Amsterdam – The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its status as the Dutch capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands though it is not the seat of the Dutch government, which is The Hague. The city has a population of 825,080 within the city proper, 1,317,663 in the urban area and 1,590,520 in the metropolitan area. The city region has an approximate population of 2,431,000. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country, and is also North Holland’s largest city. It comprises much of the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, with a population of approximately 7 million.
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It’s name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city’s origin as a dam of the river Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, It became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century), a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were planned and built. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, It is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and seven of the world’s 500 largest companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. In 2012, It was ranked the second best city in which to live by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and 12th globally on quality of living for environment and infrastructure by Mercer . The city was previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city center. Amsterdam’s main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Museum, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 5 million international visitors annually. Famous city residents included Anne Frank the diarist, the artist Vincent van Gogh and the philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
What makes it so attractive is the 17th century historical atmosphere combined with the mentality of a modern metropolis creating a friendly and relaxed environment. The small scale of the buildings and the intimacy of the streets, canals and squares create an atmosphere that visitors find unique.
The city has the highest museum density in the world and is home to cultural highlights, such as the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Hermitage Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt’s world-famous Nightwatch. Other well known places of interest in the city are the Palace on the Dam, the Artis Zoo, Jewish Historical Museum and the Rembrandt House.
The best way to get around the city is on a bike or by tram. You won’t become any more local than by cycling around Amsterdam.
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