Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in northeastern France, with 702,412 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2007. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the préfecture (capital) of the Bas-Rhin département.
Strasbourg is the seat of several European institutions such as the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights, its European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Audiovisual Observatory, the Eurocorps as well as the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union. Strasbourg is an important center of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail, and river communications. The port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine after Duisburg, Germany. The city is the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.
Strasbourg's historic center, the Grande Île ("Grand Island"), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honor was placed on an entire city center. Strasbourg is beautifully fused into the Franco-German culture (Alemannic), and is regarded as the bridge of unity between modern France and Germany.
Strasbourg is also a bridge for Germanic and Latin culture.