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"City and "municipality
""Amsterdam - Boat - 0635.jpg ""Concertgebouw 04.jpg
""Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum - panoramio - Nikolai Karaneschev.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: "Grachtengordel,
one of "Amsterdam's canals, "Royal Concertgebouw,
""Flag of Amsterdam
""Coat of arms of Amsterdam
"Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "Mokum, Damsko
Motto: "Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig (Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate)
""Highlighted position of Amsterdam in a municipal map of North Holland
Location in North Holland
Coordinates: 52°22′N 4°54′E / 52.367°N 4.900°E / 52.367; 4.900"Coordinates: 52°22′N 4°54′E / 52.367°N 4.900°E / 52.367; 4.900
Country "Netherlands
"Province  "North Holland
 • Body "Municipal council
 • "Mayor Eric van der Burg[1] ("VVD, Acting)
 • Municipality 219.32 km2 (84.68 sq mi)
 • Land 165.76 km2 (64.00 sq mi)
 • Water 53.56 km2 (20.68 sq mi)
 • "Randstad 3,043 km2 (1,175 sq mi)
Elevation[5] −2 m (−7 ft)
Population (municipality & urban, Feb 2017 (CBS); metro 2014 (OIS Amsterdam); Randstad, 2011)[4][6][7][8][9]
 • Municipality 851,573
 • Density 5,135/km2 (13,300/sq mi)
 • "Urban 1,351,587
 • "Metro region 2,431,000
 • "Randstad 7,100,000
"Demonym(s) Amsterdammer, A'dammer
"Time zone "CET ("UTC+1)
 • Summer ("DST) "CEST ("UTC+2)
"Postcode 1000–1109
"Area code 020
"GeoTLD ".amsterdam

Amsterdam ("/ˈæmstərdæm/;[10][11][12] Dutch: "[ɑmstərˈdɑm] (""About this sound listen)) is the "capital and "most populous municipality of the "Netherlands. Its status as the capital is mandated by the "Constitution of the Netherlands,[13] although it is not the seat of the government, which is "The Hague.[14] Amsterdam has a population of 851,373 within the "city proper, 1,351,587 in the urban area,[15] and 2,410,960 in the "Amsterdam metropolitan area.[9] The city is located in the "province of "North Holland in the west of the country but is not its capital, which is "Haarlem. The metropolitan area comprises much of the northern part of the "Randstad, one of the larger "conurbations in "Europe, with a population of approximately 7 million.[16]

Amsterdam's name derives from Amstelredamme,[17] indicative of the city's origin around a dam in the river "Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam 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 centre for finance and diamonds.[18] 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. Since the annexation of municipality Sloten in 1921 by the municipality of Amsterdam, the oldest historic part of the city lies in "Sloten (9th century).

As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, Amsterdam 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.[19] 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.[20] In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)[21] and 12th globally on quality of living for environment and infrastructure by Mercer.[22] The city was ranked 3rd in innovation by Australian innovation agency 2thinknow in their Innovation Cities Index 2009.[23] The "Amsterdam seaport to this day remains the second in the country, and the fifth largest seaport in Europe.[24] Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist "Anne Frank, artists "Rembrandt van Rijn and "Vincent van Gogh, and philosopher "Baruch Spinoza.

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, the "Stedelijk Museum, "Hermitage Amsterdam, the "Anne Frank House, the "Amsterdam Museum, its "red-light district, and its many "cannabis coffee shops draw more than 5 million international visitors annually.[25] It is also the world's most multicultural city with at least 177 nationalities represented.[26]



After the floods of 1170 and 1173, locals near the river Amstel built a bridge over the river and a dam across it, giving its name to the village: "Aemstelredamme". The earliest recorded use of that name is in a document dated October 27, 1275, which exempted inhabitants of the village from paying "bridge tolls to Count "Floris V.[27][28] This allowed the inhabitants of the village of Aemstelredamme to travel freely through the "County of Holland, paying no tolls at bridges, locks and dams. The certificate describes the inhabitants as homines manentes apud Amestelledamme (people residing near Amestelledamme).[29] By 1327, the name had developed into Aemsterdam.[27][30]


Founding and Middle Ages[edit]

The "Oude Kerk was consecrated in 1306

Amsterdam is much younger than Dutch cities such as "Nijmegen, "Rotterdam, and "Utrecht. In October 2008, "historical geographer Chris de Bont suggested that the land around Amsterdam was being reclaimed as early as the late 10th century. This does not necessarily mean that there was already a settlement then, since "reclamation of land may not have been for farming—it may have been for "peat, for use as fuel.[31]

Amsterdam was granted "city rights in either 1300 or 1306.[32] From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely from trade with the "Hanseatic League. In 1345, an alleged "Eucharistic miracle in the "Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the "adoption of the Protestant faith. The Miracle devotion went underground but was kept alive. In the 19th century, especially after the jubilee of 1845, the devotion was revitalized and became an important national point of reference for Dutch Catholics. The "Stille Omgang—a silent walk or "procession in civil attire—is the expression of the pilgrimage within the Protestant Netherlands since the late 19th century.[33] In the heyday of the Silent Walk, up to 90,000 pilgrims came to Amsterdam. In the 21st century this has reduced to about 5000.

