The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of the Czech Republic, then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven. This is 110 km (68 mi) northwest of the port city of Hamburg. Its total length is 1,094 kilometres (680 mi).

Hamburg is the largest and most populous city that stands on the Elbe. It has a well-deserved reputation as Germany's "Gateway to the World". The Elbe and an associated network of canals links the city to the North Sea. Hamburg lies on the Elbe and two of its tributaries, the River Alster and the River Bille.

It is also Germany's second largest city after Berlin with a population of approximately 1.8 million and the Greater Hamburg Metropolitan Region has a population of over 4 million. Hamburg is proud of its status as a "Free and Hanseatic City" and thus shares the same status as a province, making up one of Germany's 16 federal-states or Bundesländer. It is surrounded by Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south.

Hamburg contains large areas of parklands and near to its core is the Inner Alster lake. The city's Jungfernstieg boulevard connects the Neustadt (new town) with the Altstadt (old town), home to landmarks such as the 18th century St Michael's Church.

Hradec Králové (Czech Republic) (92,808), Dresden (543,825), and Magdeburg (235,723) all stand on the Elbe but are smaller less populous cities.

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