Aarhus – The lively cultural hub of Jutland
Aarhus is the second-largest city in Denmark, situated on the peninsula of Jutland at the centre of the country.
The city’s urban area covers some 98.4 km2, and in 2021 official statistics estimated the population at 282,910 with a density of 2,854/km2 (7,390/sq mi). The majority of the population are Danes with smaller proportions of Germans, Poles, Norwegians, Lebanese, Turks, Somalis, and Vietnamese. The official language of Aarhus is Danish, while English and German are widely spoken.
With a history that dates back to 770 AD, Aarhus is one of Scandinavia’s oldest cities. The city forms one of Denmark’s most prominent economic, cultural and educational hubs and is a leading growth centre. Renowned for its innovation, notable industries include Renewable energy, Nanotechnology, and Life Sciences. In 2017, Aarhus was designated the European Capital of Culture.
The Aarhus city council is the city’s supreme political body and has 31 members over four-year terms. The council, in turn, elects the mayor and the five aldermen that constitute the Municipal Authority. The current Mayor is Jacob Bundsgaard, elected on 11 August 2011 of the Social Democrat Party.
The official currency of Aarhus is the Danish Kroner (DKK).
Denmark is at the top in terms of business attractiveness versus other major global destinations. As the country’s second city, Aarhus is widely regarded as Denmark’s fastest-growing metropolis with leading industries including IT, energy, the media, life science, food, architecture, and design.
The city has established a cutting-edge research and development community renowned for its innovation across several sectors. Information Technology flourishes, with the city hosting the largest concentration of IT workplaces in Denmark, including development departments for Google, Uber, Deloitte, Vestas, IBM, PwC, and CGI.
Aarhus is also home to many market-leading companies within sustainable energy, with exports of environmental and energy technology totaling more than DK 75 billion in 2019. Navitas Park has emerged as a dynamic business center bringing together a range of facilities, expertise, and key players. The city aims to be CO2 neutral by 2030.
The Aarhus region is also a significant producer of agricultural products, with Aarhus-based companies handling over 60% of Denmark’s food exports. The city is home to Europe’s second-largest dairy group, Arla Foods, Aarhus Karlshamn (specialty fats for the chocolate producer), and the Danish Dairy Board.
Creative services also flourished, and in 2022 and Aarhus based architects were responsible for 55% of Denmark’s total architectural services exports. The city is home to a number of the Nordic Region’s largest Architectural firms, including Arki Tema, Schmidt, and 3XN.
Aarhus has a modern and well-developed infrastructure that has established it as a major logistics center. The city is linked to other major cities and neighboring countries by well-maintained, toll-free motorways and a dense network of railways.
The city center operates a fast and efficient public transport system that consists of boats, suburban trains, and buses. Aarhus Central Station is the main connecting hub for rail traffic and moves on average 8 million people per year, making it the busiest station outside Copenhagen. The station runs frequent Intercity and international trains alongside extensive regional services to surrounding areas.
Aarhus Airport is located 35 kilometers northeast of the city center and, as the city’s largest, is estimated to move around 500,490 passengers per year (est. 2019). The airport operates flights to domestic and international destinations, including Copenhagen, London, and Malaga.
The city also boasts Aarhus Port, one of the largest industrial harbors in Northern Europe. Approximately 100,000 ships dock at the port annually, and around 8,4 million tonnes of cargo are handled yearly (est. 2017). The port is currently undergoing an extensive expansion plan to double its size and cargo handling capacity by 2024.
Central Jutland is the second-largest region in Denmark and accounts for almost a fourth of the Danish workforce. As the largest city, Aarhus attracts a talent pool from across the region and has enjoyed significant growth in the number of jobs being provided, particularly by the private sector.
The majority of the workforce is employed in services, followed by a smaller proportion in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Danish is the most widely spoken language, but English and German are also frequently used.
The city benefits from a highly skilled and educated workforce that results from an excellent education system, which the government invests 5% of its GDP into each year. Schooling is compulsory and accessible to all children from 7 through to 16 years old. The system is financed through taxation and is divided into four levels, Preschool, Basic, Youth, and Higher education.
Aarhus has the highest proportion of students in Denmark, with around 44,500 citizens enrolled in short, medium, or long-term study programs. The city has over 25 educational institutions that provide lower and upper secondary education specializing in various subject areas. The city’s leading higher education facility is the University of Aarhus, widely regarded as one of the top 100 universities globally.
Business Costs in Aarhus
Denmark’s taxation has undergone recent reforms, which have lowered levels to those in line with many other countries in Western Europe.
The Danish individual tax system is progressive, divided into county municipal, church, and national income taxes. National income tax works of a progressive system comprising three brackets from 0% to 15%. Local taxes vary from city to city, bringing the total tax paid by individuals to a rate of between 45% and 56%.
Corporate taxation is set at 22%, with foreign companies taxed on profits generated in the country.
The standard rate of VAT is set at 25%, with significant exemptions for rents, medicine, and newspapers.
The National Minimum wage across Denmark is set at approximately $18 per hour.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the average rental cost of an office in Aarhus was €174-201/sq.m per year.