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This article is about the city and municipality of Copenhagen. For the play by Michael Frayn, see Copenhagen (play).

Copenhagen, Denmark
City seal

Location in Denmark

 - Total
 - Water

526 km²
xxx km² xx%

 - City (2004)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

954/km2 [including water]
xxx/km2 [land only]

Time zone Eastern: UTC+1


55°43' N

12°34' E

Copenhagen (Danish: København) is the capital and largest city of Denmark, and the name of the municipality (Danish, kommune) in which it resides. It is also the name of a county in Denmark, Copenhagen County— but the city and municipality are not a part of this county.

The contemporary Danish name for the city is a corruption of the original designation for the city, "Købmandshavn", or "Merchants' Harbour" in Danish. The English word for the city is derived from its German name, "Kopenhagen", but note that the 3rd syllable is pronounced "hay" in English, not "hah".

Copenhagen is home to the national parliament, government, and monarchy, which are all situated in the heart of the city.


Copenhagen municipality

Copenhagen is one of only three Danish municipalities which do not belong to any of the Counties of Denmark— the others are Frederiksberg and Bornholm.

The municipality covers an area of 88 km², and has a total population of 502,362 (2005). Lord Mayor of Copenhagen is Lars Engberg, a member of the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) political party, who is head of the Finance Committee. Other mayors are Martin Geertsen (Cultural and Recreational Committee), Per Bregengaard (Education and Youth Committee), Inger Marie Bruun-Vierø (Health and Care Committee), Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard (Family and Labout Market Committee), Søren Pind (Building and Construction Committee), and Winnie Berndtson (Energy, Water and Environment Committee).

The seat of government is Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhus).

Neighboring municipalities are Gentofte, Gladsaxe and Herlev to the north, Rødovre and Hvidovre to the west, and Tårnby to the south. Frederiksberg is located as an enclave in the municipality, and is thus surrounded by Copenhagen.

Copenhagen municipality will not be merged with other municipalities by January 1, 2007 as the result of nationwide Kommunalreformen ("The Municipality Reform" of 2007).

History of 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 the 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.

Copenhagen circa 1895
Copenhagen circa 1895

During 1658-59 it withstood a severe siege by the Swedes under Charles X. In 1801 a British fleet under Admiral Parker fought a major battle, the Battle of Copenhagen, with the Danish navy in Copenhagen harbour. It was during this battle Lord Nelson famously "put the telescope to the blind eye" in order not to see Admiral Parker's signal to cease fire. When a British expeditionary force bombarded Copenhagen with Congreve rockets 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 along with the rest of the country from 9th of April 1940 until 4th of May 1945. The city has grown greatly since the war.

Since the summer 2000, the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö have been connected by a toll bridge/tunnel (Øresund 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 centre 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. The bridge has not yet been as widely used by motorists as was originally hoped, likely due to the high road tolls, allegedly slowing the planned integration of the region. Train passengers, however, are plentiful and increasing in numbers. The lack of a commonly acceptable currency throughout the area is another hindrance to the integration of the region, even though a growing number of shops, restaurants etc, if not usually encouraged, accept payment with either nation's currency in the other country.


Copenhagen is located on the eastern shore of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) and partly on the island of Amager. Copenhagen faces to the east 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 the Danish Capital Region (Hovedstadsregionen), 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 the eastern part of Zealand in Denmark and the western part of Skåne in Sweden.

The city itself is divided into 15 administrative, statistical and tax districts (bydele):


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

Danish newspapers rank Copenhagen as one of the world's best cities in which to live, despite the high cost of living.

Strøget, a pedestrian shopping street in central Copenhagen was inaugurated in 1961. Copenhagen's extensive pedestrian network has been developed over the last 40 years through the work of architect and professor Jan Gehl.

The Copenhagen Jazz Festival is a popular annual event that is the result of a significant jazz scene having existed for many years. It developed significantly when a number of American jazz musicians such as Ben Webster, Thad Jones, Richard Boone, Ernie Wilkins, Kenny Drew, Ed Thigpen, Bob Rockwell and others came to Copenhagen beginning in the 1960s.


Copenhagen has a wide variety of sport teams. FC København is one of Denmark's best football teams. They have won the Danish Championship three times in the past five seasons. FC København plays in the Danish national stadium, Parken.

In the next best league plays HIK, Frem, Brønshøj and Skjold.

There is both a men's and a women's handball team, and both teams play in the highest league.


Copenhagen offers a great variety of fine restaurants and modest eateries with open sandwiches (called "smørrebrød") as the most known dish. Also, Copenhagen is known for the hotdog stands found throughout the city.

Lately, immigration from the Middle East and North Africa has made dishes like kebab and falafel as popular as more traditional Scandinavian fast food.


Copenhagen S-train
Copenhagen S-train

Copenhagen has a public transportation system, consisting of commuter trains (called "S-Trains" (S-tog)), buses, and a new but still small metro. 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. 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 two zones is less expensive than three, four, or more zones. A trip of seven or more zones costs a base rate. Ticket prices are 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.

An extensive road system is also in place for private automobiles, and the city's bicycle paths are extensive and well-used. 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.

Places of note in or near Copenhagen

Christiansborg Castle - the home of the Danish Parliament - Folketinget.
Christiansborg Castle - the home of the Danish Parliament - Folketinget.
Danish Stock Exchange (Børsen) with Parliament to the right.
Danish Stock Exchange (Børsen) with Parliament to the right.
Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhuset).
Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhuset).

Famous Copenhageners

See also

External links

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Counties of Denmark Flag of Denmark
Regular counties
Århus | Frederiksborg | Funen | Copenhagen | North Jutland | Ribe | Ringkjøbing | Roskilde | South Jutland | Storstrøm | Vejle | Viborg | West Zealand
Municipalities with county priviliges
Bornholm | Copenhagen | Frederiksberg
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