hamburg is best shown in the number of foreign consulates. With more than 90 consulates Hamburg ranks second only to New York as the city with the highest number of consulates in the world.

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