Amsterdam - City of Netherlands
Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city, which had a population of around 1 million on 1 January 2008, comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the 6th-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of around 6.7 million.
NETHERLANDS National Animal : Lion
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. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, part of Euronext, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red-light district and its many cannabis coffee shops, draw 4.2 million tourists annually.
The earliest recorded use of the name "Amsterdam" is from a certificate dated 27 October 1275, when the inhabitants, who had built a bridge with a dam across the Amstel, were exempted from paying a bridge toll by Count Floris V. The certificate describes the inhabitants as homines manentes apud Amestelledamme . By 1327, the name had developed into Aemsterdam.
Amsterdam was granted city rights in either 1300 or 1306.From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely because of trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1345, an alleged Eucharistic miracle in the Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the alteration to the Protestant faith. The Stille Omgang—a silent procession in civil attire—is today a remnant of the rich pilgrimage history.
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. New developments, by people such as city planner Samuel Sarphati, drew their inspiration from Paris.
Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe, receiving more than 4.2 million international visitors annually.The number of visitors has been growing steadily over the past decade. This can be attributed to an increasing number of European visitors.
Amsterdam has two universities: the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam . Other institutions for higher education include an art school – Gerrit Rietveld Academie, the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, and the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. Amsterdam's International Institute of Social History is one of the world's largest documentary and research institutions concerning social history, and especially the history of the labour movement. Amsterdam's Hortus Botanicus, founded in the early 1600s, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, with many old and rare specimens, among them the coffee plant that served as the parent for the entire coffee culture in Central and South America.
Amsterdam is noted for having three independent grammar schools, the Vossius Gymnasium, Barlaeus Gymnasium, and St. Ignatius Gymnasium, where a classical curriculum including Latin and classical Greek is taught. Though believed until recently by many to be an anachronistic and elitist concept that would soon die out, the gymnasia have recently experienced a revival, leading to the formation of a fourth grammar school in which the three aforementioned schools participate. Most secondary schools in Amsterdam offer a variety of different levels of education in the same school.
NETHERLANDS National Flower : Tulip Tulipa