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Duisburg is an independent city that lies at the confluence of the Ruhr with the Rhine. The city is part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region with a total of around ten million inhabitants and belongs to both the Lower Rhine region and the Ruhr area. It is located in the administrative district of Düsseldorf and with around half a million inhabitants is the fifth largest city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen. The regional center takes 15th place on the list of major cities in Germany. In 2010, Duisburg was the European Capital of Culture as part of the Ruhr area.

Located at the starting point of the historical Hellweg and first mentioned in a document in 883, the city developed into an urban trading center as early as the Middle Ages, but lost considerable economic and political importance in the 13th century due to the relocation of the Rhine, which cut the city off from the river . In the 19th century, Duisburg grew thanks to its favorable river location with the ports and the proximity to the coal deposits in the Ruhr area on the basis of the iron and steel producing industry to an important industrial location. In terms of urban planning, Duisburg is strongly characterized by industrial facilities of this time, some of which are still in use today and some are integrated into parks, or, as in the inner harbor, are used by companies and cultural establishments. The first and third themed routes of the popular route of industrial culture with numerous monuments lead through the Duisburg city area, namely "Duisburg: City and Harbor" and "Duisburg: Industrial Culture on the Rhine".

The port (operated by Duisburger Hafen AG) with its center in the Ruhrort district is considered the largest inland port in the world. It shapes the city's economy as well as the iron and steel industry. Almost a third of the pig iron produced in Germany comes from the eight Duisburg blast furnaces. Traditional steel production and metal processing in Duisburg is increasingly concentrating on the production of high-tech products. As a result of this structural change (steel crisis), which has been ongoing since the 1970s, the city suffers from high unemployment.

With the establishment of the Duisburg University of Applied Sciences in 1972 - which was initially merged into the Gerhard Mercator University of Duisburg and then into the University of Duisburg-Essen - Duisburg gained in profile as a science and high-tech location. The Mercator School of Management with an economic focus was established on campus in 2005. Since 2006, the university has had the NRW School of Governance on the Duisburg campus, the first public governance school in Germany. Other university locations in Duisburg are the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration, the Folkwang University of the Arts and the FOM - University of Economics and Management.

At the same time, local logistics as one of the hubs of Central Europe is an important economic pillar of the city, at the intersection of the Ruhr area and the Rhine and at the core of the central European economic area.