First documented in the 11th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the beginning of the 15th century and during the 17th century under the reign of Christian IV it became an important regional centre. With the completion of the transnational Oresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Oresund Region. Within this region, Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmo are in the process of growing into one common metropolitan area. With around 2.7 million inhabitants within a 50 km radius, Copenhagen is one of the most densely populated areas in Northern Europe. Copenhagen is the most visited city of the Nordic countries with 1.3 million international tourists in 2007.
Copenhagen is a major regional centre of culture, business, media, and science, as indicated by several international surveys and rankings (see International rankings below). Life science, information technology and shipping are important sectors and research & development plays a major role in the city's economy. Its strategic location and excellent infrastructure with the largest airport in Scandinavia located 14 minutes by train from the city centre, has made it a regional hub and a popular location for regional headquarters as well as conventions.
Copenhagen has repeatedly been recognized as one of the cities with the best quality of life. It is also considered one of the world's most environmentally friendly cities. The water in the inner harbour is so clean that it can be swum in, and 36% of all citizens commute to work by bicycle, every day cycling a total of 1.1 million km.
Since the turn of the millennium Copenhagen has seen a strong urban and cultural development and has been described as a boom town. This is partly due to massive investments in cultural facilities as well as infrastructure and a new wave of successful designers, chefs and architects.
From its humble origins as a fishing village, through its heyday as the glittering capital of the Danish Empire, to its current position as one of the world's premier design capitals, the stories and characters of Copenhagen's history can be discovered in its sumptuous palaces, copper-roofed town houses and atmospheric cobbled squares. From the Viking Age there was a fishing village by the name of "Havn" (harbour) at the site. Recent archeological finds indicate that by the 11th century, Copenhagen had already grown into a small town with a large estate, a church, a market, at least two wells and many smaller habitations spread over a fairly wide area. Many historians believe that the town dates to the late Viking age, and was possibly founded by SwyenI Forkbeard. From the middle of the 12th century it grew in importance, after coming into the possession of the Bishop Absalon, who fortified it in 1167, the year traditionally marking the foundation of Copenhagen. The excellent harbour encouraged Copenhagen's growth until it became an important centre of commerce.
The city's origin as a harbour and a place of commerce is reflected in its name. Its original designation, from which the contemporary Danish name is derived, was Køpmannæhafn, "merchants' harbour". The English name for the city is derived from its Low German name, Kopenhagen. The element hafnium is also named for Copenhagen, whose Latin name is Hafnia.
It was repeatedly attacked by the Hanseatic League as the Germans took notice. In 1254, it received its charter as a city under Bishop Jakob Erlandsen. During 1658-59 it withstood a severe siege by the Swedes under Charles X and successfully repelled a major assault.
On 2 April 1801 a British fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker fought and defeated a Danis-Norweigen fleet anchored just off Copenhagen. Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack. He famously disobeyed Parker's order to withdraw, destroying many of the Dano-Norwegian ships before a truce was agreed. Copenhagen is often considered to be Nelson's hardest fought battle, surpassing even the heavy fighting at Trafalgar. It was during this battle that Loerd Nelson famously "put the telescope to the blind eye" in order not to see Admiral Parker's signal to cease fire.
The Second Battle of Copenhagen (or the Bombardment of Copenhagen) (16 August – 5 September 1807) was a British preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet. The British landed 30,000 man and surrounded Copenhagen. The attack continued for the next three days and resulted in the death of at least 2,000 civilians and destruction of most of the city. The devastation was so great because Copenhagen relied on an old defence-line rendered virtually useless by the increase in shooting range available to the British. Not until the 1850s were the ramparts of the city opened to allow new housing to be built around The Lakes (Danish: Søerne) which bordered the old defence system to the west. This dramatic increase of space was long overdue, not only because the old ramparts were out of date as a defence system, but also because of bad sanitation in the old city. Before the opening, central Copenhagen was inhabited by approximately 125,000 people, peaking in the census of 1870 (140,000); today the figure is around 25,000. In 1901, Copenhagen expanded further, incorporating communities with 40,000 people, and in the process making Frederiksberg an enclave within Copenhagen.
During World War II, Copenhagen was occupied by German troops along with the rest of the country from 9 April 1940 until 4 May 1945. In August 1943, when the government's collaboration with the occupation forces collapsed, several ships were sunk in Copenhagen Harbour by the Royal Danish Navy to prevent them being used by the Germans. The city has grown greatly since the war, in the seventies using the so-called five-finger-plan of commuter train lines to surrounding towns and suburbs.
Since the summer of 2000, Copenhagen and Swedish city Malmo have been connected by a toll bridge/tunnel (Oresund Bridge), which allows both rail and road transit. As a result, Copenhagen has become the centre of a larger metropolitan area which spans both nations. The construction of the bridge has led to many changes to the public transport system and extensive redevelopment of Amager, south of the main city.
Copenhagen is located on the eastern shore of the island of Zealand (Sjaelland), partly on the island of Amager and on a number of natural and artificial islets in between the two. Copenhagen faces the Oresund to the east, the strait of water that separates Denmark from Sweden, and which connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. On the Swedish side of the sound directly across from Copenhagen, lies the towns of Malmo and Landskrona.
Copenhagen is also a part of the Oresund region, which consists of Zealand, Lolland-Falster and Bornholm in Denmark and Scania in Sweden.
The Little Mermaid
The statue of the Little Mermaid sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour in Langelinie
"The Little Mermaid" (Danish: Den lille havfrue) is a fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince. The tale was first published in 1837 and has been adapted to various media including musical theatre and animated film.