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Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. It is located in the Southeastern part of the province of North Holland, which is in the west of the country. The Netherlands — often also called Holland — is located in the Northwestern part of Western Europe. It is bordered in the east by Germany, in the south by Belgium, and in the west and north by the Northsea. [...more...]
That depends on who ‘they’ are. The official, native language is Dutch, but most people in Amsterdam also speak quite a bit of English. The city is home to people from 187 nationalities, so you will hear a lot more than just Dutch and English. You will not need to know any Dutch in order to enjoy your visit to Amsterdam.
Last time we checked, 747,290 in Amsterdam proper, and 2,158,592 in the metropolitan area.
It’s impossible to know for sure, but city authorities say there are well over 600.000 bikes in Amsterdam.
The name Amsterdam is derived from the city’s origins: it grew around a dam in the river Amstel. However, the city may actually have been named after a dike built years earlier.
Dam square — in Dutch simply, de Dam — is Amsterdam’s best-known square, and it is a handy central location from which to explore the medieval city centre. It’s the site of the dam mentioned in the previous answer, though nowadays the erstwhile dam is no longer visible. Featuring the Royal Palace, Dam square often is the focus of events of national importance — as in the annual Remembrance Day (May 4) ceremonies which take place at the National Monument, commemorating those who died during the Second World War.
Mokum is a popular nickname for Amsterdam. It is derived from the Hebrew ‘makom,’ which means ‘place.’
Before the Second World War Amsterdam had such a large Jewish population that the city was referred to as the ‘Jerusalem of the North.’
Amsterdam is also known as the ‘Venice of the North’ due to its many canals.
Lucky! Actually: Amsterdammer, but if you want to surprise your Dutch friends, use the colloquial ‘Mokummer’ instead. See What is Mokum?
Amsterdam has 165 canals — with a combined length of 100 KM (60 Miles)
1,281 — many of which can open to let ships pass. ‘The bridge was open’ is a popular excuse for arriving late at school or work (regardless of whether your route actually includes a bridge…)
Amsterdam has 2500 houseboats — anything from small, simple structures to custom-built, multi-story floating homes, as well as converted commercial vessels.
That depends on what you are looking for. The summer season is very popular, of course, but Amsterdam is a fun and fascinating city any time of the year. The main tourist season is July and August, with the best chance of good, sunny weather. The cultural season runs from September to May. The bulb fields — with tulips and other flowers — near Amsterdam are in bloom from mid-April through mid-May. Winters are relatively mild but can be cold and wet nevertheless. [Amsterdam's climate and current weather]
The Netherlands is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. Until 2002 the Dutch Guilder was used.
Amsterdam has 6,800 16th, 17th and 18th century buildings
Many of these homes are converted warehouses where good would be hoisted to different floors. Those warehouses were built with a slight tilt to prevent the goods from damaging the building’s facade on the way up or down. That approach was copied in other buildings as well. However, some building tilt — whichever way — because the foundation has been damaged.
A brown café is a pub with a dark wood interior, nicotine-stained ceiling and low-wattage lighting. You can find brown cafés throughout Holland, but Amsterdam features more of them than any other city in the Netherlands.
Yes, founded in 1838, Artis is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, the oldest zoo in Europe, and the third oldest zoo in the world.
302: some pretty, some ugly — and many that appear to be a terrible waste of space, money and other resources.
According to the 2008 Quality of Life Survey from international consultancy firm Mercer, Amsterdam ranks 22 out of 215 world cities for personal safety. Cities like London and Paris did not even make the top 50.
Amsterdam is a safe city for women of all ages traveling alone or together. Journeywoman.com, ‘The Premier Travel Resource For Women,’ calls Amsterdam ‘female-friendly’ and recommends it as a city where women travelling alone can feel comfortable and safe.
Like most countries in the world the Netherlands uses the GSM cellular phone system. The GSM system is compatible with mobile phones sold in Australia, the UK, and most of Asia. It is not compatible with phones sold in Japan, or with many of the phones sold in North America. Check your Amsterdam cell/mobile phone options.
Historical reason: Amsterdam is a city where trade has always been more important than ideology or religion – overly strong views would only hamper relations. Too, Amsterdam is traditionally a city of immigrants. Jews from Spain and French protestants found a safe haven, centuries ago. When it comes to prostitution or the use of drugs the Dutch feel that if it’s going to happen anyway it is better to legalize and control it than to let it fester underground. [More about Amsterdam's tolerance]
In the Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2010, conducted by Mercer Consulting, Amsterdam ranks 35th.
