Aarhus 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 269,022 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2017) and the municipal population is 335,684 (as of 2017). 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.
Today Aarhus is at the cultural and economic core of the region and the largest centre for trade, services and industry in Jutland. The city ranks as the 92nd largest city in the European Union, and as number 234 among world cities. It is also a top 100 conference city in the world. Aarhus is the principal industrial port of the country in terms of container handling and an important trade hub in Kattegat. Major Danish companies have based their headquarters here and people commute for work and leisure from a wide area in Region Midtjylland. It is a centre for research and education in the Nordic countries and home to Aarhus University, Scandinavia's largest university, including Aarhus University Hospital and INCUBA Science Park. Being the Danish city with the youngest demographics, with 48,482 inhabitants aged under 18, Aarhus is also the second fastest growing Danish city, with an average growth of 4,500 people per annum since 2008.
Aarhus is notable for its musical history. In the 1950s many jazz clubs sprang up around the city, fuelled by the young population. By the 1960s, the music scene diversified into rock and other genres. In the 1970s and 1980s, Aarhus became the centre for Denmark's rock music fostering many iconic bands such as TV-2 and Gnags. Aarhus is home to the annual eight-day Aarhus International Jazz Festival, the SPoT Festival and the NorthSide Festival.
In 2017, Aarhus has been selected as European Capital of Culture along with Paphos in Cyprus.
Aarhus is located at the Bay of Aarhus facing the Kattegat sea in the east with the peninsulas of Mols and Helgenæs across the bay to the northeast. Mols and Helgenæs are both part of the larger regional peninsula of Djursland. A number of larger cities and towns is within easy reach from Aarhus by road and rail, including Randers (38.5 kilometres (23.9 mi) by road north), Grenå (northeast), Horsens (50 kilometres (31 mi) south) and Silkeborg (44 kilometres (27 mi) east).