Aarhus (officially spelled Århus from 1948 until 31 December 2010) is the second-largest city in Denmark and the seat of Aarhus municipality. It is located on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula, in the geographical centre of Denmark, 187 kilometres (116 mi) northwest of Copenhagen and 289 kilometres (180 mi) north of Hamburg, Germany. The inner urban area contains 273,077 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2018) and the municipal population is 340,421 (as of 2018). Aarhus is the central city in the East Jutland metropolitan area, which had a total population of 1.378 million in 2016.
The history of Aarhus began as a fortified Viking settlement founded in the 8th century and with the first written records stemming from the bishopric seated here from at least 948. The city was founded on the northern shores of a fjord at a natural harbour and the primary driver of growth was for centuries seaborne trade in agricultural products. Market town privileges were granted in 1441, but growth stagnated in the 17th century as the city suffered blockades and bombardments during the Swedish Wars. In the 19th century it was occupied twice by German troops during the Schleswig Wars but avoided destruction. As the industrial revolution took hold, the city grew to become the second-largest in the country by the 20th century.