Conflict with Spain[edit]

A woodcut depicting Amsterdam as of 1544; the famous "Grachtengordel had not yet been established
Courtyard of the "Amsterdam Stock Exchange by "Emanuel de Witte, 1653; the "Amsterdam Stock Exchange was the first "stock exchange to introduce continuous trade in the early 17th century

In the 16th century, the Dutch rebelled against "Philip II of Spain and his successors. The main reasons for the uprising were the imposition of new taxes, the tenth penny, and the "religious persecution of Protestants by the newly introduced "Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the "Eighty Years' War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence.[34] Strongly pushed by "Dutch Revolt leader "William the Silent, the "Dutch Republic became known for its relative "religious tolerance. "Jews from the "Iberian Peninsula, "Huguenots from France, prosperous merchants and printers from "Flanders, and economic and religious refugees from the Spanish-controlled parts of the "Low Countries found safety in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city's intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a centre for the European "free press.[35]

Centre of the Dutch Golden Age[edit]

The "Royal Palace, "Nieuwe Kerk, and now demolished weigh house on "Dam Square in 1814

The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's "Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the western world.[36] Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the "Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the largest share in both the "Dutch East India Company and the "Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became "Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading "Financial centre of the western world.[37] In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the international trading Dutch East India Company became the world's first "stock exchange by trading in its own shares.[38] The Bank of Amsterdam started operations in 1609, acting as a full service bank for Dutch merchant bankers and as a reserve bank.

Decline and modernisation[edit]

Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The "wars of the "Dutch Republic with "England and France took their toll on Amsterdam. During the "Napoleonic Wars, Amsterdam's significance reached its lowest point, with Holland being absorbed into the "French Empire. However, the later establishment of the "United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 marked a turning point.

Vijzelstraat looking towards "Muntplein in 1891

The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age.[39] New museums, a railway station, and the "Concertgebouw were built; in this same time, the "Industrial Revolution reached the city. The "Amsterdam–Rhine Canal was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the "Rhine, and the "North Sea Canal was dug to give the port a shorter connection to the "North Sea. Both projects dramatically improved commerce with the rest of Europe and the world. In 1906, "Joseph Conrad gave a brief description of Amsterdam as seen from the seaside, in The Mirror of the Sea.

20th century–present[edit]

Photochrom of Amsterdam's Dam Square at the beginning of the 20th century

Shortly before the First World War, the city started to expand again, and new suburbs were built. Even though the Netherlands remained neutral in this war, Amsterdam suffered a food shortage, and heating fuel became scarce. The shortages sparked riots in which several people were killed. These riots are known as the Aardappeloproer (Potato rebellion). People started looting stores and warehouses in order to get supplies, mainly food.[40]

On 1 January 1921, after a flood in 1916, the depleted municipalities of Durgerdam, Holysloot, Zunderdorp and "Schellingwoude, all lying north of Amsterdam, were, at their own request, annexed to the city.[41][42] Between the wars, the city continued to expand, most notably to the west of the "Jordaan district in the "Frederik Hendrikbuurt and surrounding neighbourhoods.

"Nazi Germany "invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 and took control of the country. Some Amsterdam citizens sheltered Jews, thereby exposing themselves and their families to a high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. More than 100,000 "Dutch Jews were deported to "Nazi concentration camps, of whom some 60,000 lived in Amsterdam. In response, the Dutch Communist Party organised the "February strike attended by 300,000 people to protest against the raids. Perhaps the most famous deportee was the young Jewish girl "Anne Frank, who died in the "Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[43] At the end of the Second World War, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce. Many citizens travelled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, "raw sugar beets, and "Tulip bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive.[44] Most of the trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel, and all the wood was taken from the apartments of deported Jews.

People celebrating the "liberation of Holland at the end of "World War II on 8 May 1945.

Many new suburbs, such as "Osdorp, "Slotervaart, "Slotermeer and "Geuzenveld, were built in the years after the Second World War.[45] These suburbs contained many public parks and wide open spaces, and the new buildings provided improved housing conditions with larger and brighter rooms, gardens, and balconies. Because of the war and other events of the 20th century, almost the entire city centre had fallen into disrepair. As society was changing,["clarification needed] politicians and other influential figures made plans to redesign large parts of it. There was an increasing demand for office buildings, and also for new roads, as the automobile became available to most people.[46] A "metro started operating in 1977 between the new suburb of Bijlmer and the centre of Amsterdam. Further plans were to build a new highway above the metro to connect the "Central Station and city centre with other parts of the city.

The required large-scale demolitions began in Amsterdam's former Jewish neighbourhood. Smaller streets, such as the Jodenbreestraat, were widened and almost all of their houses were demolished. At the peak of the demolition, the Nieuwmarktrellen ("Nieuwmarkt Riots) broke out;[47] the rioters expressed their fury about the demolition caused by the restructuring of the city.

