The history of Hamburg begins with its foundation in the 9th century as a mission settlement to convert the Saxons. Since the Middle Ages Hamburg was an important trading center in Europe. The convenient location of the port and its independence as a city and state for centuries strengthened this position. Hamburg, nonetheless, is a cosmopolitan city in its outlook. Although comparatively few foreigners live there, many pass through it. The city has dealings with a large number of nations, and it has more consulates than any other city in the world, except New York City. Shipping and trade have been Hamburg’s lifeblood for centuries. Not surprisingly, its harbour has remained the city’s most important feature. Today, Hamburg is one of Germany´s most important business locations. Many companies have their headquarters here and it is an important city for the media and publishing industries. Architecturally, Hamburg can boast many futuristic pieces of architecture. One need only think of the various modern shopping arcades and the Gruner & Jahr Pressehaus. The current population of Hamburg totals 1.7 million. Hamburg is a city state and part of the Federal Republic of Germany. There are 94 consulates in the city and the city has contacts thoughout the world. Some of its partner-cities include Shanghai, Chicago, Osaka, Prague, St. Petersburg and Marseilles.