City coat of arms

Location in Denmark

 - City
 - Metropolitan

88 km²
455.61 km²
Population (2006-01-01)
 - City
 - Metropolitan
 - Density (city/met)

5695/km² / 2659/km²
Time zone Central European: UTC+1
55°43' N
12°34' E

Copenhagen (IPA: [kəʊpənˈheɪgən] or [kəʊpənˈhɑˑgən]; Danish København IPA: [købn̩ˈhaʊˀn]) is the capital of Denmark and the country's largest city (metropolitan population 1,211,542 (2006)). Copenhagen is the seat of the national parliament, the government, and the monarchy.

The original designation for the city, from which the contemporary Danish name is derived, was Kjøbmandehavn, "merchants' harbor". The English name for the city is derived from its German name, Kopenhagen. The element hafnium is named after the city's Latin name, Hafnia.



Copenhagen municipality

Copenhagen was one of the three last Danish municipalities not belonging to a County— the others being Frederiksberg (an enclave within Copenhagen itself) and Bornholm. On 1 January 2007, the municipality lost its county privileges and became part of Region Hovedstaden (i.e. the Copenhagen Capital Region).

The municipality covers 91.3 km² (88km² of which is land), and has a population of 501,000 (2006). Lord Mayor of Copenhagen is Ritt Bjerregaard, 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), Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard (Education and Youth Committee), Mogens Lønborg (Health and Care Committee), Jakob Hougaard (Employment and Integration Committee), Klaus Bondam (Building and Environment Committee), and Mikkel Warming (Social Committee).

The municipal seat of government is the 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 within the municipality, and is thus surrounded by Copenhagen.

Copenhagen municipality was not merged with other municipalities on January 1, 2007 as the result of nationwide Kommunalreformen ("The Municipal Reform" of 2007).



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 by the name of "Havn" (harbour) 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 - the first part of the word denoting commerce in Danish language). 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 in 1807, to gain control of the Danish navy, the city suffered great damage and hundreds of people were killed. The reason why the devastation was so great was that Copenhagen relied on an old defence-line rendered virtually useless by the increase in shooting range available to the British. But not until the 1850s were the ramparts of the city opened to allow new housing to be built around the lakes ("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, Copenhagen Center 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 trainlines to surrounding towns and suburbs.

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 (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.

Copenhagen is also a part of the Øresund region, which consists of the eastern part of Zealand in Denmark and the western part of Scania in Sweden.



1,211,000 people live in metropolitan Copenhagen (Storkøbenhavn), a statistical abstract comprising the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg and part of Copenhagen Capital Region. Of these, 501,158 live in the Municipality of Copenhagen, 91,855 in the Municipality of Frederiksberg, and 618,529 in the whole or part of 18 surrounding municipalities that are also part of Copenhagen Capital Region.

An even larger metropolitan region was known as the Copenhagen Region (Hovedstadsregionen). The population of the 34 municipalities closest to and including the municipality of Copenhagen is 1,843,131 (2006). Land area: 2926 km² (1,129.7 sq mi). Water area: more than 100 km² (40 sq mi). Thus, the region comprises 6.9% of the land area of Denmark, but has 34% of Denmark's population. This gives a total of 630 inhabitants per km² or 1,632 per square mile for the region. This compares with a population density in the rest of the country of approximately 90 per km² or around 230 per square mile. The population density of the region is around 300 inhabitants per km² (777/ sq mi) outside the metropolitan area of Copenhagen, and this is also the population density of Zealand as a whole. A high-ranking civil servant of the Interior Ministry, Henning Strøm, who was involved in (i.e. known as "the Father of") a past municipal reform, which took effect on 1 April 1970, said on television, broadcast in connection with the recent Kommunalreformen("The Municipal Reform" of 2007), that Copenhagen municipality would encompass an area with 1.5 million inhabitants, if the principles of the 1970 municipal reform were also applied on Copenhagen municipality.[1]



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

  • Indre By ("Copenhagen Center")
  • Christianshavn
  • Indre Østerbro ("Inner Østerbro")
  • Ydre Østerbro ("Outer Østerbro")
  • Indre Nørrebro ("Inner Nørrebro")
  • Ydre Nørrebro ("Outer Nørrebro")
  • Vesterbro
  • Kongens Enghave
  • Valby
  • Vanløse
  • Brønshøj-Husum
  • Bispebjerg
  • Sundbyøster
  • Sundbyvester
  • Vestamager


Historic population. The two figures for February 1 1901 are before and after the municipality annexed some nearby parishes. The apparent decline since the mid-1900's are due to the figures not including the urban areas outside Copenhagen municipality.

