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Copenhagen (København in Danish) is the capital of Denmark. The contemporary Danish name for the city is a corruption of the original designation for the city Købmandshavn, meaning Merchants' Harbour. The English name Copenhagen is derived from the German name of the city, Kopenhagen. Copenhagen is home to the national parliament, government, and monarchy, which are all situated in the heart of the city.

The statue of the The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour, a monument to Hans Christian Andersen.
The statue of the The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour, a monument to Hans Christian Andersen.



Copenhagen is located on the eastern shore of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) and partly on the island of Amager. Copenhagen faces the Øresund, the strait of water that separates Denmark from Sweden, and that connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. On the Swedish side of the sound directly across from Copenhagen lie the towns of Malmö and Landskrona.

1,116,979 people live in metropolitan Copenhagen (Storkøbenhavn). Of these 502,204 live in the Municipality of Copenhagen, 91,721 in the Municipality of Frederiksberg, 68,704 in the Municipality of Gentofte and another 454,350 in other nearby municipalities. An even larger metropolitan region is known as Hovedstadsregionen (translated, "the capital region", which consists of the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, and the counties of Copenhagen, Frederiksborg and Roskilde. The population of Hovedstadsregionen is 1,823,109. Copenhagen is also a part of the Øresund region, which consists of Eastern Zealand and Western Scania (in Sweden), and has a population of 2.8 million people.


Copenhagen has consistenly been rated one of the best cities in the world in which to live by international surveys, though it also has a high cost of living.

Strøget, a pedestrian shopping street in central Copenhagen, is the longest of its kind in the world.

If Denmark is the kingdom of reason, as the saying goes, then Copenhagen is the metropolis of politeness and civility. Its inhabitants practise the two, both between themselves and towards strangers. They also add a dash of humor now and then. However, due to the true equality between men and women in Denmark, few of the citizens will hold a door open for a lady.


1888 German map of Copenhagen
1888 German map of Copenhagen

Copenhagen offers a great variety of fine restaurants and modest eateries which are all delicious witnesses to the Danish passion for good food. The entire city in fact is a gourmet's delight with hundreds of small shops selling everything from succulent ice cream to unearthly good pastries. The baked goods called Danish pastries outside the country are usually pale and inferior copies of the marvellous creations available in Copenhagen.


Main article: History of Copenhagen

Copenhagen was founded around year 1000 by Sweyn I Forkbeard (Svend Tveskæg ) and his son Canute the Great (Knud den Store ). It was only a fishing village until the middle of the 12th century when it grew in importance after coming into the possession of Bishop Absalon, who fortified it in 1167. The excellent harbour encouraged Copenhagen's growth until it became an important centre of commerce (hence its name). 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. 1658-59 it withstood a severe siege by the Swedes under Charles X. In 1801 a British fleet under Horatio Nelson fought a major battle, the Battle of Copenhagen, with the Danish navy in Copenhagen harbour. When British naval vessels bombarded Copenhagen in 1807, to prevent Denmark from surrendering its fleet to Napoleon, the city suffered great damage and hundreds of people were killed. During World War II Copenhagen was occupied by German troops as the rest of the country from April 1940 until May 1945. The city has grown greatly since the war.

Kongens Nytorv in the Wintertime
Kongens Nytorv in the Wintertime

Since the summer 2000, the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö have been connected by a toll bridge/tunnel (Oresund Bridge), which allows both rail and road passengers to cross. It was inaugurated in July 2000 by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. As a result, Copenhagen has become the center of a larger metropolitan area which spans both nations. The construction of the bridge has led to a large number of changes to the public transportation system and the extensive redevelopment of Amager, south of the main city. However, the bridge has not been as widely used as was originally hoped, likely due to the high tolls, slowing the planned integration of the region. Another hindrance to the integration of the region is the lack of a commonly acceptable currency throughout the area. It is still difficult to pay with either nation's currency in the other country.


Copenhagen has an extensive public transportation system, consisting of commuter trains (called "S-Trains" (S-tog)), busses, and a new metro. An extensive road system is also in place for private automobiles, and the city's bicycle paths are well known for their extensive and well used nature.

The s-trains form the basis of the transportation network, stretching to most areas of metropolitan Copenhagen, with their main hub at Copenhagen Central Station (København H). Some regional trains supplement the S-train services with lines extending further such as to the Copenhagen Airport, Elsinore, and Malmö.

Copenhagen Harbor.
Copenhagen Harbor.

The entire system is governed by the same overall authority and tickets are transferable from one mode to another. The region is divided up into 99 zones which govern the cost of a ticket. Travelling through 2 zones is less expensive than 3, 4, or more zones. A trip of 7 or more zones costs a base rate. Ticket prices are quite high and have increased substantially in recent years leading to a decrease in passenger numbers. In fact the percentage of trips made on public transportation in Copenhagen is quite low by northern European standards.

Bicycle use is quite extensive. The city provides public bicycles which can be found throughout the downtown area and used with a returnable deposit of 20 kroner. Bicycle paths are often separated from the main automobile lanes and have their own signal systems.

See also:

Places of note in or near Copenhagen

Danish stock exchange with parliament (Christiansborg) in the background
Danish stock exchange with parliament (Christiansborg) in the background

People of note connected with Copenhagen

External links

  • Wonderful Copenhagen official tourism web site
  • Copenhagen in Pictures
  • Daily Pictures from Copenhagen
  • Kastellet (the fort)
  • Visiting Copenhagen (AOK)
  • Rejseplanen: Getting around with public transportation
  • Useit - Copenhagen Low Budget Tourist Guide

Last updated: 02-06-2005 18:01:30
Last updated: 02-11-2005 17:47:38