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Rostock is a northern German urban, Hanseatic and university city on the Baltic Sea. It is located in the Mecklenburg part of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With 209,191 inhabitants, it is the most populous city in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and one of the four regional centers in the state. The city of Rostock is known as the Hanseatic and University City.

The urban area extends around 16 kilometers on both sides of the Warnow up to its confluence with the Baltic Sea in the Warnemünde district. The city center is on the left bank of the river. Rostock is characterized by its location by the sea, its harbor and the University of Rostock, which was founded in 1419. The port of Rostock, which is important for ferry traffic and cargo handling, and the largest German cruise port in Warnemünde are located in the city. The Hanse Sail, founded in 1991, has developed into one of the major maritime events in the Baltic Sea region.

Rostock received the town charter of Lübbe on June 24, 1218 and was a member of the Hanseatic League from 1283. In the centuries that followed, the city flourished thanks to free trade. A number of brick Gothic buildings have survived from that time. Many other architectural monuments in Rostock testify to the historical development of the city. Due to the decline of the Hanseatic League, the Thirty Years War and the city fire of 1677, Rostock was set back and the population decreased to a third, of which the city was only able to fully recover with industrialization in the 19th century.

The city belonged to the Grand Duchy until 1918 and then to the Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. As Mecklenburg's largest city, Rostock has always been the economic center of the state. In addition to the capital and residence city of Schwerin, Rostock and its university were also the center of culture and science in Mecklenburg.

With the establishment of the aircraft works Arado in 1921 and Heinkel in 1922, Rostock became an important technology location, which made the city a target of the air war in World War II in the 1940s. In the GDR era, Rostock was a district town from 1952 to 1990 and was systematically expanded with new urban areas until it grew to over 250,000 inhabitants. The maritime economy dominated for centuries. After 1990 the Rostock economy changed considerably. The importance of the shipbuilding industry declined sharply. Many new jobs were created in tourism and in the service sector, the city's largest employer is the university with its university medicine.