Germany's smallest federal state comprises just two cities, the city of Bremen (population 550,000) at the Weser River and - 65 kms downstream at the rivermouth - the harbour city of Bremerhaven (population 130,000).

Bremen once was known as the 'Rome of the North' and looks back to 1200 years of history. In 787, Emperor Charlemagne raised Bremen to the status of a diocesan town and used it as the base for the Chistianization of Scandinavia. Around two hundred years later, Emperor Otto I granted Bremen market privileges and thus created the basis for the development of town trade. In 1358, Bremen joined the Hanseatic League and became one of the most powerful cities and a major trade centre in the North. When the old German Empire was dissolved in 1806, Bremen finally became an independent, sovereign free state and called itself a Free Hanseatic City.