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Fact file : Copenhagen
location  55°40'N 12°35'E
municipal area  88 sq km
... with a population over  500,000
Greater Copenhagen districts  20 bydele
... with a population over  1 million
Hovedstadsregionen  2,862 sq km
... with a population over  1.8 million
More facts about Copenhagen:
www.denmark.dk
The official website of Denmark
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Copenhagen
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
Key facts
Copenhagen — or København — is Denmark's largest city.
It is situated on the Baltic Sea side of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) and on the smaller island of Amager, looking east over the Øresund sea channel to Sweden.
The main area of the Municipality of Copenhagen is just 88 sq km, with a population of more than half a million people. The three central areas popular with visitors — North, Central and South — occupy less than 10 sq km and are easily accessible on foot. The municipality is governed by seven committees, each headed by a mayor. Municipal headquarters is the City Hall, or Københavns Rådhus, located in Rådhuspladsen.
Greater Copenhagen is divided into 20 districts (bydele), and includes the municipalities of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg and Gentofte. The even larger Hovedstadsregionen encompasses the municipalities and counties of Copenhagen, Frederiksborg and Roskilde. Hovedstadsregionen covers 2,862 sq km and has a population of at least 1.8 million. This conurbation makes Copenhagen the largest city in Scandinavia.
History
Copenhagen started out as a small fishing village named Havn ('harbour'). This village was given to the Archbishop of Denmark, Bishop Absalon, foster brother and close ally of Valdemar I (the Great), who came to the throne in 1157 and united the country. By 1167, Absalon had built a defensive castle (dismantled 1369) on the small island of Slotsholmen opposite the harbour.
1238 The town's first monastery established, on Gråbrødretorv
1254 By this date, the town had become Københaven (Merchants' Harbour), a fortified market town
1343 Copenhagen designated the capital of Denmark by Valdemar IV (Atterdag)
1479 University of Copenhagen founded (1st June) — now the largest research and education facility in Denmark
1711 Bubonic plague kills 23,000 people in the city, reducing the population by one third
1728 Fire starts in a candle maker's premises and destroys 1,700 buildings, including City Hall and the University
1795 Fire destroys the spire of St Nikolaj Church — firemen couldn't open the locked pump house to get water ... the city is rebuilt on a grander scale
1801 Nelson leads England to victory during the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd August
1807 Wellington's army bombards the Danish fleet at Copenhagen
1913 The Little Mermaid is unveiled in August
1929 Copenhagen appoints a Regional Council
1955 The Copenhagen-Bonn accord
1987 The first international Young Geotechnical Engineers conference
2002 The Copenhagen Summit, negotiations end on the enlargement of the European Union
2009 Copenhagen hosts a series of international climate change conferences, and declares its intention to be the first carbon neutral city by 2025
Some odd facts about Copenhagen
In September 2009, the city hosted a 100 percent carbon neutral music and arts festival (CO2PENHAGEN), powered entirely by renewable energy. Electricity was generated by two teams pedalling gym bikes and by people dancing in order to convert energy into lights for the dance floor.
Copenhagen is twinned with Reykjavik in Iceland, and Campeche in Mexico.
The Rådhus (city hall) has the city's highest viewpoint from its 105m tower. It also has a world clock with a calendar for 570,000 years.
The Rundetårn (round tower) has no steps. Access to the top of the 35m tall 15m diameter tower is via a cobbled spiral ramp 209m long. It opened in 1642 as an observatory for the university.
Kongens Nytorv (King's new square) — the city's largest square — is actually oval, and it becomes an ice rink in the winter.
The Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and contain almost 1,000 trees and 400,000 flowers, as well as numerous leisure facilities.
The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is just 1.25m high. Her head is modelled on prima ballerina Ellen Price and her body on Eline Eriksen, wife of the bronze statue's sculptor. The mermaid was decapitated in 1964 and her head was never found — the one we see today is a replica.
There are no drivers on the Copenhagen Metro system, it is all automated.
In 2008, Copenhagen was voted the world's most liveable city, in a magazine article.
You can take a guided sightseeing tour of the city on a Segway vehicle during the warmer months.
The 'free state of Christiania' in Copenhagen was established on 13th November 1971 when squatters set up a commune of some 900 residents. Cannabis was traded and used openly in Christiania until 2004.
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The seven Mayors of Copenhagen
Copenhagen doesn't have just one mayor
— it has seven! The Lord Mayor is in overall charge but there are six others, each responsible for an aspect of city life.
The 2010-13 incumbents are ...
Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor & Finance
Pia Allerslev, Mayor of Culture & Leisure
Anne Vang, Mayor of Children & Youth
Ninna Thomsen, Mayor of Health & Care
Mikkel Warming, Mayor of Social Services
Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, Mayor of Technical & Environmental
Klaus Bondam, Mayor of Employment & Integration
see Københavns Kommune  www.kk.dk
Some famous Danes
connected with Copenhagen
Niels Stensen aka Nicolaus Steno (1638-86)
doctor and anatomist, pioneer in palaeontology and geology and crystallography, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1986
Christian Frederik Hansen (1756-1845)
one of the most important neo-classical architects in Denmark
Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844)
sculptor whose work is commemorated in Thorvaldsens Museum, which is both his tomb and the first art museum in Denmark (opened 1848)
Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853)
"father of Danish painting"
Nicolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872)
prominent clergyman, theologist and philosopher who founded Folkehøjskole (people's high school) to give poorer citizens access to education
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75)
author, most famous for his fairytales
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55)
forerunner of the existentialists who describes human life in terms of ethics, aesthetics and religion
William S. Knudsen (1879-1948)
industrialist, president of General Motors (USA)
Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962)
theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize winner (1922) for an explanation of the periodic system of elements
Inge Lehmann (1888-1993)
seismologist who concluded in 1936 that the Earth has a solid inner core 5,121 km below its surface
Arne Jacobsen (1902-71)
interior designer, produced many iconic designs that are still in production
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)
architect, most famous for Sydney Opera House
Jan Gehl (born 1936)
architect and urban planner, based in Copenhagen
Queen Margrethe II (born 1940)
monarch of Denmark since 14th January 1972, the country's first female monarch (rather than consort)
Sandi Toksvig (born 1958)
author and presenter, now based in England
Peter Schmeichel (born 1963)
footballer and goalkeeper, played for Manchester United 1991-99
see Københavns Kommune  www.kk.dk