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Cologne - An overview

Locals and tourists

With over a million inhabitants, Cologne is one of Germany’s largest cities and the economic center in the west of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its location at the heart of Europe makes it a very popular destination for domestic and international tourists alike. In 2011, Cologne was one of the most visited cities in Germany, recording just under five million overnight stays. More than 10 million people live and work within a 100 km-radius of Cologne.
Economy and infrastructure

Not least due to the outstanding infrastructure is Cologne one of the most important business locations in Germany. With three international airports in the vicinity, a well-developed rail and road network, and the Rhine - one of the busiest waterways in the world - it is easy to reach Cologne by land, water or air.

Around 145,000 companies are registered in the region of Cologne, which with a GDP of more than €40,000 per inhabitant lies far above the German average (approximately €30,000 per inhabitant) making it one of the strongest and most important economic regions in Germany.


With 13 institutes of higher education, Cologne lies alongside Berlin and Munich as one of the three largest university cities in Germany. A total of more than 70,000 students from Germany and around the world study in Cologne.

Useful links

Discover further interesting information about Cologne by clicking on Koeln.de and koelntourismus.de.

Stadt Köln contains information on the local authorities and other public institutions.


Cologne city arms

The city of Cologne can look back on an almost 2000-year long history, making it one of the oldest cities in Germany.

Cologne was officially registered as a town under the name of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA) in 50 AD during the period of Roman Emperor Claudius. However, the first evidence of an urban settlement dates from as early as 19 BC. Under Roman governorship, Cologne not only developed into a trade center of the northern Roman Empire, it also became a diocesan town with the introduction of Christianity. In 785, during the period in which Cologne fell under Franconian rule, Carl the Great founded the influential and powerful archbishopric of Cologne.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Cologne became one of the richest and largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire and in 1475 it was finally awarded the status of Free Imperial City. The churches, artwork and other buildings created in this period, and the founding of the university in 1388 still provide evidence today of the wealth and prosperity of that time.

In the following period, after the discovery of America and the emergence of the national state in Europe, Cologne lost its political power and financial wealth. After temporary occupation by France, it finally became part of the Prussian Empire in 1815.

Change came with the industrial revolution during which the city made the most of the opportunities available and, despite two world wars and the associated destruction of large areas of the city, it experienced a continuous upturn which continues today.