As a result, the demolition was stopped, and the highway was never built; only the metro was completed. Only a few streets remained widened. The new city hall was built on the almost completely demolished Waterlooplein. Meanwhile, large private organisations, such as Stadsherstel Amsterdam, were founded with the aim of restoring the entire city centre. Although the success of this struggle is visible today, efforts for further restoration are still ongoing.[46] The entire city centre has reattained its former splendour and, as a whole, is now a "protected area. Many of its buildings have become monuments, and in July 2010 the "Grachtengordel (the three concentric canals: Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht) was added to the "UNESCO World Heritage List.[48]

The "blue bridge and the "Stopera, housing both the modern city hall and the "Dutch National Opera

In the early years of the 21st century, the Amsterdam city centre has attracted large numbers of tourists: between 2012 and 2015, the annual number of visitors rose from 10 million to 17 million. Real estate prices have surged, and local shops are making way for tourist-oriented ones, making the centre unaffordable for the city's inhabitants.[49] These developments have evoked comparisons with "Venice, a city thought to be overwhelmed by the tourist influx.[50]

Construction of a metro line connecting the part of the city north of the river (or lake) "IJ to the centre was started in 2003. The project is controversial because its cost had exceeded its budget by a factor three by 2008,[51] because of fears of damage to buildings in the centre, and because construction had to be halted and restarted multiple times.[52]

Since 2014, renewed focus has been given to urban regeneration and renewal, especially in areas directly bordering the city centre, such as "Frederik Hendrikbuurt. This urban renewal and expansion of the traditional centre of the city—with the construction on artificial islands of the new eastern "IJburg neighbourhood—is part of the Structural Vision Amsterdam 2040 initiative.[53][54]


Topographic map of Amsterdam, 2014

Amsterdam is located in the western Netherlands, in the province of "North Holland. The river "Amstel ends in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the "IJ. Amsterdam is about 2 metres (6.6 feet) "below sea level.[55] The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large "polders. A man-made forest, "Amsterdamse Bos, is in the southwest. Amsterdam is connected to the "North Sea through the long "North Sea Canal.

Amsterdam is intensely urbanised, as is the "Amsterdam Metropolitan Area surrounding the city. Comprising 219.4 square kilometres (84.7 square miles) of land, the "city proper has 4,457 inhabitants per km2 and 2,275 houses per km2.[56] Parks and "nature reserves make up 12% of Amsterdam's land area.[57]


Ice skaters on the Prinsengracht

Amsterdam has more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of "canals, most of which are navigable by boat. The three main canals are the Prinsengracht, Herengracht, and Keizersgracht. In the "Middle Ages, Amsterdam was surrounded by a moat, called the "Singel, which now forms the innermost ring in the city, and makes the city centre a horseshoe shape. The city is also served by a "seaport. It has been compared with "Venice, due to its division into about 90 islands, which are linked by more than 1,200 bridges.[58]


Amsterdam has an "oceanic climate ("Köppen climate classification Cfb) strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west, with prevailing westerly winds. Both winters and summers are considered mild, although winters can get quite cold, while summers are quite warm occasionally. Amsterdam, as well as most of the North Holland province, lies in "USDA "Hardiness zone 8b. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as having a significant "heat-island effect, nights rarely fall below −5 °C (23 °F), while it could easily be −12 °C (10 °F) in Hilversum, 25 kilometres (16 miles) southeast. Summers are moderately warm with a number of hot days every month. The average daily high in August is 22.1 °C (71.8 °F), and 30 °C (86 °F) or higher is only measured on average on 2.5 days, placing Amsterdam in AHS Heat Zone 2. The record extremes range from −15.4 °C (4.3 °F) to 34.5 °C (94.1 °F).[59] Days with more than 1 millimetre (0.04 in) of "precipitation are common, on average 133 days per year. Amsterdam's average annual precipitation is 838 millimetres (33 in),[60] more than what is measured at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. A large part of this precipitation falls as light rain or brief showers. Cloudy and damp days are common during the cooler months of October through March.

Climate data for "Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
Average high °C (°F) 5.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.4
Average low °C (°F) 0.8
Record low °C (°F) −15.4
Average "precipitation mm (inches) 66.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12 10 11 9 10 10 10 10 12 13 13 13 132
Average snowy days 6 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 26
Average "relative humidity (%) 88 86 83 78 76 78 79 80 83 86 89 90 83
Mean monthly "sunshine hours 63.2 87.5 126.3 182.7 221.9 205.7 217.0 197.0 139.4 109.1 61.7 50.5 1,662
Source #1: "Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)[61]
Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes)[62]


Historical population[edit]

Estimated population, 1300–1564
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1300 1,000 —    
1400 4,700 +1.56%
1514 11,000 +0.75%
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1546 13,200 +0.57%
1557 22,200 +4.84%
1564 30,900 +4.84%
Source: Bureau Monumentenzorg en Archeologie (1300)[63]
Ramaer 1921, pp. 11–12, 181 (1400 and 1564)
Van Dillen 1929, pp. xxv–xxvi (1514, 1546 and 1557)
Historical population in 10-year intervals, 1590–present
Year Pop. ±%
1590 41,362 —    
1600 59,551 +44.0%
1610 82,742 +38.9%
1620 106,500 +28.7%
1630 135,439 +27.2%
1640 162,388 +19.9%
1650 176,873 +8.9%
1660 192,767 +9.0%
1670 206,188 +7.0%
1680 219,098 +6.3%
1690 224,393 +2.4%
1700 235,224 +4.8%
1710 239,149 +1.7%
1720 241,447 +1.0%
1730 239,866 −0.7%
1740 237,582 −1.0%
1750 233,952 −1.5%
1760 240,862 +3.0%
1770 239,056 −0.7%
1780 228,938 −4.2%
1790 214,473 −6.3%
1800 203,485 −5.1%
Year Pop. ±%
1810 201,347 −1.1%
1820 197,831 −1.7%
1830 206,383 +4.3%
1840 214,367 +3.9%
1850 223,700 +4.4%
1860 244,050 +9.1%
1870 279,221 +14.4%
1880 323,784 +16.0%
1890 417,539 +29.0%
1900 520,602 +24.7%
1910 573,983 +10.3%
1920 647,427 +12.8%
1930 757,386 +17.0%
1940 800,594 +5.7%
1950 835,834 +4.4%
1960 869,602 +4.0%
1970 831,463 −4.4%
1980 716,967 −13.8%
1990 695,221 −3.0%
2000 731,289 +5.2%
2010 767,773 +5.0%
Source: Nusteling 1985, p. 240 (1590–1670)
Van Leeuwen & Oeppen 1993, p. 87 (1680–1880)
Department for Research, Information and Statistics (1890–present)

