Hamburg, located roughly 100 km from the open sea on the river Elbe, is Germany's second largest city. With 1,7 million inhabitants, it is one of only 4 cities in all of Germany with a population greater than 1 million.
Hamburg has a long tradition as a commercial city and port. Car license plates in Germany have letters that signify which city they are registered in, with more important or larger cities having fewer letters. Hamburg, however, is designated "HH", for "Hansastadt Hamburg"
Hamburg is one of the 16 Federal States of the Republic of Germany. The State Parliament has 121 seats and has a 4-year elective term. The State Senate has 12 members presided over by the First Mayor.
Between AD 808 and 834 the Franks built a walled fortification near the already existing old Saxon village of Hamm (possibly from "ham" = obstruction in the landscape, shore area, marshland), close to what was then the mouth of the river Alster, whose name was first documented in AD 832 as "Hammaburg".
Hamburg was made a bishopric by King Ludwig the Devout in AD 831 and in the following year Pope Gregor IV elevated it to an archbishopric. In AD 950 Hamburg had a population of around 500.
Hamburg was admitted to the Hanseatic League in the 14th century. As North Sea port for the then powerful city of Lübeck, Hamburg became one of the most important trading ports in northern Europe. In the last quarter of the 14th century Hamburg had a population of around 7500 people.
Sources: www.hamburg.de and http://www.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/rz3a035/general/history.html