  • 1450: est. 4–5,000
  • 1500: est. 10,000
  • 1650: est. 30,000
  • 1700: est. 65,000
  • 15.1.1769: 80,000
  • 1.7.1787: 90,032
  • 1.2.1801: 100,975
  • 1.2.1840: 120,819
  • 1.2.1850: 129,695
  • 1.2.1860: 155,143
  • 1.2.1870: 181,291
  • 1.2.1880: 234,850
  • 1.2.1890: 312,859
  • 1.2.1901: 360,787
  • 1.2.1901: 400,575
  • 1.2.1911: 462,161
  • 1.2.1921: 561,344
  • 5.11.1930: 617,069
  • 5.11.1940: 700,465
  • 7.11.1950: 768,105
  • 26.9.1960: 721,381
  • 9.11.1970: 622,773
  • 1971: 625,678
  • 1972: 610,985
  • 1973: 595,751
  • 1974: 576,030
  • 1975: 562,405
  • 1976: 545,350
  • 1977: 529,154
  • 1978: 515,594
  • 1979: 505,974
  • 1980: 498,850
  • 1981: 493,771
  • 1982: 490,597
  • 1983: 486,593
  • 1984: 482,937
  • 1985: 478,615
  • 1986: 473,000
  • 1987: 469,706
  • 1988: 468,704
  • 1989: 467,850
  • 1990: 466,723
  • 1991: 464,773
  • 1992: 464,566
  • 1993: 466,129
  • 1994: 467,253
  • 1995: 471,300
  • 1996: 476,751
  • 1997: 483,658
  • 1998: 487,969
  • 1999: 491,082
  • 2000: 495,699
  • 2001: 499,148
  • 2002: 500,531
  • 2003: 501,285
  • 2004: 501,664
  • 2005: 502,362
  • 2006: 501,158


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.

General situation

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. It is a very popular place for shopping.

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 such as rock guitarist Link Wray came to Copenhagen beginning in the 1960s.

Sexual equality is a high priority in Denmark. Women should encounter little or no discrimination in Copenhagen, and sexual harassment is rare compared to other Western capital cities, and crime against women is low.

Copenhagen is a popular destination for homosexual travellers. It has an active gay community and a wide selection of nightlife options for those such as gay clubs for example the popular Pan Club Copenhagen. The more widely known gay pride festival is the annual Copenhagen Pride (formerly the Mermaid Pride Parade), a Mardi Gras-like bash that occurs on a Saturday in early August, as well as Gay And Lesbian Film Festival Copenhagen held annually in late October. Danes are known to have a high degree of tolerance for "alternative" lifestyles of all sorts, and homosexuals receive equal rights to express themselves and are protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Copenhagen is known as a 24-hour party city. For free entertainment one can stroll along Strøget, especially between Nytorv and Højbro Plads, which in the late afternoon and evening is a bit like an impromptu three-ring circus with musicians, magicians, jugglers and other street performers.



Copenhagen has a wide variety of sport teams. Denmark's two leading football teams, Brøndby IF and FC København, are based in Copenhagen and its suburbs. FC København play at Parken in Østerbro, Copenhagen. Brøndby IF play at Brøndby Stadion outside of the municipality of Copenhagen.

In recent years, Brøndby IF have become the second most successful team ever in Danish history, winning the Danish Championship 10 times and the Danish Cup 5 times since 1985. The most successful team in Danish history are KB — Kjøbenhavns Boldklub who have won the Danish championship 15 times. In 1992, KB merged with B1903 — winner of 6 Danish Championships — forming FC København. FC København have won the Danish Championship 5 times and the Danish Cup 3 times over the last 14 years (4 times Danish champions since 2001) — FC København were founded in 1992 and won their first Danish championship in their first season. In 2006 FC København for the first time qualified to the Champions League and although they were eliminated after the first groupstage, they managed to defeat Manchester United 1-0, Celtic Football Club 3-1 and drawing against SL Benfica 0-0 in Parken.

Notable Copenhagen teams playing at the second highest level in Danish football (the Danish 1st Division) include AB, HIK, Frem, Brønshøj, Fremad Amager and Skjold.

Copenhagen also has three ice hockey teams: Rødovre Mighty Bulls, Herlev Hornets and Nordsjælland Cobras.

There is both a men's and a women's handball team, and both teams play in the highest league. Both of the handballteams are owned by FC København and have the same name and logo. They were formerly known as FIF.

Rugby is also played in the Danish capital with teams such as CSR-Nanok, Copenhagen Scrum, Exiles, Froggies and Rugbyklubben Speed.

The Danish Australian Football League, based in Copenhagen is the largest Australian rules football competition outside of the English speaking world.

Copenhagen is also home to a number of Denmark's 40-odd cricket clubs. Although Denmark has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1966, the sport is not taught much in schools, and Danish cricket competes unfavourably with the much more widely followed sport of football for players, facilities, media attention and spectators.

