What You Need To Know
The capital city and most populous city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its status as the Dutch capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands. As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centers in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands.
Area: 219 km²
Money and currency. In Amsterdam, as well as in all the Netherlands and many other countries of European Community the accepted currency is Euro (EUR, €), no other currencies are commonly accepted, so you will have to change your dollars, sterling, yens, etc to Euros.
Amsterdam has an oceanic climate it strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west, with prevailing westerly winds. Both winters and summers are considered mild, although occasionally quite cool. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as having a significant heat-island effect, nights rarely fall below −5 °C
The official national language of the Netherlands is Dutch, spoken by almost all people in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is currently one of the best European cities in which to locate an international business. It is ranked fifth in this category and is only surpassed by London, Paris, Frankfurt and Barcelona. Many large corporations and banks have their headquarters in Amsterdam, including Akzo Nobel, Heineken International, ING Group, ABN AMRO, TomTom, Delta Lloyd Group, Booking.com and Philips. KPMG International’s global headquarters is located in nearby Amstelveen, where many non-Dutch companies have settled as well, because surrounding communities allow full land ownership, contrary to Amsterdam’s land-lease system.
Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre. The Zuidas (English: South Axis) has become the new financial and legal hub. The five largest law firms of the Netherlands, a number of Dutch subsidiaries of large consulting firms like Boston Consulting Group and Accenture, and the World Trade Center Amsterdam are also located in Zuidas.
There are three other smaller financial districts in Amsterdam. The first is the area surrounding Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station, where several newspapers like De Telegraaf have their offices. Also, Deloitte, the Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (municipal public transport company) and the Dutch tax offices (Belastingdienst) are located there. The second Financial District is the area surrounding Amsterdam Arena. The third is the area surrounding Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The tallest building in Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of Philips.
Amsterdam has two universities: the University of Amsterdam (Universiteit van Amsterdam), and the VU University Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit or “VU”). Other institutions for higher education include an art school – Gerrit Rietveld Academie, a university of applied sciences – 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 17th century, 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.
There are over 200 primary schools in Amsterdam. Some of these primary schools base their teachings on particular pedagogic theories like the various Montessori schools. The biggest Montessori high school in Amsterdam is the Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam. Many schools, however, are based on religion. This used to be primarily Roman Catholicism and various Protestant denominations, but with the influx of Muslim immigrants there has been a rise in the number of Islamic schools. Jewish schools can be found in the southern suburbs of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is noted for having five independent grammar schools (Dutch: gymnasia), the Vossius Gymnasium, Barlaeus Gymnasium, St. Ignatius Gymnasium, Het 4e Gymnasium and the Cygnus 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 and fifth 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. The city also has various colleges ranging from art and design to politics and economics which are mostly also available for students coming from other countries.
Health and security
- Netherlands has maintained its number one position at the top of the annual Euro health consumer index, which compares healthcare systems in Europe, scoring 898 of a maximum 1,000 points. Amsterdam is one of the nicest, peaceful and calm cities on this planet; however, it is always advisable to think of safety and security issues while planning any trip, than to get into a trouble totally unready.
- Dangers! Beware of Pickpockets beggars, scams and fake cops.