Compared to other important towns in the "County of Holland, such as "Dordrecht, "Leiden, "Haarlem, "Delft and "Alkmaar, Amsterdam is a relatively young city. In stark contrast to the relative decline of those other towns, Amsterdam's population grew in the 15th and 16th centuries, mainly due to the rise of the profitable "Baltic maritime trade after the Burgundian victory in the "Dutch–Hanseatic War. Still, the population of Amsterdam and other towns in Holland was only modest compared to the towns and cities of "Flanders and "Brabant, which comprised the most urbanised area of the Low Countries.

This changed when, during the "Dutch Revolt, many people from the Southern Netherlands fled to the North, especially after "Antwerp fell to Spanish forces in 1585. In thirty years, Amsterdam's population more than doubled from 41,362 inhabitants in 1590 to 106,500 inhabitants in 1620. During the 1660s, Amsterdam's population reached 200,000. The city's growth levelled off and the population stabilised around 240,000 for most of the 18th century.

At the turn of the 18th century, Amsterdam was the "fourth largest city in Europe, behind "Constantinople (about 700,000), London (550,000) and Paris (530,000). This was all the more remarkable as Amsterdam was neither the capital city nor the seat of government of the "Dutch Republic, which itself was a much smaller state than England, France or the "Ottoman Empire. In contrast to those other metropolises, Amsterdam was also surrounded by large towns such as "Leiden (about 67,000), "Rotterdam (45,000), "Haarlem (38,000), and "Utrecht (30,000).[64]

The city's population declined in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, dipping under 200,000 in 1820. By the second half of the 19th century, industrialisation spurred renewed growth. Amsterdam's population hit an all-time high of 872,000 in 1959, before declining in the following decades due to government-sponsored suburbanisation to so-called groeikernen (growth centres) such as "Purmerend and "Almere. Between 1970 and 1980, Amsterdam experienced its sharpest population decline ever, and by 1985 the city had only 675,570 residents. This was soon followed by "reurbanisation and "gentrification, however, leading to renewed population growth in the 2010s. The municipal department for Research, Information and Statistics expects a new record population to be set in 2020.[65]


City of Amsterdam (2017)
population by country of origin[66]
Country/Territory Population
"Netherlands Netherlands 401,260 (47.49%)
"Morocco Morocco 75,758 (8.97%)
"Suriname Suriname 65,468 (7.75%)
"Turkey Turkey 43,168 (5.11%)
"Indonesia Indonesia 25,522 (3.02%)
"Germany Germany 18,445 (2.18%)
"United Kingdom United Kingdom 12,670 (1.50%)
"Netherlands "Dutch Caribbean 12,288 (1.45%)
"Ghana Ghana 12,133 (1.44%)
"United States United States 9,108 (1.08%)
"Italy Italy 8,553 (1.01%)
Other 160,574 (19.00%)

In the 16th and 17th century non-Dutch immigrants to Amsterdam were mostly "Huguenots, "Flemings, "Sephardi Jews and "Westphalians. Huguenots came after the "Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, while the Flemish Protestants came during the "Eighty Years' War. The Westphalians came to Amsterdam mostly for economic reasons – their influx continued through the 18th and 19th centuries. Before the Second World War, 10% of the city population was "Jewish. Just twenty per cent of them survived the "Shoah.["citation needed]

The first mass immigration in the 20th century were by people from Indonesia, who came to Amsterdam after the independence of the "Dutch East Indies in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s "guest workers from Turkey, Morocco, Italy and Spain emigrated to Amsterdam. After the independence of Suriname in 1975, a large wave of Surinamese settled in Amsterdam, mostly in the "Bijlmer area. Other immigrants, including refugees "asylum seekers and "illegal immigrants, came from Europe, "America, Asia, and Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, many 'old' Amsterdammers moved to 'new' cities like "Almere and "Purmerend, prompted by the third "planological bill of the Dutch government. This bill promoted suburbanisation and arranged for new developments in so-called "groeikernen", literally cores of growth. Young professionals and artists moved into neighbourhoods de Pijp and the "Jordaan abandoned by these Amsterdammers. The non-Western immigrants settled mostly in the "social housing projects in Amsterdam-West and the Bijlmer. Today, people of non-Western origin make up approximately one-third of the population of Amsterdam, and more than 50% of the city' s children.[67][68][69] Segregation along ethnic lines is clearly visible, with people of non-Western origin, considered a separate group by "Statistics Netherlands, concentrating in specific neighbourhoods especially in "Nieuw-West, "Zeeburg, "Bijlmer and in certain areas of "Amsterdam-Noord.[70][71]

In 2000, Christians formed the largest "religious group in the city (27% of the population). The next largest religion was Islam (14%), most of whose followers were "Sunni.[72][73]

There is a Japanese population resident in Amsterdam. The "Japanese School of Amsterdam serves elementary and junior high school students. As of 2014 8% of the student body of the "International School Amsterdam in nearby "Amstelveen was Japanese;[74] this figure was 40% in 1997. As of 1997 most Japanese children who lived in the Netherlands attended high schools and universities located in Japan.[75]


In 1578 the previously Roman Catholic city of Amsterdam joined the revolt against Spanish rule, late in comparison to other major northern Dutch cities. In line with Protestant procedure of that time, all churches were converted to Protestant worship. "Calvinism became the dominant religion, and although Catholicism was not forbidden and priests allowed to serve, the "Catholic hierarchy was prohibited. This led to the establishment of schuilkerken, covert churches, behind seemingly ordinary canal side house fronts. One example is the current debate centre de Rode Hoed. A large influx of foreigners of many religions came to 17th-century Amsterdam, in particular "Sefardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, "Huguenots from France, and Protestants from the "Southern Netherlands. This led to the establishment of many non-Dutch-speaking religious churches. In 1603, the first notification was made of Jewish religious service. In 1639, the first synagogue was consecrated. The Jews came to call the town "Jerusalem of the West, a reference to their sense of belonging there.

As they became established in the city, other "Christian denominations used converted Catholic chapels to conduct their own services. The oldest English-language church congregation in the world outside the United Kingdom is found at the "Begijnhof. Regular services there are still offered in English under the auspices of the "Church of Scotland.[76] The Huguenots accounted for nearly 20% of Amsterdam's inhabitants in 1700. Being Calvinists, they soon integrated into the "Dutch Reformed Church, though often retaining their own congregations. Some, commonly referred by the moniker 'Walloon', are recognisable today as they offer occasional services in French.

In the second half of the 17th century, Amsterdam experienced an influx of "Ashkenazim, Jews from "Central and Eastern Europe, which continued into the 19th century. Jews often fled the "pogroms in those areas. The first Ashkenazi who arrived in Amsterdam were "refugees from the "Chmielnicki Uprising in Poland and the "Thirty Years' War. They not only founded their own synagogues, but had a strong influence on the 'Amsterdam dialect' adding a large "Yiddish local vocabulary.

Despite an absence of an official Jewish "ghetto, most Jews preferred to live in the eastern part of the old medieval heart of the city. The main street of this Jewish neighbourhood was the Jodenbreestraat. The neighbourhood comprised the Waterlooplein and the "Nieuwmarkt.[77] Buildings in this neighbourhood fell into disrepair after the Second World War, and a large section of the neighbourhood was demolished during the construction of the subway. This led to riots, and as a result the original plans for large-scale reconstruction were abandoned and the neighbourhood was rebuilt with smaller-scale residence buildings on the basis of its original layout.

The "Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam.

Catholic churches in Amsterdam have been constructed since the restoration of the episcopal hierarchy in 1853. One of the principal architects behind the city's Catholic churches, "Cuypers, was also responsible for the Amsterdam Central Station and the "Rijksmuseum, which led to a refusal of Protestant King "William III to open 'that monastery'. In 1924, "the Roman Catholic Church of the Netherlands hosted the "International Eucharistic Congress in Amsterdam, and numerous Catholic "prelates visited the city, where festivities were held in churches and stadiums. Catholic processions on the public streets, however, were still forbidden under law at the time. Only in the 20th century was Amsterdam's relation to Catholicism normalised, but despite its far larger "population size, the "Catholic clergy chose to place its episcopal see of the city in the nearby provincial town of "Haarlem.[78]

In recent times, religious demographics in Amsterdam have been changed by immigration from former colonies. "Hinduism has been introduced from the Hindu diaspora from Suriname and several distinct branches of Islam have been brought from various parts of the world. Islam is now the largest non-Christian religion in Amsterdam. The large community of Ghanaian and Nigerian immigrants have established African churches, often in parking garages in the "Bijlmer area, where many have settled. In addition, a broad array of other religious movements have established congregations, including "Hinduism, and "Buddhism. "Jews make up about 2% of the city's total population.

Religions in Amsterdam (2013)[79]

  "Irreligion (63.1%)
  "Roman Catholic (11.1%)
  Other Christian denominations (6.1%)
  "Islam (11.3%)
  "Hinduism (1.2%)
  "Buddhism (0.9%)
  "Judaism (0.7%)

Diversity and immigration[edit]

Amsterdam experienced an influx of religions and cultures after the Second World War. With 180 different nationalities,[80] Amsterdam is home to one of the widest varieties of nationalities of any city in the world.[81] The proportion of the population of immigrant origin in the city proper is about 50%[82] and 88% of the population are Dutch citizens.[83]

Amsterdam has been one of the municipalities in the Netherlands which provided immigrants with extensive and free "Dutch-language courses, which have benefited many immigrants.[84]

Cityscape and architecture[edit]

View looking southwest from the "Amsterdam Public Library

Amsterdam fans out south from the "Amsterdam Centraal railway station and "Damrak, the main street off the station. The oldest area of the town is known as "De Wallen (English: The Quays). It lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city's famous red light district. To the south of de Wallen is the old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein. The medieval and colonial age "canals of Amsterdam, known as Grachten, embraces the heart of the city where homes have interesting gables. Beyond the Grachtengordel are the former working class areas of "Jordaan and de Pijp. The "Museumplein with the city's major museums, the "Vondelpark, a 19th-century park named after the Dutch writer "Joost van den Vondel, and the "Plantage neighbourhood, with the "zoo, are also located outside the Grachtengordel.

Several parts of the city and the surrounding urban area are "polders. This can be recognised by the suffix -meer which means lake, as in "Aalsmeer, "Bijlmermeer, "Haarlemmermeer, and "Watergraafsmeer.


Panorama of a canal in the Canal District

The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious "city planning.[85] In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the "IJ bay. Known as the Grachtengordel, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the "Herengracht (where "Heren" refers to Heren Regeerders van de stad Amsterdam (ruling lords of Amsterdam), and gracht means canal, so the name can be roughly translated as "Canal of the lords"), "Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and "Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal).[86] The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht, which is often not mentioned on maps, because it is a collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The Singelgracht should not be confused with the oldest and most inner canal "Singel. The canals served for defence, "water management and transport. The defences took the form of a moat and "earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry "superstructures.[87] The original plans have been lost, so historians, such as Ed Taverne, need to speculate on the original intentions: it is thought that the considerations of the layout were purely practical and defensive rather than ornamental.[88]


Construction started in 1613 and proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the layout, like a gigantic "windshield wiper as the historian "Geert Mak calls it – and not from the centre outwards, as a popular myth has it. The canal construction in the southern sector was completed by 1656. Subsequently, the construction of residential buildings proceeded slowly. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, has never been implemented. In the following centuries, the land was used for parks, senior citizens' homes, theatres, other public facilities, and waterways without much planning.[89]

Bridges over a canal

Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the "Spui.[90]


Amsterdam Heritage City View from Lookout

After the development of Amsterdam's canals in the 17th century, the city did not grow beyond its borders for two centuries. During the 19th century, "Samuel Sarphati devised a plan based on the grandeur of Paris and London at that time. The plan envisaged the construction of new houses, public buildings and streets just outside the grachtengordel. The main aim of the plan, however, was to improve public health. Although the plan did not expand the city, it did produce some of the largest public buildings to date, like the Paleis voor Volksvlijt.[91][92][93]

Following Sarphati, Van Niftrik and Kalff designed an entire ring of 19th-century neighbourhoods surrounding the city's centre, with the city preserving the ownership of all land outside the 17th-century limit, thus firmly controlling development.[94] Most of these neighbourhoods became home to the working class.[95]

In response to overcrowding, two plans were designed at the beginning of the 20th century which were very different from anything Amsterdam had ever seen before: Plan Zuid, designed by the architect "Berlage, and West. These plans involved the development of new neighbourhoods consisting of housing blocks for all social classes.[96][97]

After the Second World War, large new neighbourhoods were built in the western, southeastern, and northern parts of the city. These new neighbourhoods were built to relieve the city's shortage of living space and give people affordable houses with modern conveniences. The neighbourhoods consisted mainly of large housing blocks situated among green spaces, connected to wide roads, making the neighbourhoods easily accessible by "motor car. The western suburbs which were built in that period are collectively called the Westelijke Tuinsteden. The area to the southeast of the city built during the same period is known as the Bijlmer.[98][99]


The "Westerkerk (1631), designed by Dutch architect "Hendrick de Keyser in the "Renaissance style. At 85 m (279 ft) the church's "Westertoren" "steeple is the highest in Amsterdam. The canal houses on the right are characteristic of the architectural styles from the "Dutch Golden Age.

Amsterdam has a rich "architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the "Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306.[100] The oldest wooden building is "het Houten Huys[101] at the "Begijnhof. It was constructed around 1425 and is one of only two existing wooden buildings. It is also one of the few examples of "Gothic architecture in Amsterdam. In the 16th century, wooden buildings were razed and replaced with brick ones. During this period, many buildings were constructed in the "architectural style of the "Renaissance. Buildings of this period are very recognisable with their "stepped gable façades, which is the common Dutch Renaissance style. Amsterdam quickly developed its own "Renaissance architecture. These buildings were built according to the principles of the architect "Hendrick de Keyser.[102] One of the most striking buildings designed by Hendrick de Keyer is the "Westerkerk. In the 17th century "baroque architecture became very popular, as it was elsewhere in Europe. This roughly coincided with Amsterdam's "Golden Age. The leading architects of this style in Amsterdam were "Jacob van Campen, "Philips Vingboons and "Daniel Stalpaert.[103]

The "Scheepvaarthuis, by architects "Johan van der Mey, "Michel de Klerk, "Piet Kramer is characteristic of the architecture of the "Amsterdam School.

Philip Vingboons designed splendid merchants' houses throughout the city. A famous building in "baroque style in Amsterdam is the "Royal Palace on "Dam Square. Throughout the 18th century, Amsterdam was heavily influenced by "French culture. This is reflected in the architecture of that period. Around 1815, architects broke with the baroque style and started building in different neo-styles.[104] Most Gothic style buildings date from that era and are therefore said to be built in a "neo-gothic style. At the end of the 19th century, the "Jugendstil or "Art Nouveau style became popular and many new buildings were constructed in this architectural style. Since Amsterdam expanded rapidly during this period, new buildings adjacent to the city centre were also built in this style. The houses in the vicinity of the "Museum Square in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid are an example of Jugendstil. The last style that was popular in Amsterdam before the "modern era was "Art Deco. Amsterdam had its own version of the style, which was called the "Amsterdamse School. Whole districts were built this style, such as the Rivierenbuurt.[105] A notable feature of the façades of buildings designed in Amsterdamse School is that they are highly decorated and ornate, with oddly shaped windows and doors.

The old city centre is the focal point of all the architectural styles before the end of the 19th century. Jugendstil and Georgian are mostly found outside the city's centre in the neighbourhoods built in the early 20th century, although there are also some striking examples of these styles in the city centre. Most historic buildings in the city centre and nearby are houses, such as the famous merchants' houses lining the canals.

Parks and recreational areas[edit]

Amsterdam has many parks, open spaces, and squares throughout the city. "Vondelpark, the largest park in the city, is located in the "Oud-Zuid borough and is named after the 17th century Amsterdam author, "Joost van den Vondel. Yearly, the park has around 10 million visitors. In the park is an open-air theatre, a playground and several "horeca facilities. In the "Zuid borough, is Beatrixpark, named after "Queen Beatrix. Between Amsterdam and "Amstelveen is the "Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest), the largest recreational area in Amsterdam. Annually, almost 4.5 million people visit the park, which has a size of 1.000 hectares and is approximately three times the size of "Central Park.[106] "Amstelpark in the "Zuid borough houses the Rieker windmill, which dates to 1636. Other parks include "Sarphatipark in the "De Pijp neighbourhood, "Oosterpark in the "Oost borough, and "Westerpark in the "Westerpark neighbourhood. The city has four beaches, the Nemo Beach, Citybeach "Het stenen hoofd" (Silodam), Blijburg, and one in "Amsterdam-Noord.

The city has many open squares (plein in Dutch). The namesake of the city as the site of the original dam, "Dam Square, is the main town square and has the "Royal Palace and "National Monument. "Museumplein hosts various museums, including the "Rijksmuseum, "Van Gogh Museum, and "Stedelijk Museum. Other squares include "Rembrandtplein, "Muntplein, "Nieuwmarkt, "Leidseplein, "Spui, and "Waterlooplein. Also, near to Amsterdam is the "Nekkeveld estate conservation project.


Large-scale map of downtown Amsterdam, including sightseeing markers, as of April 2017.
The "Amsterdam Stock Exchange, right, is the oldest stock exchange in the world.
Diamond cutter

Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands.[107] Amsterdam is ranked fifth best of European cities in which to locate an "international business, surpassed by London, Paris, "Frankfurt and "Barcelona.[108] Many large corporations and banks have their headquarters in Amsterdam, including "Akzo Nobel, "Heineken International, "ING Group, "ABN AMRO, "TomTom, "Delta Lloyd Group, " and "Philips. "KPMG International's global headquarters is located in nearby Amstelveen, where many non-Dutch companies have settled as well, because surrounding communities allow full land ownership, contrary to Amsterdam's land-lease system.

Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre. The "Zuidas (English: South Axis) has become the new financial and legal hub.[109] The five largest law firms of the Netherlands, a number of Dutch subsidiaries of large consulting firms like "Boston Consulting Group and "Accenture, and the "World Trade Center Amsterdam are also located in Zuidas.

There are three other smaller financial districts in Amsterdam. The first is the area surrounding "Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station, where several newspapers like "De Telegraaf have their offices. Also, "Deloitte, the "Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (municipal public transport company) and the Dutch tax offices (Belastingdienst) are located there. The second "Financial District is the area surrounding the "Amsterdam Arena. The third is the area surrounding "Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The "tallest building in Amsterdam, the "Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of "Philips.[110][111]

Port of Amsterdam[edit]

The "Port of Amsterdam is the fourth largest port in Europe, the 38th largest port in the world and the second largest port in the Netherlands by metric tons of cargo. In 2014 the Port of Amsterdam had a cargo throughput of 97,4 million tons of cargo, which was mostly "bulk cargo. Amsterdam has the biggest cruise port in the Netherlands with more than 150 cruise ships every year. In 2019 the new lock in IJmuiden will open; the port will then be able to grow to 125 million tonnes in capacity.

The "Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), now part of "Euronext, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. It is near "Dam Square in the city centre.

