These facts were compiled with the help of the CIA world factbook and a Lonely Planet guidebook or two.
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The city is located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, with a population of approximately 7 million. Amsterdam's name is derived from Amstelredamme, a dam in the river Amstel. It began as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, and became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds, a fact capitalized upon in the Bond movie Diamonds are Forever. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010.
Amsterdam was granted city rights in the early 1300s From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished thanks to trade with the Hanseatic League, moving the city away from land reclamation and farming
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 the Protestants by the Spanish Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years’ War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence. 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.
The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the world. 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 lost over 10% of its population to plague in 1623–1625, and again in 1635–1636, 1655, and 1664. Nevertheless, the population of Amsterdam rose in the 17th century (largely through immigration) from 50,000 to 200,000.
Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Dutch wars 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.
The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age. New museums, a train station, and the Concertgebouw were built; in this same time, the Industrial Revolution reached the city. The Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, which we will be cruising through, 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. Shortly before the First World War, the city began expanding, 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, known as the Potato rebellion, in which several people were killed.
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 the high risk of being imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps. Perhaps the most famous deportee was the young Jewish girl Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. At the end of the Second World War, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce.
Because of the war and other incidents of the 20th century, almost the entire city centre had fallen into disrepair. As society was changing, politicians and other influential figures made plans to redesign large parts of it. There was an increasing demand for office buildings and new roads as the automobile became available to most common people. A metro was built connecting Amsterdam Central to outlying suburbs, and plans for a highway began.
The incorporated large-scale demolitions began in Amsterdam's formerly Jewish neighborhood. Smaller streets were widened and saw almost all of their houses demolished. During the destruction's peak, the Nieuwmarkt riots broke out, where people 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, with only the metro being finished. Only a few streets remained widened. Large private organizations were founded with the aim of restoring the entire city center. Efforts for further restoration are still ongoing. The entire city center is now a protected area, with many of its buildings made monuments.