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 Amsterdam Basic


Although the seat of Netherlands government is in The Hague, Amsterdam is the nominal capital. It is also the country's largest city, with a population of more than 750,000, and the most visited, with over 3.5 million foreign visitors a year. The Netherlands is a country situated in Western Europe, bordering Belgium to the south and Germany to the east. To its north and west is the North Sea. Although the Netherlands is the country's official name, people often call it Holland. The provinces of North Holland and South Holland form only part of the Netherlands.


Its name is derived from Amstel dam, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, City became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During this time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed. The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city


City enjoys a temperate climate, strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west with prevailing north-western winds and gales. Winter temperatures are mild, seldom below 0°C. Frosts merely occur during spells of eastern or northeastern winds from the inner European continent, i.e., from Scandinavia, Russia, and even Siberia. Summers are warm but rarely hot. Days with measurable precipitation are common. Nevertheless, City's average annual precipitation is less than 760 mm. Most of this precipitation is protracted drizzle or light rain, making cloudy and damp days common during the cooler months, October through March. Only the occasional Western storm may bring a lot of water at once, requiring all of it to be pumped out to higher grounds or to the seas around the city.


Traditionally, Amsterdam was a trading city. In order to be successful in trade, good social networks were indispensable. Furthermore, it was crucial to the city and its inhabitants that land and water were developed and maintained. A tolerant and open society as such, attracts people from every corners of the world. In short, it's no coincidence that city has become the most multicultural city in the world. The city has become a melting pot, with space for people of 174 different nationalities and alternative lifestyles. What may sometimes seem as contradictory to an outsider is actually the basis of all city culture: the freedom to be who you are – and to say what you think.


The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. The majority of City’s residents speaks English well and is often fluent in one or two languages on top of that. One can usually get by effortlessly in city without a knowing word of Dutch. For those keen to try, learning a few words or phrases will always go a long way with the locals. The Dutch ‘g’ is normally pronounced mid-throat, sounding similar to the ‘ch’ in loch or Bach

Helpful words and phrases

Do you speak English? – spreekt u Engels?

Hello – hallo

Good morning – Goedemorgen

Good afternoon – Goedemiddag

Good evening – Goedenavond

Goodbye – dag or doei (pronounced dowee)

Excuse me – pardon

Thank you – dank u

Please – alstublieft (pronounced alst-u-bleeft)

Yes – ja (pronounced yah)

No – nee (pronounced nay)

Tasty – lekker

Lovely – mooi

Cosy – gezellig

Entrance – ingang

Exit – uitgang

Open – open

Closed – gesloten

Ticket/s – kaart/en


Population: 751,000

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1

Telephone area code: 020


As in most European countries, the currency of the Netherlands is the Euro (symbolised as EUR or €). Other currencies are normally not accepted, so be sure to change dollars, etc. at one of the currency exchange offices located throughout the city. Most shops and restaurants in city accept credit cards, but not all. It is therefore recommended to either ask before you order or ensure you have a sufficient amount in cash to cover the bill. 

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