In the 2011 version of its annual listing of the World’s Best Cities to live in, Mercer Consulting ranked Amsterdam at number 12 — up one place from number 13, a spot the city had occupied each year since 2006.
While tipping is common, by law all prices in the Netherlands include tax and tips. However, leaving a tip (fooi – sounds like ‘foy’ with a drawn-out ‘o’) is customary in restaurants, bars, and pubs. [Tipping guidelines]
With 10 million visitors a year, Vondelpark is the most popular park not just in Amsterdam, but in all of the Netherlands.
A coffeeshop is a place where you can legally buy soft drugs (marijuana or hashish), space cakes, coffee, tea, and sometimes freshly-squeezed juices and sandwiches.
A koffie huis (coffee house) is the same thing, minus the soft drugs and space cake.
A 2007 report by Amsterdam’s Department for Research and Statistics shows that of the 4.5 million tourists who spend the night in Amsterdam during a given year, 26% visit a coffeeshop. According to the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board, 10% of tourists even mention this as a primary reason to visit the city.
The previous Dutch government planned to introduce a pass card/membership system for coffeeshops, available only to legal residents of the Netherlands — effectively barring tourists. Amsterdam’s leaders opposed those plans. The current government has — under its provisional governing pact adopted in October, 2012, nixed the Wietpas, but retains the stipulation that only legal residents may purchased at coffeeshops. The language is somewhat unclear (they’re government types after all), but it appears that the new government will leave it up to individual cities to enforce the resident rule. Amsterdam has always opposed the pass, claiming that it will hurt tourism, and increase illegal drugs trading on the streets. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on November 1, 2012 declared that all 220 coffeeshops in Amsterdam will remain open to tourists. But a few hours later, a spokesman for the justice minister said ‘not so fast…’
In an effort to combat nuisance caused by drugs tourists the previous Dutch government wanted to turn coffeeshops into private clubs open only to legal residents of the Netherlands. Members would receive what the government called a ‘club pass.’ Normal people referred to it as the ‘wietpas,’ using the Dutch colloquial term for marijuana. Another suggested name was ‘grass pass,’ but the foreign media preferred the term ‘weed pass.’ The incoming Dutch government has nixed the pass idea, but retains some of its proposed rules. Cities may now determine whether or not to allow tourists into coffeeshops. In Amsterdam, tourists can continue to smoke.
Queen’s Day is the annual Dutch national holiday in honour of the late Queen Juliana’s birthday.
On Queen’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands. However, the most popular destination is Amsterdam where up to one million visitors join the 750.000 locals in the world’s largest street party.
April 30. Queen Beatrix, who succeeded her mother Juliana in 1980, decided to keep the holiday on April 30 as the weather on her own birthday, January 31, tends to prohibit outdoor festivities.
‘I Amsterdam’ is the advertising slogan with which the City of Amsterdam brands itself. Located in back of the Rijksmusem, the I AMSTERDAM logo — 2 meters (6.5 feet) high and 24 meters (26 yards) long — has become one of the most photographed sights in Amsterdam. A smaller copy of the motto is moved around the city. The motto, designed in 2004 by advertising agency KesselsKramer, is meant to convey Amsterdam’s inclusiveness: everyone should be able to say, “I Am Amsterdam.” It is meant to serve not only as part of the city’s tourist and business promotion activities, but also to convey to the city’s hugely diverse population that we’re all one — and should be proud of it. ‘I Amsterdam’ is a registered trademark owned by Amsterdam Partners — a public private cooperation between the business community, the City of Amsterdam, regional local governments and regional promotional organisations. The first three letters of the logo, I AM are red, while the rest of the letters — STERDAM — are white. When the logo was revealed there was speculation that the design was plagiarized from one made two years earlier by designer Vanessa van Dam. Her ‘I Amsterdammer’ — with a similar accent on the first three letters — had been printed on 120.000 postcards. The City eventually settled with her by buying the rights to the logo for € 20.000
The good news: the old joke about Amsterdam having four seasons a day is just not true. The bad news: at times it seems like it could be true anyway. Overall Amsterdam has the same mild climate as the rest of the Netherlands, but the weather in Amsterdam remains somewhat unpredictable.
See also: DutchAmsterdam.nl — The No-nonsense Travel Guide to Amsterdam