Europe / Denmark

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the premier capital of Northern Europe, is Scandinavia's most fantastic city and the centre of the most dynamic region in Europe, the Øresund Region. The city is one of Europe's oldest capitals with a royal touch - the monarchy in Denmark is the oldest in the world!

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and its most populous city, with an urban population of 1,199,224 (as of 1 January 2011) and a metropolitan population of 1,931,467 (as of 1 January 2012). With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region. Within this region, Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö are growing into a combined metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the islands of Zealand and Amager.

First documented in the 11th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the beginning of the 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of Christian IV, it became a significant regional centre.

Copenhagen is a major regional centre of culture, business, media, and science, as indicated by several international surveys and rankings (see International rankings below). Life science, information technology and shipping are important sectors, and research & development plays a major role in the city's economy. Its strategic location and excellent infrastructure, with the largest airport in Scandinavia located 14 minutes by train from the city centre, have made it a regional hub and a popular location for regional headquarters and conventions.

Copenhagen has repeatedly been recognized as one of the cities with the best quality of life. It is also considered one of the world's most environmentally friendly cities. The water in the inner harbour is clean and safe for swimming. 36% of all citizens commute to work by bicycle. Every day, they cycle a combined 1.2 million km.

Since the turn of the millennium, Copenhagen has seen a strong urban and cultural development and has been described as a boom town. This is partly due to massive investments in cultural facilities as well as infrastructure and a new wave of successful designers, chefs and architects. As of 2011, Copenhagen is ranked as the 17th most expensive city in the world according to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey.

Copenhagen is in the oceanic climate zone, bordering on a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb). As the city is in the path of Atlantic low-pressure systems, Copenhagen experiences unstable and changing weather patterns in all four seasons, as well as temperatures about 5 degrees higher than average for its latitude (55 degrees North) worldwide. The main reason for this warmth is the Atlantic Gulf Stream, which moves warm water from around the Gulf Coast area toward Europe, and the low-pressure systems follow with the oceanic stream.

Precipitation is moderate throughout the year, with a small peak during June to August. Snowfall occurs mainly from late December until early March, but snow cover seldom lasts long. Rain during January and February is as common as snow, and the average temperatures for these two winter months is near the freezing point.

During winter, the weather is dependent on which latitude the Atlantic low pressure centre takes. With a stable high-pressure system around the Alps, the low pressure from the southwest moves toward southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, producing above-freezing temperatures day and night. When a stable high-pressure system sits over Denmark or the lands to the northeast (such as Finland or Russia), the mild Atlantic winds from the southwest are blocked, allowing polar winds to cover the area, and the temperature dips to below freezing (rarely below -5 °C (23 °F) during the day and -12 °C (10 °F) during the night). If the European continent experiences cold due to the eastern Russian winds, which rarely occurs, it can "freeze from the south". This was a phenomenon that took several centuries to understand.

Spring is comparable to continental Europe, but delayed about a week because of the cold surrounding water. On the other hand, in late autumn Copenhagen is kept milder due to the same factor, but reversed. In late November and December the surrounding ocean water is generally warmer than the air. From mid-October to February, one or two storms occur. Storms in the summertime are rare.

Summer is a mixture of southwestern mild, windy and rainy low-pressure systems, and periods of stable high pressures. In summer, high-pressure systems usually bring sunny and fairly warm weather. But these warm periods, which can occur any time from late April until mid September, usually last no longer than ten days.

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