Hamburg, a state of the German empire, includes the free city of Hamburg, the towns Bergedorf and Cuxhaven, and several suburbs, with a total area of 158 sq. m. The free city of Hamburg is on the Elbe, 75 miles from the German Ocean, 112 N. of Hanover, and 177 NW. of Berlin. Founded by Charlemagne in 808, Hamburg was made a bishopric in 831. The commercial history of Hamburg began in 1189-90, when the emperor granted it various privileges, amongst others a separate judicial system and exemption from customs dues. In 1241 it joined with Lubeck in laying the foundation of the Hanseatic League, and from 1259 associated itself closely with Bremen also. From that time it increased rapidly in wealth and commercial importance. In 1510 it was made an imperial town; it early embraced the doctrines of the Reformation. From 1410 to 1712 there were repeated risings against the governing classes; during 1806-14 it was occupied by the French, when its pop. decreased by nearly one-half, namely to 55,000, and it endured losses of property estimated at £7,000,000. In 1815 Hamburg joined the German Confederation. In three days, in 1842, one-third of Hamburg was destroyed by fire, and more than two millions sterling worth of property lost. In 1S88 Hamburg entered the German Customs Union, though still retaining part of its territory as a ' free port.' The public buildings include the 'school house' (containing the town library of 600,000 volumes and 5500 MSS., and a natural history museum), town-house, picture-gallery, etc. Four churches are noticeable - St Nicholas, built from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott, as a memorial of the fire of 1842, a Gothic building, with a spire 482 feet high ; St Michael's, an 18th-century Renaissance church, with a spire 469 feet high; and St Catherine's and St James's, both Gothic edifices of the 14th and 15th centuries. The older portion is intersected by canals, which serve as waterways between the river and the warehouses.
Hamburg is the busiest commercial city on the Continent, and the principal commercial seaport of Germany. Next to London it has the largest money-exchange transactions in Europe; its bank was founded so long ago as 1619. As a commercial centre its only rivals are London, Liverpool, Antwerp, and New York. Its industries are cigar-making, distilling of spirits, sugar-refining, brewing, engineering, iron-founding, manufacture of chemicals, india-rubber wares, furniture, starch, and jute, and shipbuilding. Of the imports about one-half represent the value of goods brought into Hamburg by rail and river (Elbe) from the interior. Hamburg owes a large part of its trade to its position as a distributing centre for commodities brought from distant parts of the world, to be afterwards sent to the different countries of Europe. Besides coffee, the more important objects of trade are sugar, woollen and cotton goods, butter, tobacco, wine and spirits, hides, machines, rice, saltpetre, leather, herrings, flour, furs, linen, petroleum, coal, iron, and silks. Hamburg ranks second to Bremen as a port of embarkation for emigrants from Germany. Pop. (1875) 374,930; (1890) 622,530; (1900) 768,349, of whom 705,738 lived in the city itself.