The Little Mermaid will leave Denmark for the first time in its nearly 100-year history.

The City of Copenhagen decided Wednesday to send the landmark statue to next year's World Exhibition in Shanghai, said Klaus Bondam, a deputy mayor in charge of parks and statues.

The girl-sized statue will be the centerpiece of Denmark's official pavilion, he said.

A tribute to Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid has been sitting on the edge of Copenhagen's harbor since 1913, and draws at least 1 million visitors a year.

Though some city officials have opposed the move, Copenhagen's Technical and Environmental Administration agreed to put her on display in Shanghai between May 1-Oct. 31, 2010, said Bondam, who heads the department. He added that no City Council vote was needed because Denmark's government, not the city, will pay for the move.

"I am sure that Hans Christian Andersen, if he were alive today, would have loved to have The Little Mermaid travel to China," he said.

In Andersen's tale, the mermaid is a sea king's daughter who falls in love with a prince and must wait 300 years to become human.

The 5.45-foot (1.65-meter) statue was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen. Her international fame grew after she was beheaded in 1963. Since then she has been vandalized and repaired repeatedly. In 2003 she was blown off her perch by vandals who used explosives.

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