Hamburg as a location 

Hamburg as a business location 

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is both a municipality and a city-state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Hamburg is not only the second largest city in Germany, but also the seventh largest city within the EU as well as the largest non-capital EU city.

Located in the world’s fourth largest economy, Hamburg’s history as a port city and trading centre spans more than 1,000 years. Today, Hamburg features a diverse mix of industries, while at the same time being highly specialised in numerous fields.

Hamburg’s innovation ecosystem spans a broad range, with a leading position in technology sectors such as civil aviation, wind energy, laser and X-ray technology as well as port logistics. Hamburg has also evolved as a leading German location for startups.

Interesting facts about Hamburg

More than 5 million people live and work in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region – the economic centre of Northern Europe. Situated between the North and Baltic Seas, with the River Elbe as its lifeline and the vibrant City of Hamburg at its centre, the region is a highly attractive economic area with an excellent quality of life for national and international companies and their staff.

A diverse industry mix

Hamburg’s innovation ecosystem spans a broad range, with a leading position in technology sectors

Hamburg is more diversified than many other metropolitan regions, and at the same time it is highly specialised. Hamburg is home to many strong players especially in the following sectors: services, logistics, industry, aviation, IT, media & creative industries, information & communication technology, the medical, pharmaceutical, environmental and biotech industries, as well as life sciences and renewable energies. As a result, Hamburg is an industry leader in the following key technologies:

  • Materials and processes
  • Mobility, transport and logistics
  • Energy, climate, environmental protection and marine technology
  • Healthcare, applied life sciences and nutrition
  • as well as the cross-sectoral field of digitisation

The city’s strong economy and sectoral diversity on the one hand and its excellent scientific institutions, application-oriented initiatives and transfer projects on the other, provide stakeholders with many cooperation opportunities. Hamburg can offer professional partners for almost every step in the innovation process, from basic research and test fields to market launch.

And this is especially true when it comes to financing as Hamburg records an above-average volume of private capital. Many affluent Hamburg citizens strongly identify with their hometown and are happy to invest their capital locally whenever an investment appears to be promising.

Hamburg’s innovation ecosystem

hydrogen bus in hamburg

Spin-offs from universities and research institutions are important drivers of innovation. Yet these startups also need a business-friendly environment that allows them to connect with other entrepreneurs, benefit from synergies and receive expert support in establishing a corporate structure.

Research and innovation parks tend to be an ideal breeding ground for the global market leaders of tomorrow. According to BVIZ, the German Association of Innovation, Technology and Business Incubation Centres, startups based in innovation centres actually have a survival rate of 90 percent.

To support local R&D, the Hamburg Senate is currently establishing a network of research and innovation parks in Hamburg.

Each provided with a scientific anchor institution, the R&I parks will offer commercial space for innovation-based companies, research institutions and startups. The R&I parks will be geared towards different focal areas and will facilitate the creation of synergies along different value chains.

As a location for innovation, Hamburg is well-positioned for the future, occupying a leading role in numerous technology fields, such as civil aviation, wind energy, laser and X-ray technology as well as port logistics. Moreover, Hamburg has huge potential as a location for developing and producing green hydrogen, which is also owing to the Hamburg Hydrogen Network, a joint initiative of renowned players from the region.

Connectivity and infrastructure

panorama port hamburg

Through its port, which is located directly on the River Elbe, Hamburg provides direct access to the North and Baltic Seas. In terms of connectivity by road, Hamburg allows easy access to the A1 and A7 motorways, which are among Germany’s main traffic routes. The A24 motorway connects Hamburg and Berlin, Germany’s capital, and the A21 and A39 motorways, which are currently in development, will free up existing traffic routes in the Hamburg region.

There are five long-distance railway stations in Hamburg: the central train station (Hauptbahnhof), Dammtor, Altona, Harburg and Bergedorf. South of Hamburg, in Maschen, you will also find Europe's largest marshalling yard.

Hamburg Airport, which, since 2016, has also been known as Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt, is Hamburg’s international airport and also the oldest and fifth largest airport in Germany. From here, you can take daily direct flights to destinations such as New York, Dubai and Shanghai.

