Hamburg's official name reflects its history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, a city-state, and one of the 16 states of Germany.
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 centre in Europe. The convenient location of the port and its independence as a city and state for centuries strengthened this position. The city was member in the medieval Hanseatic trading league and a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire.