July 5, 2022

Amsterdam is the (titular) capital of the Netherlands. The city, also called Mokum in Amsterdam (originating from Yiddish), is located in the province of North Holland, on the IJ, the North Sea Canal and the mouth of the Amstel. The municipality of Amsterdam is the largest municipality by population and has 905,234 inhabitants (January 31, 2022, CBS). Greater Amsterdam has 1,394,998 inhabitants. The number of different nationalities in the municipality (in 2007: 177) is one of the highest in the world. Amsterdam owes its name to its location near a dam built in the 13th century in the Amstel. The place received city rights shortly after 1300, became a place of pilgrimage in 1345 due to the Miracle of Amsterdam and grew into one of the most important port and trading cities in the world during the Golden Age. An influx of foreigners, mainly from the Southern Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, led to urban expansions from the end of the 16th century, including the last canals of the fortification that is now known as a canal ring and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. Sights and attractions in Amsterdam include the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and Het Scheepvaartmuseum, the Anne Frank House, the Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ and EYE Film Museum, Artis Zoo, the Red Light District, the coffee shops and the Johan Cruijff Arena. The city has 8 universities and 24 colleges.


The settlement history of Amsterdam starts more than 4600 years ago at the end of the New Stone Age. Excavations from 2005-2009 under Damrak and Rokin brought to light utensils and bones of industrial animals from that period. Around the year 1000, the swampy area, then called Aemestelle, was reclaimed from the Utrecht region. Drainage ditches were dug on both sides of various existing peat streams and a farming community of land reclaimers arose, as elsewhere in the peat area between the Gooi and the Dutch dunes. When the peat started to settle as a result of drainage, dikes had to be built to protect the now lower land against the water. In the 13th century, this led to the construction of dikes along the Zuiderzee and the IJ, such as the Spaarndammerdijk and Diemerzeedijk. In the mouth of the Amstel, presumably shortly after the floods of 1170 and 1173, the dam from which Amsterdam takes its name was built. Part of the Amstel may have been dug. The part of the river offshore, the Damrak, was the beginning of the Amsterdam harbour. The river on the other side of the Dam became, partly drained, the Rokin. At the beginning of the 20th century, remnants of that dam were found on the spot between the National Monument and the De Bijenkorf building. The oldest mention of Amsterdam is in a document dated 27 October 1275, in which Count Floris V grants the residents freedom of toll. There is uncertainty about the exact date on which Amsterdam obtained city rights. One of the possibilities is that the Utrecht bishop Guy van Avesnes granted the place city rights in 1300-1301, because in a charter from that time he speaks of 'onsen poiteren van Aemstelredamme' (Our burghers of Amsterdam). He explicitly calls the citizens 'poorters', which indicates that city rights had been granted. But little more can be said about the exact time of the attribution than that the time is around or shortly after 1300. In 1342 Amsterdam received a new city charter from the Dutch count Willem IV. Soon after, the toll on beer followed. The contacts around the beer trade with Hamburg were the springboard for the Baltic Sea trade and the start of Amsterdam as a trading city. In the 15th century, Amsterdam had grown into the most important trading city in Holland. As the city expanded, ring-shaped canals were dug for defense and water management. The houses were built on a foundation of long wooden piles that