Hamburg’s export ratio

According to the Northern Germany Statistical Office, goods worth € 19.8 billion were exported from and goods worth € 30.4 billion were imported to Hamburg in the first half of 2021. Compared with the same period of the preceding year, exports grew by 7.6 percent. At € 4,033 million in June 2021, they almost reached the level of the previous year's month (June 2019: € 4,087 million). The export ratio amounted to 43.3 percent in 2020 (as of 11/2020). 

Hamburg’s gross domestic product

Hamburg’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 was at about € 126.71 billion. The decline in economic performance in 2020 is a result of the Covid crisis and the temporary economic lockdown experienced. Hamburg’s per capita GDP among the economically active population amounted to € 98,112 (source:

Location ranking

Hamburg remains top economic location for companies. More than 1,000 top companies, including 33 global market leaders, are based in Hamburg (as of April 2023).  This means that the Hanseatic city once again takes first place in the location ranking of the SME portal "Die Deutsche Wirtschaft" (DDW), with a location score of 2.07. Munich and Berlin follow in the other places.

Learn more

Economic development by sector

The services sector, which is traditionally strong in Hamburg, has continued to grow over time – from 78.7 percent of Hamburg's total gross value added in 1992 to 83.2 percent in 2019. With a good two-thirds  (69.3 percent) of the total gross value added, the German average for the services sector is significantly lower than Hamburg’s (source: Hamburg Chamber of Commerce)

gross value added in hamburg by economic sector

High quality of life in Hamburg

Alster lakes of Hamburg

Hamburg is one of the cities with the highest quality of life in the world and continues to score excellently in global rankings such as those by Mercer and The Economist.

Hamburg, the green city on the waterfront, has many green belts, tree-lined roads, waterways  and bodies of water – as well as the largest share of nature conservation areas among Germany’s federal states. In addition to the city’s many parks, there are also extensive woods in the municipality. Other locational assets include beautiful residential areas as well as a vibrant arts and cultural scene. Hamburg's profile as a cultural centre is both distinctive and versatile, with great international cuisine, attractive shopping opportunities and a legendary nightlife scene.

Hamburg’s neighbourhoods

With a total area of 755.1 ha, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is  the second largest city in Germany. Hamburg is divided into seven districts: Hamburg-Mitte, Hamburg-Nord, Wandsbek, Altona, Eimsbüttel, Bergedorf and Harburg – and these are subdivided into 104 quarters. Connected to the North Sea via the River Elbe, Hamburg has always been known as a port city.

Hamburg’s demographics

According to the Northern Germany Statistical Office, the City of Hamburg has a total of 1.84 million inhabitants as of 2019 (1,847,253).

Individuals under 18 years of age: 16.8 % 
18 – 64 years of age: 65 % 
65 years and older: 18,2 %

In 2020, Hamburg’s population density was 2,453 inhabitants/km² (source:

Hamburg figures at a glance 

  • Population: 1,847,253 inhabitants (as of 2019)
  • Surface area: 755,1 ha; 7 districts with 104 quarters
  • Population density: 2,453 inhabitants/km²
  • Workforce: 1,007,700 (as of June 2021)
  • GDP: €118,14 billion (as of 2020)
  • Export ratio: 43,3% (as of 2019)
  • Per capita income: € 25,808 per inhabitant (as of 2019)

Information material for download 

Urban development in Hamburg 2015 - 2030

Urban Development in Hamburg 2015 - 2030

The Hamburger Projekte der Stadtentwicklung (Urban Development Projects in Hamburg) brochure provides valuable insights into Hamburg’s recent spatial development. Based on 42 major development projects, the publication illustrates how the city continues to evolve (available in German language only).

Development concept for morde modernisation
Development concept  

Concept 'Stromaufwärts an Elbe und Bille' for more modernisation

In 2014, the Hamburg Senate presented its development concept Stromaufwärts an Elbe und Bille – Wohnen und urbane Produktion in HamburgOst (Upriver along the Elbe and Bille – Housing and Urban Production in Hamburg’s East). The publication outlines a vision for the future of Hamburg’s eastern districts, i.e. Hammerbrook, Borgfelde, Hamm, Horn, Rothenburgsort, Billbrook, Billstedt and Mümmelmannsberg (available in German language only.

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