Together with "Eindhoven ("Brainport) and "Rotterdam ("Seaport), Amsterdam (Airport) forms the foundation of the Dutch economy.[112]


Canal boats, such as this one on Keizersgracht, give tours of the city

Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually, this is excluding the 16 million day trippers visiting the city every year.[113] The number of visitors has been growing steadily over the past decade. This can be attributed to an increasing number of European visitors. Two-thirds of the hotels are located in the city's centre. Hotels with 4 or 5 stars contribute 42% of the total beds available and 41% of the overnight stays in Amsterdam. The room occupation rate was 78% in 2006, up from 70% in 2005.[114] The majority of tourists (74%) originate from Europe. The largest group of non-European visitors come from the United States, accounting for 14% of the total.[114] Certain years have a theme in Amsterdam to attract extra tourists. For example, the year 2006 was designated "Rembrandt 400", to celebrate the 400th birthday of "Rembrandt van Rijn. Some hotels offer special arrangements or activities during these years. The average number of guests per year staying at the four campsites around the city range from 12,000 to 65,000.[114]

The "red-light district is a main tourist attraction.

Red light district[edit]

De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is a designated area for "legalised prostitution and is Amsterdam's largest and most well known "red-light district. This neighbourhood has become a famous attraction for tourists. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments rented by "sex workers who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.


Shops in Amsterdam range from large high end department stores such as "De Bijenkorf founded in 1870 to small specialty shops. Amsterdam's high-end shops are found in the streets "P.C. Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat, which are located in the vicinity of the "Vondelpark. One of Amsterdam's busiest high streets is the narrow, medieval "Kalverstraat in the heart of the city. Other shopping areas include the Negen Straatjes and Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat. Negen Straatjes are nine narrow streets within the Grachtengordel, the concentric canal system of Amsterdam. The Negen Straatjes differ from other shopping districts with the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops. The Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk were voted best shopping street in the Netherlands in 2011. These streets have as the Negen Straatjes a large diversity of privately owned shops. But as the Negen Straatjes are dominated by fashion stores the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk offer a very wide variety of all kinds of stores, just to name some specialties: candy and other food related stores, lingerie, sneakers, wedding clothing, interior shops, books, Italian deli's, racing and mountain bikes, skatewear, etc.

The city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the "Albert Cuyp Market, Westerstraat-markt, Ten Katemarkt, and "Dappermarkt. Some of these markets are held on a daily basis, like the Albert Cuypmarkt and the Dappermarkt. Others, like the Westerstraatmarkt, are held on a weekly basis.


Fashion brands like "G-star, Gsus, BlueBlood, PICHICHI, Iris van Herpen, fair trade denim brand "MUD Jeans, "10 feet and "Warmenhoven & Venderbos, and fashion designers like "Mart Visser, "Viktor & Rolf, Sheila de Vries, "Marlies Dekkers and "Frans Molenaar are based in Amsterdam. "Modelling agencies "Elite Models, Touche models and Tony Jones have opened branches in Amsterdam. Fashion models like "Yfke Sturm, "Doutzen Kroes and "Kim Noorda started their careers in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has its garment centre in the World Fashion Center. Buildings which formerly housed brothels in the red light district have been converted to ateliers for young fashion designers, AKA eagle fuel.["citation needed] Fashion photographers "Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin were born in Amsterdam(Netherland).


The "Van Gogh Museum houses the world's largest collection of "Van Gogh's paintings and letters.
The "Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is an international museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design.

During the later part of the 16th-century Amsterdam's Rederijkerskamer ("Chamber of rhetoric) organised contests between different Chambers in the reading of poetry and drama. In 1638, Amsterdam opened its first theatre. Ballet performances were given in this theatre as early as 1642. In the 18th century, French theatre became popular. While Amsterdam was under the influence of German music in the 19th century there were few national opera productions; the Hollandse Opera of Amsterdam was built in 1888 for the specific purpose of promoting Dutch opera.[115] In the 19th century, popular culture was centred on the Nes area in Amsterdam (mainly "vaudeville and "music-hall).["citation needed] The "metronome, one of the most important advances in European classical music, was invented here in 1812 by "Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel. At the end of this century, the "Rijksmuseum and "Stedelijk Museum were built.["citation needed] In 1888, the "Concertgebouworkest was established. With the 20th century came cinema, radio and television.["citation needed] Though most studios are located in "Hilversum and "Aalsmeer, Amsterdam's influence on programming is very strong. Many people who work in the television industry live in Amsterdam. Also, the headquarters of the Dutch "SBS Broadcasting Group is located in Amsterdam.[116]


The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on the "Museumplein (Museum Square), located at the southwestern side of the Rijksmuseum. It was created in the last quarter of the 19th century on the grounds of the former "World's fair. The northeastern part of the square is bordered by the very large Rijksmuseum. In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself is a long, rectangular pond. This is transformed into an ice rink in winter.[117] The northwestern part of the square is bordered by the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds. The southwestern border of the Museum Square is the Van Baerlestraat, which is a major thoroughfare in this part of Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw is situated across this street from the square. To the southeast of the square are situated a number of large houses, one of which contains the American consulate. A "parking garage can be found underneath the square, as well as a supermarket. The Museumplein is covered almost entirely with a lawn, except for the northeastern part of the square which is covered with gravel. The current appearance of the square was realised in 1999, when the square was remodelled. The square itself is the most prominent site in Amsterdam for festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in the summer. Plans were made in 2008 to remodel the square again, because many inhabitants of Amsterdam are not happy with its current appearance.[118]

"Rembrandt monument on "Rembrandtplein

The "Rijksmuseum possesses the largest and most important collection of classical "Dutch art.