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Cologne is an independent city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia with around 1.1 million inhabitants. It is the most populous municipality in the state and - after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich - the fourth largest in Germany.

The city on the Rhine belongs to the administrative district of Cologne, whose administrative seat it is. The Cologne / Bonn region is the center of the metropolitan area between Cologne Bay and Oberbergisches Land with a good four million inhabitants. Cologne is also the Rhenish population center of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region with around ten million inhabitants and the Rhineland metropolitan region with around nine million inhabitants.

The city is one of the most important travel destinations in Europe because of the important Cologne Cathedral and its Romanesque churches as well as other medieval monuments, a city history of over 2000 years, important events and its cultural and culinary heritage.

Today's metropolis and former imperial city was founded in Roman times under the name Oppidum Ubiorum and elevated to the status of city in 50 AD as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Colonia or CCAA for short). The favorable location on the Rhine with the crossing of important west-east trade routes and the seat of secular and especially ecclesiastical power contributed to Cologne's supraregional status in the Holy Roman Empire. Today it is the seat of the Archdiocese of Cologne, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Germany, and was the seat of the Electorate of Cologne until 1803.

As a Hanseatic city, Cologne became an important trading location thanks to free trade. Cologne is of international importance as an economic and cultural metropolis. The city is one of the most important locations for the chemical and automotive industry and is home to, partly together with some of its suburbs, company headquarters and production facilities of automotive brands such as Ford and Toyota as well as chemical groups such as Lanxess. The carnival stronghold is also the seat of many public associations and professional sports clubs. Numerous television and radio stations such as RTL and WDR as well as film studios, music producers, publishing houses and other media companies are located here. Cologne is also one of the leading centers of the global art trade.

The city is also an important congress and trade fair location: the photographic technology fair Photokina, the fitness and health fair FIBO, the confectionery fair and the video game fair Gamescom are considered to be the world's leading trade fairs, and Art Cologne is the world's oldest art fair.

Thanks to the University of Cologne with around 50,000 students, the Technical University of Cologne (around 25,000 students) and numerous other universities, the city is the largest educational and research location in West Germany.

The importance of Cologne as a transport hub is demonstrated by the extensive long-distance passenger rail transport - there are three long-distance train stations in the city - as well as the Eifeltor station, which is one of the largest container handling stations in Europe. The infrastructure is supplemented by four inland ports and Cologne / Bonn Airport.