Frankfurt (German: Frankfurt am Main) is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and is considered Germany’s business and financial center. It is the fifth-largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne.
The city is known for its modern skyline and for hosting the headquarters of the European Central Bank, the Deutsche Börse stock exchange, and numerous German financial services companies. Furthermore, it hosts some of the world’s most important trade shows, such as the Frankfurt Auto Show and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Located on the river Main at a crossroad of the German Autobahn system and connected to several high-speed rail lines, with Germany’s busiest airport on its outskirts, Frankfurt is one of the most important transportation hubs of Europe.
Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students, and hippie drop-outs coexist in a city with some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well-maintained old buildings. The downtown area, especially Römer square and the museums at the River Main, draw millions of tourists every year.
On the other hand, visitors often overlook many off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods, such as Bockenheim, Bornheim, Nordend, and Sachsenhausen, with their intact, beautiful 19th-century streets and parks.
It’s the heart of the Rhine-Main region, spanning from Mainz and Wiesbaden in the west to Hanau in the east and Gießen in the north to Darmstadt in the south and has some 5.6 million inhabitants (2019) in the whole surrounding metropolitan area.
Frankfurt is the place where Germany’s major autobahns and railways intersect. About 650,000 people commute to the city each day, not counting some 763,000 people who live here (2019).
With a huge airport — the third-largest in Europe — it is the gateway to Germany and the first point of arrival in Europe for many people. Further, it is a prime hub for interconnections within Europe and intercontinental flights.
In 1968, especially in the late 1970s and up to the early 1980s, Frankfurt was a center of the left-wing Sponti-Szene, which frequently clashed with police and local authorities over politics and urban design issues (specifically whether or not old buildings should be torn down).
Several radicals from these groups have gone on to become well-known politicians, including Daniel Cohn-Bendit (the longtime leader of the Green party’s European Parliament) and Joschka Fischer Fischer (Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor 1998-2005), though their erstwhile radical and violent antics did hurt them in their later political careers.
Frankfurt has one of the highest percentages of immigrants in Germany: about 25% of Frankfurt’s people have no German passport, and another 10% are naturalized, German citizens. With nearly 35% immigrants, Frankfurt is one of the most diverse of German cities. Frankfurt is home to many museums, theatres, and a world-class opera.
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