Kiel is the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein and therefore also the seat of the German state parliament. Founded in the 13th century, the city has about 250,000 inhabitants today, ranking it among Germany's 30 largest cities. It is also the most northerly city in Germany.
Lying directly on the Baltic coast, Kiel Harbor is the economic gateway to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Baltic states. The harbor is also of great significance to the Navy. The people of Kiel are particularly proud of their harbor, not least because it is the home of the famous Gorch Fock. Schleswig-Holstein's state capital is also where the Kiel Canal meets the Baltic Sea – the canal is the most heavily used artificial waterway in the world.
The region's tourism also benefits from the coastal location: Kiel's beaches, marinas and neighboring towns along the Kiel Fjord attract many international visitors to the region. The Hanseatic city's handball team, THW Kiel, also plays in the Champions League.