Groningen is the 7th biggest city, the capital city of Groningen Province as well as the economic center in the north part of the Netherlands. With a population of 188,000, the city covers an area of 83.69 square kilometers.
The city was first built in 1040. In the 13th century, it gradually grew into an important business and trade center. The 15th century was the heyday for Groningen City, during which period the highest building of the time was built-Martini Tower of 127 meters high.
Groningen is a city of talents. There are three universities in the city, namely Groningen University, Groningen Medical Center University and Hanze University, with 50,000 on-campus students accounting for more than a quarter of the population of the whole city. Built in 1614, Groningen University is the most famous university, and it is the second oldest university in the Netherlands, only next to Leiden University. Groningen Medical Center University is the biggest research hospital in the Netherlands.
The major industries in Groningen include information technology, energy and bioscience. In the field of information and sensor technology, the municipal government has signed agreement with the 3 universities, and agreed to invest heavily in the infrastructure of information technology and provide services to the energy sector and to the bioscience industry. Groningen City has the fastest computer in Europe, which ranks No. 6 in the top 500 fastest computers in the world, thus becomes the heart of the large sensor network in the world. The second biggest internet exchange station was built in Groningen, and 11,000 employees work in 450 IT businesses. At present, together with the 3 universities in the city, Groningen is carrying out the “wireless city” project, in an effort to construct the wireless broadband network and big data processing technology center to cover the entire city.
Groningen City is the capital of natural gas in Western Europe and plays an important role in international energy field. Relying on its traditional oil and gas exploration, Groningen has built the internationally competitive Energy Valley in the north part of the country that is the center for energy knowledge and activities.
Groningen is known as “the biological medical city”, and has a number of hi-end life science companies who cooperate closely with the 3 universities in the city to look for new methods for health care, develop new medicines, new food and environmentally-friendly durable commodities. The city pays much attention to the health projects for the seniors. Both Groningen University and Groningen Medical Center University are dedicated to the research on the diseases of the elderly and has established a senior health network in the north part of the Netherlands by cooperation with government agencies and the enterprises from the 3 northern provinces.
The big international enterprises in Groningen are:
1. NAM, the biggest oil and natural gas producer in the Netherlands.
2. Royal Friesland Foods: The company was established in 1879, mainly produces and sells diary products and fruit juice. There are altogether 15,300 employees, of which 10,000 work abroad. Its products are mainly sold in the markets of Western and Central Europe, West Africa and Southeast Asia.
3. Arveybi Company: it mainly produces potato starch as the raw material for food, fodders and textile industries and it has production enterprises in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Groningen established sister-city relationship with Xi’an on November 7, 2011.
[Source:Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Xi’an City]