Copenhagen is also home to three prominent paintball teams, the Copenhagen Ducks, The Ugly Ducklings and the Copenhagen Berserks. Because of paintball's relative popularity in Scandinavia, these teams are well-known throughout the globe, despite Denmark's small size.

The second World Outgames will take place in Copenhagen in 2009, after Berlin refused to stage them due to the continuing rivalry between the two gay sporting organisations.



Copenhagen offers a great variety of fine restaurants and it is possible to find modest eateries with open sandwiches (called "smørrebrød"), which is the traditional and most known dish. Most restaurants, though, serve international dishes.

Also, Copenhagen is known for the hotdog stands found throughout the city. The city is also home to many fine bakeries and pastry shops.

The city boasts an impressive 10 Michelin star restaurants. Restaurant Noma (Nordisk Madhus) has currently been voted the 33. best restaurant in the world.[2].

Lately, immigration from the Middle East, Turkey and Arabian countries has made fast food dishes like kebab and falafel as popular as more traditional Danish fast food.



Trains in Copenhagen outside the Carlsberg building
Trains in Copenhagen outside the Carlsberg building

The public transportation system of Copenhagen consists of commuter trains (called "S-Trains" (S-tog)), buses, and a 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 operated by Trafikselskabet Movia, covering all of east Denmark, 45 municipalities in total, not including Bornholm. Tickets are transferable from one means of transport to another (e.g. from bus to train) as long as the time limit is not exceeded. The former Copenhagen region, 34 municipalities, is divided into ninety-five zones, which determine the cost of a ticket. The more zones a ticket is valid for, the longer its time validity with a maximum of two hours. A trip of seven or more zones costs a base rate.

Discount cards, known as punch cards, as well as period cards are available. Ticket prices are high and have increased substantially in recent years leading to a decrease in passenger numbers.[citation needed] In fact the percentage of trips made on public transportation in Copenhagen is quite low by northern European standards.[citation needed]

An extensive road system is also in place, 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 traffic lanes and sometimes have their own signal systems. Copenhagen is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world [3], and is a center of bicycle culture.


Places of note in or near Copenhagen

Christiansborg Palace - home of the Danish Parliament Folketinget. the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Christiansborg Palace - home of the Danish Parliament Folketinget. the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Børsen - the former Stock Exchange building with Christiansborg to the right.
Børsen - the former Stock Exchange building with Christiansborg to the right.
Amalienborg - home of the Danish royal family.
Amalienborg - home of the Danish royal family.

Notable natives

  • Karen Blixen, writer, also known as Isak Dinesen
  • Niels Bohr, physicist, Nobel laureate
  • Aage Bohr, physicist, Nobel laureate (son of Niels Bohr)
  • Victor Borge, entertainer
  • August Bournonville, ballet choreographer
  • Georg Brandes, critic
  • Helena Christensen, model
  • Tove Ditlevsen, writer
  • Carl Theodor Dreyer, movie director
  • Peter Høeg, writer
  • Arne Jacobsen, designer
  • J. C. Jacobsen, founder of Carlsberg Brewery
  • Søren Kierkegaard, philosopher
  • Lauritz Melchior, opera singer
  • Mads Mikkelsen, actor
  • Jakob Nielsen
  • Lars von Trier, movie director
  • Dan Turèll, writer
  • Lars Ulrich, drummer of heavy-band Metallica
  • Jørn Utzon, architect




  1. DR netnews 25-06-04
  2. Michelin starred restaurants Copenhagen - Official tourist-site about Copenhagen. Wonderful Copenhagen. Retrieved on 2006-08-10.
  3. ICLEI Cities Enjoy Bicycles Awards ICLEI "Cities Enjoy Bicycles" awards for bicycle-friendly cities, in which Copenhagen was awarded a certificate of honour

See also


External links

Preceded by:
European City of Culture
Succeeded by:
25 biggest cities of Denmark (with number of inhabitants according to Statistics Denmark [1])

Copenhagen (1,086,800) | Århus (228,500) | Odense (145,600) | Aalborg (121,500) | Esbjerg (72,600) | Randers (55,700) | Kolding (54,900) | Vejle (49,900) | Horsens (49,700) | Roskilde (44,200) | Næstved (40,500) | Silkeborg (38,500) | Fredericia (37,100) | Elsinore (35,000) | Køge (33,600) | Viborg (33,200) | Holstebro (31,800) | Slagelse (31,800) | Herning (29,900) | Hillerød (28,100) | Svendborg (27,600) | Sønderborg (27,000) | Hjørring (24,800) | Holbæk (24,300) | Frederikshavn (24,200)

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